In an alternate post-WWI eastern Europe, hardy peasants share the land with huge mechanical beasts of war and larger-than-life heroes. A mysterious Factory (possibly alien in origin) sits in the middle of the sub-continent, ripe for looting, and surrounded by up to six nations trying to carve out living-space. The game ends when one player achieves six “achievements” from an array of economic, military, and scientific objectives; players tote up victory points in these areas (and more), and whoever has the most points wins.
If that scenario appeals to you, then Scythe might be your game. But don’t decide for sure until you get a look at the artwork, which is truly the most gorgeous I have ever seen in a tabletop game. Here is a case where graphic design makes the game come alive and immerse in a stunning way.
And then you have the gameplay, which is a fascinating mixture of action-selection, “dudes-on-a-map”, choose-your-own-adventure, resource management, technological upgrading, and combat bluffery. As you can infer from all the above, there are many paths to victory, and you can choose a nation whose strengths play to yours.
Scythe also provides for solo play at varying degrees of difficulty via “Automata”, bots controlled by a special deck of cards which determine the actions of the AI player(s). There is a fan-made app at http://ai.nagytech.com/scythe/ which will handle things digitially, and Stonemeier also provides an iOS version (here). The expansion Invaders From Afar adds two new factions, and the upcoming Wind Gambit introduces airships and alternate endgame triggers.
You should try this if you’re a Eurogamer looking for something heavier, a wargame grognard looking for games to play with your tabletop pals, and steampunk/alt-hist fans seeking beautiful artwork and challenging gameplay.