Automa, Board Comparison, Tabletopia, and Resource Poll
Hi! I hope you're having a great Sunday! I woke up this morning to find that Scythe has now raised over $913,000 from 9,400+ backers, which is incredible. I love that we have over 5,500 comments on the main page! Feel free to join the conversation.
Due to the outpouring of support for Scythe on Day 1, we rushed past a bunch of big stretch goals. I wanted to take a second to highlight a few of then (I'll return to this later as well), then shine the spotlight on the biggest of them.
Quick-reference guide: It takes a very special skill set to reduce 32 pages of rules down to 1 page, front and back. We discovered that Nersi Nikakhtar had that ability several games ago, and ever since he's spent weeks or months playing each of our games and reducing the content down to a concise quick-reference guide like the one you'll find in Scythe.
Factory and Encounter cards: Jakub's art is a highlight of the game, so for the cards in the game that get frequent attention, we wanted to make those cards as big as possible. 70x110mm was a great size for the format of Jakub's art, which is usually in landscape format. The current stretch goal (an encounter card to be added to every game) is a great example of this:
Automa: The solo variant was the final stretch goal we reached on Tuesday, and it's one of the biggest goals for the entire project due to its scope. Automa adds an entire deck of cards that simulates an intelligent opponent, as well as a separate rulebook.
I asked Morten Monrad Pedersen to write an update about the design process for Automa. The first part of it is posted below, and if you want to keep reading, the remaining portion is on his BGG blog. Also, Morten has said that it's okay to ask him anything here in the comments of this update.
Rage Against the Ultimaszyna
by Morten Monrad Pedersen
The hardest challenge that Jamey has created for me so far. I think that’s a fair assessment of the challenge that creating a solo mode for Scythe has presented and when we started neither Jamey nor I knew whether it would work out.
We want our games to allow as wide a player count range as possible, but it has to be done without compromising the play experience, so when I started work with my partner David Studley, we knew that we would need to make something good or it wouldn’t be published.
The Automa Approach
When I set out to make a solo mode for one of Stonemaier’s multiplayer games, I set out to replicate as much of the multiplayer experience as I can. I don’t want to create a new game that just happens to use the same components as the multiplayer game. Instead, I want the player to feel like he’s playing the same game as someone playing the multiplayer game.
The way I’ve done this so far is to create artificial opponents, which we call “Automas”, the Italian word for Automaton, because our first artificial opponent was made for Tuscany.
Now, the majority of humans I know are more intelligent than a stack of cardboard, so it’s clear that you cannot make an artificial cardboard opponent that plays by the exact same rules as a human player if it is to provide an interesting challenge.
Therefore my approach to making Automas is to figure out which points of player interaction are core to the game experience and which parts aren’t. I then focus on making the Automa mimic the important parts and remove everything else.
In Scythe, for example, it’s not that important, whether your opponent gain stars via upgrades or structures, and you have little influence on whether he does, but the pace at which he gains stars in general is highly important to you.
Therefore, the Automa do not do upgrades or build structures instead that’s replaced by a simple track that (with a bit of randomness) determines when the Automa gains some of its stars.
On the other hand the award of a star for winning combat, and particularly the threat of combat is something that influence your decisions a lot and so we made an Automa that could move its combat units towards you, is able to do combat, and can gain stars when winning combat.
While the total size comparison of the standard board (624x818mm) and the back of the standard board + the extended board (total of 818x936mm) is posted on the project page, a number of you have asked how big each territory (hex) is on the map.
We had projected the hexes as being 50% bigger (as the board is proportionally 50% bigger), but in that calculation we hadn't taken into account that some of the various tracks and card slots on the periphery of the board would stay the same size, allowing for the art on the middle of the board to get bigger.
So the exciting news is that the surface area of the hexes on the big board aren't 50% bigger than those on the standard board...they're 77% bigger! Check it out:
The fine folks at Tabletopia were very kind to put together a free Scythe demo for you to check out. Please note that as of this posting, the character miniatures in Tabletopia aren't exactly as they'll be in the final game--the should have grey figurines and colored bases. All of the pieces here also may not be the perfect representation of the final pieces, and it's certainly a work in progress. They put this together on short notice for you!
Click on this link to head over to Tabletopia for Scythe, and here are some tips to read before you try to play. If you have any comments or questions about the interface, please contact Tabletopia directly.
About a dozen or so backers have requested that we offer a full set of wooden resources as an add-on, either for those at the $99 or $119 levels (which come with the realistic resources, not the wooden ones) or those at the $59 or $79 levels who just want more stuff. I'm always very, very hesitant to add more add-ons, as the logistical difficulties and rate of human errors go up with each one.
However, I'm willing to offer a $10 wooden resource pack as an add-on if there is significant demand--specifically, if at least 1,000 backers want it. Please let me know if you do or don't want it on this poll.
Thanks for reading! Now here's your chance to ask Morten anything!