It is common in the board gaming hobby for popular games to receive an expansion. This is done in an attempt to increase replay-ability, add variety, add to the player count and in the rare cases balance an unbalanced game. As mentioned in my review of Scythe, the game has become quite popular within the hobby, meaning it comes as no surprise to fans of the game that an expansion was coming.
This expansion, which is also designed by Jamey Stegmaier, increases the player count of the game from a maximum of five players to a maximum of seven, which I’ve personally never played but would be extremely intrigued to have a go at!
Scythe: Invaders From Afar is the first of a few planned expansions for the Stonemaier Games franchise. This is a small box expansion that adds a few little things that can be integrated with ease into the base game.
Scythe: Invaders From Afar - Gameplay
The Scythe: Invaders From Afar expansion sees the addition of two new factions; the GREEN faction and PURPLE faction. Both of these have a unique feel to them and differ tremendously from the original five factions from the base game, with both adding a new minor mechanic to how they work.
The Albion (green) faction’s main difference is the placement of territory flags. These flags can be placed at the end of a player’s movement and act as an additional territory for end game scoring. Thus meaning some territories can be worth double points.
The Togawa (purple) faction have the ability to lay traps in hexes. Like the other faction, a player may lay a trap at the end of a movement action. Their choice of trap is their own and remaining armed traps score a territory in the Togawa player’s favor. Should another decide to enter a territory with an armed trap, they will need to suffer the penalty attached. This includes:
- Losing two popularity.
- Losing three power.
- Losing $4.
- Discarding two random cards at random.
The traps are inconvenient, but not game destroying.
Both of the new factions have completely different mech abilities, which sees them not having the ‘Riverwalk’ and ‘Speed’ abilities which were interestingly shared by all factions in the base game. The replacement abilities for the Riverwalk ability also aid the player in movement around the board. On the other hand, the alternative ability for the ‘Speed’ ability feels a lot more limiting.
Scythe: Invaders From Afar - Components
As is expected in games published by Stonemaier Games, the production value on the expansion is just as fantastic as that of the base game. With two new moulds for the plastic mechs in both factions, as well as individual designs for their wooden meeples.
New faction and player boards are produced exactly the same as the base game. Meaning choosing a faction randomly at the start of the game is still a possibility as there is no way of differentiating between these boards and those in the base game. Great to see that this is the case!
Scythe: Invaders From Afar - Final Thoughts
Firstly, I’d like to state that more variety and more choices in set-up is a great flavour in an expansion. The game does not need this expansion, however if you’re a big fan of Scythe and would love more variety, along with an opportunity to tackle different strategies, then this is a must-have expansion.
That being said, I personally prefer to play as the factions from the base game. The new mechanics are lovely and add an element of intimidation to the board outside of mechs and workers. But for me they can be a little fiddly and at times I was forgetting about them! Forgetting to use a faction ability is my own fault I know, although the amount you need to juggle in Scythe throughout the game can cause someone to easily forget a mechanic.
Don’t get me wrong, they are extremely fun to play! I will play as these if I fancy a challenge, and will certainly play as one of these if I’m playing with new players to create a bit of a handicap.
Additionally, the new player boards are an excellent addition to add to the variety of combinations between top row and bottom row actions. These will always be mixed in during random setups, including when showing new players.
All-in-all this is a great expansion and if you’re a big fan of Scythe you’ve stopped reading this and already got your hands on it. If you haven’t... Then what are you waiting for?