Sometimes a good design can be simplified to make a similar game with that great design still shining through. You might be wondering if this is the case with My Little Scythe, as it takes its predecessor, Scythe, keeping its similar mechanics and simplifying the game and adding on a different theme. Well, luckily, Stonemaier Games was nice enough to send a review copy to me so I could find out!
My Little Scythe uses area control, dice rolling, pick up and deliver, and a battle mechanic where you pick how many pies you want to use in that fight adding any magic spells to see who wins the battle.
What’s the Story?
The Kingdom of Pomme is known as the ancestral home of the 7 animal kingdoms and is a source for crispy red apples and magic gems. Each year, each of the 7 kingdoms send 2 of their most promising young seeker siblings to participate in the Harvest Tournament. The tournament is dynamic, and you can win doing far different things than another. The first to earn 4 trophies in the event is crowned the new rulers of Pomme. This tournament has been the way of sharing power over the kingdoms and is sought by many young animals. You and your fellow players seek to prove that you are worthy oof overseeing Pomme on the behalf of your kingdom.
What’s In The Box?
1 main board with several tracks
7 pairs of seeker sibiling miniatures, each representing an animal kingdom
1 setup tile to populate the map
16 power up tiles to help improve actions
2 pie fight dials used to resolve pie fights
6 players mats
8 personality cards used to help with your trophies
7 action tokens in different colors to use to select actions on the player mat
28 trophies tiles, 4 of each color to track how many trophies earned
7 friendship tokens, 1 of each color to track friendship level for each player
7 pie tokens, 1 of each color to track pies on the pie track
7 base camp tiles, 1 of each color to assign base camp locations
5 dice used to locate gems, apples, and quests
30 magic spell cards to give added abilities
12 quest cards providing difficult decisions
24 apples tokens, 24 magic gems, and 12 quest tokens
How’s It Play?
Players will start with a player board to be used to choose the actions they want to take during the game. Players will move the pawn from one section to another without being able to take the same action twice in a row. Each player will also have 2 miniatures placed on the edge of the map and apples, gems and quest tokens are placed onto the board matching the setup tile.
Players will take turns selecting an action to take listed on their play board such as move, seek, or make. Each action shows what you can and cannot do when taking the action. Again, when selecting an action you need to move your action token to a different action you took on your previous turn. Now, whenever you decide to build a power up tile by visiting the make action and paying the listed resources, you can place a new power up tile on top of one of the 3 action boxes that will upgrade what action(s) you can take in that category. Want to move further or easier? Power up the move tile. Want to place resources out that will more benefit you somehow? Power up the seek tile. Want to make things for less resources or the same resources gaining a better benefit? Power up the make tile.
What’s the goal of the game?
Players will prove their worth by earning trophies. The first player to get 4 trophies wins the game and can win by gaining different trophies than all other players. There are 8 different ways to gain a trophy.
Friendship – When a player reaches 8 on the friendship track, that player will gain a trophy even if they later fall below. Players gain friendship by placing resources on another player’s tile when taking the seek action, or maybe during a random quest.
Power Ups – When a player gains one of each power up tile, that player will receive a trophy. Power Up tiles can be gained by paying the costs listed on that player’s Make action and taking that action.
Spells – When a player gains 3 or more spell cards at a time, they gain a trophy, even if they later use those cards. Spells cards can be gained by paying the costs listed on that player’s Make section and taking that action.
Quests – When a player resolves 2 quests successfully, they gain a trophy. Whenever a player moves one of their characters on a space with a quest token, they can draw the top card of the quest deck. That player then decides if they would like to successfully achieve the quest by taking one of the top 2 options, or they can choose “no thanks” and receive what’s stated on their chosen section.
Apple Delivery – When a player delivers 4 apples to Castle Everfree, that player will earn a trophy. The apples can be collected from anywhere on the board. But when collecting resources, movement usually changes and characters will move slower than when without resources.
Magic Gem Delivery – When a player delivers 4 gems to Catle Everfree, that player will earn a trophy. This goal is very similar to the apple delivery, except it’s using the gems instead.
Pie Fight – When a player wins a pie fight as either an attacker or defender. Whenever a character moves into a space occupied by another, a pie fight occurs. The attacker will lose 1 friendship, the two players involve use dials to secretly determine the number of pies they will throw without exceeding that player’s total pies shown ono the pie track. In addition, each player can choose to add one magic spell increasing the total number of pies they are throwing. Players reveal their dials and magic spells at the same time, whoever throws the most pies, wins.
Pies – When a player reaches 8 pies on the pie track, that player will earn a trophy. Players can bake pies by taking the Make action and paying the cost listed on their player board.
Again, the first player to 4 trophies of any type wins the game.
The game actually does take Scythe’s mechanics and makes a new simplified game out of them. If you think Scythe is a great game, then think of My Little Scythe as a simplified version of something you like to play. Some might decide they love My Little Scythe because it’s a lot quicker to play, the gameplay is more streamlined, and the theme is cuter. But other might say they love Scythe, but the simplified rules, or the theme doesn’t attract them to this game. There seems to be no hard rule, probably because it’s a different game.
What’s the best way to win?
There are strategies that include certain trophies to go after, while others might include another set. But there is never a set of trophies that will win you the game every time. The game will change depending on how players play the game. But I do have some personal pointers I have been able to find.
- Pie Fight – This might be an easy way to get a trophy depending on how many pies your opponent has. But also, there is no guarantee as a magic spell can really help. Initiating a pie fight might also make it easy for the defender to gain a trophy without using actions to do so if they end up winning the fight. So my pointer would be to prepare for a fight, but only attack if and when you think you’ll win, and if you are also trying to get your friendship to 8 as well, try to do that before fighting as it will move you down on the friendship track which is counterproductive.
- Friendship track – If you want to get this trophy, try placing resources on other player’s spaces as much as possible, but try placing the opposite resource that it seems like they are collecting.
- Apple/Gem collection – If other players are gifting you with resources, take advantage and make a plan to get 4 of whichever type to the center of the board.
- Power Ups – This is an easy way to upgrade your actions while also earning a trophy. But only go this route if the upgrade is going to benefit you toward a trophy.
- Quests – My personal favorite as I like exploring and reading random cards. When trying to complete quests, try to have some resources to use toward these. Also, this would be good to go after when other players are placing resources on spaces you’re on, as they are trying to move their friendship up. This probably wouldn’t be something you would do in addition to collecting apples and gems to deliver to the middle.
From what you see in the box, the game has received a lot of love. The components are very nice. Starting with the gametrayz all the way to the miniatures you will see how well produced the game is. They didn’t even skimp out on the resources as they are nice plastic pieces instead of a game that could have been produced with a bunch of cardboard chits.
The game is easy enough for kids to know how to play, but a good strategy might require a player of wise age. Winning the game depends on your competition in the game (other players), changing your strategy with the everchanging opportunities, and understanding that the game is a race, a race to 4 trophies.
Images via Stonemaier Games