If you are new to the hobby and have been checking out which games you should add to your collection then at some point you will be considering Scythe by Jamey Stegmaier.
With a recommended retail price of just under £80 Scythe is certainly expensive but does it represent value for money?
The answer will depend on what you are able to get out of it, so read on to find out if Scythe would be worthy of your hard-earned cash.
If Scythe is a game that will be played regularly with the same group then it is definitely a worthy addition to your collection, as it offers deep and variable gameplay with quality components. If you tend to play with fewer players or alone or if you would only play the game rarely then there are alternatives that represent better options.
There’s no getting around it when you open the box – Scythe is gorgeous to look at and the production quality is really high.
Stegmaier Games has a reputation for producing really good-looking and satisfying games, and Scythe is no exception.
The map is double-sided and beautifully illustrated, and everything else has that extra layer of care and attention that is hugely appealing.
The player boards are recessed, for example, which means that they actually hold the various pieces rather than letting them skitter about the table.
There is also helpful information everywhere you look, and the icons and symbols are simple to understand.
There are many games around this price point that can feel a little overpriced, but Scythe is not one of them – you’ll be proud to put this on your table.
This video by 3 Minute Board Games is a quick but thorough overview of the game, although you should note that the miniatures in this presentation have been painted:
Scythe is a board game for up to five players. so it comes with everything you’d need for that player count, which means at least five of everything.
As players’ armies are represented by plastic miniatures that means that there is a whole load of bits and pieces in the box.
Each player has 36 pieces in their colour, for example, so that’s 180 pieces in the box for a start, and then there are 80 resource tokens, 80 coins and over a hundred cards as well, and that’s before we begin to talk about the board and player mats.
Remember Stegmaier’s reputation for quality?
That applies to every one of these components so the game really offers astounding value for money.
However if you are only ever planning to play Scythe with two players then over half of the game is going to go to waste, so suddenly that bargain doesn’t look quite so appealing and then the box begins to look much more expensive.
So for Scythe to start looking worth it you would really need to have four players at the table.
This is also because the extra armies make for a more interactive experience so the game is at its best with more players.
However, Scythe is a game with lots of rules and it can definitely feel totally overwhelming for a new player or for somebody who is new to the hobby.
Make no mistake, you can just dive in and learn as you go along but…well, you would be making lots of mistakes.
This How To Play video by Rodney Smith tells you everything you need to know to play the game, so if your eyes begin to glaze over a few minutes in then Scythe might not be for you.
On the other hand, if you and your friends get together regularly and are bored with Catan then Scythe could be exactly what you are looking for.
Each of the different factions in the box has its own strengths and weaknesses, and you’ll also be coming across random encounters during the game, so there is a lot to play through before you will have seen all that Scythe has to offer.
There is even a bespoke solo mode which you can play with the dedicated app to run the other armies.
Scythe is something that you could play multiple times with the game group and have a different experience every time, even if you are playing with the same faction.
Swap the factions around – maybe even run a league where everybody tries each faction – and you have some serious longevity going on, and that means value.
Okay, so you have your regular game group and a regular game night and you’ve decided to explore Scythe in detail, but wait!
Scythe is a game that is directly confrontational, so if you or any of your friends are going to take an attack personally then things could get tense and there are better options for your money.
If your group can laugh those things off then or can at least put those things aside for the duration of the game then Scythe can be a lot of fun.
There is a long list of components in a box of Scythe, but there are no dice.
The game is designed to have only low levels of luck, so it is usually going to favour the most skilful player, or at least those who have played it the most.
If your group grows into Scythe together then you could end up having some awesome games, but if three of you play against a total newbie then they are probably not going to have much fun.
Again, consider the group who will be playing this game when working out whether the game is worth it.
Now, if you have read these considerations and are convinced that Scythe is the game for you then by all means go out and buy it.
If you have any doubts, though, don’t feel that you have to buy Scythe “just to see” because there are loads of other options out there, and one of them is closer to Scythe than you think!
For two players:
- Antike Duellum is a two-player only game set in ancient Greece and Rome in which players build up armies and navies and gather resources to expand. Like Scythe the combat is done without dice.
- My Little Scythe is the version of Scythe specifically aimed at younger gamers, so if you like the idea of this game but want to play it with your family then this is a great choice.
For care bears:
- 7 Wonders is a great card game for up to 7 players which gives the feeling of building a civilisation and economy, and while there are military elements there is no direct conflict.
For casual gamers:
- Deus has simple rules that lead to some really powerful combos as you explore different terrains and expand your empire.
So should you buy Scythe and add it to your collection?
Well, you should definitely consider buying it if:
- You want a deep and involving game that rewards a variety of approaches
- You are likely to have a consistent group of players
- You will be playing it with four people most of the time
- You want a game that rewards skill but which still has some elements of luck
- You like aggression and expansion in your games
You should still consider it but also weigh up some other options if:
- You will mainly be playing solo or just with one other person
- Your other players take in-game aggression personally
- You are very new to the hobby and find too many rules stressful
- You are not going to be playing it regularly
Let’s be clear. None of the negative options above means that you definitely shouldn’t buy Scythe, only that you should probably be thinking about other options, which could also be cheaper.
Perhaps it’s helpful for me to finish with my own take on this and explain why I don’t own Scythe, even though I would definitely play it if somebody offered me a game.
I mainly play either solo or in two so I just don’t think that spending a chunk of money on Scythe represents good value when there are better choices for me.
Also, when I do get a group of players together they tend to be new to the hobby, so Scythe would be much too aggressive and complicated for them.
Even though I think that Scythe offers great value for money in terms of what is in the box it doesn’t offer the same bang per buck when I think about how often I might play it.
In terms of content and quality Scythe offers great value for money, and seen in those terms it is a great use for your gaming cash.
However, we gamers need to look at prospective purchases in terms of gaming value as well, and ask ourselves how many plays we are likely to get for our money, and it is this part of the equation that you need to think about very carefully before dropping Scythe into your shopping cart.
Here’s our balanced viewpoint on value for money on Scythe – weigh up the options below whilst considering your gaming group, budget, and personal playing style:
- Scythe is a deep and involving game
- The different factions all feel different and really mix things up
- The production values are stellar
- Stegmaier Games have a great reputation for listening to players
- There is a decent solo mode even if it’s best with an app
- It needs four players to be at its best
- It really needs to be played repeatedly for maximum enjoyment
- It’s probably too difficult for new players
- There’s a significant amount of aggression so it’s not for everybody
- There are other games that do similar things for less money