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Review: Mega-hit boardgame Scythe goes digital on Steam


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Scythe is a heavy German-style board game that combines worker placement, area control, resource management, a little combat, and a point salad scoring with a setup so ornate that Alice Waters wanted to put it on her menu (read our original review of the game to see for yourself.) Scythe has been among the top-rated games on BoardGameGeek since its 2016 release thanks to an extremely well-balanced design, very little randomness, and the use of many different mechanics in a single game. But it comes with a steep learning curve—both for rules and strategy—which makes the game ideal for a digital adaptation.

Asmodee Digital, which has established itself as the premier developer for high-end ports of board games, has just released its version of Scythe: Digital Edition to Steam (for both Mac and Windows), and it is unsurprisingly superb. Scythe can easily take two-plus hours on tableto, but it’s now accessible to more players through an excellent tutorial and a clever UI that keeps the screen clear while ensuring that key information is available to players.

That’s important because Scythe requires you to track a tremendous number of things: you’re producing and spending four different resources, collecting three forms of currency (gold, power, and popularity), and trying to achieve six out of about a dozen possible objectives (such as getting to eight workers, building all four buildings, or reaching 16 power within a turn). The digital Scythe handles all of this accounting for you, keeping track of what you can do, what you still have left to do, and oh by the way did you forget you were entitled to this? There’s nothing intuitive at all about the rules of Scythe, and it’s the kind of game that will likely keep even experienced players peeking at the rule book. The app handles all of that quite smoothly, offering mouse-over prompts so you know what each option does and a series of questions and confirmation dialogs for each set of actions you can take.

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