Scythe Strategy: The Polania Republic
The Polania Republic have a really interesting time in Scythe. Out of all the factions, they start off with a difficult game, as highlighted recently when we played with a full suite of players. They are arguably, what can be described as, the politicians in the Scythe world, and that creates a really weird dynamic within the game. Rather than being a faction which thrives on movement, like the Crimean Khanate or Nordic Kingdoms, the Polania Republic instead thrive on story and political discovery. This is:
Pick up two options per Encounter card.
It’s a powerful ability since so many good things can come from Encounter cards. If given free reign of the board, like some could argue a faction like the Togawa Shogunate have (with an open path at the start of the game), the Polania Republic could simply clean up the board. They could get so much stuff for free that they could trigger the end game before the real game has even begun.
Fortunately, for the other players, the Polania Republic are extremely limited in their movement at the start of each game, and this makes it possible for the other factions to make life really interesting.
So, with that in mind, let’s have another look at a Scythe faction in closer detail, and the kind of game they can play. Please note that this article will refer to the game without its expansions; however, for these guys I am not 100% sure that matters. Nor will this cover all strategies, but just a few options. Let’s begin. Let’s discuss the Polania Republic strategy, and how they can make the most of their game.
Location, Location, Location
The Polania Republic have it really rough at the start of any game of Scythe. Where they have an absolutely excellent ability, they start off in a really restricted place. The Polania Republic only start with Wood, Food, and a Village within walking distance. They do have an Encounter spot as well, which is great; however, they start somewhere where the general “build a Mech to Riverwalk” is not an option. With only Wood and Food at their disposal, they can Enlist, and they can build Buildings. They can also breed to get workers, but that’s about it.
Mech-ing it up
So, this means they only have two options before them in regards to movement. The first is to trade for Metal, and as silly as this sounds, it is actually a highly valid way for getting resources quickly and efficiently. Take three turns to get four metal (assuming you need four, some boards need less), since you have to do something else in between, and then spend that metal to get a mech. That is option number one.
Mining it up
Option number two is just as valid – and reading around seems the more popular option – use the village to breed and use the workers to get wood. Through getting wood it is possible to build a mine, and through having a mine it is possible to open up a lot of the board.
For some reason, this seems like a worse deal for the Polania Republic, and in some ways it is. Only having access to two resources that other factions don’t traditionally need at the very start of the game can be seen as a disadvantage; however, in many other ways it is a strength.
What this means is the player who starts off with the Polania Republic can avoid the meta that starts around the game. Namely, everyone else tends to (in standard, non tournament play) build a mech first to get Riverwalk, as that is perceived the most beneficial way to cross rivers. Crossing rivers is seen as important to opening the board up. As the Polania Republic you don’t have that but instead you start the game with building mechs and building buildings on equal footing. This is hugely beneficial as there is an argument for mines being a better first investment than mechs.
Movement and Mechs
Once the game has started, the Polania Republic can be an incredibly versatile faction for moving around the board. Off the bat they may seem like one of the weaker factions; however, being (more or less) forced to build a mine (or at least presented with it equally) means they actually gain more access to the board then simply building a mech does. Rather than being able to Riverwalk to one, maybe two, spaces (depending on the faction) they can use a Mine to get to six potential spaces around the board. Now, any faction can do that, but not every faction would think to from the start.
The other ability the Polania Republic has comes from one of their mechs – and that is Submerge – which allows them to move onto lakes, as well as treat lakes like Mines. Instantly, it is possible to see the benefit to this, as it opens up even more of the board. It makes them even more manoeuvrable and dangerous. Add that onto the +1 you get for the Speed mech and you can be laughing.
Of course, Scythe isn’t all about being dangerous. Ultimately, by the end of the game, money is all that matters. Conquest, through combat, is one way to widen the gap between any two player factions because it takes points off one faction, giving it to the other; however, it is more than possible to win the game without combat at all.
Instead, players need to think about Scythe as an economic simulator.
Money, Money, Money
One thing the Polania Republic have a strong potential for, right from the start of the game, is money. Getting mechs is not the be all and end all, and having a faction that can Enlist from the offset is not the worst thing. The longer a recruit has been Enlisted the more use they are, especially in games with lots of players. That being said, in games where there are fewer players it may not be worth Enlisting right away. It’s certainly worth doing at some point; however, there are other priorities in regards to getting mobile in a smaller game. The last thing you want is to allow for the other player to take complete control of the board whilst you are still figuring out how to get mobile. In smaller games it is easier for the other player to get a monopoly.
Enlisting right away is one way the Polania Republic can get cash however, with the Encounter cards being another strong option. Encounter cards allow for the Polania Republic to get all kinds of freebies, and even with five players on the board it should be possible to get three or four encounters in a game. Gaining two rewards from each almost guarantees something really cool from each one – from mechs to minions to cash.
Don’t forget that if Clan Albion are not in play, there is an Encounter near them, and there is also one just above the Saxony Empire (right on the edge of the board) for those who want to flirt with war. Just remember that the Saxony Empire has it in their interest to attack you, so play that one carefully. Maybe wait until you can build mechs.
Finally, building is one other way to gain coins, and with the secondary objectives of each scenario regularly including buildings, it is possible to rack up end game points. All in all, it is very possible for the Polania Republic to gain all kinds of wealth by the end of the game. Money means points and points mean winning.
I mean…I did describe them as the politicians of Scythe…
Or something like that…
Just remember that, if territory control is not your primary game, it is more important than ever to become popular. This should be made slightly easier with the additional Encounter bonuses; however, you will need all the popularity you can get for additional coins at the end of the game. Squeeze that bank and you stand a high chance of leading the Polania Republic to victory.
Arguably, it is more than possible to completely avoid combat for the entire game (for all factions), just using mechs as a deterrent. It’s still worth building them, but instead of fighting make the most out of trying to gather resources and popularity at the same time. That way, avoiding combat, you don’t lose points for invading against workers as well. No fighting means no threatening the locals.
Another option for the Polania Republic, whilst gathering popularity, is to also gather resources. Where it is usually more advantageous to get territory, if you are playing a pacifist game then it is worth keeping in mind that resources are also worth points at the end of the game. The territories and resources have 3 territories to 8 resources ratio at the higher tier. Three territories will gain you 12 cash at four each, and eight resources will gain you 12 cash at three for two. This means that it is possible, with enough workers, to take over the game just by gathering resources.
To be completely honest, I am writing this idea as I go along, but it seems to make sense. The Polania Republic are in a fairly defensible position, and can gather food and people with ease. Neither is particularly useful to the opposition unless someone really has hankering for Enlisting, and this allows for the Polania Republic to stockpile food. Literally, gaining as much as possible. When more than half the food has gone from the supply, switch to a different resource – whatever is needed least around the table. That way you should be able to keep yourself from becoming a target.
Concluding the Polania Republic Strategy
So this is where it gets really interesting – where we take a step back and look at the Polania Republic as a whole, what they offer, and why they are so fun to play.
The Polania Republic need to be played completely differently to any other faction. They cannot build mechs straight away, and yet their ability, like some of the other abilities in Scythe seems to rely on something they instinctively do not have access to. From the offset they can seem like they are stifled, but instead they simply break the mould.
This means, in a way, the Polania Republic, more than any other faction, can play Scythe their own way. Although all factions can, in theory, start with building a mine, but they are often caught up in the meta. The Polania Republic can ignore that meta with ease, and that is really cool.
Of course, if the Polania Republic player still wants to wage war, go for the factory, and play a militaristic game then they can. The option is still open. I just wouldn’t necessarily recommend it.
So there we go – a few strategy ideas for the Polania Republic. Let me know what you think in the comments below. In the meantime, I’ve written a few of these now – including looking at the Crimean Khanate and the Nordic Kingdoms. I’ve linked to them there if you want to give them a read.