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My Little Scythe Review


Quick Look: My Little Scythe


Designer: Hoby Chou, Vienna Chou
Artist: Noah Adelman, Katie Khau
Publisher: Stonemaier Games
Year Published: 2017
No. of Players: 1-6
Ages: 8+
Playing Time: 45-60 min

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com


Review:

tl;dr: Mini Scythe experience aimed at younger players. Depth enough to make it tolerable for grown-ups too. Beats playing Hi-Ho Cherry-O again.

Getting to the Game
Place the giant, colorful board in the middle of the table. Place the chosen colors of basecamps around the edge based on how many players are participating. Each player gets a player mat, sibling minis in their chosen color, trophy tokens, and an action pawn. Deal out one spell and one personality card to each player. Starting resources on the board are determined randomly by using the setup tile (a very neat little mechanic).



The object of our little version of Scythe is to be the first to earn four trophies. Trophies can be earned by completing specific game objectives, and each player must diversify their goals--they can't earn the same trophy more than once. These are given out for delivering apples or gems to the castle, winning a pie fight, completing quests, amassing a ton of pies, etc. The endgame is very friendly, giving each player who doesn't have their fourth trophy one more full turn to earn it, and even bending game rules to allow multiple trophies to be earned on this last turn (usually it's one per turn). In my games, this has been a serious rubber banding mechanic, with some people even intentionally setting up for a multi-trophy turn knowing they can't get to four first.

Playing the Game
Your personal player mat has all of the actions available to you on your turn laid out in a very clear way. When your turn begins, you must move your action pawn from the action you took last turn to a different action. The action "type" can be the same, denoted by the area of the player mat, but you can never take the same specific action twice in a row. 



Once you've completed your choice, you either quest, deliver, or fight--all depending on the state of the board. Keep in mind, everything you do is in the hunt of those precious trophies. My Little Scythe starts out slowly, with each player leaving their starting zone and carefully exploring and gathering nearby, but eventually, you're going to be placing apples and gems all over the map, and you'll have some tough decisions to make about whether to drop those resources directly onto an opponent's space, essentially gifting them free stuff, but gaining their friendship (itself worth a trophy). 



Having never played the original Scythe, I can't make strict comparisons between the two. If you're a fan of the predecessor and were looking for a shorter, more family-friendly version to play with your kids or younger family members, I'd have a hard time believing that this isn't exactly what you're looking for. It plays incredibly well, ratcheting a decent amount of tension into a timeframe short enough to keep the littler ones interested throughout. After just a few games, I'm actually very impressed with the amount of game here. Playing with younger folk actually provides a huge difference than playing with my more grown-up gamer folk. There's a ton of options for interfering with your opponents, and the pie fight mechanic is wonderful, allowing a blind-bid mechanic to sneak into an otherwise straightforward game. You'll tend to avoid this too much when playing with younger folks, as losing a pie fight forces you back to your base camp space, which can cause some feelbads. 

As this is an entry-level game aimed primarily at younger folks to play with their grown-up friends, the trick is making the gameplay work on both levels. Young gamers have lots to look at here and by giving them a limited number of choices, but choices still, they feel like they're actually playing a game rather than just executing a pre-set experience (I'm looking at you, Candyland). My Little Scythe actually excels here: by forcing players to choose different things every time, you end up teaching kids that diversifying their choices leads to new and different outcomes. For older gamers, there's some excellent restrictions to weigh, and enough player interaction to feel like you can influence the game without really being able to gang up on any one player. Additionally, there's some incredible decision making to be made with the upgrade tiles for your player board. Being able to asymmetrically change your basic actions provides some wonderful late-game differences and I'm absolutely here for them.

Artwork and Components: 
Katie Khau's art does incredible work on two different, but equally valuable, planes in this title. It's incredibly clear and concise while maintaining an absolutely unfair level of adorability. The board has 6 different zones on it, and they're all perfectly colored and saturated. The board absolutely pops off the table, and there's never any confusion about where to go or what to do. The quest cards have some wonderful depictions of the given situations on them, and bring even more depth to an already visually powerful game. Kudos are absolutely due here.

  


The above-pictured minis are perfection as well, and there's an included suggested painting guide in the box if you're into that. The gem tokens are perfectly-sized, and gorgeous. The apple tokens could have very easily been just punch-out cardboard, but Stonemaier goes the extra distance for decently-thick acrylic. The included GameTrayz insert in the box is wonderful as always, giving you perfect storage every time. Stonemaier is known for their game components, and they don't skimp here just because of the lower-age target for their players.


The Good
Game looks amazing on the table, fits perfectly and securely in the box. Components maintain the high level of quality Stonemaier is known for, and the art reaches up to match. Gameplay fits perfectly for the audience.

The Bad
Despite the random setup, I could see this game as becoming rote after many plays. There's definitely a right move and a wrong move most of the time, and there's not a lot of press-your-luck incentive built in to change up plays. This is incredibly nitpicky, though, and it would take a serious min-max'er to even conjure it up.

Score
My Little Scythe packs strategy and depth into a game that's easily accessible for younger folk. Any age capable of evaluating two or three choices for their optimal gain should be able to do well here, though the lack of randomness means that winning or losing will come down to how well you can play the game. This is a selling feature for the grown-ups, but lacks the easy rubber-banding mechanic that often lets kids back in. I'm giving My Little Scythe a score of An Apple A Day.




Check out My Little Scythe on:

                    



Nicholas Leeman - Reviewer

Nicholas has been a board game evangelist for over 10 years now, converting friends and family alike to the hobby. He's also a trained actor and works summers as one of the PA announcers for the St. Paul Saints. He lives in Minneapolis, MN with his board gaming wife and son.

See Nicholas's reviews HERE.
My Little Scythe Review My Little Scythe Review Reviewed by The Madjai on May 30, 2019 Rating: 5

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