The Annual Harvest Tournament between the animal kingdoms determines which kingdom will rule Pomme for the coming year. However, on the eve of the 3000th festival, something amazing happens. The Airship Kai, long lost to the ages, suddenly reappears, bringing Fox and Owl Seekers along with it. Will the Seekers for the upcoming tournament be able to leverage the legendary airship to help them win the tournament?
The core mechanics of My Little Scythe are mostly unchanged with the addition of this expansion, so check out our review of the base game here for those details! Pie in the Sky adds the Fox and Owl factions, which on their own behave the same as the other factions from the base game, just giving more choices to the players. The main part of this expansion is the airship. When setting up for a game with the expansion, each player starts with an airship mat, giving an individual power and a cargo hold for apples and gems. Players can decide to either get the airship mat corresponding to their animal kingdom, or randomly deal them out. During the game, when a player chooses the Seek action, in addition to populating the board with apples, gems, and quest tokens as normal, they also have the opportunity to move the airship. The player rolls the new airship die, which either shows a 6, meaning they may move the airship up to 6 spaces, or a trophy, meaning they may move up to as many spaces as the number of trophies they have left to place. If the player moves the airship to an apple or a gem, they may pick up the resource and move it to their cargo hold, or may use the individual power granted by their airship mat. Resources in the cargo hold can be used any time the player needs to spend resources as if it’s controlled by one of their Seekers. Otherwise, the game proceeds as normal except that players now need 5 trophies rather than 4 to trigger the end of the game. The Grand Finale final round is the same as before, with all players without 5 trophies getting one last turn to earn as many trophies as they can, and hopefully attaining victory for their animal kingdom!
There comes a time in a young games’ life when you long for something more. When you’ve played all the factions, beat all the goals, and figured out your winning strategy, you need something new to break out. With Pie in the Sky, there is enough to bring a new approach to the table without being overly complicated. New mechanics are introduced a little bit at a time, with only a few items added with the expansion; this helps keep the game approachable and family-friendly. While some games’ expansions add time to the game with the extra elements, Pie in the Sky’s timing ends up being around the same as the base game, even with the additional trophy needed to end the game.
Although the two new adorable factions are a super bonus, the airship is what this expansion is all about. New, asymmetrical powers bring new strategies to gameplay, creating new avenues for players to interact with each other through the use of the airship powers. Most powers activate after you’ve placed your power token, and another player enters the territory where it landed. While the powers were intriguing, I didn’t need to use mine during the game. Instead, I used the airship for its ability to hold extra cargo with the cargo hold. With the combination of the trait I got at the beginning of the game, I was able to fast track some of my goals and reach them rather quickly. I’m interested in playing more with combinations of traits and powers to see how they interact with each other.
As I said in our review for the base game of My Little Scythe, I am not the biggest fan of the original Scythe. I’ve played a few games and enjoyed it, but it isn’t one of my favorite games. That said, I am aware of the expansions for it and I know that one of the expansions adds airships, so it’s only logical for an airship to find its way into Scythe’s younger sibling game as well. One thing I appreciate about this expansion is that while it does add the airship and a couple of other new things, it really doesn’t add that much. Being accustomed to heavier board games’ expansions and their tendency to throw everything but the kitchen sink in, this was a refreshing change of pace and very suitable for a family-level game. Another thing I really enjoyed about the setup for the expansion game was that player powers could be given out based on players’ factions or randomly dealt out. I have played games where asymmetric player powers are tied to a certain color, and it irks me because typically players will have a favorite color (or in this case animal), so in those games players will only get to experience one of the myriad powers available. I also like that the game now goes to 5 trophies, as it lengthens the game a bit and may give players a chance to take a lead. I felt like in the base game it was pretty common for players to be pretty in sync and reach 4 trophies around the same time, but now there is a bit more opportunity to pull away from the pack.
As for the airship and its related mechanics, I feel there are some good aspects and some that are just okay. I really like the cargo hold aspect, as it gives you an opportunity to pick up resources on a Seek action. Furthermore, having resources under your control that you don’t have to carry with your Seekers is nice. A tough aspect of the base game is that by default Seekers can move two spaces while unburdened, or 1 space when carrying apples or gems, so being able to have resources in the cargo hold and still move freely is nice. When it comes to the asymmetric airship powers, I didn’t find them all that powerful, which again makes sense for the light nature of the game. For example, in the most recent game we played, I had a power that allowed me to drop a token in the airship’s current region; whenever one of my Seekers would lose friendship while in that region I gained two pies. I felt like the power was a bit tricky to set up for little payoff, and I don’t think Amber used her power at all over the course of the game. We haven’t gotten to experience all of the powers yet, so time will tell if there are some that we like better, or if they’re more impactful in games with more players. The other minor nitpick I have about this expansion is that thematically it’s a little odd that the airship is a shared unit that all players can move independently, yet all players have individual cargo holds and powers. This doesn’t really have any impact on the gameplay, but it just seems like a weird “plot hole” for such a heavily thematic game. Overall though, if you enjoy My Little Scythe any are looking to add just a little bit more to it, check out Pie in the Sky!