My Little Scythe - Review
My Little Scythe
WBG Score: 7/10
Player Count: 1-6
You’ll like this if you like: Tobago Clank Ticket to Ride
Published by: Stonemaier Games
Designed by: Hoby Chou, Vienna Chou
Let’s start this review by making it very clear. I love Scythe! It’s one of my favourite games of all time. I love the theme. The art is sumptuous. The components ooze class. The engine building aspects are incredibly satisfying. Every game feels fresh to me. Scythe is a top 10 game for me.
But, and this is a huge but, I was strangely intimidated by this game when I first got it. Having received this game as a gift from my sister for my birthday a few years back, I was thrilled to get the game, but found the rule book to be too much for me at the time. It was early in the hobby for me, but still, I was being a little lazy with it.
My Little Learning Curve
At a board game café in London, I mentioned this to a member of staff there, telling him rather ashamedly I had owned Scythe for a whole but still not played it. He suggested to me to try My Little Scythe first, to get my head around the rules and concepts. I thought this a novel idea, and he offered to teach me and my friend the game. He taught us the game in around 10 minutes and I loved it and the rest, as they say is history. I got Scythe to the table fairly soon rafter this and it was amazing. Learning it after My Little Scythe felt a lot less intimidating now. The basic concept of My Little Scythe laid the foundations and made the experience a lot less daunting.
Having played both games many times now, I look back at that time and wonder why I was ever so confused. Scythe to me now seems simple. But it’s good to remember how I felt back then. As I play more and more games, learning new ones become simpler. Mechanisms, rules and general game concepts becomes more familiar to me and piecing together how new games work comes a lot easier to me. I suppose its like anything in life, the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
So, I owe a lot to My Little Scythe. It started me on a new journey of gaming that I will never look back from. However, after playing My Little Scythe in that café all those years ago, I never got round to buying it. Having a copy of Scythe felt sufficient to me. My son and I played it many times together and have had such wonderful experiences with it. But I was always left feeling a little sad that my wife was not drawn to the game, and my daughter did not feel she could play it being five years old.
My Little Children
When My Little Scythe came through the door, my children were instantly drawn to the bright vibrant colours on the box. This is a game designed from top to bottom, with a younger audience in mind. But do not be mistaken. This is not just for young children. This can be a great family experience for all adults and kids alike.
The game itself came about when a five-year-old girl named Vienna Chou in Cananda made a print-and-play version of Scythe with her father Hoby, in an attempt to make the main game more accessible to them as a family. Their version won the 2017 Board Game Geek Best print and play game for 2017. This brought the game to the attention of Stonemaier owner and the designer of the original game Jamey Stegmaier, who contact the Chou’s to discuss making the game into a full published version. And that is the copy we have before us today. Quite an origin story isn’t it!
What caught the attention of Jamey and all those who voted in the 2017 awards was the smooth way the original had been stripped down and represented in a accessible way whilst still holding onto the original games sense of adventure. The engine building was gone, which is a shame, but the feeling of progression still exist in the trophies.
My Little Review
My Little Scythe works very simply as an exploration game with some elements of pick-up-and-deliver, take-that, fighting and area-control. But none of that really explains the feel of the game. Set in a completely different world to the original, My Little Scythe puts you and your family into the world of Pomme. Your task is to complete four out of eight possible missions as quickly as you can, to become to the new ruler of the land. There is a cute story in the rule book to introduce your family to this background.
The order in which you complete these missions, and of course, the four you chose to do, are entirely up to you. As such, each player and each game you will find very different approaches being attempted. Initially, the most obvious seems to be transporting either four gems or four apples to the central space on the board. This is due to the gems and apples being left tantalisingly for you all at set-up. But all other missions all feel approachable and achievable. This game is designed to make the player feel in control.
The game starts with a brilliantly simple random set up with three items; either apples, gems or mission tiles, being placed on the board for each starting player. The mere presence of these on an otherwise empty starting board does encourage players to think delivering these to the castle will be an easier opportunity for a completed trophy. But it doesn’t always work out that way!
This is largely in part to the multiple moves required to pick up four of these items and then take them to the central space. Both because you may find better uses for these items, and also because other players may start targeting you if you gather too many resources. Moving onto the space of a rival adventurer initiates a pie fight! The looser is sent back to their starting space leaving behind all their juicy items. But much in the way this game keeps everything family friendly, the loser of any pie fight is rewarded with either two pies or a spell card for your troubles.
The game as been expertly put together in this way. Right from the punch boards, clearly labelling each component, so you know what it is you are removing each time (why don’t all games do this?) to the brilliantly laid out and worded rule book. This game is so accessible. Even new players to the hobby will be able to learn this game in under 20 minutes and teach others in ten. Let me try and do the same to you in three short paragraphs.
My Litte Set-Up
To set-up the game, you will use the starting tile to randomly place three different items, gems, apples or mission tiles onto the board. Three for each player. Lay out all the cards onto the marked spaces on the board. Then give each player one spell card, a player board, their two miniatures, and one mission card. This will be a randomly assigned card that modifies one way you can complete a mission each game. You will place your markers on the starting spaces for your pie counter on the right side of the board and friendship on the left. Place the dice and left-over gems and apples nearby to everyone.
On the player board you will see that you start the game with six simple options on your turn. You can move you characters two spaces each, one if they are carrying an item. Search for more items buy rolling the dice, placing them on any space on the appropriate colour based on the dice roll. Or change two items for something else. Two apples become two pies for example, or one apple and one gem can become a power up token. When you take your turn, you place your coloured pawn onto the spot you want to do, to remind yourself which action you took. Because on your next go, the only rule is you must not repeat your last action.
Players will then take it in turns to take actions to try and attain trophies. There are eight up for grabs, first to four triggers the end game. You can get a trophy for reaching eight or higher on the friendship chart, or eight or higher on the pie tracker. Another can be awarded for winning a pie fight. You can also get trophies for taking four gems or four apples to the central castle space. A trophy is also awarded for having three spell cards, completing two missions, and finally, for getting two power up tiles. You can only get one trophy per turn, even if you qualify for two on the same turn, apart from the final round, which is triggered when the first person gets their fourth trophy. This gives each other player one last go to try and catch up. That’s it!
My Little Game
The game plays very quickly. When playing with three players, I found we could finish within 30-minutes, and in a four, usually 45-minutes once all players had become familiar with the mechanisms. Each game felt fresh and light, but full of tight but fun decisions to make. As a family, we all enjoyed this immensely, and I did not see a huge advantage being an adult playing against an eight and five-year-old. Everything on the board, cards and player board is so clearly worded or laid out with large and well-designed icons. The only question my five-year-old asked a few times was what the wording meant on the power up tiles, as they were not as familiar to her at the start.