1-6 players, Competitive, Action Selection Fuzzy Cute
Designer: Hoby Chou, Vienna Chou
Artwork: Noah Adelman, Katie Khau
Publisher: Stonemaier Games
Note: Review copy provided by Stonemaier Games
Overview of Gameplay
Coming into My Little Scythe I was expecting a simple version of regular Scythe. And indeed this game does borrow a few elements from regular Scythe but there is so much more that is different. Ultimately players are all competing to be the first to achieve four trophies of varying tasks. You will do this by moving a small peg token to a different position on your player board to select an action every turn. These actions are all pretty basic such as moving around the board, rolling custom dice to populate the board with more resources and finally, turning those collected resources into other things.
Once that glorious fourth trophy is acquired by a player, one more round begins for the rest to try and collect their fourth trophies. Once that last round ends if there is more than one player with all four then the tiebreakers ensue which is highest on the hearts track (friendship track) then whoever has the most collected resources. Whoever comes out on top wins!
I will say the gameplay is pretty straightforward and players looking for a deep experience may not like what they find here. You pick one of six simple actions to move, a couple for rolling dice and three more for trading resources for other things and then play passes to the next person. That said the actions were pretty fun and since the turns were quick you seemed to always be in the middle of it.
So coming into this game I was already expecting some of the highest quality components considering the publisher is well known for their premium feel. *cough Wingspan rulebook *weez. I can say I was not disappointed. The cardboard tokens are decently thick and the cards have a nice finish on them and feel good in the hands. The custom dice are fantastic looking and have a nice weight to them. There are some little plastic apple tokens which are cut to look like little red apples and some blue gems which are a good size and easy to pick up, (although the apples are a bit harder to pick up).
The miniatures are excellent quality with two identical miniatures for each of the 7 different factions in the game you can play as. Let’s talk about this for a moment, first off, yes SEVEN factions. I mean the game only plays up to six but there are seven included to give more variety. That said the only differences between the factions are the look and color of the minis bases. Still each faction is very unique looking and for anyone interested in getting into the painting hobby these would be a good place to start. Considering the game also comes with a double sided guide that shows examples of colors schemes to paint them.
The game board is pretty huge so expect to have a decent amount of table space consumed. It looks really nice though with a variety of colors and has a really smooth feel to it and wrapped edges and even though this makes no difference as far as gameplay is concerned, the back side has the box art adorned and looks nice.
There isn’t much to complain about here concerning the components however I will note a couple things. The miniature sculpts look great however I wish each of the pairs had a more prominent differentiator between the two. This makes no difference in the multiplayer game but comes into effect during the solo game which I’ll touch on in a bit. I did noticed that it looks like one of each pairs may have a slight shading applied which could be what they were going for here. I grazed past this above but the apple tokens are sometimes hard to grasp, perhaps a teensy bit thicker would alleviate this.
So this one really surprised me. When I opened the box I gasped in amazement at Gametrayz included! For those of you who are not aware of these magical critters, Gametrayz is a company that specializes in creating functional storage solutions for board games. They usually work with specific games to create customized trays just for those games so you can expect greatness. And as many of you probably know from my past reviews I’m a sucker for a good storage solution. I mean when I open a game and see a gazillion different components all bagged up it makes my heart sink and I instantly lose the drive to play said game. HOWEVER when I open a game with an excellent storage solution, heck half the fun is pulling those trayz out. Anyway I digress.
There are two trayz included and a small slip that shows how they are to be placed in the box to keep everything from spilling everywhere. Pretty clever actually utilizing the board itself to hold the stuff in place. But yeah that’s pretty much it with these, you open all the components and pour them into the trayz and BAM! You are ready to play the game. This makes every setup and takedown easy peasy and fast as well.
Visual Appeal /Theme
The theming on this one is very cutesy so I don’t expect everyone to be instantly gravitating towards it from the get-go. And to be honest this is now the most cutesy game I own. Players play as kingdoms of different animals that are running about collecting apples and gems to deliver to the main castle in the center of the board. There are little quests you can undertake as well that net you more resources in one form or the other. Now I’m not super sold on the theme still but I can say the colors really give this game life. There are six different landscapes on the board that not only look good but tie into the game play with how you place resources. There are small artwork touches like little goats and portals and cacti which bring out the specific environments they inhabit on the board.
Let me start off by saying the base game rulebook is excellent. I mean the game itself is pretty simple and the rulebook does a great job of explaining how to play. I was up and playing a learning game within half an hour including setup. It provides good examples and pictures and has the steps needed to play all numbered out nicely.
Now…..the solo automountie (automa) rulebook could use some tweaking. It’s very short and that is to be expected as the solo game just utilizes a specific deck of solo cards to play. And it goes without saying that you need already be familiar with the regular rules FULLY before delving into the solo game. Even still there were a couple instances that had me perplexed. For one it never specifies to set up the game like you would if playing a multiplayer game concerning seeding the board with resources. The automountie turn order is a bit confusing as well as it has listed everything it does on its turn however none of the cards in its deck have all the turn actions available at once. So you end up doing part of the actions listed, not all. The movement part is even more complex at first as there are specific routes to move to depending on which Seeker (animal mini) is being moved. This is where you need to differentiate the two different minis. And yet another thing that gave me pause was the pie fighting with the Automountie. At first as I was going down the solo card I had noticed that at the very bottom there was a pie fight section. So I assumed that at the end of every solo round a pie fight was initiated regardless of where the solo mini was located. Of course after thinking it over a bit I knew this couldn’t be the case as we would be fighting every single round. After that I thought the amount of pies listed on the card was ADDED to the amount of pies on the tracker…..but then realized that the number on the card was the MOST they could use depending on how many they had on the tracker. AND even after that I didn’t know if the solo Automountie lost their pies after being used.
So I did eventually get it all figured out and started playing through much more quickly and enjoyed it. However that solo rulebook does needs some clarification added to some points to hammer out the ambiguities.
Player Interaction/Fun Factor
Player interaction is pretty decent here. When moving, you can move into another player’s space to initiate a pie fight which involves this little pie action bluffing style mini-game. These were really exciting for my girls when playing although I think they got a bit too carried away not realizing the preciousness of said pies. When rolling dice as an action you can choose to place resources on another player’s space which gains you friendship points that are also a very valuable resource. At the same time you just basically gave another player resources which will help them out in some way. I like how all these actions tie into everything else really well but it also kinda keeps everyone on the same level and doesn’t allow for run-away leaders.
I coaxed my wife into playing with me and our 8 and 4 years old girls. She had a headache and the girls were screaming with a fury of excitement, and yet……………I could see that my wife was really getting into the game. Of course about a 3rd of the way through my 4 year old just started playing with the extra animal miniatures oblivious to the game itself but the rest of us played on to the end. I ended up dominating and getting all my trophies first however my sneaky wife attempted to pull a clinch victory by attaining her last two trophies on the last round. Of course this all rode on her ability to defeat me in single pie to pie combat. Luckily I had more than enough pies to withstand her pie onslaught and beat her back. Needless to say we all enjoyed the game very much. Again it’s not the deepest game but I would happily play this with my family if asked.
Optimal Player Count/Replayability
Of the games that we played the turns were lightning quick so I don’t see much downtime between player turns even at 6 players. I can for sure see an interesting game panning out at six players too as more people will be seeding the board with resources more often and more pie fights erupting as space would be more limited. At four players it felt pretty balanced with space although at two players it seemed TOO open with too little player interaction. I would say if you prefer more in your face action increase the player count and if you want more time to yourself, decrease it.
As far as the solo experience, once I got all the rules hammered out I really enjoyed it. The actions of moving the solo player around and seeing how they affect the game board state was interesting and engaging. It also felt decently challenging with my first game playing on “normal” difficulty the AI winning by ONE turn. I can say I never felt bored when playing.
As far as replayability goes there isn’t much here that changes from game to game. There are some upgrade tiles that allow you to upgrade your movement and “make” actions which can change from game to game but this is pretty minor. The initial seeding of resources at the beginning of the game is different each time but also very minor considering there are only three different kinds of resources on the board ever and one of those is the quest token. The stack of quest cards is pretty thin and the quests are all very similar and basically end up being the sort of, “Trade X resources for X other resources”.
Positive Final Thoughts
The presentation of this game is SUPER high. From the component quality to the storage solution this game is excellent looking all around. The gameplay, even though simple is still fun to play especially with younger individuals. Not only that but it plays really fast, from each player turn to the entire game. Once players get built up a little from the beginning those trophies start unlocking like crazy.
Negative Final Thoughts
The solo rulebook needs some clarification and honestly was my biggest gripe of the entire game. The game is very straightforward and simple so those looking for a more thinky, deeper experience might get bored with this one quickly. If I was to nitpick I just want MORE of everything. More different resources, more different upgrade tiles. Possibly some small asymmetry between animal factions to set them apart more.