Scythe is a fun, but fairly complex board game. The digital edition eases the learning curve, helps with the many things to track, and makes the game more accessible. In Scythe you need to gather resources to perform actions that build your engine or help you reach one of a dozen objectives.
Scythe: Digital Edition has you playing one of four factions, trying to control an alternate-history Europa. It’s a hex-based game, and has you managing your resources. You’ll be able to choose specialties for your faction, changing the way you play the game. These include Agriculturalist, Patriot and even Engineer. A digital version of Scythe, the hit board game, has launched on Steam Early Access. By Jonathan Bolding News Scythe: Digital Edition, once delayed, is now available.
Three years ago, in the crowded Exhibitor’s Hall and bustling gaming rooms of GenCon 2016, a copy of Scythe could be seen everywhere, stuffed under attendee’s arms, poking out of shopping bags, sprawled out on gaming tables and convention floors. Its sheer ubiquity that year should give some evidence of its quality. To be the “game of the Con” at the largest tabletop convention in North America is no simple thing, but Scythe earned this spot by delivering on the entrancing aesthetic style — the pastoral diesel-punk landscapes of artist and worldbuilder Jakub Rozalski — that garnered it so much attention, while at the same time packaging it with a legitimately well-crafted tabletop experience.
Easy to learn, reasonably fast to play, and sporting some high quality, gorgeously designed boards, mats, and pieces, the original version of Scythe is worthy of the praise that was heaped upon it at launch, and has remained a go-to comfort food for many a tabletop group even to this day, as evidenced by its steady position consistently near the top of BoardGameGeek’s “The Hotness” chart.
Two years after its physical release, Scythe moved to Steam with Scythe Digital Edition, essentially a straight port of the original tabletop board game. Both editions are set in the world of Rozalski’s 1920+, a sort of quasi-alternate history post-First World War Europe that emerged out of Rozalski’s distinctive paintings depicting idyllic scenes of eastern European rural life juxtaposed with enormous Mechs looming ominously in the background.
In the game, players take command of one of the five factions (seven, if you have the Invaders from Afar DLC) in order to gather resources, build structures, deploy Mechs, and fight for control of the board. The world is abstracted into a hex-grid board, with each player in a corner and the Factory, the source of the Mechs in the games lore, at the center. Play proceeds as each player goes around the board, selecting a 'top row' simple action from their playmat: either moving, producing resources, trading, or gaining one of the various currencies types. Each of these top-row actions corresponds to a stronger 'bottom row' action, based on the playmat you are assigned at the start of the game, that allow you to perform more powerful abilities like building structures or deploying mechs for a set resource cost.
Free voice changer for discord on mac. Different mats align different top and bottom row actions, so that in one playthrough you can only deploy a Mech after using the move action, while in another you can only do so after bolstering your military power. This makes it so you can’t necessarily play in the same style every game. You have to use what resources are available to you based on your starting position to make the best of synergizing your actions. With the exception of the Rusviet faction, players can’t take the same top row action twice in a row, forcing you to perform a delicate dance of gathering and spending resources while also dealing with enemies who might be trying to disrupt the careful rhythm you’ve worked yourself into.
When two players find their Mechs or character units occupying the same hex, a battle ensues. Combat is fairly simple: players secretly wager between one and seven combat points, alongside one of the combat cards that can be picked up over the course of the game. Both players reveal what they’ve wagered and whoever has the highest point value wins, with the loser being forced back to their starting position (puzzlingly, it is the attacker who wins in the case of ties). It’s a fairly basic combat system, but one that forces you to think carefully about when to engage and when to withdraw, as even with maxxed out combat points, a player can only really have two high value fights before becoming utterly exhausted and exposed, which even in this fictional dieselpunk alternate history, feels period appropriate.
While it’s not an overly complicated system, if you're new to Scythe than the tutorial is pretty straightforward in explaining how the different parts of the board operate. Once you know what’s happening, it's fairly easy to keep track of what's going on across the board and to start planning two or three moves ahead. The resulting gameplay loop is a satisfying tug-of-war that constantly pulls you between playing it safe in order to optimize resource management and taking risks by exploring outwards to put pressure on your opponents and get bonuses by snagging up the event tokens that are littered around the board.
Once a player has acquired six stars — awarded for completing objectives, performing certain bottom-row actions a number of times, winning battles, and maxing out particular currencies — the game ends and points are calculated. All of these factors, plus a host of other bonuses for controlling territory or placing structures near certain objectives, are tallied together to decide the winner. This means that a player could initiate the endgame without actually winning the game, adding an extra layer to consider while racing to the finish.
As solid as the nuts-and-bolts gameplay is, the allure of Scythe has always been largely aesthetic. It's no exaggeration to say that Rozalski’s art and the craftsmanship of the miniatures is what allowed the tabletop version to raise the princely sum of almost two million dollars on Kickstarter from nearly twenty thousand backers. There has long been an unsatisfied niche audience for western-style mecha, more tank-like and realistic than their lithe, humanoid eastern counterparts, and Scythe delivers with some really well designed war machines that feel distinctive and appropriate for each faction.
Unfortunately, one of the few complaints worth mentioning is that on the game board itself, Scythe’s Mechs, the lumbering and awesome colossi from Rozalski’s paintings, are downright visually puny, too small to even appreciate the fine craftsmanship that no doubt went into making the original pieces. Take, for example, the Crimean Khanate’s Mech, a big, two-wheel, lumbering tractor-like thing, based on the bizarre-but-real Russian prototype Tsar Tank from the First World War. A solid choice for the still-nomadic, only recently industrialized faction that the lore establishes the Khanate to be. When holding a miniature in your hand, it's easy to appreciate these finer details, but in Scythe Digital, the mechs are crowded out by worker and resource pieces of the same size, all stuffed onto a tiny tile. Bumping these models up just a bit in size, and maybe adding a bit more spit and polish, could go a long way to making them feel as visually imposing as they should rightfully be.
A similar complaint could be lodged abound Scythe’s sound design. While the soundtrack is a really solid mix of rustic and rural eastern-European inspired tunes, military marching tracks, and rising orchestrals that feel fitting for each faction, the sound design more generally could use some work. Not all actions have an accompanying sound effect and it's a bit jarring when an opponent is executing their turn in dead silence with only the background track playing as cover. There are sound effects when pieces move or get deployed, but the soft taps of plastic-on-cardboard are more there to remind you that this is a port of a board game, rather than conveying anything meaningful about the world of 1920+.
The sound design would have been better served if it had abandoned completely the skeuomorphic board game sounds for something that better captured the brooding atmosphere and dark mood of Rozalski’s paintings. Obviously, this would have required quite a bit more work and some extra resources, but little details like absent sound effects reveal the seams of the game in a very unbecoming way.
With that said, Scythe Digital is still an extremely satisfying port of one of the best tabletop games of the past decade. Built on steady foundations with a nail-biting gameplay loop and sporting some gorgeous art, it’s well worth the relatively low price of admission, especially if you can grab it during one of Steam’s frequent sales. While some visual and sound design elements don’t totally land, these small grievances don’t seriously detract from an otherwise solid experience. If you’re a fan of the original Scythe and have trouble nailing down flakey friends for an in-person game night, or are a solo strategist looking to drop a few hours into a mechanically sound game that’s fun to pick up and play but difficult to master, Scythe Digital Edition is a great option to have.
A fine-tuned game with some absolutely gorgeous visuals. Despite some minor hiccups, it’s an experience well worth the low price of entry.
Scythe has been around for a couple of years now and this critically acclaimed board game can be played on the table, tablet, phone or on PC. This review is specifically for the mobile version being played on a tablet and/or a cell phone. It’s a lot of fun to play, either with someone next to you or online, and all the game elements are there and pretty well organized. But the many glitches and issues with online play and even some problems with offline play, make this the least ideal way to play the game, but it’s better than not playing at all.
Like I mentioned above, all the parts of the game are there. The complex, deep strategy, many pieces and movements are all all surprisingly well organized and displayed on such a small display. The automation of the computers and all the various pieces that are moved around and points being counted up are all great benefits to a digital version. It’s nice to be able to bring up a tab and see where players power, popularity and overall score is at any given moment. This makes the game more strategic and focuses on knowing and figuring out how to get more points than your opponent and finish the game before they can.
Even though this is a good translation to a digital version, playing on a tablet or a phone is pretty difficult still. All the pieces are so small, the tiles and the writing are all crammed together and sometimes a little difficult to correctly pick the correct thing. I don’t think it is a problem with the development of the game or this version, it’s just the nature of bringing a large and extremely complicated board game into a tiny little little package.
The game is mostly playable, but if you’re worried about rank or really good consistency in the game performance, then I will be careful here. Many online games lost their connection and would glitch out or freeze which would automatically end the game with me losing rank. I wasn’t too worried about my rank, but it is unfortunate and annoying to invest 15 or 20 minutes into a game and then I’d be lost forever. Another issue is that the game would automatically force you to watch other people move or perform actions. It’s good to know what people are doing, but a setting to allow for a more free-roaming camera or allowing yourself to focus on just your area would be very welcome.
With the complexities inside of Scythe, this app works surprisingly well. But as for investing heavy amounts of time into digital rankings or online games, I think it would be better to just purchase it on PC or save up for the real version and just play with the people around you or online. The Scythe app is totally playable, but the glitches keep it from being an excellent or even great rendition of the masterful game.