There are several ways of playing the board game Scythe on PC. This article reviews the Digital Edition that can be found on the Steam platform.
Introduction to Scythe on PC: Digital Edition Review
As amazing as Scythe is, playing a physical board version can sometimes be difficult. It can be hard to get people together regularly or at all and single-player games can get long to set-up and play.
Or you could just be in doubt if the game is really for you – the physical version is more expensive and if you don’t like it or only play once a year, it might not be the best of investments. Luckily, you can play Scythe on PC with the Digital Edition available on Steam. The game is available for under 20€, but I have bought it on sale for less than half of that. Waiting for a sale is the right way to go.
Scythe: Digital Edition is a full port version of the board game. That means all the rules and artwork are implemented accurately. The game looks and plays just like its tabletop brother. As I have already reviewed Scythe, I won’t go into more detail here. Digital Edition has received plenty of patches already and is a matured and well-polished piece of software.
- The price is a bargain. For just a fraction of a physical board game edition, you get the same thing (gameplay-wise). With Steam’s refund policy, you get 2 hours of gameplay for free and if you don’t like the game, you can just refund it, no questions asked. If you don’t have the option to try out the physical game at a friend’s house, this is the next best thing.
- Gameplay speed. This is pretty much self-explanatory. The computer does all the calculations automatically and it frees up a lot of time. That means you can play more games in the same period.
- Excellent practice tool. Scythe is a complicated game. Even when you learn and understand the rules, there are plenty of strategic options with all the different factions, mats, and cards – meaning every game requires a different approach. AI is always there to challenge you to try new things.
- Undo button. Sometimes you click on something you didn’t intend and one wrong move can easily ruin your game. This tool is especially useful for beginners trying to learn the game and the interface. Of course, there is no undo option in multiplayer.
- After the initial release, reviewers reported a lot of bugs. After numerous patches, I can report that I have not found any. Development is continued, so things are only going to improve. UI was reportedly very bad at the release and is now greatly improved.
- In multiplayer, every faction has a separate time bank for its turns, which prevents stalling and keeps the game flowing smoothly.
- Rozalski’s art style is brilliantly ported. All the illustrations on the cards are here. Miniatures and mechs are now painted in detail and look even better and different for each faction. The graphics are splendid and the experience as a whle is highly immersive.
- When I played for the first time I found the music a bit dull and repetitive, but after more matches with different factions, I found it very good, immersive, and diverse. It’s also different for each faction, as it tries to match the flavor of each one.
- Some information is partially hidden in the interface. There are a lot of things to keep track of in Scythe: player mats, resources, combat cards, mech abilities, enlisting, etc. It takes at least a couple of games to get a good overview of everything and to know where to look and what to look after.
For example, when you get into an encounter, the encounter card is covering the scoring line at the top, making it harder for you to make the best choice. Yes, the card can be temporarily hidden to see the scores, but that’s just another couple of unnecessary clicks. I’m sure a more elegant solution could be found.
- Gameplay speed. This is also a negative, especially for beginner players. As the computer makes calculations, many things happen at once (players receive bonuses on enlisting, stars, resources, etc.) and it’s hard to keep track of why something has happened. In a physical game, you know exactly why a player received two popularity because you had to calculate it yourself. In Digital Edition, it’s already the end of the turn, when you figure it out (if you even bother).
- Multiplayer is not very populated. You can still find games though, you just need to be patient.
- Experienced players report that the AI is predictable and not enough of a challenge, even on the highest difficulty. I am still a novice player, that has problems beating the AI at medium strength, so can’t confirm it, but it’s something to take into account if you are a Scythe veteran.
- Invaders from Afar is the only expansion available, but it’s not included in the base game and must be bought separately.
- While the music is good, the sound effects are generic and not very impressive. There are tap sounds as moves are performed and not much else.
- The tutorial is compiled from a series of separate challenges. Although it gives you some overview of how the game is played, an absolute beginner will still have trouble understanding it without outside help (a rulebook or a guide). But it’s better than no tutorial at all, I guess.
Just like its big brother, Scythe: Digital Edition reveals itself only after you played a couple of matches. The user interface takes a bit of time to get used to, but the biggest revelation to me after about ten to fifteen games was just how awesome the game of Scythe is.
The more I played, the more its excellent balance of different victory conditions, approaches, resource management, engine building, and factions became apparent. Even more so is that evident with the Digital Edition, just because of the sheer number of games you can play compared to the tabletop version.
I would recommend this to anyone interested in Scythe, be it a beginner or an experienced player. The amount of practice and experience you can get out of this product is second to none. I’d even go a bit further and say, buy this before you buy the physical version. It’s cheaper and you will get an excellent idea of what Scythe is all about.
Scythe is not the only board game I have played on Steam: