FAQ – Scythe

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Forcing Workers to Retreat: The first two sentences on the right column of page 11 (Moving into Opponent-Controlled Territories/Controlled by Workers) should read, “If your character or mech move into a territory controlled by an opponent’s workers (and no other units), its movement ends (even if you have a mech ability that would allow it to move further). Each of the opponent’s workers on that territory immediately retreats to their faction’s home base, leaving behind any resource tokens.”

This reflects the original intention of the rule, which allows a player to move a character/mech into a territory containing opponent worker(s), force those worker(s) to retreat, and then move a different unit through that territory.

Completing Objective Cards: There was some ambiguity in the original rules about exactly when on your turn you could complete an objective. Usually the timing doesn’t matter, but for a few cards it does. So we clarified the timing as follows: “You may reveal a completed objective card during your own turn before or after you complete a top- or bottom-row action.” Basically, you can’t complete an objective in the middle of an action.

What are some things I should keep in mind during my first play of Scythe (multiplayer)?

  • Complete the steps of each action from top to bottom. This is particularly important on the Produce action. Before you do anything else on that action, pay the cost (if any). Are you done paying the cost? Good. Now proceed to gain the benefit.
  • Overlapping turns. There is a note in the rulebook that says that when the opponent to your right is taking a bottom-row action, you can start to take your turn. That’s because an opponent’s bottom-row action rarely has an immediate impact on you. Once you get into the flow of doing this, you can significantly decrease Scythe’s playing time.
  • Scoring over $100 is very rare, except in low-player-count games with little combat. If you score over $100, there’s a good chance you might be missing an important rule. I would recommend you read Highlighted Rules on page 31 (in fact, I would recommend that to everyone after your first game).

What are some things I should keep in mind during my first play of Scythe (single player)?

Here are two detailed threads on BoardGameGeek to check out:

Do I need multiple sets of the expansion Automa cards if I also have multiple sets of the original Automa deck?

The current version of the Automa deck incorporates all of the changes that the 4 replacement cards in the ‘expansion set’ add to the original version of the Automa deck. No one needs the ‘expansion set’ for the recently produced Automa decks.

The current version of the deck will work with any faction (original or expansion). The original deck wouldn’t work with the two new factions. The 4 replacement cards (the expansion set) are identical to the cards they replace in the original deck, with the following exception: These 4 new cards have faction specific actions for the two new factions. Therefore, you ONLY need to have these cards in your deck, if that deck was published before the expansion and if you are having the Automa play one of the two new factions (the new cards still work fine if you are not playing one of the two new factions).

If you are updating original Automa decks, you need a maximum of two expansion sets and this is only if you are having the Automa play as BOTH of the new factions at the same time. As an example, you could play as Albion against the Automa who is playing, Togawa, Rusviet, and Polonia, with three Automa decks, but only one needs to have been updated with the expansion set (for Togawa).

Can I log my game stats somewhere and see if some factions or player mats are stronger than others?

Sure! Fabrice Essner set up two surveys for this purpose (BGG link):

DSCN6572Why does a little bit of the back-of-board art show up on the edges of the front of the board?

When you print a doublesided board, you’re actually printing two pieces of paper and applying one to side A and one to side B. You have to apply one piece of paper first, then the other. The second piece of paper has to wrap around the other side a little bit to stay in place.

Usually you don’t notice this in a game because the board only has one side or the two sides are very similar. But in the case of Scythe, the art of the back is at a different scale than the front. We decided to wrap it the way we did so players who use the extended board would have a seamless game board—the seam between the board and the board extension would be disrupted by the extra wrapping.

Can I take an action more than once per turn?

Nope. On your turn, you choose one section of your player mat, and you can either take the top action, the bottom action, both, or neither. You cannot take the same action more than once.

How does the Mill work?

It’s similar to the upgrade on the Produce action, with a bonus. If you upgrade the Produce action, you get to produce on 3 different territories, right? The Mill does the exact same thing–it’s a third territory for production (or a fourth if you’ve already upgraded the Produce action). In addition to that, if you choose the Mill’s territory as 1 of the 3 territories where you produce, the Mill itself produces as if it is a worker.

If you choose to produce on the Mill’s territory (say, a mountain) and you have 1 worker there, the Mill produces 1 metal and the worker produces 1 metal. You could even choose the Mill’s territory if there are no workers there, and the Mill would still produce 1 metal (in that example) as if it were a worker. Here’s where Rodney talks about it in his Watch It Played video.

Example: You have 1 worker each on a mountain, farm, and tundra. You also have a Mill on the village. When you select the Produce action, you may choose 2 territories from the mountain, farm, and tundra to produce on. The Mill is on the village, so the village will also produce if you want it to. The Mill itself will act as a worker for production, so it produces 1 worker. If you would had another worker on the village you may also produce 1 worker (though having a worker on the Mill’s territory is not necessary for it the Mill itself to produce).

A BGG user created a short guide that explains the Mill here.

Can I move a mech/character with Seaworthy or Submerge onto or off of a lake if they don’t have Riverwalk?

Yes. There isn’t a river between your mech/character and the lake. Think of it like this: If you walk along the shore of a lake, is there a river between you and the lake? Nope. It’s just land, then water. Same thing in Scythe–rivers are between two land territories, while a lake is adjacent to land territories.

If my mech/character ability lets me gain 2 power at the beginning of combat, and if that power boost would give me a star (16 total power), does the game end immediately or does that combat happen?

Each individual combat happens in a self-contained bubble–once a combat begins, it continues through completion. This is a rare case where it’s possible for two players to have 6 stars (it is not possible to get a 7th star, as there is no 7th star token).

Since the first player is the player with person with the lowest-numbered player mat, it’s possible for the next player (clockwise) to have a much higher-numbered player mat with more starting components than the next player. How is that fair?

The starting resources on the player mats are staggered based on two factors (both of which have a very minor impact on the game): One, player order. Two, the playtest data for each individual mat (which shifted around in terms of numerical order during playtesting). So even if the #5 mat is in the second position in clockwise order, part of the balance of that mat’s starting resources is that the #5 player mat appeared to be ever so slightly weaker than the others during the blind playtest process.

Overall, though, the impact on the game is very, very small. If you find it’s more fun for you to deal out the mats clockwise by number, it will not break the game.

Why is there a place on the board for objective cards?

There’s a place on the board for the objective cards in case a future expansion has players draw cards from the objective deck or interact with it in different ways. There is no such interaction in the base game.

Why is Scythe classified as a 4x game?

My intent isn’t to wedge Scythe into that category or mislabel it, but rather to expand what seems to be a narrow definition. Below are the Wikipedia definitions of each of the Xs:

Explore means players send scouts across a map to reveal surrounding territories.
Expand means players claim new territory by creating new settlements, or sometimes by extending the influence of existing settlements.
Exploit means players gather and use resources in areas they control, and improve the efficiency of that usage.
Exterminate means attacking and eliminating rival players. Since in some games all territory is eventually claimed, eliminating a rival’s presence may be the only way to achieve further expansion.

Here’s why I chose to apply the 4x label to Scythe:

Explore: In Scythe, characters are moving from their homeland onto a patch of land surrounding the mysterious Factory. The landscape itself is known–you can look across the horizon and see there’s a mountain there. What you don’t know is (a) the encounters you’ll have along the way and (b) what you’ll find when you get to the Factory. It’s in those elements of discovery that you are exploring in Scythe.

Expand: In Scythe, players claim new territories with their units and buildings. At the end of the game, territory control is a big part of scoring.

Exploit: In Scythe, players gather and use resources (food, metal, oil, and wood) and improve the efficiency of that usage through upgrades, building, and enlisting.

Exterminate: In Scythe, players can use mechs and characters attack other players and eliminate opposing units from territories. It’s true that you’re not permanently killing units, though in any game it’s tough to kill an inanimate plastic token (maybe melt it?). It’s also true that Scythe is more often about the threat of combat than combat itself.

All of that said, I don’t want people thinking that Scythe is a game about flipping over hexes and constantly killing opponents’ troops. Rather, I hope people see Scythe as a different take on 4x.

Unofficial Variants

We’ve read about some neat variant ideas on BoardGameGeek. These aren’t official variants, but these ideas in particular intrigue us:

  • Team Variant: Play Scythe in teams of 2 (decide teams at the beginning of the game). Play everything as normal, except each team has 10 stars to place (instead of 6 per player), and they may only place 1 star on each section of the Triumph Track (the Saxony player does not have this limitation for objectives and combat). At the end of the game, count up each player’s coins, add them to their partner’s coins, and compare each team’s total to determine the winner.
  • End-Game Variant: When a player places their 6th star, their turn immediately ends, and each other player may take one final turn. However, those players may not take Move actions.
  • Rusviet Variant: In 2-3 player games (where each player is likely to get more encounters), the Rusviet player cannot use their faction ability to place their player token on the their Factory card on sequential turns. Also, do not allow Rusviet to use the Industrial player mat.

Where can I purchase Jakub Rozalski’s art for my house?

Jakub sells prints of his art here.

Why are there typos in the art book?

There are about 8 pages with text in the entire book. 7 of them were proofread and are near-perfect. 1 of them (page 4) was not, and it’s for a reason.

Page 4 contains a letter written by Jakub to the reader of the book. Jakub’s English is excellent, but it’s not his first language. I could have edited and rewritten Jakub’s letter, but it would be like editing an exact quote. You can’t do that (well, you can, but I didn’t feel it was right).

Please don’t read page 4 and see typos. Read page 4 and see the words of an artist who put his heart into the world of Scythe–the art, the game, and the book. Jakub is very proud of this book, so give him the opportunity to speak to you on page 4 as if you were looking him eye to eye, thanking him for letting us into his world.

Why isn’t the board modular?

There are five key reasons why the map isn’t modular.

  1. The art simply wouldn’t be nearly as cohesive if it were made of modular tiles. The Scythe board tells a story; modular hexes do not.
  2. The world of Scythe isn’t modular–this is a specific world we’ve built that’s based on an alternate-history 1920s Eastern Europe, not a random one generated by the players.
  3. The map is one of the biggest aspects of the faction-based asymmetry in the game. We’ve designed the Nordic faction’s abilities based on them starting in the north with limited access to certain resources, for example, and all factions have a mech “riverwalk” ability that correlates precisely to their homeland. Same with all the other factions.
  4. The board includes three tracks and several places to put cards, which allows for better organization than if these items were floating around the table.
  5. There’s already a lot of variability in the Scythe setup (namely, 25 different combinations of faction and player mats and tons of different objective and encounter cards).

How big and heavy is Scythe?

All versions of Scythe are 300 x 365 x 98mm. The weight of the retail version is 3.28 kg (7.2 lbs).

What are the card totals for the KS editions of Scythe?

  • 36 encounter cards (8 of these are promos)
  • 18 factory cards (6 of these are promos)
  • 27 objective cards (4 of these are promos)
  • 42 combat cards
  • 5 Riverwalk cards
  • 5 quick-start cards
  • 31 Automa cards

In the KS versions, the promos are in the same shrinkwrap as the other cards.

Also see the breakdown for each edition of Scythe below:

© 2017 Stonemaier Games