Scythe: Solo Mode - A short review

Supporter

I managed to carve out some time this afternoon to play a quick single player game of Scythe versus the Automa. Here are a few of my thoughts about the experience: 

(+) - The overall feel of the experience was similar to playing against real opponents. I was impressed by the variety of actions included in the automa deck. I really like the “scheme shift” that ramped up the difficulty about halfway through the game. 

(+) - The automa was easy to run. Once you learn how to read the cards the game flowed very quickly. There are not a lot of finicky things to do each turn.

(+) - Scythe is a blast to play. You build up your player board but you never feel totally secure as you watch enemies march towards you. Your engine, although carefully constructed, can fall apart in an instant if your opponents take a hex. 

(+) - Production values are simply off the charts. The wooden Meeples, the plastic minis, the card quality, the boards, and even the money bits are amazing. 

(-) - The iconography can be a bit much at first. Most games have this learning curve, so Scythe is not alone in this, but it’s almost like you need to learn a new language with each game you play. 

(-) Although the blending of many different mechanisms in Scythe is one of its greatest strengths, it can also be a weakness too. Sometimes I find myself yearning for more engine building options. Or more combat choices. If the game focused more on one of these areas would it lose some of its greatness? Again perhaps my forthcoming expansion plays will address this.

(-) - Combat is not the most rewarding endeavor. Even if you win you don’t really feel like you’ve won. I’ve heard that the expansion fixes this but I’ve yet to play it. This initial play was to prepare myself for the campaign. 

Overall:

Scythe is an amazing multiplayer experience and my first solo play was almost as amazing. The automa cards are easy to use and make for a decent opponent. I give this game a very solid 90%. 

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11 months ago

Good to hear it plays well solo. Wingspan is also great solo, so I was hoping Scythe would be as well. Gives me hope that I may get Scythe one day :) 

Supporter11 months ago

Morten Pederson from the automata factory does very good work. I think all of the stonemaier games have AI by him. 

11 months ago

Yeah, they use Automa Factory for all their stuff. Brilliant minds for sure. I find making a multiplayer game difficult enough; making it play--and play well--with one player is a very daunting task haha

Owner11 months ago

Since getting to know each other around the forum, I've really enjoyed seeing more detailed reviews like this. The game looks awesome and I wonder when @trentellingsen will ever pull it out (it's a tough game to get out for our typical board game night).

Supporter11 months ago

It plays great at 2 players also... just saying. 

Supporter11 months ago

I think I've mentioned this before, but playing with ScytheKick with the Automa Helper makes the solo experience much smoother.  And it allows you to run multiple Automa very easily which make for a richer experience in my opinion.  I think running multiple Automa help with the combat as well because you can be involved but not always and helps you plan your combat too, but also puts you at a higher risk of combat.

Supporter11 months ago

Can you explain how it works? I looked into ScytheKick but it seemed really kind of expensive for what you get and I wanted to learn how to play without the app first. 

Supporter11 months ago

I'll do my best.

The Automa helper allows you to select up to (I think 6 Automa) although I've only done it with two.  Each Automa in the helper will have a screen with the Automa cards.  You click on the card to draw it for the Automas turn.  Then you are able to look at the map of the game and it tells you what piece to select and where to move it on the map.  Then your board should look like the map on the screen.  You also have the ability to draw the combat card in the Automa helper.

Supporter11 months ago

Do you think the automata pattern or strategy could be copied in a game with other players effectively?

Supporter11 months ago

No. The automa can teleport it’s units and also treats lakes as normal hexes. 

Supporter11 months ago

Oh I didn’t realize that. That makes it tough to beat. 

Supporter11 months ago

I assume you haven't had a chance to mess with Spirit Island yet? 

Supporter11 months ago

 Not so much yet, no. I’m still in the rules learning phase with that one. I didn’t have a ton of time yesterday so I wanted to play something that I was already fairly familiar with. 

Supporter11 months ago

What is your general feelings about component quality and that sort of thing? 

Supporter11 months ago

In Spirit Island? They are OK. The cards feel like good not great quality, definitely a step worse than FFG or Stonemeier games. They were super vacuum-packed into the shrink wrap, though. The miniatures seemed fine. The map tiles were good. The side board was a bit warped but should be ok once it settles down a bit. 

Supporter11 months ago

I've thought about taking this one out to play solo. I just like this one so much

Supporter11 months ago

I’ve been in the same spot. My group doesn’t meet often enough for my liking so I’m jumping headlong into solo gaming!

Supporter11 months ago

Go for it!

Supporter11 months ago

Mostly lines up with my thoughts. Good write up. 

Supporter11 months ago

Thanks for the write-up! I've tried to solo Scythe but it's hard for me to get through the automa rules :(

Supporter11 months ago

I can't recommend ScytheKick enough.  It helps you think only about what you're doing and basically runs the Automa for you.  I could maybe see some people not liking this because they enjoy figuring out the movement for the Automa but for me it just picks up the pace and allows me to focus on what I want to do and on how to react to the Automa instead of stumbling over (did I do this right or move this right?).

Supporter11 months ago

I’ve actually checked into this but on iOS you have to upgrade to the premium version, then pay for the Automa helper, and then I’d have to pay for the Rise of Fenris content. I wanted to make sure I could do it on my own. 

Supporter11 months ago

Oh I totally get that.  I think I paid for it in increments and I was lucky enough to buy it with the early purchaser discount.

Supporter11 months ago

That’sa Great suggestion to keep in mind, i might look into it

Supporter11 months ago

I think maybe with more practice you could get the hang of it. It’s actually not that complicated once you get into the flow. 

Supporter11 months ago

That’s the hope at some point. I glanced over the Automa’s rules at one point but i realized i wasn’t familiar enough with the regular rules to really understand the new exceptions, mostly neighborhoods?

Supporter11 months ago

Yeah it definitely helps that I have played the regular game plenty. Neighborhoods sound more complicated than they actually are. 

Supporter11 months ago

good to know. i'll give it another shot. on that note, have you tried incorporating the automa into multiplayer games?

Supporter11 months ago

Yes. It is a bit to get ahold of. But once you have it you are good.