The story of My Little Scythe is a bit of a fairy tale - Father and daughter take one of their favourite games, give it a more approachable and streamlined family feel so daughter can introduce the elements to here friends, designer of the game sees this and makes it a reality.
I'd heard of the My Little Pony version of Scythe but hadn't really paid to much attention as it was a print and play, an area of gaming I have not really explored yet. So when My Little Scythe was announced I was half curious and half dubious. Other family versions have been a mixed bag for us and surely a game with as many options as Scythe couldn't be condensed into a pleasing family version... could it?
My Little Scythe
The first thing you notice open the box is the quality of the components. Although I miss the double layered player boards of the original, I have to admit they aren't required here. The insert is great keeping everything in place, as long as you store your games horizontally. Two specially shaped plastic trays store everything and the minis tray has a lid to keep them safe. Both trays have unused spaces and it's indicated these are for future expansions.
Just like 'big' Scythe, you will be choosing actions from your player mat. In My Little Scythe this is split into three parts: Move, Seek and Make. When choosing the move action, you may move both your minis (called seekers) up to two spaces if they aren't carrying anything or one space if they are. Seek is how you populate the board with resources and quests (quests are the equivalent of Scythe's encounters).
You take four dice and roll them, they will tell you which resource to place out on the board and where to place it. The main board is spilt into different hexes with a section of hexes being a colour, so if you roll a red apple you place an apple on to a red hex. You can earn friendship points by placing onto a hex occupied. The last choice you have is to make, this lets you make magic pie cards, pies themselves, or an upgrade for the move or make spots. You cannot use the same type of move twice in a row.
The Scythe is Right
You use these options to attempt to achieve four out of a possible eight trophies first. Trophies are awarded for achieving certain levels on your friendship and pie tracks, delivering pies and crystals to the central spot, winning a pie fight, upgrading your player board twice, collecting two quest cards or three magic pie cards. As soon as anyone reaches four trophies everyone else gets one more turn to try and catch them.
Play is pacy and engaging in My Little Scythe, as more often than not what is happening involves more than just the player choosing the action to take. Be that players choosing to help others or to engage them in pie fights. It captures some of the feeling of Scythe, while also feeling like something else. The rules are easy to follow and while there are some small things you need to remember, once you have played it you will be set.
As in the case with other Stonemaier games, a solo mode is included in the box with a dedicated deck to play against. What I love about My Little Scythe is that although this is a children/family game the same attention to detail and quality of components has been shown.
While the gameplay certainly fits families more than game groups, I can certainly see it getting played a few times in an adult group. The nice cuddly theme would be out the window as the game would transform into a mean back and forth of oneupmanship and pie fights galore. Or at least in my group.
It will be Al-Scythe on the Night
So, My Little Scythe is a great family game that has been done very, very well. Of course, it doesn't mean it's flawless. The theme and art may not be 'serious' enough for some more discerning folk, whereas I quite like it. The biggest problem that I can see is the end game.
The rule book says that draws will often happen, and they do. Now I don't actually have a problem with this - in theory a family game ending in a draw is a potential way of avoiding arguments after all. I have, however, found that on occasion everyone draws but one of the players loses, this can be worse than the arguments that come out of one child winning!
The other slight negative is that My Little Scythe is a fair bit easier for most adults than children, so you have that difficult decision of breaking their spirit by crushing them, or inflating their ego by letting them win..