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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.

Automa, Board Comparison, Tabletopia, and Resource Poll

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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.

You can continue reading on BoardGameGeek, check out the playtest files for Automa in our PnP folder, or ask Morten anything in the comments below.

Board Comparison

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:

Tabletopia

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.

Resource Poll

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!

Souhei, Jacob Russell, and 110 more people like this update.

Comments

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    1. Missing avatar

      Matt Watkins on October 22, 2015

      @Nathan, I should mention that you have to type your name in over on the right to get the buttons to unlock on the left. This isn't obvious anywhere and is kind of typical of Tabletopia's interface, which looks very pretty, but is pretty difficult to use and clunky.

    2. Missing avatar

      Matt Watkins on October 22, 2015

      Nathan, you have to use Firefox or IE to make it work. Tabletopia uses the Unity plug-in, and Chrome no longer supports the plug-in API. Google is trying to move the internet to WebGL, which will work, but will take time. Unity devs are in the process of re-writing the Unity plug-in for WebGL.

      Even in other browsers, you have to manually enable the plugin to use it. I haven't tried Firefox, but in IE, to do this, click the Tools button on the upper right, then choose Manage Add-ons. Once that window opens, click the Show drop-down on the left and choose All Add-ons, Then click Toolbars and Extensions, scroll down until you find Unity and Enable it using the button on the lower right (assuming you have it installed.)

    3. Nathan Bell on October 21, 2015

      Thanks Jamey. The only one I haven't tried yet is Safari. I'll give it a try.

    4. Jamey Stegmaier 8-time creator
      Superbacker
      on October 21, 2015

      Nathan, I don't know much about it, but I do know that it doesn't work on Chrome in case that's the browser you're trying to use.

    5. Nathan Bell on October 21, 2015

      Has anyone besides me had trouble loading and using the TableTopia site? Do you have to be a member? I have used the link. I have downloaded the plugin it tells me to and have tried it on all approved ISP, Even restarted my PC, but it just doesn't load. I would love to try the game and the site out. Can anyone help me please?

    6. David Studley
      Superbacker
      on October 20, 2015

      @SuperG and Morten, when asked about this, Jamey said that it wouldn't be over there in the immediate future because it was in a draft state, graphically. It didn't sound like he would be opposed to the idea, once they made it through the graphic design process. Maybe you can touch base and discuss it with Jamey, Morten?

    7. Morten Monrad Pedersen on October 20, 2015

      @SuperG, I unfortunately have no clue, whether that'll happen.

    8. SuperG on October 19, 2015

      Hey look! A question that cover TWO topics in the update:

      Will Automa and Friends make it to Tabletopia?

    9. David Studley
      Superbacker
      on October 19, 2015

      @Gary Boyd, thank you. You were a great help during playtesting. I have to get back to testing some of your work. Cheers!

    10. Noel Anne Voyt on October 19, 2015

      Having played the game 23 times now I can safely say if this project excites you at all you won't be disappointed. Jamey has made a great game and Morten and David's work on the Automa has been incredible. I really can't wait to see this on my doorstep.

    11. David Studley
      Superbacker
      on October 19, 2015

      @gary quirk, we're all glad that you're excited about it. Make sure you share what happens when you rave against the Automa :D

    12. Missing avatar

      gary quirk on October 19, 2015

      I'm in, backed it before I new you could play solo, this is just the sort of Game I've been waiting for. Now I can even play it when no one else want to listen to me raving about it....

    13. Kyle Nelstead on October 19, 2015

      Awesome, thanks for the comments Morten. I'm really looking forward to getting Scythe on my table and trying out your system for myself!

    14. David Studley
      Superbacker
      on October 19, 2015

      @Oliver, we're keen to hear how it goes and what you think once you do try it out.

    15. Oliver R Shead on October 19, 2015

      Interesting stuff. Having a solo board game is quite a challenge. Wasn't sure how it would work (still fuzzy actually), but I'm keen to try it out.

    16. Morten Monrad Pedersen on October 19, 2015

      @Kyle, that’s a really interesting question. Let me give you a few examples of areas where I think that designing an Automa to interact with multiple human players is harder than making one for a solo mode.

      First of all, there’s the question: Which player should the Automa target? In a solo game the answer is obvious, but in a multiplayer game it can add complexity to have rules dealing with this, and you risk having players who feel that they’re unfairly targeted by the game.

      Second, there’s balance. If it’s a competitive game where seating order or position on the board matters, then it can make a big difference to each player’s chance of winning whether they’re seated next to the Automa or not, since the Automa will by necessity act differently than a human neighbor and so you should preferably have the Automas and human players distributed evenly.

      Third, in a competitive game, I think that you’d see that in some groups the human players would prefer to avoid attacking each other and instead pick on the Automa for social/psychological reasons, other groups might do the exact opposite, while some may treat it just like any other player. Creating a system that’s balanced across such a large span of behaviors will likely be tough.

      I hope to put a simple variant of Scythe Automa on BGG at some point that allows it to be used with any combination of human and Automa players. To be honest I won’t be doing much to deal with the above mentioned issues in that variant. Since doing it right would require a full playtest and could easily take me a month or two of work, which is time I don’t have. I do consider having one mode that handles most of the issues and that’s a cooperative mode where you win or lose against the Automas as a team.

    17. Steve T on October 18, 2015

      In theory, I would like the icons on the bigger board to stay the same size as the original but my eyes disagree. If I can't see them all clearly then I'm going to need to play with the original size board. When it comes down to it though, I'm sure Jamey & Co will print out a variety of sizes & test to see which icon size is the best.

    18. David Studley
      Superbacker
      on October 18, 2015

      @Kyle Nelstead: Have you had an opportunity to read Morten's blog posts about the Automa process? https://boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/37830/automa-approach-i-method-making-solitaire-modes-mu

    19. Kyle Nelstead on October 18, 2015

      @Morten: I'm working on incorporating a sort of automa system as a standard mechanic in aa multiplayer game I'm working on designing. I'm fairly early in the design process, but I'm considering designing the AI to play with different objectives than everyone else (sort of a 1 v All every game). What would you say the challenges of designing an Automa system for a multiplayer environment would be vs a solo environment? What would you have done differently if you had designed the automa to play alongside other players (not just a single player), or do you think it has the potential to scale well to more than one player?

    20. Jonah Falcon on October 18, 2015

      Very cool. I backed Tabletopia.

    21. The Redheaded Pharmacist
      Superbacker
      on October 18, 2015

      I would like to thank everyone on the design team for putting in all of the hard work making the solitare option for this game.

    22. David Studley
      Superbacker
      on October 18, 2015

      Awesome Jan. Thank you :-)

    23. Missing avatar

      Jan Schröder on October 18, 2015

      fair enough! my grandfather was baltic so this here was a popular food at any kind of familiy gathering: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierogi

    24. David Studley
      Superbacker
      on October 18, 2015

      @Jan: I'm not sure about that, but we can certainly have some fun during the campaign :D

    25. Missing avatar

      Jan Schröder on October 18, 2015

      so maybe there is a bit of left-over space in the art book for recipes (or even other cultural stuff) from that time and space...? - would be very interesting!

    26. Jamey Stegmaier 8-time creator
      Superbacker
      on October 18, 2015

      @Cyrano: Thanks for your question! I already replied when you posted it on the main comments thread. :)

    27. David Studley
      Superbacker
      on October 18, 2015

      @Morten: Sleep well
      @Jan: Indeed. While I've been hanging around here in the evenings, I've been googling away and enjoying learning about the cultural aspects of that part of the world and the timeframe. Fascinating, delicious stuff :D

    28. Cyrano on October 18, 2015

      +1 to all who are saying keep the big board icons the same size as the normal board... If they are enlarged by 77% wont the board start looking like it was designed for pre-schoolers? Also just because the board is bigger it doesn't necessarily follow that the table it is on is also bigger (although maybe in some cases). Or alternatively maybe the small resource icons can enlarge, but please not the tunnel and faction icons - they stand out out very well and do detract from the art. The board is beautiful by the way... show as much it off as you in all its glory !!

    29. Missing avatar

      Jan Schröder on October 18, 2015

      @ David Studley: when i started that sentence below i thought i´d try a joke, but when i had finished it i wondered - maybe that could be something quite fitting actually.
      the world of Scythe seems so detailled already that imagining those mech drivers sitting down for lunch in some farmer´s kitchen would fit the picture and might even make you interested in what they are being offered...

    30. Morten Monrad Pedersen on October 18, 2015

      @John, +1 to what David said :-)

      And now I'm off to bed, G'night everyone :-)

    31. David Studley
      Superbacker
      on October 18, 2015

      @John Walker: I wouldn't look to embarrass anyone either, but you have been generous, patient and understanding, as well. Your feedback throughout the process has been very helpfu and it is greatly appreciated.

    32. Jamey Stegmaier 8-time creator
      Superbacker
      on October 18, 2015

      Thanks John! I'm so happy to hear you've enjoyed being a part of the process of developing Scythe.

    33. John Walker on October 18, 2015

      As a playtester from day 1 till Ultimaszyna, this has been a great experience. All the main organisers have been generous, patient and understanding. Don't wish to embarass them but you know who you are. Note to all game designers. Get yersen' some ambassadors...

    34. David Studley
      Superbacker
      on October 18, 2015

      @Lines: "(Morten, David, don't reply! This is no fishing for compliments :-P )" Too bad. You are brilliant and fantastic to work with.

    35. psyco363
      Superbacker
      on October 18, 2015

      many thx for the tabletopia demo i hope i can testing soon =)

    36. Jamey Stegmaier 8-time creator
      Superbacker
      on October 18, 2015

      @Thomas: Sure, I'm happy for Scythe to be on Tabletopia. :)

      others: Thanks for your thoughts about small vs. big icons!

    37. Lines on October 18, 2015

      @andvaranaut
      re: "My great question for Morten (and David and the rest of the team) is how they manage to be so ridiculously brilliant and humble at the same time."

      I can only speak for myself. But the trick is I don't think I'm brilliant :-/

      (Morten, David, don't reply! This is no fishing for compliments :-P )

    38. Thomas Schutte on October 18, 2015

      @Benjamin I absolutely agree

    39. David Studley
      Superbacker
      on October 18, 2015

      @Jan Schröder: Funny you should mention that. I've been playing with that idea :D

    40. Benjamin on October 18, 2015

      Leave the icons the same size as the smaller board, it will look cleaner

    41. Thomas Schutte on October 18, 2015

      Are there any plans to make Scythe permanently available on Tabletopia? I happen to have a beta access but cannot find the game in the regular catalog.

    42. Fab
      Superbacker
      on October 18, 2015

      @aron aka jello Don't get me wrong, I know and understand that add-ons could be an hussle or headaches for creators. Nothing is simple but this rule apply to all add-ons...your explanation about every possible nightmare related to wrong add-on selection or shipping in every fullfillment centre should convince every creator to discard any add-on ever....but they are also remunerative and complete the games as creator really wanted, that's why some add-ons are scheduled from beginning (extra realistic tokens, coins, artbook, extra map etc.). Probably if less then 1.000 backers demand extra wooden tokens they will not be included as optional add-on because the incremental issues are not worth time spent to manage the distribution process. In that worst case scenario I am confident that Jamey will add those wooden tokens to my pledge with a dedicated signed note :-))

    43. Missing avatar

      Jan Schröder on October 18, 2015

      @Morten and David: so it might be time for an east-european flavoured Scythe Recipe Book, with all of that minced meat on the gaming table!

    44. Jamey Stegmaier 8-time creator
      Superbacker
      on October 18, 2015

      @Referee: I'm truly more than happy to to do...if enough people want it. Add-ons really complicate things and affect more than just the people who want them, so I have to do my due diligence to see if it's worth the hassle.

    45. Missing avatar

      Referee
      Superbacker
      on October 18, 2015

      @Jamey: Let the buyer decide what he needs. :) I think removing the wooden components from the Collector and Art editions was a good idea. But I also think not offering the option of getting them as an extra is not a good idea. As someone said before, it's not more complicated than the symmetric case, after all.

      Maybe someone plans to use both, perhaps wooden as units, realistic as threes or fives.

    46. Jamey Stegmaier 8-time creator
      Superbacker
      on October 18, 2015

      @Klaus: The total number of votes helps to show me how many people have voted. I can use that information to know if I need to share the poll on a future update or not (it appears that I do).

    47. Simon on October 18, 2015

      I may not have backed this without the solo option, so thanks for putting the effort into developing it.

    48. Klaus Ole Kristiansen
      Superbacker
      on October 18, 2015

      It seems to me that"no" answers to the poll are redundant. If the criterion is whether you get 1000 yes votes, What is the difference between votin "no" and not voting at all?

      I did vote "no", though.

    49. David Studley
      Superbacker
      on October 18, 2015

      @Jan, it'll spewed me out as minced meat ;-)