There are plenty of reviews and recommendations for Scythe. Here, I’ll focus, as usual, on why Scythe can work with your family and why its level of complexity can encourage, not discourage, learning and exploring.
Scythe is a resource collection game from Stonemaier Games with artwork by Jakub Rozalski.
I’ll save you the gameplay overview and let you follow the below links to learn how to play. Instead, here are reasons to purchase and learn (nay, study) Scythe with your family.
Game artwork, thankfully, is now an important component to a successful game. Sure, it’s possible to have a bad game with good artwork or a good game with bad artwork. But the art in Scythe goes beyond the norm and offers images to not only assist with overall gameplay but give us reason to look at the board, the box and the cards. Even the instruction manual section for the Encounter cards says to show the artwork to everyone and then read aloud your choices for the encounter.
If you’re an impatient one, Scythe may not be for you. I’m not the most patient person in the world (I don’t like puzzles for this reason), but learning new games is a joy for me. Last night, I watched Elijah (12) set up the game over 20-30 minutes because Scythe is a game that’s fun to look at. Then, he set the Automa (single player) instructions in front of him and started learning. It’s a full set of instructions that required him to sit for over and hour and discover how the rules work in relation to the standard game, where characters and factions are set and how to play. It was immediately well-worth the money we spent for the game. To see him exploring more on his own just made Scythe a top game in our home. But why do I care that he did this?
I’ve seen the boys grow more clear in thought, explore more on their own and more willingly develop their own interests. I can’t credit board games for all of this, but I don’t doubt that it has a positive influence because of the required reading, comprehension, implementation of rules and occasionally resolving gameplay conflict amongst each other.
Creativity and Exploration
Board games allow us to step into different worlds, especially if they’re developed with a decent back story and characters. Scythe does this and takes place in a post-World War I mechanized society. It’s an alternate history that gives us a world to explore with intriguing characters and creative possibilities as each faction seeks to find a place in post-war Europa.
Board games, specifically Scythe with its varied factions and their specific strengths and weaknesses, force you to have a different perspective in order to compete. And I’m big on perspective.
Scythe isn’t for everyone. Only three of the four of us play (and we really love it). However, even though I appreciate and have purchased two-player games like 7 Wonders Duel and Star Realms, Scythe’s 1-5 player setup gives it a flexibility I greatly appreciate. If you’re inclined, you can even purchase the first Scythe expansion, Invaders From Afar, to add two new factions. It’s clear these two factions were planned from the beginning as their icons are already on the base game board. Invaders From Afar now makes Scythe a 1-7 player game. Note that the board expansion is recommended, though not required, to give more room in five-seven player games.*
Just as supper at the table together is important because it allows focused time to talk, so is gaming as it allows families and friends to learn more about each other in temporary fantasy worlds. Scythe’s average game length for our three-four player games is just over two hours. Add more people and expect games approaching three hours. So, while it’s a time investment, it’s also time together as you talk, joke, watch each other’s strategies, allow yourself to be impressed by the younger player’s genius decisions, develop critical thinking and decision making skills and generally enjoy one another’s company.
Now, it’s time for me to go. The boys’ friend from down the street just came over and we’re all playing Scythe.
*There are currently two expansions with a final expansion arriving in 2018. The board extension works by using the opposite, enlarged side of the base game board and adding the extension to simply provide a larger playing area. I’d recommend that for 5-7 player games.
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