Raiders of Scythia - a flow chart automa
Game: Raiders of Scythia
Designer: Shem Phillips
Publisher: Garphill Games, Renegade Games Studios
Player count: 1-4
Set-up time: 10 minutes
Play length: 50 minutes
Win condition: win/loss against your automated opponent
how the solo game works
Raiders of Scythia comes with an automa deck consisting of 14 cards with a flow chart on each of them, telling you what the AI will raid and against which conditions. Move top to bottom until you either end up with VP for the AI, or get to a condition the AI can't meet and move right to take the according action. Also on the flow chart: one Scythian building you cannot visit on your next turn.
Solo play is explained in the back, which is fine because set-up is exactly the same as multi-player.
missing in solo
Contracts, dice rolling, hand management, variable player powers, the worker placement with different worker types – no mechanism is lost in solo play.
The artwork. I didn't instantly fall in love with Sam Phillips's style when I saw the box front, but oh those cards! I want art on my walls, T-shirts, everything.
There are four AI levels to play against, and the automa actions are incredibly easy to manage. Flow chart on a card, anyone? There's hardly any upkeep, the AI-deck is balanced to perfection, actions the AI takes are logical within the gaming situation, components are great (NB I don't have the deluxe version with the fancy coins. Still think the components are stellar), there is no left over space in the box which environmentally and shelf space-wise speaking is fantastic, dual use cards are great and this game is complete. No expansions needed for solo play like Raiders of the North Sea did, no app needed, just the base game of Raiders of Scythia, and you'll never look back.
There are a ton of characters to build your crew with, and contrary to RotNS you can build your crew and make it a strong one using only female raiders. And then you can add eagles and horses to upgrade your crew and get yourself some nice end game bonuses.
If you ever feel like the most difficult AI is too easy, you could easily increase difficulty by adjusting starting conditions, or increasing provisions or horses acquired by the AI during play.
This is one of the easiest to manage automa decks I've encountered, while at the same time providing a real challenge in gameplay. The flow chart works great, iconography is clear and the automa actions are all very quick. Make no mistake, the automa will very much get in your way and you'll have to carefully plan your different workers to not end up blocking yourself when trying to raid. Different heroes and a large crew deck make for excellent replayability.
Note that if you already have Raiders of the North Sea, there might not be enough of a difference to justify getting this game as well. This is a straight up reimplementation of the first Raiders and its expansions combined.
But you could always sell your copy of Raiders of the North Sea...