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Scythe on PC: Digital Edition Review

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As amazing as Scythe is, playing a physical board version can sometimes be difficult. It can be hard to get people together on a regular basis or at all and single player can get long to set-up and play.

Or you could just be in doubt if the game is really for you – physical version is more expensive and if you don’t like it or only play once a year, might not be the best of investments. Luckily, you can play Scythe on PC with the Digital Edition available on Steam. Game is available for under 20€, but I have bought it on sale for less than half of that.

Scythe: Digital Edition is a full port version of the board game. That means all the rules and artwork are implemented accurately. Game looks and plays just like its tabletop brother. As I have already reviewed that, I won’t go into more detail here. Digital Edition is now just over a year old and received plenty of patches already.

The Good

  • Price is a bargain. For just a fraction of a physical board game edition, you get the same thing (gameplay wise). And with Steam’s refund policy, you get a 2 hour of gameplay for free and if you don’t like the game, just refund it. If you don’t have the option to try out the game at a friend, this is the next best thing.
  • Gameplay speed. This is pretty much self-explainatory. 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 of time.
  • 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 slightly different approach. AI is always there to challenge you trying new things.
  • Undo button. Sometimes you just 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.
  • At the initial release, reviewers reported a lot of bugs. After numerous patches, I can report that I have not found any. Development is still continued, so things are only going to improve the UI has been even worse at the release and is now greatly improved.
  • In multiplayer every faction has a separate time bank for its turns, which encourages against stalling and keeps the game flowing smoothly.
  • Rozalski’s art style is brilliantly ported. All the illustrations on cards are here. Miniatures and mechs are now painted in detail and look very nice and different for each faction.
  • 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, trying to describe the flavor of each one.

The Not-So-Good

  • Some information is partially hidden in the interface. There are a lot of things to keep track in Scythe: player mats, resources, combat cards, mech abilities, enlisting etc. It takes at least a coupled 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 harder for you to take 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 computer makes calculations, many things happen at once (players receive bonuses on enlisting, stars, resources etc.) and its hard to keep track 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, its already the end of the turn, when you figure it out (if you even bother).
  • Multiplayer is not very populated. Nothing much can be done here – it is a port of niche board game in a niche hobby department. You can still find games though, just don’t expect mainstream popularity.
  • Experienced player report that the AI is predictable and not enough of a challenge, even on highest difficulty. I am still a novice player that has problems beating the AI at medium strength, so can’t really confirm it, but its something to take into account if you are a Scythe veteran.
  • Invaders from Afar is the only expansion available, but its not included in the base game and must be bought separately.
  • Sound effects are generic and not very impressive. There are tap sounds as moves are performed and music plays in the background.
  • Tutorial is compiled from a series of separate challenges. Although it gives you some overview about how the game is played, an absolute beginner will still have trouble understanding it without outside help (rulebook an/or guide).

Verdict

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, 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 for the sheer numbers of games you can play compared to the tabletop version.

I would suggest this to anyone interested in Scythe, be 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 what Scythe is all about.

Check my review on digital version of Catan

Have you tried the PC version yet? Let me know you thoughts about it in the comments below.

Vasilij

4 thoughts on “Scythe on PC: Digital Edition Review

  1. I love this!  I am addicted to board games and am always looking for new ones to play.  I had not heard of Scythe, but it does sound incredibly interesting.  I actually love the fact that you can play it on line and that you can play for 2 hours, and then decide whether you like it or not . Perfect.

    I have joined a games group, so I will definitely try out the digital version first, and then purchase the board game if I am able to figure it all out.  Do you know if there are tutorials on Youtube?

    This is great, I will definitely subscribe to your website for tips.

    Renée

    1. There is plenty of Scythe (both physical and digital edition) related material on youtube, just look it up. You got walktroughs, tutorials, playthroughs and reviews. When it comes to board games, I like the channel No Pun Included the most. They are both informative and entertaining.

  2. Thanks for addressing a lot of questions I had in regards to gameplay  

    I am always leery when board games transition to digital. 

    Im still apprehensive on how the game play will be, but as you stated it’s hard to get people together to play board games consistently. 

    I’m guessing this would be a better investment  

    1. I have played about 20 games of Scythe Digital Edition in the last week. For the same number of games on the tabletop edition, I reckon it would take me 6 months if I had to geto people together every time.

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