Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Tuesday 18 September 2018

Reap what you sow:- Scythe: Rise of Fenris

Game: Scythe: Rise of Fenris

Publisher: Stonemaier Games

Designer: Ryan Lopez DeVinaspre, Jamey Stegmaier

Year: 2018

Scythe: Rise of Fenris is a modular expansion for Scythe which is fully compatible with the base game and the previous expansions. On top of that it's also a re-playable campaign game of 8 missions that takes you through the story of Scythe and the mysteries of the factory. After playing through the campaign 2-player, I am going to give this review in 2 parts: a completely spoiler free section and a second section which will include some of the mechanics you can expect, but won't spoil the story. If you don't want to know the contents of the box then stop reading after my clear and obvious spoiler messages!

The first thing to note is staying completely spoiler free during the campaign is pretty hard, the game has several tuck boxes, which do a great job of hiding the components that will unlock as the campaign progresses. Unfortunately it also includes a series of punchboards which are all clearly labelled so you know exactly what bits to punch during which game. You may have to have 1 person take on the slight burden of being the dedicated 'puncher' who gets slight spoilers. It's not terrible, but enough to be a mild annoyance.

The campaign story is involving, with a few branching paths that are affected by the actions of players in the previous game. The missions always clearly state your main objectives in bullet points and it's often worth trying to pursue them as they are rewarded in the post-game cleanup. You start to find yourself in a better and better starting position, which is good. If you are going to play 8 games of Scythe then you will want the early game to get quicker as you play so you can skip right to the action!

The story is in depth, with there being a multiple page backstory that explains the full story of Scythe so far leading up to the start of Rise of Fenris
Like I mentioned, the game is modular and the campaign acts much like a Smörgåsbord of the modules. You get to sample some just for one scenario, while others are persistent and become a new way the game is played. Others give you choices that may permanently change how one player interacts with the world while leaving the rest of you unphased. While these are all at least interesting there are certainly some modules that feel a bit more powerful and interesting than others, and especially with the ones that are only unlocked for 1 player it can feel a bit sad in lower player count games if one person keeps reaping those rewards.

The game contains lovely spoiler-proof tuck boxes, just be careful not to look too close to the punch boards on top...

The core thing to take away at this point is if you like Scythe then you will love Scythe: Rise of Fenris, if nothing else it's an excuse to play a great game 8 times, but with each game having a unique new twist. Outside of the campaign there is also a separate co-op module, which I hate to admit we have yet to try, but it's certainly high on my want to play list now.


Scythe: Rise of Fenris was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available for an RRP of £49.99 at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

Beyond this point I will be mentioning spoilers for the gameplay, but not the story, of Scythe: Rise of Fenris

 Stop scrolling if you want to be spoiler free

 Last chance to stop scrolling!

If you have read this far then you must want to know more about what you are actually getting out of the box. There are numerous modules that you will be unlocking as you play. Some of them are permanent unlocks such as the 2 new factions, both are "advanced" factions with very different gameplay mechanics. One has an adorable pet and the best colour scheme (cyan!), while the other has... table presence, saying anymore would ruin the surprise! One of the biggest changes through is not the factions, but the mods. Mods come in 2 flavours: mech mods give you tiles that replace your basic mech abilities, letting you customize your faction. You can change out your riverwalk for the ability to walk on lakes, or replace your combat ability with a more economic one. The mech mods are nice for keeping a level of replayability in the game, but it's the infrastructure mods that really improved the game for me. These tiles give you some powerful actions, like having a free upgrade or build action. There's an incredible feeling of freedom in being able to do both the top and bottom action of your board on the first few turns, it speeds up the early game, lets you leave your little home base earlier and generally gets your right into the game.

Faction-wise the cyan faction is very random, they get to select their mech abilities from a handful of free mech mods that they get in addition to the normal mech mods you can unlock. During a campaign this feels a little weak, but they would still get the mech mods even if you weren't playing with that module! In addition they get given 3 tech cards for free at the start of the game, the catch being that they can only use tech cards once before having to throw them away. The orange faction is probably the most aggressive faction to date, it starts the game with a whole heap of negative point markers which you can drop around the board as you move about. Should anyone else step onto one of these their poor units must stop moving for the turn and collect the damned thing, limiting their move and costing them points! The faction is very mobile with some of its basic mech abilities letting you skip around the map like a speeding bullet, this can make them infuriating to play against as they move with impunity, all the while throwing down traps to slow you down.

The other main modules are the triumph track modules - the area where you put out your stars. There are 3 types: 'Peace' gives you a more economic game, you can forge official alliances witch let you use your allies' racial ability and give huge penalties should you ever break them. The 'War' module is the opposite and almost turns Scythe into a full-on wargame. With 4 stars to be gained for combat and the ability to declare someone your enemy for extra stars when fighting them, you can be assured of a bloody game. Finally there are a set of tiles for randomising the triumph track before the game. Between these they include a few new objectives to keep the game fresh. Finally there is a module that lets you unlock a second character for your faction, of course it's a race and everyone is trying to achieve it at the same time. Should you unlock them they act as both a character and a mech, letting you move your workers around and collect your factory card with the same person! There are also consequences should you fail to find this character, though we didn't reach that path during the campaign, so I'll have to leave that one to your imagination.

Of all the things it's surely the infrastructure mods that add the most to the game for me. Being able to get a quick start on the game feels great, and even later in the game they can help you out if you just fall short on resources to do what you want. Some of the other modules I could live without, but the peace track is definitely one that will frequent our table. We mostly play Scythe two player and Scythe's combat really needs there to be a third (or more) player to abuse the newly weakened warring nations.


Scythe: Rise of Fenris was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available for an RRP of £49.99 at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

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