Hexes as far as the eye can see...

Digital Scythe releases for PC/Mac today

PC/Mac •

Asmodee Digital told us at Gen Con that Scythe for our laptops would be coming out in Q3 and, well, they weren’t lying. Scythe has shed its Early Access shackles and moved onto full release today for both PC and Mac nearly 3 weeks before the third quarter of 2018 comes to an end. What are you waiting for? Details? Oh, okay, check after the jump.

Scythe is a pretty big deal in the board game universe, so a digital version carries a bit of weight. As such, I’ll let the publisher tell you all about the game so I don’t miss anything:

In an alternate reality in 1920s Europa, it’s been several years since the “Great War”, but the ashes of the conflict are still hot and the war is entering a new phase. The first conflict saw the emergence of some incredible engines of war known as Mechs. Built by “The Factory”, an independent city-state which has since become the object of everyone’s desire, these technological monstrosities roam the snowy landscapes of Europa.

Be the hero of one of the five factions – Saxony Empire, Crimean Khanate, Rusviet Union, Polania Republic or Nordic Kingdom – and become the richest and most powerful nation in all of Europa during these dark times! To assure the victory of your people, you will need to explore and conquer new territories, enlist new recruits and deploy your forces by building formidable and terrifying combat Mechs. Replay history in a fictional past full of mechanical engines and technology, where each choice you make will be critical. Choose your battles with care, because in Scythe, victory is achieved with and for the people!

Gameplay:

  • Asymmetry: every player starts the game with different resources (energy, coins, keen combat sense, popularity…), a different starting location and a secret objective. The starting positions are specifically set to contribute to the uniqueness of every faction and the asymmetrical nature of the game.
  • Strategy: Scythe offers players almost complete control over their fate. The only elements of chance apart from each player’s individual secrete objective card are the Encounter cards, which players draw to interact with the citizens of newly explored lands. Combat is also handled by way of choice; no luck or chance is involved.
  • Engine Building: Players can improve their construction abilities to become more efficient, build structures that improve their position on the map, enlist new recruits into their faction, activate mechs to dissuade opponents from invading and expand their borders to reap greater types and quantities of resources. This aspect creates a feeling of energy and progression over the course of the entire game. The order in which players get to develop their economy and technologies adds to the unique feel of every game, even when playing as the same faction several times.

Features:

  • Official adaptation of the award-winning board game
  • 4X strategy game (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit and eXterminate)
  • Customize the mat to sharpen your strategy
  • Choose a specialty for unique games: Agriculturalist, Industrialist, Engineer, Patriot or Mechanic.
  • Fight against two levels of AI and/or your friends in hotseat.
  • Check out artistic genius Jakub Rozalski’s retro-futuristic illustrations!

If you’re looking at the screens and seeing a lovely hexmap and mechs you might be thinking Scythe is a standard “Dudes On a Map” game, but it isn’t. In fact, combat in Scythe is relatively rare and the game has more of a heavy-euro feel. Much of the game will be spent moving workers and collecting resources and building/upgrading your faction making it feel closer to Agricola than any conquest game you can think of. It’s a lot of fun, and now that it’s on Mac I’m excited to finally give it a go in the digital realm.

The digital version has AI for solo play as well as online multiplayer that, I’m almost positive, is asynchronous. Yell at me if it isn’t. This isn’t the end of development, either. The Knights of Unity have plans for the future:

What’s next?

  • The end of the Early Access doesn’t mean the end of the free updates: we plan to keep adding new features in the coming weeks and months:
  • Bribes (see page 26 of the rulebook)
  • Spectator mode for online games
  • Textured character models
  • Drag & drop during Move action
  • More local game stats
  • Camera customization (rotation, animations)
  • More improvements to Hard AI

What isn’t mentioned is a mobile version. I was told that they’re targeting the Steam version first and then moving onto mobile. I’m trying to determine if that’s still the case and will let you know as soon as I find out.

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Notable Replies

  1. Ah, Scythe. I’m not going to call it my favorite game ever, mainly because my “favorite game” can change from day to day and is very dependent on who I’m playing with (Cosmic Encounter may get the nod more often than not). I have, though, “pimped” out the game more than any other I own. I’ve got the extra large board, metal coins, all the expansions, custom inserts, and My Little Scythe.

    I think the best thing I can say about Scythe is that it is a euro game that tells stories. What I mean by that is that not only is the game thematic and beautiful, but when the game is over we sit around the table and talk about what happened. You are all gamers, so I hope this makes sense, but with a good chunk of euros, you add the points at the end, and that’s about it. Take Terra Mystica, for example - there isn’t a narrative track to any game. You place your dwellings and start to spread out from there. Sure, maybe you take a tile that someone else wanted, but that doesn’t really create a narrative arc. In Scythe, three seems to be a narrative in the way you grow - maybe I spread around the map rapidly while one opponent went on an aggressive attack and another didn’t do much but then stole some important resources at a critical time.

    The distinction is subtle and perhaps I am doing a poor job of explaining it, but Scythe brings to the euro game some of what I often find missing in the more traditional euro.

    I hope iOS is still in the works.

  2. Hardco says:

    Maybe it is just game familiarity, but here’s the story you just told in Terra Mystica terms:

    I was the Mermaids, and opened with the shipping bonus tile and burnt power to grab an early priest, getting to 3 shipping on turn 1 to grab 4 wetlands without terraforming. Snotty128 was the Nomads (as always), and aggressively built a turn 1 stronghold. jhtaube (Halflings) and saviodo (Chaos Magicians) were forced to terraform early before Snotty128 could use his stronghold power to steal their important expansions. Saviodo pushed for 2 early temples to grab 4 of the best favor tiles before anyone else had a chance…

    I still have not played Scythe, so maybe it does tell better stories than Terra Mystica, but once you are familiar with the races and strategies it’s more than “placing your dwellings and spreading out from there”! I’m afraid I don’t see myself playing Scythe on Steam, so I’ll have to hold out for ios as well.

  3. Fair enough. I’m terrible at Terra Mystica, but I’ve played it plenty. When we are done with a tabletop session, we just don’t seem to break it down as much as other games I play.

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