Designed by Jamey Stegmaier
Art & worldbuilding by Jakub Rozalski


Scythe is an engine-building, asymmetric, competitive board game set in an alternate-history 1920s period. It is a time of farming and war, broken hearts and rusted gears, innovation and valor.

Created by lead designer Jamey Stegmaier with the assistance of Morten Monrad Pedersen (solo variant) in the stark but beautiful world of artist Jakub Rozalski, Scythe successfully funded by Stonemaier Games via Kickstarter from October 13-November 5 and was released in August 2016. You can follow the progress of the game on BGG.


Scythe world

The ashes from the first Great War still darken the snow in 1920s Europa. The capitalistic city-state known simply as “The Factory,” which fueled the war with heavily armored mechs, has closed its doors, drawing the atetntion of several nearby countries. With characters from five (in original game) factions converging onto a small but highly desired swath of land, who will gain fame and fortune by establishing their empire as the leader of Eastern Europa?


Game components

In Scythe, each player represents a fallen leader attempting to restore their honor and lead their faction to power in Eastern Europa. Players conquer territory, enlist new recruits, reap resources, gain villagers, build structures, and activate monstrous mechs.

Each player begins the game with different resources (strength, victory points, movement capabilities, and popularity), their choice of several faction-specific abilities, and a hidden goal. Starting positions are specially calibrated to contribute to each faction’s uniqueness and the asymmetrical nature of the game.

Scythe gives players almost complete control over their fate. Other than each player’s individual hidden objective cards, the only elements of luck are encounter cards that players will draw as they interact with the citizens of newly explored lands and combat cards that give you a temporary boost in combat. Combat is also driven by choices, not luck or randomness.

Scythe uses a streamlined action-selection mechanism (no rounds or phases) to keep gameplay moving at a brisk pace and reduce downtime between turns. While there is plenty of direct conflict, there is no player elimination, nor can units be killed or destroyed.

Every part of Scythe has an aspect of engine-building to it. Players can upgrade actions to become more efficient, build structures that improve their position on the map, enlist new recruits to enhance character abilities, deploy mechs to deter opponents from invading, and expand their borders to reap greater types and quantities of resources. These engine-building aspects create a sense of momentum and progress throughout the game. The order in which players improve their engine adds to the unique feel of each game, even when playing one faction multiple times.


Polania Republic

Character: Anna & Wojtek Polania hero

Anna was born into a long line of intellectuals and diplomats. After her parents died in the war, she moved in with her grandfather, a former soldier and avid hunter. He raised her and taught her how to shoot a gun. Over time, Anna became an expert marksman.

On a hunting excursion with her grandfather, Anna discovered a mother bear who had died in a trap. Huddled next to the bear was a young bear cub. Taking pity on the animal, Anna scooped him up in her arms and took him home, much to the dismay of her grandfather.

Anna and Wojtek, as she named the bear, quickly became inseparable. They even developed a form of communication using sign language.

When Anna grew up, she decided to use her marksmanship to aid her country. Wojtek joined her as she enlisted in the newly-formed reconnaissance troops in the Polania army. Together they traveled across the countryside becoming living legends as they distinguished themselves in battle and showed compassion for even the poorest farmer.

Saxony Empire

Character: Gunter von Duisburg with Nacht & Tag Saxony hero

Gunter grew up in a wealthy, aristocratic family known for the dire wolves they bred and sold across the country. As a young boy he traveled with his father across Africa, where he developed excellent hunting skills and an interest in archeology.

With a strong love of his country, Gunter enlisted in the Saxon army. He spent the first few years of service training soldiers to work with dire wolves, where he formed a kinship with two particular wolves: Nacht and Tag (Night and Day).

When the war began, Gunter and his wolves led elite mech squads across the forests and mountains of Saxony and Europe. His name was both feared and respected, and his jacket grew heavy with medals of honor.

After the war, the Saxon emperor sought an audience with Gunter, Nacht, and Tag. He asked them (well, he asked Gunter) to go on a special mission to the east, where he saw an opportunity to expand to the unclaimed lands surrounding the Factory. Gunter was never one to turn down an adventure, so off he went to the east.

Crimean Khanate

Character: Zehra & Kar Crimean hero

Princess Zehra was the firstborn daughter of the Khan of the Crimean Tatars. Despite her royal upbringing and against the will of her father, Zehra preferred to practice bow shooting and horseback riding rather than meekly drink tea with dignitaries. She found that she was able to see things before they happened, a skill that greatly aided her archery skills, especially for moving targets.

When Zehra turned 16, her father gave her a great steppe eagle for her birthday. Much to Zehra’s surprise, she found that she could see through the eagle’s eyes, and she had the sense that the eagle could see through hers. Zehra named her Kar.

Zehra traveled the land with Kar, representing her family’s interests and serving the people. Tales of her bravery were spread far and wide by Crimean caravans and traders.

Steeped in the tradition and culture of their people, Zehra’s father was reluctant to adapt the new mech technologies developed by the Factory. However, he realized that the world was changing whether or not he liked it, and he didn’t want his country to fall too far behind. So he asked Zehra and Kar to go on an expedition to the north for the purpose of learning modern technology and ensuring peace for their people.

Nordic Kingdom

Character: Bjorn & Mox Nordic hero

Bjorn, the descendant of a renowned Viking family, grew up in a small village in the north of the Nordic Kingdom. For centuries his tribe had bred and raised the massive musk ox seen on many farms across the arctic. From an early age, Bjorn found that he was able to tame and communicate with the huge animals.

When he was 15, Bjorn was caught in a terrible snowstorm while trying to find a young musk ox that had wandered away from the herd. He found the musk ox, but there was no hope of making their way back to the village. Much to Bjorn’s surprised, the musk ox seemed to understand the dire situation, as it created a protective barrier to keep Bjorn safe from the blizzard. After surviving the ordeal, Bjorn took the creature as his mount and named him Mox.

As an adult, Bjorn had a yearning to see the world beyond his tiny village, so he and Mox embarked on a series of adventures across the land. They served as ambassadors to other tribes, went on war missions, and sought to find new oil reserves.

Stories of their courage and heroism eventually reached the king, who asked Bjorn and Mox to participate in a special mission to venture into the south. They seek to add new villages and farms to their kingdom by diplomacy or by force, as well as to explore the Factory to give them a technological advantage in future wars.

Rusviet Union

Character: Olga Romanova & Changa Rusviet hero

Olga comes from an old aristocratic family that lost their money and position a long time ago. So she was raised on humble means and in harsh climates, surrounded by simple people and nature. From childhood Olga was taught to have great respect for the Siberian tigers that prowled the Rusviet tundra.

At 15, Olga was already turning into a beautiful woman of strong ambition and intelligence. She caught the eye of Viktor, the young commander of a squadron of mechs traveling through her village on the way to war, and they began to correspond via letter.

Viktor surprised her by showing up on Olga’s 16th birthday to present her with a Siberian tiger cub named Changa he had discovered on patrol. The three of them spent the next week together, and they talked of marrying.

Unfortunately, the great war began, and Viktor was called away to service. They continued to write, but one day Olga received word that Viktor had gone missing in enemy territory. She vowed to find him, so she joined the Rusviet military intelligence service with Changa at her side. With her intelligence and ambition, she quickly climbed the ranks, and she finally got the chance to search the western lands for her beloved Viktor with the full strength of the Rusviet military at her back!

Clan Albion

Character: Connor & Max Albion hero

Connor is a highlander, a native of the southern area of the island controlled by Clan Albion. He comes from a long line of military legends, a tradition he perpetuated by entrenching himself far behind enemy lines during the Great War. He owes his life to his faithful companion, a wild boar named Max, who saved him from a pack of dire wolves in the foothills of Saxony.

Clan Albion fears that the Factory could fall under permanent control of one of the more powerful factions, which might then encroach on the Albion homeland. With Max by his side, Connor is entrusted with the command of a special taskforce to build a strong line of defense against the other factions and destroy the Factory before it’s too late.

Togawa Shogunate

Character: Akiko & Jiro Togawa hero

From an early age, Akiko, the niece of the shogun, read stories of warriors and adventurers in faraway lands. She was especially fascinated by the beauty and art of sword fighting. When she turned 16, Akiko begged her uncle to let her train at the most elite samurai war academy, and he agreed. She was a model student, practicing constantly until she excelled at fighting, shooting, strategy, and tactics. Bursting with pride, the shogun gave Akiko a special trained monkey named Jiro.

As Akiko was entering her second year of training, her brother, a prominent engineer, went missing during a mission to the mysterious Factory in Eastern Europa. The shogun’s advisors suspected that he had been captured by agents of the Rusviet Union. Trusting in his niece’s skills as a samurai, the shogun has empowered Akiko to lead a large military expedition to subvert the Rusviets, recover the Togawa engineers, and discover the truth of the Factory.



Each player in Scythe can deploy up 4 mechs to assert force over the uncharted lands surrounding the Factory and to protect their workers and territories. Each mech is linked to a special ability, most of which are unique to each faction. When a player deploys a mech, that player’s mechs and character all gain the ability.

Republic of Polania (white):

The Polanian mech is inspired by the streamlined look of airplanes and submarines. It has the ability to submerge into a lake and–by using the underground river system–surface on any other lake. It’s also people-friendly, as the Polanian player can use the mech to gently push opponent’s workers off of territories without losing popularity.

Saxony Empire (black):

The Saxon mech is built for tunneling through narrow passages in the mountains of Saxony and beyond. You don’t want to face a Saxon mech in combat in the dark depths of a tunnel.

Crimean Khanate (yellow):

The Crimean mech is pieced together from the scrapyard, as the Crimeans rejected the idea mech technology until it was too late. It specializes in traveling long distances and can allow a player to scout and steal an opponent’s combat card before combat begins.

Nordic Kingdoms (blue):

The Nordic mech is inspired by Viking longships. It has the ability to both walk on land and sail on lakes, and it comes with long-range artillery to damage the opponent before combat even begins.

Rusviet Union (red):

The Rusviet mech, with its war scythes, is a formidable figure on the battlefield. It has access to a secret network leading from villages to the Factory. It also becomes more powerful in combat when accompanied by workers.

Clan Albion (green):

The Albion mech, inspired by Scottish bagpipes, has a rotating array of weapons that can be used for attack or defense. It also has the ability to use tunnel territories as a guide to cross rivers, and they can quickly cross great expanses to rally to help endangered workers.

Togawa Shogunate (purple):

The Togawa mechs are built to sustain even the harshest elements, particularly water. They’re built for solo combat and adventures, not pack hunting. And they include several devious contraptions that allow them to rearm traps laid by Akiko and Jiro.