Reviewing alternate or family friendly of games is a difficult endeavor. Just as the creation process is difficult for designers, evaluating what should or should not be the basis for the scaled down version of a game is highly subjective and the success of the end resulting really depends on the scope of the player(s). With this is in mind, this next review will try to focus on what the game is, rather than what it is not.
If readers have played Scythe, they can immediately understand how difficult this review can be, mainly for the epic scope of the game and the generally high praise it has received. To create a new version might seem audacious, but designer Hoby Chou’s impetus came from the most natural of fatherly intentions; he wanted to play a version of Scythe with his kids.
My Little Scythe is the result. It’s a resource management, action selection, and light area control game for 1 to 6 players. A single player can use the included solo rules while groups of 3 or more players will have the best experience. It takes about 10 to 15 minutes per player with a box labeled playtime of 45 minutes. That’s probably due to the ideal number of players, which seems to be 4.
Turns in My Little Scythe proceed around the table from the start with each player taking a single action. The only catch is that the action cannot be the exact same action as their previous turn. Turns go by fast as players utilize very compartmentalized moves, attacks, and builds.
Each player will be utilizing their two “Seeker” miniatures to move around the hex map in search of resources, quests, gaining friendship, and pies. The aim of this activity is to achieve trophies from eight different possibilities:
- Collect 8 Friendship (moving up the Friendship track)
- Gaining 8 Pies (moving up the Pie track)
- Delivering 4 Apples to the Castle
- Delivering 4 Gems to the Castle
- Collecting 3 Magic Spells
- Completing 2 Quests
- Winning in a Pie Fight
- Upgrading 2 Player Board Action spaces
With each turn, a player’s action choice can be Move, Seek, or Make. A Move action is fairly straightforward, with a player’s option to carry resources along with them or to move and abandon their resources. By Seeking, players reveal new resources on the map as a result of a dice roll. Resources of Gems, Apples and Quests will appear in colored regions with the particular space up to the player rolling (placing resources in an opponent’s space gains Friendship). A Make action allows players to convert resources in their spaces into other things such as pie, magic spells, or Upgraded Actions.
When a player manages to complete 4 of the trophies, each other player gets one more turn to collect trophies before the game ends. The player who completed 4 trophies wins unless another player has done so as well and then the tiebreaker decides.
When compared to other family friendly games, My Little Scythe is a fun and refreshing experience. The actions aren’t very complex but the strategy behind them can be somewhat elevated for very young players. The choices are certainly engaging each turn and joyful to accomplish.
A bigger question lies around the age recommended on the box. There is some reading involved on the cards, so the 8+ age listed works. However, that is definitely not the case for the rules, which are clearly written at a teenage or better reading level.
The art and theme are exceedingly well done with veteran Scythe players able to pick out the representative animals and the subtle Scythe imagery included (red stars, eastern European clothing). The gameplay and quests don’t borrow any of the original game’s more heavy thematic choices however, which is probably for the best.
The biggest negative that can be seen with this product is something that is often inescapable with family friendly games. The randomness can definitely swing a Seek action in favor of particular players. Several turns with easily accessible resources and quests helps players win quickly; something which could annoy more rigid strategy demanding players.
Overall, My Little Scythe does feel like a scaled down version of the original Scythe. That results in above average gameplay, but it also feels like it’s mainly meant for dads and moms who love Scythe and want a version to play with kids. Depending on the sales and audience of Scythe, that could be a narrow market. Thus, this is difficult to recommend My Little Scythe simply as a kids game. As a family game with a gamer mom or dad, it works well.
Final Score: 4 Stars – A solid gamer’s family game with the DNA of a more complex game, but not so mature as to be perfect for all situations.
• Randomness which can swing the game
• Age rating still requires an adult
• Two player experience is not great