Tournaments (Scythe)

While there is no official Scythe tournament organization, we love to hear when fans, game clubs, retailers, and conventions host tournaments. To aid in the creation of those tournaments, we’ve put together some suggested guidelines. Feel free to add your thoughts, ideas, and experiences in the comments!


Purpose: Decide up front the purpose of the tournament. If it’s to bring new players into the world of Scythe (a teaching tournament), you’ll need to find volunteers to teach the game with at least 3 rounds of play (1 to teach the game, 1 elimination round, and 1 final game). For a tournament focused on experienced Scythe players, you can jump right into the action, and each round won’t take as much time. If you have a mix of new and experienced players, you might ask the new players to show up a few hours early for a teaching game.

Promotion: Please post the tournament information (be clear about the location) in the Scythe Facebook group. You can also mention it in the comments on this page.

Structure: The number of rounds generally depends on the time available and the number of players. At Gen Con, for example, the tournament spanned multiple days, beginning with a qualification round for seeding and then several elimination rounds before the final table. Most tournaments just last a single day and can be as few as 2 rounds.

Number of Players per Game: We suggest aiming for 4-5 players per table, which gives you flexibility if too many or too few players show up. If any game drops down to 2 players, those 2 players should be split among other tables instead (or take a player from another table).

Faction/Player Mat Selection: Faction mats and player mats should be randomly paired for each game, just like any game of Scythe (if Rusviet/Industrial is randomly paired, reshuffle). Auction each pair of mats, with players bidding coins to be deducted from their end-game score (e.g., if I bid $10 to claim a certain pair, at the end of the game, instead of scoring $80, I would score $70). I recommend using a rule implemented during the Gen Con tournament that says players may not bid on or use the same faction in the tournament. So if you play with Polania in the first round, you cannot play with them in any future rounds if you advance.

Gameplay Changes: As noted in the Scythe rulebook, in-game trading is not allowed in tournament play.

Final Table: To determine who advances, by far the most important factor is a player’s ranking in the previous game(s) as related to other players in those games. I would suggest using a 7-point system since Scythe can potentially go up to 7 players. The first-place player gets 7 points, second-place gets 6 points, and so on. The final table should have 5 players, and tiebreakers will be determined by total coins in previous games (e.g., if two players have 12 total points from the first two rounds of a tournament, the player with $111 coins from those games would advance over the player with $95 coins).

Disputes: Ideally players will treat each other with respect and flexibility (e.g., if I forget to gain the coins from a bottom row action, if I remember before it’s my turn again, it’s fine for me to gain those coins). The tournament coordinator has final say over rules disputes and accusations of foul play.

Prize Support: If you host the tournament in a game store or a place that sells anything (like a board game cafe or bar), we recommend collecting a few dollars from each participant and buying something from the store as a prize. In select cases, Stonemaier will consider supporting the tournament with a prize (contact, but it’s our preference that tournaments support local stores instead.

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15 Comments on “Tournaments (Scythe)

  1. Do any of you play in the UK. We have a bunch of people based in the south of England (Portsmouth) and are looking for a more challenging level of play. A tournament would be amazing, I have all the add-ons including Rise of Fenris.

  2. Hi Jamey, what method do you recommend for faction/player mat bidding? Going around repeatedly and putting coins on each faction, bidding coins for 1st, 2nd etc. pick, or any other? A friend wants to use this in a non tournament game.

    1. Ahmad: Just so it doesn’t drag out too long, I’d suggest giving each player a random player mat, and then bidding on faction mats from there, with each player allowed to place 1 bid for the mat (change the starting bidder each time). As usual, Rusviet/Industrial isn’t an eligible pairing.

  3. Something I’ve implemented for those who are either deliberately slowing the game to time out and win, or are in analysis paralysis is using a minute timer.

    If they are taking more than a reasonable amount of time anyone can flip the timer, that way the player whose turn it is knows that they have 1 minute left.

    Also, making use of “I’m going with my top row while you are finishing your bottom row” is great especially in games where someone who isn’t taking their turn can witness what each person is doing Really speeds things up.

    1. The only problem with bottom-row overlap is that it actually does give the slow player a little more information advantage–particularly if they are Enlisting.

  4. Hello, Jamey!
    We have already held a tournament last year, and now we are preparing another tournament. Last time we had some difficulties. The final game lasted for more than 4 hours, during which some players began to lose motivation.
    How can we correctly limit the time of the turn (or the time of the game) in the upcoming tournament?

      1. Yes, I know=) Our games lasts for 40-100 minutes usually.
        I think the main problem was the some players’s desire to win =)
        Two players spent 5-10 minutes on turn, despite the fact that all of them were experienced. Others used not more than 30 seconds.
        By the way, “The downtimers” scored the most points and took 1st and 2nd places.
        However, we do not consider this approach fair, so we want to limit the time to turn (or all turns of player?) at the next tournament. And we need your help!=)

        1. It sounds like those players had a hugely negative impact on everyone’s experience–it’s unfortunate that they put winning above fun. I would suggest using a sand timer for each player’s top-row action (the bottom-row action won’t matter due to the overlapping turns rule).

          1. Yes, I think 1 minute is enough for sure. If they haven’t taken their top-row action within 1 minute, they must place their action token on the section to the right of the section they selected on their previous turn, and their turn ends without them doing anything.

  5. We have long talked about how awesome it would be to enter a tournament. Our gaming group has almost forty plays, and almost a hundred head-to-head plays. We groom ourselves for the hypothetical tournament, tracking every statistic and exploring every strategic scenario, hoping someday we’ll get to jump in and destroy some fools. Or see how bad we really are.

    I sure hope these start popping up soon.

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