They came on horseback. Fierce warriors, both male and female.
Garphill Games has been New Zealand’s most impressive game company for some years now, but I’ve only recently begun to enjoy their games. Which is completely my fault, as I’d put them in the ‘too Euro for me’ basket. The first game to change this ridiculous assumption was the excellent Circadians: Chaos Order, which surprised me with its integration of theme and mechanics. And I’m happy to say I’m also very impressed with Raiders of Scythia.
Raiders of Scythia expands and modifies designer Shem Phillips most successful game, Raiders of the North Sea, and the consensus seems to be that it’s a significant improvement. I haven’t played the earlier title, but this is a tight blend of worker placement and resource management that fits beautifully with its theme of tribal warriors on horseback raiding settlements in Cimmeria, Assyria, Persia, and Greece.
Sure, it all comes down to getting victory points, but there’s a great satisfaction here as you build up your crew of raiders, equip them with horses and eagles that increase their strength and abilities, and send them out on raids for plunder. When you do so you also reveal quest tiles, which give you further opportunities for point gathering. There’s an endless variety of choices to make and things to do, I love the weighing up of risk and reward if you choose to push your luck by going on tougher raids with a weaker crew, and the crew themselves have an array of fascinating special abilities. The game doesn’t outstay its welcome, and for someone who doesn’t have too many of these types of games in my collection, it’s a perfect example of the form.
And it looks gorgeous; not only is Shem a very clever game designer, but his brother Sam is an amazing artist. I just love the style of the game, with its crisp, colourful art and endlessly fascinating period detail. So much work has gone into this game and it shows. I highly recommend the deluxe edition too, with metal coins and custom meeples that enhance the experience.
Sure, I’m not usually a big fan of victory point games. But I do very much appreciate tight, clean, easy-to-learn mechanics, gorgeous art and a strong theme. Raiders of Scythia delivers all this jam-packed in a small box and I’m definitely glad it’s in my collection.