I’ll admit that I was skeptical when the My Little Scythe board game released. At the time, Scythe was one of my favorite games, and I couldn’t really see myself swapping out my Legendary box for this new version that seemed to be dumbed down for a younger audience.
Now, I’m not going to completely switching over, but My Little Scythe definitely offers a similar experience with some interesting spins. I really can’t believe I sat on it this long!
Don’t read into the aesthetics too much; My Little Scythe may initially come off as ‘too cutsey’ for the hardcore gamer. However, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my gaming career, it’s that looks are deceiving. I’ve played games about animal villagers, flowery garden paths, and bird habitats.
Let’s dive in and see how it plays!
My Little Scythe Gameplay
In My Little Scythe, players assume the roles of different members of the animal kingdom to compete in the Harvest Tournament. The winners, who collect four trophies first, become the next rules of the Kingdom of Pomme. On their turn, players make a choice from three actions:
- Move: Move both of your Seekers two spaces. If they’re carrying any delicious apples or shiny gems, they can each only move a single hex. Those things are heavy!
- Seek: Roll four dice and place the tokens that you discover on the map in their respective areas. You can gain some goodwill in the form of Friendship points if you help out your competitors.
- Make: Pay the required resources to gain a benefit. You can bake those apples into pies, conjure a spell, or purchase a Power Up.
In your quest to earn four Trophies, you have plenty of routes to victory. You can earn Trophies in the following ways:
- Have 8 Friendship
- Purchase 2 Power Ups
- Have 3 Spells
- Resolve 2 Quests
- Deliver 4 Apples to Castle Everfree (the center hex)
- Deliver 4 Gems to Castle Everfree
- Win a Pie Fight
- Have 8 Pies
Even though you’ll be building your Friendship over the course of the game, it’s certainly not a requirement for winning. Maybe you just want to sling pies all around the kingdom! Other players might take upon the role of a delivery carrier, keeping the kingdom fed and sparkling with azure light.
Don’t be distracted by the bright colors and the cute animals or else you’ll end up with pie on your face.
Staking Our C.L.A.I.M. on My Little Scythe
For a game traditionally seen as a family game, My Little Scythe has surprisingly good component quality. This isn’t something that Stonemaier Games is a stranger to; they consistently deliver high-quality components that are sure to draw eyes to the table.
The gems and apples are a wonderful acrylic material, which elevates the game by making these resources seem special. Quest tokens are thick cardboard, which is totally fine since you won’t be handling them as often as the apples and gems.
Double-layered player mats are not a thing in My Little Scythe. In fact, my only real issue with the components is that the player mats feel a bit flimsy compared to everything else. However, as there aren’t any buildings, recruits, or upgrades to manage like there are in Scythe, double-layered player mats would be overkill and unnecessary.
The main thing that everyone will talk about are the miniatures. Wow, these are incredible. Each animal kingdom gets its own player color and two wonderfully-sculpted minis that represent the Seekers. There’s a painting guide included to help you differentiate between the two, which is useful when playing the solo game against the Automountie. If you get this to play with children, this can be a fun introduction to miniature painting, and a nice afternoon activity!
There is a slight (read: very slight) tint difference between the two Seekers, specifically for solo play. It’s really hard to distinguish the difference, however. There could definitely be more contrast between the two.
Other than that, the components get highest marks!
My Little Scythe has a lot of the same feel, strategy-wise, as the original Scythe game. Every turn is a choice to perform a single action, and those actions are restricted to three as opposed to four, so you don’t have quite as much mental processing to do on your turn.
Because you have so many different ways to earn trophies, you can sort of just focus on whatever you want to do, or change your strategy depending on the results of the Seek actions. If the board is becoming flooded with apples and gems, it might be better to focus on some of the trophies that rely on an abundance of resources. Most of them require apples and gems, actually.
It almost always pays to be close to Portals. These inter-dimensional gates allow you to quickly travel across the various biomes to scoop up resources, in the same way that the Tunnels worked in Scythe. They also give you easier access to the other Seekers if you want to win a pie fight.
It’s amazing how removing a lot of those extra features like buildings, recruits, upgrades, and one action can really help to improve the pace of play. A game of My Little Scythe can usually be completed in under an hour, which is something that I really value as I get older.
The overall look and feel of the game is very cute, clearing catering to a younger audience. But again, don’t let that dissuade you from playing this game – games are for everyone!
The bright colors and simplistic design actually cater to a broad audience of gamers. The icons are all easily distinguishable from each other, with the closest match being the apples and hearts. Apart from those, you can take a quick glance at the game board and infer quite a bit about the game.
For example, I can assume that a trophy is something that I want to obtain, likely to win the game. Apples and gems seem like that would be things I would want to collect. Apples get used to make pies. The list goes on and on. The simple design choices elevate the game by making it more accessible by removing unnecessary abstraction.
Plus, the inclusion of whimsical elements pair well with the light-hearted nature of the game. Things like bright pink portals and magical spells ground you in a fantasy world where receiving a pie from your neighbor can send two very different messages.
So who is the target audience for My Little Scythe? First impressions would lead you to believe that it’s for children and families, maybe as a gateway game into more complex games. And while that’s true, I think that any gamer who loves games will still find a place for My Little Scythe on their shelf. Especially if you like Scythe.
The only problem with Scythe is that over the years I’ve accumulated expansions and add-ons that really made the game a bear to get all setup on the table. And, if I’m teaching it to new players, I’m certainly going to be leaving it to the base game and MAYBE plug in Invaders from Afar as well. But all that expansion content just tends to gather dust if I don’t play with players who are already familiar with the game.
My Little Scythe is a lot like a freshly-baked pie. As much as I want a delicious pie, I don’t always want to go through the work to make one myself. Mixing the dough, rolling it out, cooking the crush, filling with toppings and baking it. There’s just a lot of process that goes into a pie before you can enjoy that delicious bite out on the veranda (Editor’s Note: Abram doesn’t have a veranda).
Instead, My Little Scythe is like going down to that cute bakery on the corner and picking up a pie from someone who clearly knows how to pie. No frills, no bells, no whistles – just unabashed, delicious, well-executed pie with fantastic flavor.
Plus, even if not everybody likes pie, everybody can enjoy My Little Scythe.
Lastly, let’s talk about the theme of My Little Scythe. Instead of a dystopian 1920’s Europe, we are faced with a whimsical world where players are competing in a tournament. Instead of Popularity, players are garnering and harvesting friendship. Instead of military might, power is measured in pies.
Everything about the game is lighter in tone and feels sort of innocuous in a positive way. I can just imagine kids playing pretending and going on quests where their main goal isn’t slaying a dragon or conquering the world; they just want to collect apples and shiny things.
One of my favorite additions to the game is the idea of gaining Friendship by gifting resources to the other players. It adds an interesting dynamic that encourages some level of cooperation across the table, and teaches a bit of karma at the same time.
Also, I appreciate the fact that if your Friendship drops too low, you can’t even win the game. This also sends a message as a teachable moment for kids playing, that you can’t be mean and expect good things to happen. I just really like that these messages are baked into the game, making the pies taste that much sweeter.
My Little Scythe: We Need a Bigger Fork!
I was pleasantly surprised with My Little Scythe. Expecting a game that I’d immediately pass onto my nieces and nephews, I was welcomed with a game that I thoroughly enjoyed. Granted, I’m still going to send it their way since I know they’ll get a kick out of it.
What started out as a fan-made project by designer Hoby Chou with his daughter Vienna Chou is officially a published Stonemaier Games product. That’s very cool in and of itself.
However, let’s add one more accolade to the shelf by awarding My Little Scythe with the Nerds on Earth Seal of Awesomeness! We give it to all games that stand out on the shelf as being worthy of taking up some of that valuable board game real estate.
If Red Rising sounds like a game you might like, you can find yourself a copy over at the Stonemaier Games website, here. You can also scoop up the Pie in the Sky expansion while you’re over there. Or, check out your Friendly Local Game Store to see if they have it in stock!
Disclosure: Stonemaier Games provided Nerds on Earth with a copy of My Little Scythe in exchange for an honest review.