Scythe Saxony Strategy: The Saxony Empire
Forget football – Scythe is the beautiful game. It is rich, rewarding, and allows for a lot of deliberation behind the scenes. So far, over the past few months, we have talked about the Nordic Kingdoms, the Crimean Khanate, and the Polania Republic. Today it is time for one of the other factions – in theory, one of the most militaristic of all the factions – the Saxony Empire. Yes, today we will be looking at the Scythe Saxony Strategy and all that it entails.
Scythe Saxony Strategy: What Are The Foundations?
Before we begin, however, let’s have a look at the special abilities of the faction and what they mean for the game. To do this we will also look at a bit of the backstory surrounding the Saxony Empire.
There is no limit to the number of stars you can get from completing objectives or winning combat.
As a faction, the Saxony Empire only begins with one power; however, they do begin with four military cards. Where not as good as power, these are a good supplement making the Saxony Empire a force to be reckoned with towards the start of the game.
The Saxony Empire also has two very specific rules in regards to mines around the board, uncovered by building their mechs. These are:
- Underpass: To move between any mountain you control and any tunnel.
- Disarm: Before combat on a territory with a tunnel, the opponent gets -2.
Both of these are fairly valuable, and come into play with the wider strategy. So, with those in mind, let’s explore playing styles that give way to a Scythe Saxony Strategy.
Please note, before we begin, that this does not take the expansions into account, but is just looking at the core game.
The Story of the Saxony Empire – And How That Relates To The Strategy
The story behind the hero of the Saxony Empire is quite an interesting one. Raised in a diplomatic family, Gunter von Duisburg (with his pet wolves Nacht & Tag – or Night and Day) spent his early years in the army. Soon, he grew a name for himself, leading elite mech teams across the country to defeat his enemies. Gunter became feared, respected, and was sought after by the Saxony emperor to try to claim the lands around the factory.
That is the story and it is exactly how the strategy for the Saxony Empire should play out. They should be fast, furious, and feared by those who oppose them. Most importantly, however, they should build mechs to create ranks of highly trained, highly respected, troops who can fight any battle.
This story, in a way, guides the strategies the Saxony Empire have at their disposal and where, like all factions in Scythe, they can be played in more or less any way they want to be played – they do gravitate in a certain direction. That direction, for the Saxony Empire, revolves around building Mechs for the sweet abilities they give, making the Saxony Empire a real force to be reckoned with in combat. From here they can gain as many stars as they want from winning combat, and that is where this strategy comes in.
Scythe Saxony Strategy: Mechs, Mechs, and More Mechs
The Saxony Empire don’t start in the best place in Scythe. Actually, the entirety of Scythe is fairly well balanced, so they start in a distinctly neutral place. They have access to oil, metal, and more workers straight off the bat. This is useful for the goal of creating Mechs, as it means that metal can be gathered in every turn by using a mixture of the Trade and Produce functions. Trading will give two a turn, and with the two basic starting workers, they can gather another two. Even with a difficult player board, this will give way to a Mech in no time.
Mechs, for the Saxony Empire, mean mobility. Building them fast establishes you as a threat, and so, once you have got two or three mechs in your bank, it makes sense to switch focus to a bolster. Producing the mechs should allow for gold to be gathered at roughly the same rate as spending it; however, this is not a perfect system. In the ideal world you want this to be the case:
- Move Workers so both are on Metal
- Produce: Gain +2 Metal
- Trade: Gain +2 Metal, Lose -1 Coin
- Build Mech: Now whatever the primary action is, try to find some way of maximising it. This will differ drastically depending on which player mat you have. Hopefully, it’ll be on a Produce, but whatever it is you can use it anyway. Hopefully, you will then gain coins, but not all player mats allow for the gold to be gained claiming mechs.
This cycle, even if with a mat that does not allow for coins to be gained via the building of mechs, is sustainable to build a couple of mechs. This is the goal: to get two mechs on the board.
Why Focus on Two Mechs?
When playing Scythe, having one mech on the board tends to unlock the game. Most people choose a mech like Riverwalk, and this style of basic movement enhancement is chosen by everyone. It is needed to be. Yes, there may be variations like Underpass, or the Crimean Khanate Wayfare ability, but generally speaking, step one is to gain access to the board.
The second mech, however, that is when the game really becomes asymmetrical, and for the Saxony Empire, this is where you get the Disarm mech. Getting two mechs at the start of the game, one of which depowers your opponent, makes the Saxony Empire a force to be reckoned with right at the start of the game.
You Have Mechs – Now What?
Once you go down the military route with Scythe, invest heavily in the strategy. Use it to your advantage, and invest as much as possible into building more mechs. Getting Undermine, rather than Riverwalk, will still give the Mechs and Hero a means to the centre of the board and could be more valuable near the start of the game. Get to the factory and sit on it.
Meanwhile, you also want to aim to do the following –
- Build the Armoury
- Upgrade Bolster
- Get the Power Recruit
- Consider the Combat Card Recruit as well.
To do this you will need to start moving and increasing your pool of workers. Once you have mechs, the workers can be used to gain different resources at your leisure.
The next move is gutsy, and can be lethal in a larger game if other players decide to team up. It is to go out and get into combat whilst maintaining a stronghold.
Most people in Scythe don’t move their units as one, and tend to keep their mechs in either solo units or pairs. If you can get to the Factory, and hold it, the warfare should come to you. Alternatively, and probably far wiser, create a strong front behind which your units can populate, or where you can build units. Create a strong front, above all else, and keep your weaker units safe.
The additional mobility afforded to the Saxony Empire through Undermine should allow for this to be fairly quick and painless to manoeuvre mechs into position. It also allows access to encounters, which can offer all kinds of neat goodies.
So, taking the above into account, Mechs are being used to create a strong front. They are close enough together that there is no way around them (bar for the Polania Republic, either around the back or through the lake), but far enough apart to create a pocket safe haven around their home ground.
The image does not show ideal placement on the map, but the positioning is fine. The Crimean Khanate are afraid to pick a fight as, if they win against their closest mech, there are three others nearby (look at the placement of the Crimean mech and keep in mind the Undermine ability). The same goes for the Polania Republic.
Placement like this allows for you to forestall your enemies, whilst waiting for them to get bored of you and move units. When they do, this is the time to strike. Wait for them to be weak, and then strike with your mech and your leader. Never just attack with one mech as that is a good way to lose, unless you have the most power and a high-value combat card.
So, here is a theory…
So, here is a thought that may or may not be worth its salt. The below is an image of the map, with different positions noted on it for four mechs. For this, the darker the grey the riskier the position is as the most potential space it opens up to attack. The leader we are keeping free for reaching the Factory. Please ignore the actual game that is in motion on the map – that’s something completely different – we’re just looking at the arrows for now.
As it can be seen – the pale grey is a good starting position, and offers a defensive position. Only the Polania Republic can sneak in around the edge with a riverwalk; however, seeing how the Polania Republic start the game this is highly unlikely.
The lighter of the two medium greys opens up slightly, but again, I am not sure it is the Polania Republic that you really need to worry about as the Saxony Empire. This positioning also leaves room for the Crimean Khanate base. Where deals can be struck, this would mean that wiping the Crimean Khanate off the map would place their forces directly behind the Saxony line.
The darker Grey is far more open, and will be seen as highly aggressive to the Crimean Khanate. This could be hard to hold if the Crimean Khanate are being played in the game.
Finally, there is an option to just take the Factory, then it is the most exposed position. Remember, to take the Factory, you need to get your leader there.
In theory though – no matter what, there are three highly strategic positions for the Saxony Empire, as seen above, that will create a conclave behind the player. This will provide plenty of ways of gathering points. In a two or three player game, it is possible to spread out more; however, in a four or five player game those positions hold specific strategic importance.
From those positions, it is possible to push outwards, depending on the kind of game you want to play. They can be defensive, or positioned in such a way to be offensive as well. That is the theory at least.
Another, highly violent option is to go for positioning like the below, with the five arrows representing four mechs and a leader. This will give you the factory, whilst also defending you against other players. This is the ideal for pure points, not including colonisation from workers, but it is also really difficult to achieve.
If you can achieve it then you are a better player than I, but it is the “perfect positioning” for the Saxony Empire.
How To Win
Okay, so now we have talked through positioning, how do you win?
Well, there are two prominent ways for the Saxony Empire that are both equally viable. These are winning by conquest and winning by attrition.
Victory by Conquest
The whole of this article so far has been geared up towards a victory by conquest. Moving as a wave across the board, gathering territory behind you, and fighting wherever you can. Early mechs will make this option even more viable. Push the enemy back whilst building and growing the amount of land you have control over. Gain workers when you can afford it, and use bolster to increase your popularity.
Victory by Attrition
This is a completely different way of playing the game.
One of the unique abilities of the Saxony Empire is to be able to build a force quickly, and get them out into the middle of the board quickly. They can get stars faster than any other nation, and where a game cannot be won on stars alone, expanding fast and becoming a military threat, defeat your opponents before you ever really start the game, and it plays a large part in the victory points.
The easiest way to do this is to expand onto the board fast, and conquer your enemies as they build their first mechs. Get into combat and gain those stars. Expand and don’t be afraid to spread yourself thinner. You just need to push your enemies back from expanding themselves and then spreading yourself thin is no longer really an issue. No one can oppose you.
Build an army, spread out a bit, build, and keep everyone else back by fighting them. This will end the game before anyone even knows what is going on with you, the Saxony Empire, in the prime position to claim the victory.
Conclusion: The Scythe Saxony Strategy
The more I write these strategy articles the more I realise the potential behind each faction, and I’m not sure these articles even remotely do them justice. There are so many different ways to play that I hope this just gives you an idea of how you can play.
This is how I have played them, and how I have observed others play them. You may have another playing style though, and that is completely cool. If you do, please let me know in the comments below as it’d be really interesting to compare notes.
In fact, how do you play Scythe? What are your favourite factions? What don’t you like playing as? Let me know.