When do you buy a game?

When do you buy a game? - 7/13/20

A few weekends ago I finally was able to play Scythe. After playing it I decided that it is a game that I will probably never buy - even though I loved playing it.

Scythe was a game that I have wanted to play for a long time but I hadn’t had a chance to until last month. Some of my friends and acquaintances in the hobby have said that Scythe is their #1 game of all time. So, naturally I was intrigued by it and thought that perhaps I was overthinking it. However, after playing it I came to the sad realization that this wasn’t a game for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed Scythe (and perhaps it helped a little that I ended up winning). But to me, I would never be able to get it to the table. I would love to play Scythe again, and I certainly hope that I get the chance to, but I would have a hard time buying it because I don’t think I would be able to play it regularly. This was a tough realization for me, as I like to buy games that I enjoy playing.

Maybe after another play or two I will be convinced otherwise, but ultimately here are the three main reasons why I don’t think I’ll ever buy Scythe:

  1. Too long of an experience - My first game of Scythe was over 3 hours. It was a fun three hours, but I’m the type of gamer that would rather play three 1-hour games or six 30-minute games than play one 3-hour game. At least generally that is my rule. Scythe requires a decent amount of setup time and the options you have in your turn are fun - but can lead to slow gameplay and long gaming experiences.

  2. Too complicated - This is related to item 1 above, but I think you could probably have a simple game that also lasted a long time that I would have a hard time buying. I love the options that Scythe gives you as far as paths to victory and the asymmetry between factions. But I could only truly enjoy all those options if I had a group that regularly played this together. And for me and my group of friends that regularly play games, I don’t see that happening as my friends and I would rather play games that you could enjoy right out of the box.

  3. Not great at two players - Most of my gaming is done at two-players. Stonemaier Games has great games for 2-players, such as Wingspan and Tapestry, but I don’t see Scythe being a great two player game. This was confirmed to me by one of my friends who has Scythe as his #1 game. He says you need at least three, and preferable at least four players. Not having great gameplay at two-players was ultimately the biggest deal breaker for me.

This conclusion that I came to, to not buy Scythe even though I enjoyed it, led me to wonder what other people’s deal breakers are when they choose to buy a game vs. not buy a game. It also led me to relate it to my own game design projects and how I can design games that people will enjoy enough to buy and avoid the “deal-breaker” requirements that gamers may have.