Unusually for someone who enjoys board games, I never got round to playing Scythe. Despite it being a huge hit the game slipped through my grasp and I had to make do with friends telling me that it was pretty much deserving of all the attention. But it certainly wasn’t kid friendly, that much was clear, so when My Little Scythe cropped up which was clearly aimed at younger gamers I took a good look to see what was going on. Is it a simple cash-in to make the most of the main game’s popularity, or a worthwhile title to play with the little folk in your life?
The basic idea is for you to guide your Seekers around the board in order to complete various objectives and win trophies. You have a friendship track to keep an eye on, you can gather pies as well as collect and deliver resources such as apples to the castle in the middle of the board, and can even get into pie fights to try and win a trophy. If you’re the first to 4 trophies then, unless anyone can match that on their final turn, you’ll win.
To complete these tasks your turns consist of one of a small number of options, with the streamlined approach making it easy for younger players to get to grips with what they can do, and also remember what the various options are. You can move, which does exactly what you’d expect: lets you move while either carrying some things with you or leaving them where you were. Often the purpose of this is to simply get yourself to another spot on the board, but you can also arrive at quests which give you a couple of choices to pick from with various results impacting on your friendship level, pies, resources and so on. It’s another step in the juggling task you’ve got going on between trying to stay friendly (a rating too low prevents you from winning a trophy) and trying to prevent your opponents from winning their own trophies by you being too nice to them.
Another option is to Seek, where you’ll roll some dice to add some resources to the board, letting you pick where they go as long as they’re on the correct coloured area of the board as determined by the dice. This can work in a couple of ways, letting you either place them near yourself (and therefore effectively giving you instant resources) or by another player, which gives them the resources but increases your friendship score. Again, it’s a balance, and a fun drop of strategy as you try to work out if you can bump up your friendship scale by giving another player something totally useless to them.
Finally (yup, only three actions which is nice) you can use the Make option, which can upgrade your Move or Make action to allow you to carry out more interesting or useful actions in each turn. Whatever choice you make, you need to make the most of it thanks to the fact that you can’t take the same turn twice in a row – if you Move in one turn, you’ll need to Seek or Make next time round, and so on. The game carries on until one of the players has finally picked up four trophies, then it’s game over.
The box suggests this should take about 15 minutes per player, which we found to be pretty close to the mark. Earlier games obviously might take a little longer with learning the rules, but there’s not much to learn – you’ll be up and running in no time. The component quality is really nice; the miniature animals used as your player pieces are especially impressive to the point that you even get a guide in the box to help you paint them if you choose to. It’s a game that very nicely fits into a wide age range – the box suggests this is for 8+, but my 6 year old managed to old his own much of the time, and it was really nice to see him starting to develop some strategies to keep his chances high and get in my way as much as possible. The pie fights were always good fun too, and while the action on the board didn’t match how cool they sound, it was still good fun to pretend we were flinging pies at each other.
So having never played Scythe, what I definitely can’t do is say how well this does as a junior version of the main game. But what I can say without a doubt is that in its own right, My Little Scythe is a really enjoyable, fun game that could easily become an active part of any family’s collection. If you’re simply after more Scythe this probably won’t cut the mustard, It’s called My Little Scythe for a reason, but to have your kids playing a game that is related to such a smash hit is always going to be a pretty cool thing to talk about. I really enjoyed playing this with my family, and considering we’re made up of a range of ages and gaming experiences and they all enjoyed it too, I’d say that’s pretty much a win.
Very much worth your attention.