Exclusive: Scythe Interview

We had a chance to talk to creators Jamey Stegmaier and Monrad Pedersen about all things Scythe. Check it out!

Decapitated Dan: Thanks for taking time to talk with me about all things Scythe. First of all lets talk about you. Who are you and what do you do?

Jamey Stegmaier: I’m Jamey Stegmaier, the designer and owner of Stonemaier Games.

DD: Let’s talk Scythe. What is this game all about?

JS: Scythe is an engine-building game for 1-5 players set in an alternate-history of 1920s eastern Europe.
DD: Where did this idea come from?

JS: The artist and worldbuilder, Jakub Rozalski, had started to build his 1920+ world when I discovered the art online. It instantly captured my imagination, so I reached out to Jakub to see if I could design a game in that world.

What kind of game is it?

JS: It’s primarily an engine-building game with a 4x feel to it. Overall, it’s designed to be a game that makes players feel rewarded by everything they do--it’s the opposite of a punishing game. :) 

DD: Since this is We Roll Solo, what kind of Solitaire play does the game offer?

Monrad Pedersen: Monrad Pedersen here taking the solo questions, since I’m “the solo guy” in Stonemaier Gamers” :-)

The approach to solo gaming, we’ve taken so far, at Stonemaier games, is that we want the solo gamer gets as much of the multiplayer experience as we can provide.

We do this by adding artificial players to the game. We call them Automas. The Automas mimic the core interactions you’d have with other players and only that, so that running the Automas are as easy as possible for the human player to run, while still retaining the soul of the game.

In Scythe you play against 1 Automa, but we have made an additional ruleset available, so that you can play with any combination of human and Automa players.

DD: So tell me about Scythe: Invaders from Afar, what does it add to the original game?

JS: Invaders from Afar adds 2 new factions that can be played at any player count, as well as components that allow Scythe to be played with up to 7 players.

DD: Is Scythe: Invaders from Afar a stand alone game or do you need the core to play?

JS: It’s an expansion--it requires the core game to play it.

DD: Can Scythe: Invaders from Afar be played solo?

You can play either of the factions or with either of the player mats in Invaders from Afar in a solo Scythe game.

We extended the Automa system, so that both the human and the Automa can play as the new factions added by this expansion.

DD: So tell me about Scythe: The Wind Gambit, what does it add to the original game?

JS: The Wind Gambit adds a new type of unit, airships, as well as a variety of new ways to trigger the end of the game.

DD: Is Scythe: The Wind Gambit Expansion a stand alone game or do you need the core to play?

JS: It’s an expansion--it requires the core game to play it.

DD: Can Scythe: The Wind Gambit Expansion be played solo?

JS: Similarly to Invaders, yes.

MP: For this one we also extended the Automa system to be compatible with the new features. There is one of the “aggressive” airship abilities that are not supported, since we felt that the rules for including it would be a bit more complicated than we liked.

DD: How did you find yourself getting into making games?

JS: I’ve been designing games for fun since I was a kid, and I started pursuing it as more of a hobby through my first published game, Viticulture.

DD: What kind of board games do you prefer to play?

JS: I gravitate more towards Euro games, but I’m open to playing a wide variety of games.

DD: What is your favorite solo board game?

MP: That would be Dawn of the Zeds. It’s the most cinematic game I’ve ever played. It feels like being part of a zombie movie and at the same time it offers tension and interesting decisions.

DD: So let’s recap. Why should the readers go check out Scythe and it’s two expansions?

JS: I’d recommend starting with Scythe if you like engine-building games, and if you have fun, you might want to eventually enhance the experience by adding one or both of the expansions.

DD: Thanks so much for your time! 

JS: Thank you!

DecapDan Royer DecapDan Royer Author

Watch It Played: Scythe

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Review: Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game

Designer:  Corey Konieczka
Year: 2010
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Players: 1-6
Game Type: Action Movement Card Game

A cooperative game where the players attempt to clean out an infestation of hostile aliens from a derelict spaceship. Set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, players take on the roles of Space Marines pitted against hordes of Genestealers.  

Players choose from six different combat teams, each consisting of two Space Marines with different abilities. Each player receives three Action cards for each of his combat teams. After all of the Space Marines have fallen into formation, prepare for the first wave of Genestealers.  

Game play is quick and easy to learn. Each game is played over a series of rounds, broken up into phases. During the Choose Actions Phase, each player must secretly determine which of the following Action cards they wish to play on their Space Marines: Support, Attack, or Move + Activate. You can't pick the same Action card next round, so choose wisely.  

Action resolution keeps all players involved while the overwhelming odds inspire them to work together to survive. The Action Resolution Phase consists of each player revealing and carrying out their chosen Action. The lowest number card goes first, which means Attacks are resolved after Supports. Support tokens enable Space Marines to re-roll, so make sure to cover your fellow Blood Angels.  

The Genestealer Attack Phase happens after all the Actions have been resolved, so hopefully you thinned out the swarms since you have to roll higher than the number of Genestealers in the swarm to successfully defend. Finally, an Event card is drawn to spawn more alien adversaries. Once all the Genestealers have emerged from the darkness, its time to move forward, drawing a new location card. And then it's back into the fight!

What is in the box.
Setup for Death Angel is relatively simple, but will take about 10-15 minutes. You will need to choose 3 starting teams (colors, 2 characters each), setup the team action area, then sort and randomly choose the four rooms you will hopefully get to go into. Next you will layout your team in a random order in a vertical column, then choose an event card and place the Genestealers. The game takes a good deal of space for a card game too, so be warned.

I won't be able to lend much to explaining multiplayer play, as I only did the solo version, but there are a good deal of similarities from what I understand. You goal is to kill all Genestealers, which you will do through the available actions for each team. The actions are basically Attack, Move and Support, and each team can not repeat the same action on back to back turns.

With the Attack action, you will simply attack in the direction you are facing, left or right. Attacks are done with a special D6, and rolling a skull will result in a Genestealer death. Certain Marines have a range attack, and can attack even if a Genestealer is not in their lane, but they have to be facing in the correct direction, which leads to choosing the move action.

With the Move action, you can move up and down the vertical column, and flip which way you are facing. So you might not be able to attack on a certain turn, but you can get your team into better placement for the next round.

The final action is Support. With Support you are are able to lend a hand to other troops of different colors, by using support tokens. These will allow for reroll's on attacks or when being attacked.

After the player phase the Genestealers will attack. For the enemy attack you roll the same D6, but instead of worrying about a skull showing up, you just need to roll a better number than the number of Genestealers that are attacking. So if two are attacking you need to roll a 3 or higher. Any hit, means death of the Marine, unless you have a support token on that character and can reroll.

The Final phase is the event phase. Draw an Event Card, do what it says, and then place new Genestealers in the rooms it says. Then you start the next round.

Solo game setup.
I can really only see this game being fun for solo play, because of all the cursing you will do. Much like Xenoshyft, this game is brutal. A 1 in 6 chance of rolling a zero during an attack and your down a Marine. Start spewing those bad words, next round you roll a 1 and dead again... $#!^%(.... Oh look you rolled a zero again... !Y&*(^!(*&(^*&%!)*(&!. I'd probably punch someone if I was playing with them, so trust me, this game is all about the solo play, and it's fun.

Now be warned, if you are just learning about this game, it's not as easy to come by as it once was. When I first learned about it, not too long ago, people were saying it's only a $25 game... well I paid $30, and now it's even higher. Due to the license leaving Fantasy Flight, it's not supposed to reprint any time soon, and with the rise of Solo Gaming, thanks to the Facebook group's popularity, this is becoming a tough one to get your hands on.

The replayability is REALLY HIGH, as you randomly choose the 4 locations, enemies are randomized, cards are shuffled, etc. It may be the same premise again and again, but it's different, and you are always trying to coordinate your cast, to try and even make it to the final 2 bosses.

If you are easily frustrated with games, this might not be for you, but if you can handle losing again and again and again... it'll be worth every penny when the victory finally rolls around. For me, this is a must own game for any Solo gamer.

4.5 out of 5 Solo's

* Good strategy
* Great replay value
* Great artwork

* Becoming harder to find for a good price
* Hard as hell to win

Game Soundtrack Sponsored by Metal Blade Records: 
Execration - Return to the Void
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Solomode Games: Saltlands

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Review: Between Two Cities

Designer: Matthew O’Malley, Ben Rosset
Artist: Beth Sobel
Players: 3-7 (with 2-player and Solo variants)
Publisher: Stonemaier Games
Game Type: Tile drafting and placement

It is the early 1800s, a time of immense construction and urbanization. You are a world-renowned master city planner who has been asked to redesign two different cities. Projects of such significance require the expertise of more than one person, so for each assignment you are paired with a partner with whom to discuss and execute your grandiose plans. Will your planning and collaborative skills be enough to design the most impressive city in the world?

Between Two Cities is a tile placement game (with single tiles and duplex tiles) for 3-7 players, with a 2-player variant for head to head action and a solo variant that pits you against 2 Automas. The unique feature of this board game is you’re working on 2 cities at the same time with other players: one on your left and one on your right. So, negotiation skills are needed since you want what’s best for your city while your opponents do also.
City tiles and tokens.


When I first read you’d be conspiring with other plays to help build two cities, I was skeptical. A semi-cooperative game where you attempt to be selfish seemed tedious to me. I was wrong. It was not tedious, but tense in a fun and entertaining way. Almost like you were the entrepreneur pitching your product on Shark Tank. You want to do this, but your opponents want to do that. Sometimes, I forgot the two people I was working with also had to negotiate with someone else; that’s the beauty of this game: You don’t have to care what deals your partner makes with the other players, you only care about your shared city. One strategy I often took was to ensure I spoke with at least one of my city partners first, but that didn’t work all the time. I felt like a kid trying to get their parents’ attention.

The game is played over 3 rounds. The first round involves placing single tiles in your 4x4 city, the second round duplex tiles (2 buildings stuck together vertically or horizontally), and the third round more singles tiles. You are dealt a hand of tiles, which get passed to either your left or right at the end of the round (depending on the round). This means you can create a seed strategy after seeing a couple of hands since you’ll know what each hand will potentially have.

The actual mechanics of the game are easy to pick up. It’s the interaction and negotiation with the other players that will test your patience and force you to second-guess your opponents, but don’t let that scare you: Between Two Cities is a very relaxed game to play.

The solo version has you against 2 Automas, named AutoMasso and AutoMarta. They are working together to build Automacity while building once city each with you. The Automas are guided by a special deck of cards with symbols that provide instructions on what tiles to play in the Player Shared city and in Automacity. There is also a set of scoring instructions you follow to give the Automas the best score available. Many of the cards have “If à Then à Else” type instructions, and some are straightforward “If there’s a house in the Automa’s hand, play it”, for example. There is some math involved because the most common instruction is one where the tile that gives the high score of what’s available in the hand is played.
Typical solo game layout (full mode)

There are 2 modes of the solo variant. The Simple Mode takes less than 10 minutes to play and is great to learn the game in general. In fact, I recommend playing Simple Mode to grasp the concepts of the game, gather strategy, or just to practice whether you’re going to play multiplayer or against the Autmoas. You don’t have to think hard in this mode: After randomly assigning one tile to each of the 3 cities, you draw 3 tiles and assign 1 each so you have 2 tiles ready to build for each city. Then, based on the Automacity scoring list, you’ll build their city (the 4x4 grid is not followed for them) and work to build your city.
Automa cards used for AutoMasso and AutoMarta.

Full Mode uses the Automa cards to direct you on how AutoMasso and AutoMarta play their hands and simulates an actual game with 2 other human players pretty well. I will warn you: it’s tough to beat them. However, based on an included chart in the rules, you can change the difficulty of the game by decreasing the final score of the game to give yourself a chance. You can also increase the final score of the game to provide you with endless frustration. Or endless losses. Depends on how you look at it.


Between Two Cities is a blast to play. The strategy of one session of play may not be the same the next time you play. The difference from one game to the next gives this game an addictive quality no matter if you’re playing with others or going it alone with the Automas. Setup is quick (within 5 minutes you’re ready to play), transitions to the next game is fast, and game sessions don’t last very long. Those 3 factors mean you can play quite a few games in an hour or two.

The solo aspect gives you a great way to play the game, and I’m glad the creators included a version for those types of players. The game is challenging and provides enough variance from session to session so playing solo isn’t monotonous. The Automa cards, though drawn randomly, are well-thought out. I do wish they would have included more, but I understand that at its core, Between Two Cities is meant to be played with human opponents for maximum entertainment.

If you wanted a tile-placement game that lets you work with other players, allows you to play solo, and is simply fun, pick up Between Two Cities. The expansion, Between Two Cities: Captials releases on July 18th.

4.5 out of 5 We Roll Solos
  • Fun and relaxed play
  • Quick setup, gameplay, game transition
  • Excellent solo mode
  • Easy to understand rules
  • Needs more Automa cards for solo play
  • Would have liked a bag to pull the tiles from

Between Two Cities at Stonemaier Games

Gregory Gregory Author

Watch It Played: Between Two Cities

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ay on top of all of their amazing Board Game videos.

Thank you to Watch it Played for allowing We Roll Solo to re-post and share their content.
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Let's Make it Solo: The Refuge

The Refuge is a multiplayer strategy game taking place during the zombie apocalypse. You control a character and attempt to get to the Refuge for safety before any of the others. You move steadily from zone to zone (some are safe, some not so much) on an 9x8 checkerboard like area. You use cards to battle the zombies opponents send your way and make special movements to get to the Refuge as quickly as you can. But make sure you have a key to unlock the door!

The game is for 2-6 players. The rules are simple, and The Refuge, once you start playing more and more games, has deeper strategy than you think. But as mainly a solo player, I wanted to create a single-player experience because I don’t get to play this game with others very often. So if you have this game, you’ll find a solo variant below with automated zombie movement and choices to play with one character or more than one. If you play this variant comment on your gameplay!

 References to the board: the first row is the line right above the start signs, and the eighth row is the row right before the locks. Columns are one through eight, left to right. Also, this solo variant does not use the Kickstarter Exclusive cards.


Get your survivor (or all the survivors) to the refuge!

Initial setup, view 1


1. Place your survivor on any of the START signs. Use more than one survivor if you want.
2. Place one zombie each in the 8th row on the skulls in columns 1 and 5.
3. Place one zombie each in the 5th row on the skulls in columns 3 and 8.

Initial setup, view 2


You may choose one of the following on your turn:

1. Move one space (standard movement rules apply).
2. Draw a supply card. You can hold a maximum of 5 in your hand. Discard one if you decide to draw a sixth.
3. Discard from your hand (any number of cards).
4. Use a supply card.

Special Rules for Supply Cards

1. The steal card lets you draw another one immediately. Discard the steal card.
2. The Pocketwatch card allows you to halt a zombie spawn. Use anytime.


Landing on a Safe square activates the zombie movement. That's because they are mad they can't get to you!

If you land on a Switch, you can use a Weapon card if you have one in your hand. This allows you to kill a zombie that’s within 3 spaces of your location.

When you land on a Skull space, you spawn a zombie. Place the new zombie in the first row on an empty Skull square, going left to right. If none are open, move to the next row of Skulls, left to right. Then, any zombies within 3 spaces of your location move.


Zombies always move towards you. If there are an equal number of squares between the zombie and you, it’s your choice which way they go. If you are playing more than one survivor, the zombies move towards the survivor who turn it just was.

If a zombie lands on a Switch, it is added to the zombie closest to the first row, going left to right. Yes, 2 zombies can occupy a square!

A zombie can’t land on a Safe square. They must move left or right or backwards.


At any point if your survivor dies (or any of them if you’re playing more than one), spawn them back at the beginning and add 2 zombies per the zombie spawn rule above if you land on a Skull space.


You win the game if you get your survivor to the refuge. You must have a key in your hand to push through the lock. If you are playing more than one survivor, you win if you get all of them through. But only 3 if you’re playing with 4 survivors.

If you'd like to download a PDF copy of the Solo Variant, CLICK HERE (from Dropbox).
Gregory Gregory Author