Scythe: Invaders From Afar
Designed by Jamey Stegmaier
Art by Jakub Rozalski
Published by Stonemaier Games - 2016
While it reports to increase the player count to 7, to me Invaders from Afar is all about beefing up the variety of content in Scythe; a game already exploding with hundreds of beautiful cardboard, plastic, and wooden bits. The stars of the expansion are the two new factions, Togawa Shogunate and Clan Albion, but the two new player boards, $50 coins, and handful of new automa cards are a nice bonus.
Mechanically, the expansion seamlessly integrates into the game. The only new rules are specific to the two included factions, otherwise the game operates identically, which is a relief. While I love new mechanisms, expansions that change core gameplay risk making the game feel bloated and can make it a bear to teach new players. Not so here, there’s pretty much no reason not to play with the expansion once you have it.
That said, both new factions feel fresh and unique compared to their base set comrades. Both factions have four tokens that their character can place on the board as they move to new territories. For Albion, each territory with one of their tokens counts as two territories when scoring at the end of the game. For Togawa, the tokens are four different rearmable “traps” that are flipped when an enemy enters their territory, sapping the opponent of their money, cards, popularity or power. There are a few other things that make these factions unique, like their riverwalk abilities and how they can upgrade to move between their tokens; but bottom line the new factions are easily understood, balanced, and interesting.
Should you get it?
If you are a fan of Scythe and want lots of variety, this should be right up your alley. The presentation fits right in with what you’ve come to expect from Scythe, sporting the same level of detail in the miniature sculpts, balanced mechanics, and the beautiful illustrations of Jakub Rozalski throughout. Both stylistically and gameplay-wise, I think Albion and Togawa are the most interesting of the now 7 factions; not to mention the green and purple-ish player pieces look great on the board.
Overall, Invaders is a really solid addition to Scythe but nothing about it feels mandatory. The higher player count may be a selling point to some, but I still feel Scythe plays best in the 2-4 player range. And by limiting all new rules to the two included factions, this feels more like DLC characters in a fighting game rather than an overall update. But if you think Albion and Togawa look intriguing then I say shell out the cash and get it! While Invaders From Afar doesn’t fundamentally change Scythe, it really rounds out the variety in the game; keeping it fresh, alive, and interesting.
Listen to Jack talk with Scythe designer Jamey Stegmaier on episode 7 of The Cardboard Herald podcast.