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Scythe will get a campaign expansion this year (update)

One of 2016’s best board games is trying something new

Stonemaier Games
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Jamey Stegmaier struck gold with Scythe, one of the best new strategy board games in recent memory. This year he’s trying something different with a campaign expansion called Scythe: The Rise of Fenris.

Scythe is an alternate history game where giant mechs stomp across rural European battlefields. It blends worker-placement games like Agricola with area-control games like Risk or Axis & Allies. The fiction is based on Polish artist Jakub Różalski’s 1920+ setting, which has also been turned into a video game project called Iron Harvest.

a photo of miniatures from the board game Scythe Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

The campaign isn’t exactly a “legacy” style game, Stegmaier told Polygon. Legacy games were pioneered by Rob Daviau, the designer of Risk: Legacy and co-designer of the Pandemic Legacy series. The basic concept is that legacy games change over time, adding new rules and mechanics as they go and requiring that players alter or destroy game components along the way. But a legacy game is permanent and irreversible. Rise of Fenris will be neither of those things.

Stonemaier Games

In a video posted to a private fan group on Facebook, Stegmaier explained that the system will be completely modular and will not change or damage the original game. Think of it as a series of tweaks to the base game that can be experienced a la carte, or strung together in a thematic campaign.

The expansion will be available in the third quarter of 2018 and include an eight-game campaign with 11 modules that can be used in various combinations. It will include a guidebook, 13 plastic miniatures, 62 wooden tokens, two custom dice, five new game tiles and more than 100 cardboard tokens. It will be compatible with Invaders From Afar, which expands the game from five to seven players, as well as The Wind Gambit, which adds airships. No price has been announced.

This isn’t Stegmaier’s first attempt at a campaign. Charterstone, another worker-placement style game, is a true legacy-style game released late last year. Polygon has received our copy, and have plans for a full review once we’ve made our way through the campaign.

Update: Jamey Stegmaier reached out after this article was published to clarify that he does not consider Rise of Fenris to be a legacy game in the traditional sense.

The Rise of Fenris isn’t a legacy game/expansion,” Stegmaier said in an email. “It’s just a campaign game, as there are no elements of permanence that can’t be undone (that’s the defining characteristic of legacy).”

We’ve amended the above article to reflect that distinction.

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