Scythe: Invaders From Afar – Review and Tips

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It’s been a while since I played Scythe, mainly because I was preoccupied with other games. I had its expansion, Invaders From Afar, on my Steam wishlist for quite a while, and when it came on sale, I got back into the game to see what’s new, how do the new factions play and how do they fit in the Scythe universe.

Read my review of Scythe here

It’s worth noting that my gameplay experience is mainly based on the digital edition. However, as this is identical to the Invaders From Afar tabletop version, all the strategies and rules apply to both.

Scythe Invaders From Afar Review Box

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What do Invaders From Afar add to Scythe?

As the title suggests, the expansion adds two new playable factions (Togawa and Albion) with their faction mats, miniatures, and tokens. Starting locations of these factions are already on the original Scythe map, but their origin is a bit further way from Eastern Europe – they come from the far east and the British isles.

Two new player mats are added and there is now a possibility to play with up to 7 players. Two rules are slightly altered for 6 or 7 player games:

  • Crimea’s Wayfare ability is now: Move to any unoccupied farm, as moving to other player’s now-occupied bases makes no sense.
  • Polania’s ability to pick two encounter outcomes is less powerful since it won’t be able to access that many encounters. This is mitigated by gaining $3 (at end-game) for each controlled encounter territory.

A 7 player game will take longer, so that is something to take into account. Estimated, the game takes about 30 minutes per player.

New factions are also a bit more challenging to play, so make sure you are familiar with the game before you try them out. For example, they both lack the Speed ability but start on the mainland already. That means your movement turns and flag/trap placement must be well-thought-out, as it seriously affects your mobility later on.

All the basic Scythe strategy still applies, of course. Following is the overview of new faction’s specific play styles, in a similar fashion as my Scythe base game factions overview.

Clan Albion

Scythe Invaders From Afar Review clan albion

Faction special ability: Exalt

Your character has the option to place a flag token (they get four of those) at the end of his movement. Each tile with a flag on it counts as an additional territory at the end of the game, providing you already control that tile. In other words, if you leave flag tiles unoccupied, they won’t count for anything.

Mech special abilities

Scythe Invaders From Afar Review albion mech

  • Burrow: Character and mech can cross rivers from and into tiles with tunnels (and mine).
  • Sword: Before combat as the attacker, the defender loses 2 power.
  • Shield: Before combat as the defender, you gain 2 power.
  • Rally: Character and mech can move to any territory containing a flag or your worker.

Starting location/resources: food and metal, with direct access to village and oil.

Scythe Invaders From Afar Review starting location

Starting power and Combat cards: 3 power and no combat cards.

Albion’s main goal should be to increase its mobility with the Rally ability. To move into a tile with a worker is a very powerful tool in moving your character and mechs (which can carry additional workers) around quickly. You can then also place flags – which you should every time you move your character, so make sure you place all four.

One of the strategies would be to move in such a way towards the factory, marking your territory, ready to defend it instantly. Or you can play a bit more defensively and expand cautiously.

Rally allows you to gather your forces on a single tile instantly, and with 3 starting power, Shield and Sword ability, opponents won’t fancy going your way.

Once you’ve got your mobility built up, it’s business as usual. Build your engine, optimize your top and bottom row actions, and start collecting stars. Keep an eye out on what others are doing and adapt if something unexpected happens.

Togawa Shogunate

Scythe Invaders From Afar Review togawa shogunate

Faction special ability: Maifuku

 

After movement, your character has the option to place an armed trap token on a tile. Armed trap tokens count as territories for Togawa at the end scoring (no other units necessary). A trap can be unarmed if an enemy unit enters the tile. It then gets flipped over and the enemy must pay one of the four previously hidden penalties (four trap tokens are available):

  • Lose 2 popularity,
  • Lose 3 power,
  • Lose $4,
  • Discard 2 random combat cards.

Disarmed traps don’t count as territories, but can be re-armed with the Shinobi ability. It’s worth noting that traps also don’t count if an opponent builds a structure there. If he moves with workers into your trap tile, you better counter-attack!

Mech special abilities

Scythe Invaders From Afar Review togawa mech

  • Toka: Once per turn move a character or a mech across a river.
  • Suiton: Character and mechs can move onto and off lakes. They can use one additional combat card on lakes and place traps on them.
  • Ronin: Before combat with exactly one unit (no workers), gain 2 power.
  • Shinobi: Character and mech can move to any tile with a trap on it, possibly arming it.

Starting location/resources: food and oil, with direct access to metal and village.

Scythe Invaders From Afar Review togawa starting location

Starting power and Combat cards: no power and 2 combat cards.

Togawa is even more immobilized than Albion. This, combined with its Maifuku and Shinobi abilities, suggests a very defensive play. Considering you have all the resources in your relatively large starting territory, this is a viable strategy.

You will struggle with power. You start with none and you need it for production, so that is something to start working on (with enlisting, building an armory, or with a corresponding top row action) immediately.

Traps are very useful to keep your opponents off structure building bonus hexes and tunnels. Make sure to place all four of them, as they count for territories themselves. You can also place them on lakes. Then, if someone decides to move into that territory, you will have an easy counter-attack with Shinobi.

A defense-oriented keep-to-yourself strategy is my suggestion. Then, if someone comes close, pounce for those combat stars.

Invaders From Afar DLC for Digital Edition

Invaders from Afar is available as downloadable content for Scythe Digital edition on Steam. It adds exactly what the boxed version adds to the base game: two new factions.

Scythe Invaders From Afar Review togawa token

All the main features of the digital edition (you can read my original review of Scythe: Digital Edition here) still apply:

 

  • Fully ported Scythe with all the content, rules, and art.
  • Excellent practice tool for quick battles against bots. You can play a lot of games in a very small amount of time, giving you chance to try out different approaches and tactics.
  • Multiplayer is not the brightest point. Stick to the tabletop variant.

Pricing for the expansion is a bit high (half of what they ask for the base game), so waiting for a sale is the way forward. Other than that, there is not much to say. Expansion is implemented fully, and if you like the original digital edition, you’ll definitely want to add the expansion to your collection.

Conclusion

If you’re an avid Scythe player, Invaders From Afar (either tabletop or physical version) is pretty much a mandatory addition. Even if you don’t plan to play with all 7 factions at the same time, both new factions add enough novelty to the game, to keep you occupied, forging new strategies.

And if you’re able to bring together six other like-minded friends, you’ll be up for a game of epic proportions.

Click here to check out the price of Invaders from Afar on Amazon

If you have any questions about Scythe, Invaders From Afar, Digital Edition, or this article, post them below.

For invaders from a galaxy far, far away, check out 11 Best Star Wars board games.

Vasilij

Scythe: Invaders From Afar

4.75

Theme and Art

4.8/5

Game Mechanics

4.7/5

Replay Value

4.8/5

6 thoughts on “Scythe: Invaders From Afar – Review and Tips”

  1. Scythe is high up on my nephew’s wish list for games he wants to own and play. He’s 15 so I’m guessing he’s probably old enough by now to cope with the rich and complex game environment it appears to offer. I’m really pleased to see that the makers of Scythe are now offering these expansion packs for the game – I hope it’s a sign of more good things to come. Your review certainly makes it sound very tempting, thanks very much for the recommendation.

    Reply
    • He’s definitely old enough for Scythe. Take a look at my base game review, I suggest to start with that.

      There are more expansions and accessories available (like The Wind Gambit), I’ll take a look at them in the future.

      Reply
  2. Hey, If I understand correctly, Two new player mats are added and there is now possibility to play with up to 7 players? Even if you don’t plan to play with all 7 factions at the same time, both new factions add enough novelty to the game to justify the purchase?

    Reply
    • Yes, you understand correctly. I would recommend to buy, regardless how many players are in your group. New factions are really well made.

      Reply
  3. Wow! Thank you for this complete review. I have the product base and I think this is a great expansion for Scythe, I like both of the new factions – they lack some of the same type of movement abilities from the other facts but make up for this with more specialized actions over all. Especially nice is their shared ability to lay flags / traps and use these as instantaneous waypoints. The mini & pieces for the Albion Faction (Scotland) look great and are very detailed, likewise bits for Tokogawa (Japan) looks decent too but I am not a fan of style for some reason (I guess their parts look a bit bulky to me).
    By the way, as you wrote that there is a possibility to play with up to 7 players. Is it not too crowded? Have you ever play with 7 players?

    Reply
    • It’s not crowded – there’s enough space for every faction. Main problem is the downtime; you’ll be waiting a long time for your turn. It’s nice if the players know what they’re doing to keep the flow of the game smooth.

      Reply

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