Deep Dive December 2023: Scythe

Last year I completed my goal to play Lost Ruins of Arnak solo 12 times for the Deep Dive December Challenge. I meant to write a review of the game and my experience at the end of the month but never got around to it for one reason or another. I signed up this year with the goal to play Scythe 10 times. Due to the longer set up and play time along with slightly higher complexity, reducing the number of plays was necessary to be successful. Ultimately, lowering the play count worked out great because there are 5 factions in the game so I got to play as each of them 2 times and played on each of the player boards twice.

I played Scythe two or three times a few years ago, but it has just been sitting on my shelves for years ever since. It's a beautifully produced game that pushes my brain buttons in the best way. It utilizes over a dozen game mechanics that turn it into an engine building game set in an alternate-history 1920s period. The description on BGG does a great job explaining what the game is: "It is a time of farming and war, broken hearts and rusted gears, innovation and valor. In Scythe, each player represents a character from one of five factions of Eastern Europe who are attempting to earn their fortune and claim their faction's stake in the land around the mysterious Factory. Players conquer territory, enlist new recruits, reap resources, gain villagers, build structures, and activate monstrous mechs."

At first sight, the game looks like a war game due to the map on the game board and various miniatures. While combat is an important part of the game and the possibility of it always needs to be considered when making decisions, it doesn't always lead to victory. In fact, there are many ways to win without needing to force fights. The goal is to earn as many coins as possible through various means. Getting one or two of your up to six of stars in combat will certainly aid you in your quest for victory, but focusing on it too much will almost guarantee your downfall.

By the final days of the month, I was able to log my tenth play to successfully complete the challenge. Playing primarily against Automa, the normal solo difficulty, I was able to win 6 out of 10 games. I'm still very much learning how to play each of the factions, but I have a much better understanding on how each one works now. Scythe continues to be my favorite game with a complexity rating over 3. My sweet spot for games is really from 1 to the mid 2s, but sometimes I want something with a significant amount of meat to it. Scythe is a cornerstone of my collection as the one "heavy" game that I'll always want to play. In fact, this deep dive has made me want to add the expansions to play as the other factions that have become available since its release. 

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