Scythe

Scythe

Solo Play

Scythe comes with a solitaire mode called ‘Automa.’ It’s really clever! Basically you start by choosing one of four difficulties: Autometta (ho hum, learning game) all the way up to Ultimaszyna (why is everything on fire?). I just ran through Autometta to see how it works.

The solitaire bot strips out nearly all of the normal decisions you’d otherwise make in the course of play and abstracts everything out to money, territory held by meeples and mecha, and combat cards. It doesn’t build buildings, it doesn’t upgrade its tech, it doesn’t actually build or do anything other than take up space on the map. Oh and earn stars faster than you, probably.

Beating Autometta wasn’t hard; I played Crimean Khanate and I had the bot play Rusviet. All that really happens when you give the bot a nation is you tell it the starting combat cards and power and starting location on the map. It doesn’t actually use anything specific to the nation.

As you play, you draw a card for the Automa. It starts out in easy mode, mostly putting units on the board and paying itself combat cards and advancements on a “star track” (which is how you dial the difficulty up/down; Autometta is slow to advance). No problem. Then, when you hit a certain point on the star track, you shuffle the cards you’ve been using, turn the deck over, and now the actions are more aggressive: march a mecha into my territory, grab new territory with a meeple, and so on.

Despite the abstraction, it’s still a pretty fun challenge! And it’s teaching me how to be more efficient with my plays and combos. It’s also, thankfully, pretty easy to manage. Compare to the bots in the COIN games! There, the bot has a really thorough algorithm to determine how it plays, but it plays with the full rules set. There’s no abstraction at all, which is both more insightful and challenging but also so slowwww.

Anyway, neat new solo game here for lonely insomniac evenings. Not quite as tight a challenge as Archipelago solo, but also very playable in a way that the COIN games just … aren’t, for me.

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4 thoughts on “Scythe”

  1. #1. Please, please, please tell me where you got sleeves for the cards sir.

    #2. At some point you should post a pic of how you pack up your board if you don’t mind. I was trying to puzzle out where everything goes. There’s no handy pic in the rulebook.

    #3. I’ll have to try this (Automa). It may be a few weeks before I can organize local people to play something (things are hectic in life) so this might be a quiet solo evening to help me suss out rules and firm up strategies.

  2. #1 No sleeves, I’m going bareback here. Sleeves are gonna be a problem and, yeah, I kind of do want to sleeve everything up at some point. Everything’s a weird size.

    #2 Hm. Okay. I just kind of… put it all in the box. Boards on the bottom, then rulebooks, then bags of stuff and the little clear containers along one end. But sure, yeah, happy to take a picture of a box full of baggies.

    #3 It’s pretty fun! Hope you enjoy the solo mode.

  3. The random sizes are partly why I haven’t solved the problem yet (and the bottom row looked sleeved which is why I asked, but I guess it’s just the light/coloration).

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