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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Thursday 20 September 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Scythe:Rise of Fenris

Game: Scythe: Rise of Fenris

Publisher: Stonemaier Games

Designer: Ryan Lopez DeVinaspre, Jamey Stegmaier

Year: 2018

Rise of Fenris is the final expansion for Scythe. Scythe is an extremely highly rated board game in its own right, but the hype for this expansion has been huge! It promises to be an eight episode campaign, not a legacy game, but with legacy-like aspects. Once played, you could play the campaign again or use some of the many new elements as modules in your standard Scythe games – a lofty ambition.

Before the Rise of Fenris, we’d only played Scythe on three occasions. This wasn’t due to a lack of love for the original game – a pimped out Collector’s Edition sits on our shelves, but we were late adopters. We have no other expansions and these are not needed to play through Rise of Fenris, although they can be used in mot episodes of the campaign. We have loved Scythe with two players, but had mixed experiences with the higher player counts, since area control and player conflict are really not my thing. I was a little nervous of the Rise of Fenris expansion based on how it might play with two and how it might force me towards aspects of the game that I typically shy away from. I am also a very poor player at Scythe – I typically lose by a hefty margin and losing isn’t really my bag either!

We’ve played through the full eight game campaign of Scythe:Rise of Fenris with the same two-players throughout. It stayed on our dining table for about two weeks and we never played more than one game in a sitting. We haven’t yet explored the modules. I’ve done my best to ensure that this will be a spoiler free review.

Whilst remaining spoiler free, there’s not a lot I can tell you about the gameplay. The game starts with a first game very similar to Scythe, which was good for us to re-familiarise ourselves with the base game. At the end of the first game you’re faced with choice that starts to initiate changes in the game objectives, side objectives that help to change the narrative, and you start to discover more of what’s in the secret boxes and what the new tokens on the punchboard mean (that you have been careful not to spoil yourself on, since they’re not hidden when you delve into the box). Rise of Fenris captures some of the excitement you get from a game of Pandemic Legacy, where you are opening boxes of new stuff as the game progresses, although the campaign does have a linear story line. The story is extensive and quite well written, as well as being well woven into the game. It’s certainly added a lot more to the game’s theme for me than I ever knew about the base game of Scythe.

Where possible I try to avoid conflict in games of Scythe, but with Rise of Fenris this was pretty much made impossible. Picking variety in your strategies was generally encouraged by the campaign’s scoring mechanics and certain episodes had more or less bias towards combat strategies, or the opposite, more engine building strategies. This level of conflict didn’t spoil any games for me, but at times I did struggle to adapt to new strategies that weren’t so familiar. There’s no doubt I know Scythe a lot more deeply now, even though I’ve still only got two victories to my name.

There were certainly a few elements during the campaign that we found to be a little weak, especially because we were playing with only two players. In particular, I was concerned that the new elements that Amy unlocked during one game sometimes better prepared her for winning the next game. This might be less apparent in a game with more players where there could be more attack against the leading player and generally more variety on who is having a great game during that scenario. The same concern about the rich getting richer was certainly apparent in the wealth mechanics – if you did well in one game you could buy more to help you do well in the next, which felt pretty frustrating as the player frequently in last place. Fortunately, by the end of the campaign, Amy was concerned that her game-to-game victories weren’t a big enough factor in who won the campaign, whereas I felt that this balanced out her in game advantage.

There were two or three games during the campaign that I really didn’t enjoy, but winning the final episode really cemented Scythe: Rise of Fenris as a great overall experience. It wasn’t just the winning, it was the fact that, even though I felt like Amy got all of the ‘fun bits’ throughout the game, there wasn’t as much of a runaway leader problem as I expected.

We’re looking forward to exploring the cooperative module, as well as adding a select few of the most enjoyable new modules into our future games of Scythe to add more variety to our games. If you love multiplayer Scythe then this expansion is an almost guaranteed hit. If you’re playing with two players, then I’d still recommend this expansion, but you might want to find a bigger group to experience it at its best. For the Yellow Meeple, it’s an 8/10.

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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