Scythe

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Scythe Game Rules How to Play Guide

1 -5  players

115 mins

Age: 14 +

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Scythe is set in an alternate-history in the 1920s. It is a period of farming and war. There are five Eastern Europe factions vying for fortune and land in the mysterious region called ‘The Factory”.

What is the goal?

Each player represents a character trying to make their faction the richest and most powerful in Eastern Europa. Players begin the game with power, coins, combat acumen and popularity. Each player starts in a different location and has a hidden goal. They will build infrastructure, explore the world and combat other factions.

Game advances as players gain stars (achievements on the board). The game ends when a player places their 6th star on the Triumph Track. Stars are earned by:

  • Deploying, upgrading mechs
  • Building structures
  • Enlisting recruits and workers
  • Completing an objective card
  • Winning combat
  • Gaining popularity and power

The goal of Scythe is to have the greatest number of coins at the end of the game. Typical winning fortune is $75. You collect them during the game but earn most during end-game scoring.

Collect coins for star tokens, territories and resources controlled. 

You earn coins for:

  • Every star token placed
  • Every territory controlled
  • Every 2 resources controlled

The number of coins you earn is dependent on your popularity (the higher popularity the more coins). You also get bonus coins based on the location of the structures you have built.

 

Important Concepts to Note

Territory 

A territory is a hex on the board represented by the following:

Learn Scythe Board Game - Terrain Types

Home Base

Each player has a home base as a starting point. You can also retreat to this point after losing a battle.

  • Home Base is not a territory – you cannot move units, build structures or deploy mechs onto any home base
  • Expansion factions – there are 2 home bases that are placeholders for expansion factions

Learn how to play Scythe - Home Base

Control

You control a territory if you have at least one unit there or you have 1 structure there with no enemy characters, workers or mechs. Only 1 player at a time can control a territory.

Resources

  • Once produced, resource tokens (wood, food, metal, and oil) remain on the board
  • You spend resources from territories you currently control
  • Resources are wood, food, metal, and oil. Workers are not resources.

Spend resources from your controlled territories

Spend resources on your controlled territories for actions related to territories anywhere on the board. For example, you can spend 3 metal tokens you control on one or more territories to deploy a mech on the same or a different territory (if you have a worker on that territory).

Supply

When spending a resource, remove it from the board and place it in the general supply (side of the board). When producing or trading a resource, move it from the supply to the territory where it was produced.

There are no limits to the number of resource tokens in the game—use multiplier tokens as needed.

Types of Units

There are 3 types of units. These are their traits.

  • Character
    You are represented on the board by your character. You have been sent on a mission by your faction’s leader to claim the uncharted regions surrounding the Factory. You can:
    • engage in combat,
    • have encounters, and
    • (once per game) gain a Factory card if they end their movement on the Factory
Scythe Board Game - Character
Character
  • Mechs
    • can engage in combat
    • when moving, can transport any number of workers
    • cannot transport your character

      Scythe Board Game - Mech
      Mech
  • Workers
    • produces resources,  more workers
    • deploys mechs
    • build structures

      Scythe Board Game - Worker
      Worker

Unit types share the following similarities:

  • units can move around the board (not over rivers or onto lakes, by default).
  • units can transport any number of resource tokens.

Faction Abilities

 

Game setup 

  • Randomly shuffle the Faction and Player Mats
  • Deal 1 of each to each player
  • Each player should sit near their faction’s home base with Faction and Player Mat positioned in front of them;
  • the seating order should be Nordic, Rusviet, Crimea, Saxony, Polania (Clockwise from top).
  • Faction mat/player mat combinations of Rusviet/Industrial and Crimea/Patriotic are not allowed. If you draw these combinations, discard the player mat and randomly draw again.

Learn to play Scythe - Faction Setup

Faction and Player Mat show your starting cards and track positions in the
boxes on the far right of each mat.

Learn Scythe Board Game - Faction Mat

Learn Scythe Board Game - Player Mat

Learn Scythe - Character and Workers

You choose actions from your player mat

How to play Scythe Board game - player mat setup

You store your mechs, stars, and coins on your faction mat. Each Faction Mat also shows a special ability in the upper right corner.

Learn Scythe - Faction mat setup

It is recommended not to teach every rule to new players. Each player gets a quick-start card which contains key information about units on one side, and broad concepts on the other. It also provides suggestions for the first five turns.

Use the first game of Scythe to see how things work, referring to the rules when necessary.

Learn Scythe - Quickstart card

Each player gets a riverwalk card which reminds which factions have the ability to cross into each home territory if they unlock the Riverwalk mech ability. Each Riverwalk ability is slightly different.

Gameplay

There are no rounds or phases. Players take turns one after another until the game ends when a player phases their 6th star on the board.

 

Scythe Board Game - Player Turn
Learn Scythe board game - Choose Section
On start of your turn, choose a section that is different from your previous turn

On your turn,  you may take:

  • a single action or
  • both actions (top action and bottom action) or 
  • neither action (you must still move your action token)

You may also complete an objective card. 

The costs (red boxes) and benefits (green boxes) on your Player Mat are shown by the number of empty spaces before the action is taken.

When taking an action:

  1. Pay the cost
  2. Gain as much or as little of the benefit as you wish

You may only take an action once on your turn, not multiple times.
After completion of your turn, (or as you’re finalizing your decision on a bottom-row action, the next person in clockwise order takes their turn.

How to play Scythe Board Game - available turn actions

Top-row Actions

Each Player Mat has a different order of Top-row actions. Here is an explanation of the different actions.

Important notes about movement:

Resources and Workers during Move action:

  • Units can pick up and drop off any number of resource tokens 
  • Mechs can pick up and drop off any number of your workers. The action only counts towards the movement of the Mech. e.g. you can transport workers on the Mech and then move the workers using their movement.

Rivers and Lakes

Units cannot move across rivers or onto lakes. Some mech abilities overcome this.

Scythe Board Game - Rivers and Lakes

Tunnels

All territories with tunnel icon are considered to be adjacent during Move action.

Moving into opponent controlled territories

Note that workers cannot move by themselves into territories controlled by opponent workers, characters or mechs.

Scythe Game Rules - movement options

Home Base

You may not move any unit from the board into any home base (including yours)

Encounters

If your character moves into territory with an encounter token, its movement ends and cannot move again for this turn. 

Resolve Encounter after resolving all combats for this turn.

No Limit

There is no limit to the number of same-faction units on a territory.

 

Scythe Game Rules - Bolster

Pay the cost and gain one of the following:

  • Increase power by 2 on the Power Track
  • Draw 1 combat card. Combat cards are used to augment the power spent in combat (players may spend up to 1 combat card per character/mech in combat). If combat card deck is empty, shuffle the discard pile to form new deck 

Learn Scythe Game Rules - Trade

Pay the cost and gain one of the following:

  • Gain 2 Resource tokens (any combination of oil, metal, food or wood) and place on any territory you control (with at least 1 worker on it). Trade action cannot be taken if all workers are on your home base
  • Increase popularity by 1 on Popularity track.

 

Learn Scythe Game Rules - Produce Section Produce

Pay the cost (indicated by what is shown on all exposed red rectangles before taking Produce action.

Choose up to 2 different territories that you control. All workers on these territories may produce. Each worker produces 1 token.

Resource token is placed on production territory.

If a worker produces another worker, place leftmost worker of the Player Mat’s Produce action and place it on the village.

Learn Scythe Game Rules - Terrain Type Production

You are required to pay the full cost to take the Produce action. Take other actions if you don’t have the coins, popularity, and/or power.

Any number of resource tokens or workers can be on a territory. There are no limits to the number of resource tokens in the game. If necessary, place a multiplier token next to resource tokens on the board.

Workers are permanent as once you have a worker on the board, you cannot return it to your Player Mat.

Combat

Combat may happen at the end of a player’s Move action (after all units have moved but before the player takes a bottom-row action). If that player’s character and/or mechs share a territory with an opponent’s character and/or mechs, combat occurs.

Combat can happen on multiple territories; in that case, the attacker chooses the order of combat.

Combat occurs only between the two players whose units share a territory, whoever wins the combat gains a star. Other players may try to influence the combating players by bribing them with coins.

Limited Stars and Game End

Each player can earn a maximum of 2 stars for winning combat (except for the Saxon player, who can gain unlimited combat victory stars),

Players may still engage in future combats after they’ve achieved those 2 stars. If your 6th star is placed but you still have a combat remaining on your turn, the game ends and any units you moved to initiate that combat will move back to the territory from where they came.

Battle in a Lake

Lake battles can occur between factions like Polania and Nordic who have activated lake-related mech abilities. If a mech transporting workers is attacked while on a lake and the attacker wins combat, the attacking player loses 1 popularity for each of those workers (they are forced to retreat with the mech to their home base).

Bottom-row Actions

The bottom-row actions are in the same order on all Player Mats, but the costs and benefits vary. The Player Mat visuals and
the default costs and benefits explained in this section are based on the starting position of each Player Mat.

Upgrading improves your empire’s infrastructure efficiency. The resource used to upgrade is oil.

To upgrade:

  • pay the cost,
  • pick up a technology cube from any green box on your Player Mat, and
  • place it on any empty red box with bracketed borders. Red boxes with solid black borders are off limits for upgrades.

Learn Scythe Game Rules - Upgrade

Learn Scythe Game Rules - Deploy Deploy mechs (miniatures) to:

  • protect your workers,
  • expand your empire, and
  • add new abilities to your character and other mechs.

The resource used to deploy mechs is metal.
To deploy a mech:

  • pay the cost,
  • choose any mech on your Faction Mat, and
  • place that mech on a territory you control with at least one worker on it.

Mechs cannot be deployed on lakes (even if your faction has mech abilities allowing your mechs to move onto lakes).

From now on, your character and all mechs (not your workers) gain the ability on the Faction Mat that was under the mech miniature. These abilities vary from faction to faction. 

Rusviet Faction

Riverwalk – Player’s character and mechs can move across rivers onto farms and villages

Township – you can move character and  mechs between villages you control and the Factory (considered as adjacent)

People’s army – In combat where you have at least 1 worker,
you may play one additional combat card.

Speed – Your character and mechs may move one additional territory per movement.

Nordic Faction

Riverwalk – Player’s character and mechs can move across rivers onto forests and mountains

Seaworth – Your character and mechs can move to and from lakes and retreat onto adjacent lakes (you may still also retreat those units to your home base). Lake hexes are treated the same as other territories for movement.

When transporting workers onto a lake, workers or resources may not be left on the lake after moving off of it, nor may a worker move off of the lake without the assistance of the mech.

Lakes are territories, combat between two factions with lake-movement ability is possible. You cannot build a structure or deploy a mech on a lake.

Artillery –  Before engaging in combat, you may pay 1 power and cause combating opponent to lose 2 power. Loss of power is reflected on the Power Track. You may do this once per combat, not once per unit.

Speed – Your character and mechs may move one additional territory per movement. 

Crimea Faction

Riverwalk – Your character and mechs can move across rivers onto farms and tundra.

Wayfare – Regardless of distance, character and mechs may move from a territory or home base to any inactive faction’s or your own home base.

An “inactive faction” is any faction not currently in the game, including the expansion factions. Normally players may not move into any home base, but this is an exception to that rule.

Scout – Before engaging in combat, steal one of the opponent’s combat cards at random and add it to your hand. You may do this once per combat, not once per unit.

Speed – Your character and mechs may move one additional territory per movement. 

Polania Faction

Riverwalk – Your character and mechs can move across rivers onto villages and mountains.

Submerge  – Your character and mechs may move to and from lakes and move from any lake to another (similar to tunnel movement, but with lakes).

When transporting workers onto a lake, workers or resources may not be left on the lake after moving off of it, nor may a worker move off of the lake without the assistance of the mech.

Lakes are territories, combat between two factions with lake-movement ability is possible. You cannot build a structure or deploy a mech on a lake.

CamaraderieYou do not lose popularity when forcing an opponent’s workers to retreat after winning combat as the aggressor. This applies any time on your turn when your character or mechs force an opponent’s workers to retreat after combat.

Speed – Your character and mechs may move one additional territory per movement.

Build structures (structure tokens) to:

  • enhance actions,
  • control territories, and
  • get end-game bonuses.

The resource used to build structures is wood. To build a structure, pay the cost, pick up any structure from your Player Mat, and place it on a territory you control with at least one worker on it.

LIMIT 1 PER TERRITORY: Only 1 structure can be built on each territory. If you’re the first player to build a structure on a specific territory, neither you nor any opponent may build another structure there.

STRUCTURE CONTROL: Opponents can’t use your structure abilities. You always get your structure abilities even if you don’t control the territories they’re on (except for the Mill–you can’t Produce on the Mill’s territory if you don’t control that territory).

TERRITORY CONTROL: A territory with one of your structures on it is under your control even if you have no units there. However, if an opponent’s unit is on a territory with your structure, that territory is under their control.

PERMANENCE: Structures cannot be destroyed or moved.

FACTORY: You may build on the Factory territory.

PLACES YOU CAN’T BUILD: Your home base isn’t a territory, so you can’t build there. You also can’t build structures on lakes.

ONGOING BONUS: The benefit revealed by removing a structure from your Player Mat is an additional benefit you will gain when taking the top-row action directly above it in the future.

At the end of the game, you will gain coins for achieving goals shown on the structure bonus tile that was randomly selected during setup.

Bonus on structure bonus tiles

Gain coins based on Number of tunnel territories adjacent to your structures. Only count each tunnel once. A Mine does not count as a tunnel, and rivers do not break adjacency.

 

Number of lakes adjacent to
your structures. Only count
each lake once.

 

 

Number of encounters
adjacent to your structures.
Only count each encounter
once. These count whether
or not the encounter tokens
are still there. Rivers do not
break adjacency.

 

Number of tunnel
territories with your
structures on them. A Mine
does not count as a tunnel
for this purpose.

 

 

Number of your structures
in a row (any continuous
straight line is fine; only
count the longest row of
structures you have; rivers
do not break continuity).

 

Number of farms and
tundras with your structures
on them.

You can enlist new recruits (cylindrical tokens) to join your forces. The resource used to enlist recruits is food.

ONE-TIME BONUS:

To enlist a recruit:

  • pay the cost,
  • pick up a recruit token from any section of your Player Mat,
  • place it on any open Recruit One-Time Bonus space on your Faction Mat, and immediately gain the bonus shown
  • This is your new recruit contributing to your forces. The token remains there permanently—it can’t be moved.

The four one-time bonuses are:

  • Gain 2 power
  • Gain 2 coins
  • Gain 2 popularity
  • Draw 2 combat cards

ONGOING BONUS:

Each recruit also gives you a Recruit Ongoing Bonus related to the
your selected the recruit token’s action (the bonus in the circle). 

For the rest of the game, whenever you or the player on your left or right take the bottom-row action on the Player Mat’s section from which the recruit was taken, you may gain the specified bonus. Top-row actions or similar action on a Factory card do not count.

PLAYER ORDER: If more than one player gains a Recruit Ongoing Bonus, the active player goes first, followed by the player to their left, then the player on their right. If a player places their 6th star as a result, the game immediately ends.

PROCLAMATION: Announce when you take bottom-row actions so that adjacent players know to check for Recruit Ongoing Bonuses.


TWO-PLAYER RULES: In a 2-player game, whenever your opponent takes an action that gives you a Recruit Ongoing Bonus, you only gain it once.

Encounters

As your character moves across Eastern Europa, you will encounter a number of local people and situations.

Each encounter will have three options for you to determine how you want to interact with the people.

Your choice will impact your popularity.
When you move your character onto a territory with an encounter token on it, their movement ends and they cannot move again this turn.

When your Move action is completely over and you’ve resolved all combats (but
before you take a bottom-row action, if applicable), discard the encounter token and draw an encounter card.

Only characters will trigger an encounter.

ENCOUNTERS

  • Show the art to the other players and read the thematic text (the text in all caps) out loud.
  • Read through the options costs and benefits on the options and choose one (you choose one and pay the applicable cost)
  • After your selection, discard the encounter card to the bottom of the encounter deck face-down.

REQUIRED COST AND OPTIONAL BENEFIT:

  • Options aren’t available if you can’t pay the cost
  • You may gain as much of the benefit as you like
    (e.g., if a benefit would give you 2 metal and 1 worker but you don’t want the worker, you can just gain the 2 metal).

BENEFIT LOCATION:

Gained resources, structures, mechs, or workers from the encounter card go on the same territory as your character (i.e., where the encounter took place).

ISOLATED COST AND BENEFIT:

You do not pay additional costs or gain additional benefits outside beyond those of the encounter card for instructions that result in you gaining something or performing an action nor do you trigger any Recruit Ongoing Bonuses.

COMBAT:

If combat occurs in a territory with an encounter token, the encounter only happens after a player’s character wins combat. Otherwise the encounter token remains on the territory.

The Factory

The Factory:

  • is the centrepiece of the Scythe board
  • does not produce any resources
  • is worth a total of 3 territories (instead of just 1) to the player who controls it at the end of the game

Character moving to The Factory for the 1st time

When your Move action is completely finished and your character is on the Factory for the first time this game, choose one Factory card and return the rest to the board.

The first player to get their character to the Factory gets to choose cards equal to the number of players +1; each subsequent player will see one fewer card. It’s good to get there first.

A Factory Card is like a 5th section on your Player mat (place next to it)

USING FACTORY ACTIONS:
The Factory card is treated as any other Player Mat section. On your turn, you may place your action token on the Factory card and take one or both actions
(starting with the top-row action if you choose to take both).

SEPARATE FROM PLAYER MAT BONUSES:
Factory card actions are independent of other Player Mat actions. So you get neither Recruit Ongoing Bonuses, Structure bonuses, nor coins from similar actions on your Player Mat.

MOVE:
All Factory cards have a bottom-row Move action.

CONSISTENT WITH OTHER RULES:
All other rules for movement still apply, particularly for events that end entire Move actions  (if your character moves onto a territory with an encounter token or a character/mech moves onto a territory occupied by an opponent’s unit(s))

MINE:
If you have a Mine, you may move through the Mine with this Move action.

SPEED:
If Speed mech ability is unlocked, one of your mechs or your character may move up to 3 territories with this Move action.

ONE-CARD LIMIT
Maximum of one Factory card (the one you choose the first time your character goes to the Factory) per player

PERMANENT SELECTION
Your selection is permanent—you may not switch your Factory card for another card if your character ends a future Move action on the Factory.

Objectives

  • Each player starts the game with 2 objective cards
  • Cards are kept secret from others
  • You may reveal a completed objective card during your own turn before or after you complete a top- or bottom-row action.
  • If revealed:
    • place 1 star token on the Triumph Track’s objective space and
    • discard both your objective cards to the bottom of the objective deck.
  • Only 1 objective star can be achieved unless you’re the Saxon player, who can achieve up to 2 objective stars.
  • You may wait to reveal your completed objective if you wish, but you must meet the all objective requirements when you reveal it.
Scythe Objective Card

Alliances and Bribes

  • Players may negotiate informal agreements.
  • The only items that may be exchanged are coins. In tournament play, coins may not be exchanged for deals or alliances.
  • If combat has been engaged (movement of character/mechs into the same territory), you can’t negotiate your way out of it.
  • Agreements made between players are not enforceable

Placing Stars

As you build your empire, you will earn and place stars. Stars are worth coins at the end of the game. Here are the ways to place stars, as shown on the Triumph Track:

  • Complete all 6 upgrades
  • Deploy all 4 mechs
  • Build all 4 structures
  • Enlist all 4 recruits
  • Have all 8 workers on the board
  • Reveal 1 completed objective card
  • Win combat (up to 2 times)
  • Have 18 popularity
  • Have 16 power

When one of these goals is achieved, you must place a star on the appropriate Triumph Track space. You cannot lose a star after you’ve placed it. 

By default, each player may complete each of these goals exactly one time. Having a star on a goal does not prevent other players from placing their stars on the same goal.

How do you win?

Game End and Scoring

The Game immediately ends when a player places the 6th star token.

EDGE CASES
If the 6th star comes from taking a bottom-row action, before you place the star:

  • gain the primary benefit, the coins, and
  • the Recruit Ongoing Benefit 

If you have units (character, mechs, or workers) remaining on a territory with an opponent’s units (from a Move action), undo that portion of your Move action, returning the unit(s) to the territory they moved from.

If placing a star for total popularity or total power as a recruit bonus on an opponent’s turn, the placement occurs after the opponent’s action (e.g., build a structure) in clockwise order and only if that opponent didn’t place their 6th star by taking that action.

END-GAME SCORING

Count coins you had before the game end was triggered plus end-game coins—to
determine the winner.

To calculate coins you earn for each of the three scoring categories, look at your Popularity Track level and pick up coins for that category 

VARIANT DELAY OF GAME:

Because of the various end-game scoring categories and their connection to popularity, it’s difficult for players to determine who is in the lead (this is intentional).

However, it is possible for a player to interrupt the game to calculate the final score for each player as they plan out their next few moves. That’s not fun
for anyone.

The Delay of Game variant says that if a player delays the game (while the game is being played, not during end-game scoring) for more than 10 seconds by trying to
calculate the final score, they lose 2 popularity.

SCORING CATEGORIES

COINS IN HAND: The coins you accumulated during the game count for end-game scoring.

EVERY STAR TOKEN PLACED: Gain coins for every star token you placed during the game.

EVERY TERRITORY CONTROLLED: Gain coins for every territory you
control (including lakes). Home bases aren’t territories. 

FACTORY: At the end of the game, the Factory is counted as
3 territories to the player who controls it.

EVERY 2 RESOURCES CONTROLLED: Earn coins for every 2 resource
tokens you control (e.g., if you control 13 resource tokens and have 10 popularity, you’ll gain a total of 12 coins). Workers are not resources. You control all resources on territories where you have a character, worker, mech, or a
structure not occupied by an opponent’s unit.

STRUCTURE BONUS TILE: Earn coins based on the number of structure bonuses you achieved. You gain this bonus even if you don’t control the territories your structures are on.

 

DECLARING THE WINNER

Announce your coin total, and the player with the most coins wins!

If multiple players have the same total, these are the following tiebreakers:

  1. Number of workers, mechs, and structures
  2. Power
  3. Popularity
  4. Number of resource tokens controlled
  5. Number of territories controlled
  6. Number of star tokens placed on board

Video Walkthrough

Scythe – How To Play

Scythe in about 3 minutes

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