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Create an empire with monstrous mechs and industrious workers in this alternate-history, 115-minute board game for 1-5 competitors.
Create an empire with monstrous mechs and industrious workers in this alternate-history, 115-minute board game for 1-5 competitors.
Create an empire with monstrous mechs and industrious workers in this alternate-history, 115-minute board game for 1-5 competitors.
17,739 backers pledged $1,810,294 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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$1,810,294

17,739

All pledges must be made in full by November 5 at 7:59 pm CST. We don't use a pledge manager—backers may NOT increase their pledge or add on more items at the KS prices after the campaign ends. Future pre-orders and add-ons can be made on our website.

Designed by Jamey Stegmaier (Viticulture & Euphoria) and based on the art and worldbuilding of Jakub Rozalski, Scythe is a 4x game (explore, expand, exploit, exterminate) set in an alternate-history, 1920s Eastern Europe. Scythe tells the stories of 5 factions competing over an unclaimed patch of land surrounding the mysterious Factory.

During Scythe's 750+ blind playtests, the playtesters consistently said they most enjoyed:

  • the dual benefits of the upgrade system (increase an action benefit and decrease a cost)
  • the distinctly different faction and mech abilities
  • the thematic choices presented by the encounter cards
  • the asymmetry and variability created by random pairings of faction and player mats
  • the twist to area control due to all resources being kept on the board

Check out the Scythe rules and playtest print-and-play files to see how Scythe blends an engine-building system inspired by Terra Mystica with a deterministic combat system influenced by Kemet. Renders of the 25 miniatures in Scythe are below the "What's in the Box?" image.

To add items onto your pledge, manually add the $ amount during the project. We don't use a pledge manager, so all pledges must be made in full by November 5. You can mix and match up to 3 total games (any version) and any number of add-ons. On the post-project survey, you will tell us the various items that comprise your pledge.

Each player is represented on the board by a character and their animal companion (1 miniature). Each character miniature has a 25mm base and a height of 36-58mm.
Each player is represented on the board by a character and their animal companion (1 miniature). Each character miniature has a 25mm base and a height of 36-58mm.
Each faction has 4 mechs in their faction color that can be deployed during the game. Each mech miniature has a 30mm base and a height of 26-36mm.
Each faction has 4 mechs in their faction color that can be deployed during the game. Each mech miniature has a 30mm base and a height of 26-36mm.
This is an example of a faction mat (the Rusviet faction). This shows your faction's special ability, starting military strength, mech abilities, and one-time recruit benefits.
This is an example of a faction mat (the Rusviet faction). This shows your faction's special ability, starting military strength, mech abilities, and one-time recruit benefits.
                                                                                                                                                       
This is an example of a player mat ("Patriotic"). Each player mat is divided into four sections, each with a top-row action and a bottom-row action. Your actions improve as you build your economic engine.
This is an example of a player mat ("Patriotic"). Each player mat is divided into four sections, each with a top-row action and a bottom-row action. Your actions improve as you build your economic engine.
The highly detailed game board for Scythe (full board on left, sample territory on right) depicts the areas near the mysterious Factory. This is a fully-formed world with a specific story, so the board is not modular (see FAQ for more details).
The highly detailed game board for Scythe (full board on left, sample territory on right) depicts the areas near the mysterious Factory. This is a fully-formed world with a specific story, so the board is not modular (see FAQ for more details).
                                            

All promo items are included in every Kickstarter game for free and will be available for additional cost post-Kickstarter (there is no Kickstarter-exclusive content). All non-promo stretch goals are in every version of the game.

Find all Scythe media on our website and join discussions about the game on BGG.

"Scythe is a game that’s about contrasts. It is complex in strategies and options, yet the action choices are fairly simple and the game is easy to pick up." — Dave Banks, GeekDad overview and review

"Scythe is so good as to almost defy description." — JR Honeycutt, The Nerds' Table overview and review

Also see Gen Con preview videos filmed by Joel Eddy and TechRaptor, as well as special episodes of Board Gamers Anonymous and Ding & Dent.

In addition to the gameplay video below (or on YouTube for full annotations in the description), here are Scythe's rules and free playtest PnP files.

Our money-back guarantee says that you can return your copy of Scythe (opened or unopened) within 1 month of receiving it for a full pledge refund, no questions asked. We'll even pay for return shipping.

The Factory promo pack contains 6 extra Factory cards for Kickstarter backers. The promo pack will be available for an additional cost to those who discover Scythe after the Kickstarter campaign.

It may not be these exact Factory cards that end up in the promo pack.
It may not be these exact Factory cards that end up in the promo pack.

The custom metal coins  (80 total) featured in the Premium, Collector's, and Art Connoisseur Edition games were designed specifically for Scythe. The set of coins is available for order by itself on the Stonemaier Games website for $25 (+ shipping) or as an add-on to any copy of the game for $22.

The plastic resource containers (4 total) in the Premium, Collector's, and Art Connoisseur Edition games allow for easy storage, setup, and distribution of the various tokens and coins in Scythe. There's room for exactly 4 of these containers in the Scythe box.

Plastic container with coin prototypes.
Plastic container with coin prototypes.

The board extension in the Collector's and Art Connoisseur Editions slides next to the back side of the game board, creating a complete board with +50% bigger hexes (the content is the same; see Update 3). All units and resources in Scythe are kept on the board, so the larger hexes provide more space.

The game board is 624x818mm, and it grows to 818x936mm with the extension. It is available as an add-on to any copy of the game for $10 (every game board is double-sided) and will be available to order from our website by itself for $12 (+ shipping) after the project ends.

The realistic resource tokens (made out of resin or zinc) in the Collector's and Art Connoisseur Editions replace the wooden resource tokens (there are no wooden resource tokens in those editions). They include 80 tokens (20 each) for food, metal, oil, and wood. These tokens are available in our treasure chests (one in each chest), as well as in an add-on to any copy of the game for $21.

The individually-numbered boxes in the Collector's and Art Connoisseur Editions are randomly assigned. The limit of these boxes will be determined by the total number of backers at those levels.

The art book included with the Art Connoisseur Edition is a 100-page, full-color, hardback collection of the art featured in Scythe, as well as other pieces in Jakub Rozalski's acclaimed 1920s series. The book will measure approximately 250x290mm. It's available for pre-order by itself on the Stonemaier Games website for $25 (+ shipping) or as an add-on to any copy of the game for $23. The art book will be packed externally from the game box.

The wooden resource tokens aren't in the Collector's and Art Connoisseur Editions, so if you want both one of those games and wooden resources (or if you just want extra resources with any version of Scythe), please add $10 to your pledge. This is for an external pack of 20 food/grain, 20 metal, 20 wood, and 20 oil tokens.

Samples on the left; final colors on the right.
Samples on the left; final colors on the right.

We ship games in bulk to fulfillment centers around the world to reduce customs fees & VAT and to keep shipping prices low (this method is explained here; country codes are here).

Backers are limited to 3 total games per pledge (a mix of any 3 versions of the game is fine; only pay the shipping fee once per pledge, not once per game). To add more games beyond the first (or add-ons), manually enter the $ total when making your pledge or click the blue "Manage" button next to a previously made pledge.

An example of an encounter card. When your character reaches certain parts of the board, they encounter a situation that gives you a choice of one of the three options.
An example of an encounter card. When your character reaches certain parts of the board, they encounter a situation that gives you a choice of one of the three options.

We like to support game stores around the world by offering the special Kickstarter versions of the game to retailers during the campaign. We treat retailer backers just like other backers in that they receive their rewards before we release regular retail games into distribution.

If you're a retailer, please contact Jamey at stonemaiergames@gmail.com during the campaign for pricing information. After the campaign, you can reserve retail copies of Scythe by contacting our distribution broker: paul@greaterthangames.com

An example of an objective card. Each player receives 2 objectives at the beginning of the game and can complete one of them as a goal.
An example of an objective card. Each player receives 2 objectives at the beginning of the game and can complete one of them as a goal.

Jamey Stegmaier is the designer of Scythe, Viticulture, Tuscany, and Euphoria. He's also the co-founder and president of Stonemaier Games, and he's written a book about crowdfunding.

Jakub Rozalski is the artist, worldbuilder, and creative director of Scythe. Art prints of his work are available for purchase from him here.

Morten Monrad Pedersen is Stonemaier's development specialist. He designed the Automa solo variant for Scythe as detailed on his BGG blog.

Carsten Biernat & Jozsef Szollosi of Unique Voodoo Studio are the 3D modelers for Scythe's miniatures. 

Christine Santana is the lead graphic designer for Stonemaier Games.

Chris Matthew is the Panda Game Manufacturing project manager for Scythe.

Scott Wadyko is the the sculptor of the realistic resource tokens found in the collector's edition and in our new treasure chests.

Video: The project video was created by Josh McDowell,  narrated by A.T. Chandler, and features original Scythe music composed by Michał Woźniak. The gif explaining the board extension was designed by Bryce Walter and reduced in size for faster loading times by Bruce Alcorn.

Playtesters: The development process for Scythe featured over 750 blind playtests and 628 individual playtesters. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to all of them, especially to Barry Schmaling (who built the playtester forum) and all of the lead playtesters. They had a lot to say about Scythe, but here are a few of our favorite quotes:

“Farm your little piece of the world, spread out and colonise as much as you can, or rampage with mechs projecting lethal force over your opponents. This game has it all and with so many routes to victory, no two games are the same.” — Stephen ‘Azrael’ Ogden

“Scythe is an excellent blend of resource management and conflict which also manages to leave you with a delightful sense of having told a story." — Andrew Busam

“The Automa is challenging, relentless, and at times unforgiving, but it's also a whole lot of fun. It's a worthy adversary that earns a begrudging respect.” — Jeremiah Power

While we don't offer existing inventory or unrelated products as add-ons through Kickstarter, we offer other Stonemaier products on our website. These items will ship right away and cannot be held until Scythe ships.

Viticulture, TuscanyEuphoria, Between Two Cities, and our treasure chests are also available from your friendly local game store.

Jamey's book, A Crowdfunder's Strategy Guide: Build a Better Business by Building Community, is available in a number of online and offline locations.

Risks and challenges

Through Stonemaier Games, Jamey Stegmaier has raised over $1.4 million on Kickstarter and has delivered over 20,000 individual rewards to backers within a few months of the estimated delivery date (most are on time or early). He is an avid backer and gamer, and his book about crowdfunding was published in September 2015: http://stonemaiergames.com/kickstarter/book/

However, Scythe presented three specific new challenges: miniatures, shipping, and balance.

This is our first time working with plastic miniatures. We had heard horror stories about other projects involving miniatures, and we've experienced a few as backers. So we wanted to start early to avoid some of the delays that can occur as the result of miniatures. We started working with Jakub and his 3D modelers in March, using Shapeways to print each version of the sculpts to see how they worked on the game board. We also worked closely with Panda's team throughout the process to make sure the sculpts are feasible and durable. We've created the molds for the miniatures and are ready for production.

We've picked up and dropped fulfillment partners over time, keeping those who pack our games well and excel at communication. Because shipping is particularly important for Scythe—a big game with a box that we want delivered in pristine condition—we tested out two new-to-us fulfillment partners (Funagain in the US and Snakes & Lattes in Canada) on our previous project in preparation for Scythe. We add those two to Ideaspatcher in Europe, Good Games in Australia, and Agility in China, all three of which we've worked on in the past and have had excellent results.

One of the main features of Scythe's gameplay is asymmetry between factions. It's tough to balance an asymmetric game, so after we got Scythe to a good place with local playtesters, we ran 3 different waves of multi-player blind playtesting and 2 waves of solo blind playtesting. The huge amount of anecdotal and quantitative data we collected as a result helped us ensure that Scythe is extremely well balanced (and fun!).

If you would like to know more about what we learned from our Kickstarter experiences and research, go to http://stonemaiergames.com/kickstarter/full-list-chronological/ to see 160+ Kickstarter Lessons to help you create a successful project too.

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FAQ

  • No. We don't use a pledge manager, so all pledges must be made in full during the campaign. We treat our entire Kickstarter campaign like one long early-bird reward, so at the minute the campaign ends, all prices go up and we stop accepting pre-orders for all KS versions of Scythe.

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  • Scythe isn’t a miniatures project. Rather, it’s a board game that just happens to have some units represented by miniatures. We find it important to keep our focus on the core product, which in this case is the game itself. We do have a few other add-ons, but they’re much easier to package than miniatures. As for pre-painted miniatures, we considered it, but because this is our first game with miniatures, we want to get the miniatures right before we try something like mass-scale painting. It can add significant costs and time, and we’ve been working on the miniatures since early April to avoid any production delays in this delicate process. Also, with pre-painted miniatures there’s always the chance that the painting may muddle the details of the miniatures. We’d rather put that in the hands of backers who feel comfortable painting their miniatures by hand (or hiring someone to do so), as the miniatures are perfect for hand-painting.

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  • There are four key reasons why the map isn’t modular. One, the art simply wouldn’t be nearly as cohesive if it were made of modular tiles. The Scythe board tells a story; modular hexes do not. Two, the world of Scythe isn’t modular–this is a specific world we’ve built that’s based on an alternate-history 1920s Eastern Europe, not a random one generated by the players. Three, the map is one of the biggest aspects of the faction-based asymmetry in the game. We’ve designed the Nordic faction’s abilities based on them starting in the north with limited access to certain resources, for example, and all factions have a mech “riverwalk” ability that correlates precisely to their homeland. Same with all the other factions. Four, the board includes three tracks and several places to put cards, which allows for better organization than if these items were floating around the table. There’s already a lot of variability in the Scythe setup (namely, 25 different combinations of faction and player mats and tons of different objective and encounter cards).

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  • There is a promo pack included with every KS copy of Scythe as part of the pledge, as well as the potential for several other promo packs to be added during the campaign. The idea here is that these are small packs of specific cards (no randomness) that are included with all KS games and are still available post-KS at an additional fee. Thus, backers are rewarded with something special for backing Scythe on Kickstarter, but we don’t exclude people who don’t find out about Scythe until after the campaign. Those promo packs will be available through our website, on BGG, and at conventions. Stonemaier Games does not do Kickstarter exclusives.

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  • There are a few reasons why we made this distinction. A big part of it is that we wanted the components themselves to delineate between units used in combat (miniatures: characters and mechs) and pieces that don’t fight (wooden tokens: workers and structures). Another reason is that while big miniatures look and feel awesome, smaller and thinner worker plastic tokens often look kind of cheap in games. We think that wooden meeples have a more substantial, quality feel to them.

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  • Just like if you were building an empire on an unclaimed patch of land in real life, the game will feel different in a 2-3 player game than a 4-5 player game. The common areas of the board are more crowded when there are more players, and you have more room and time to breathe with fewer players. However, to ensure that interaction can happen at all player counts, the tunnel system in Scythe allows units to leap across the board so that all home territories are within reach from one another.

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  • We’ve marked the game as 14+ for two reasons: One, it’s the age that classifies Scythe as a game instead of a toy for EU importation. Two, it’s a fairly complex game to learn, perhaps a bit too much for an average 10-13 year old.

    While there are a few images of epic battles in Scythe, there’s no bloodshed, sex, or any other adult content. The art book will be completely accessible to 7-year-olds.

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  • The value of each reward is based on the MSRP of the game, the promos, any additional content, and the $15 shipping subsidy that is built into the reward price. We’re able to offer such a good price because the margins on a direct-sale product are better than distribution margins. While we need some of those margins to make lots of games and keep the Stonemaier lights on, we’re happy to pass on most of those savings to our backers in appreciation for their early support.

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  • We made a specific design decision with the beautifully illustrated encounter cards: Rather than tell the players what they’re seeing, we’ll let them use their eyes to see the scene they’ve stumbled upon. There’s often a lot happening in these scenes (it’s usually not just one specific thing that’s happening), and the textual options explain the various ways you can interact with the encounter. Encounter cards are shown to all players when they’re drawn, so your gaming group can integrate as much or as little of the story into the way they play Scythe. We’re giving you the same visual freedom you’d experience if you stumbled upon these scenes in real life rather than restricting you to the limitations of flavor text–after all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

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  • Other than the need for those emblems on the board based on one of the Crimean faction's mech abilities, we have plans for the Scythe story to continue with an expansion containing two new factions. We thought about including home base tiles in the expansion to place on the board, but it’s more seamless and works better with the extended board to integrate those emblems into the original board. However, the game will only go up to 5 players, even when there are more than 5 factions to choose from. The board would simply be too crowded and the game would be too long with 6 or 7 players.

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  • As for the individual numbering on the Collector’s Edition box, based on the way the games are shipped, you can’t choose your number. It’s random.

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  • We’ve listed Scythe as a 115-minute game because that’s the average game length (rounding up) for all 750+ playtests; thus, we think it’s the most accurate estimate of how long it will take you to play Scythe.

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  • As we’ve learned from preparing for a project of this scale and observing other projects, miniatures take time to get right. We’ve been working on the Scythe miniatures since early April, and they’re close to production-ready. But lots of unexpected things can happen during production. So while we hope to deliver in July, we’ve conservatively estimated August 2016 as the delivery month. For our other Kickstarter projects, we’ve delivered no more than 2 months after the estimated delivery month, and we’ve delivered early and on time for most backers.

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  • The first print run will just be in English, though we should have the rules available for download in a number of languages. Most of the components in Scythe are language-independent, but two of them (the encounter and objective cards) rely on English comprehension. The objective cards are secret, so while they’re fairly straightforward, they require each player to know some English (or they could use a translated reference sheet).

    For the Brazilian edition, please see the link under the shipping chart on the project page.

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  • Yes! We've designed the box so everything fits inside. It's 300 x 365 x 98mm. The only thing that doesn't fit inside is the art book. Sleeved cards will fit just fine.

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  • Within one month of receiving your rewards, you can send them back to us for a full pledge refund, no questions asked (it doesn’t matter if the game is sealed or played, as long as all components are there). We’re in St. Louis, but we have ambassadors worldwide, so the return shipping cost will be minimal (and we’ll reimburse you for it).

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  • We’re happy to sign your copy if we run into you at a convention, but we don’t actually handle any of the backer rewards, so we can’t sign them.

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  • We would greatly prefer if you used Kickstarter’s system, but if you’re unable to do so, you can submit a payment any time during the campaign via PayPal to stonemaiergames@gmail.com. Please include a note with what reward you're getting, your address, and your phone number.

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  • Add-ons will be available through our website. We’ll raise the price after the campaign ends to reflect to total contents with all stretch goals. Backers and non-backers alike will be able to pre-order retail copies at that updated price from our website: www.stonemaiergames.com. We'll just be selling the retail version from then on to customers, distributors, and retailers.

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  • We prefer to ship to addresses where someone can personally receive the game during the day, whether it’s a work, home, friend, or neighbor’s address. The point of this is to prevent theft due to a package sitting on someone’s front porch all day.

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  • We work with fulfillment centers that pack our games really well, but damage to the box occasionally does occur in the shipping process. Our standing policy is that we ask people to send us a photo of the damage. If it’s a small ding, dent, or scratch, we'll send a partial reimbursement ($5-$15, depending on the damage). If it’s pretty bad, we’ll send a replacement box, though we greatly prefer not to--if we take the box off of another game, that's $80 or more that we've just reduced to replacement parts.

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    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    TOAST - The publishers will toast you and your favorite animal companion on camera.

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    Pledge $59 or more About $59

    SCYTHE - 1 copy of Scythe (includes all 25 miniatures), 1 Factory promo pack, all stretch goals, and money-back guarantee ($100 value). Add up to 2 more copies at $59 each.

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    Pledge $79 or more About $79

    PREMIUM SCYTHE - 80 custom metal coins, 4 plastic resource containers, 1 copy of Scythe (includes all 25 miniatures), 1 Factory promo pack, all stretch goals, and money-back guarantee ($130 value). Add up to 2 more copies at $79 each.

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    Pledge $99 or more About $99

    COLLECTOR'S SCYTHE - 1 board extension (50% bigger hexes), all wooden resource tokens replaced by realistic resource tokens, individually numbered box, 80 custom metal coins, 4 plastic resource containers, 1 copy of Scythe (includes all 25 miniatures), 1 Factory promo pack, all stretch goals, and money-back guarantee ($172 value). Add up to 2 more copies at $99 each.

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    Pledge $119 or more About $119

    ART CONNOISSEUR SCYTHE - 1 book of Scythe art (hardcover, full-color, 100 pages), 1 board extension (50% bigger hexes), all wooden resource tokens replaced by realistic resource tokens, individually numbered box, 80 custom metal coins, 4 plastic resource containers, 1 copy of Scythe (includes all 25 miniatures), 1 Factory promo pack, all stretch goals, and money-back guarantee ($202 value). Add up to 2 more copies at $119 each.

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Funding period

- (23 days)