Tag Archives: board games


3D Scythe Models

You might recall I’d mentioned that I have a really pretty print & play version of Scythe.  I wasn’t kidding.

When the Kickstarter for Scythe first launched, I and a number of others asked the game’s designer, Jamey Stegmaier,  if the 3D files for the playing pieces could be shared.  He quite reasonably said no, that the models would stay in-house.  They’d spent a lot of money on them.  I can believe it!  Creating 3D models is a specialized skill, especially when they’re as detailed as those in the Scythe board game.

But I have a 3D printer at home.  And I’ve done a little 3D modeling.  I decided to make my own Scythe models.

It wasn’t difficult, but then I kept them fairly basic.  It only took about a day and a half to knock out designs for the mechanized robots and leader pawns for the five factions in the game.

Russviet Mech Model
Russviet Mech Model

I just eyeballed them from the photo on the Kickstarter page.  I didn’t sweat it, I just got an idea in my head of what they might look like and went for that.  For doing them so quickly I think they look pretty good!  They don’t have the same level of detail as the professionally done models in the production game will have, no where near it.  But they’re game pieces.  That look like little mechs running around the board.  They’re soooo much better than cardboard cutouts or stickered wooden disks.  For the leader/character pawn I just did a standard standee style pawn with a cutout representing that faction’s animal companion.  Once I started printing them out (about two to three hours per faction) I realized that I was now committed to building the rest of the game as a print & play.  How could I stop?

scythe 3d pawns

The next task was to make the actual game board.  I printed out the board from the print & play files  on the Stonemaier Games website and quickly had a board split across six sheets of standard paper. I admit I got lazy here and didn’t trim the white edges from the printouts, I just folded the white margin under and gave the edge a good crease on half of the places the sheets matched up, leaving the matching side alone on the other half of the sheets.  For once my laziness paid off, you’ll see in a second how it worked to my advantage.

I took a sheet of foam core board I had sitting around, sprayed it with adhesive (something made by 3M, Michaels carries it), and began carefully placing the printed sheets down one by one.  I started with the one sheet that I hadn’t folded at all, it still had a solid white margin around the board printout.  When I grabbed a folded sheet to place next to it I was able to slide the new sheet around and get things lined up perfectly before pressing it down.  It just slid around on that white margin I’d neglected to trim off.  It really worked a trick, I was able to place all the sheets down on the board in near perfect position without having to peel up and reapply a single one.  If I’d done all the trimming and hadn’t left the white margin on some of those sheets it wouldn’t have turned out half as well!

The final step was to cover the entire thing with a layer of Con-Tact clear shelf paper.  I found it at Target in the kitchen accessories section.  Great stuff.  It has a nice dull finish, and is very clear as it goes down.  It adheres just enough to hold fairly well, but not so well that you can’t peel it up and rework it a bit (to get rid of any bubbles).  I love the end result.  It’s super durable and gives the board a professional, finished look.


I did have to put some packing tape around the edge of the board.  That clear shelf paper doesn’t stick down forever, the edges will peel up a bit if they’re not finished.  Edging it with clear packing tape did the trick.

Each faction in Scythe has a large set of small tokens, markers, buildings, and such to track everything in the game.  There are a lot of moving parts.  Creating those was actually relatively simple to model.  Printing them out was another story, each faction is another three hours of print time.  Fifteen hours later they were done.

Tokens and bits for the Russviet faction
Tokens and bits for the Russviet faction

The player and faction mats were easy enough, I printed them out, gave them a backing of construction paper with some spray adhesive, and ran them through the laminator I picked up a couple of years ago.  Easy peasy.  But I do desperately want the double-thick punched version coming in the production game.  Those tokens do slide around a lot!

The last bit of 3D modeling I had to do was for the resources used in the game.  There are four types – metal, food, wood, and oil.  I strayed a bit from the look of the bits in the production game here as well, especially with my wood and food bits.

Metal, Wood, Food, Oil
Metal, Wood, Food, Oil


It was another hour or two per resource type on the 3D printer.  Probably about six hours in total.  Man, my 3D printer is getting a workout on this project.

I made Encounter tokens as well, little bumps with a compass modeled on top.  These were printed out using two colors, a blue base and then gold for the compass.  You can see one in this photo:


The various decks of cards for the game were simple, it was just a matter of printing out the files in the print and play directory, trimming them, and dropping them into card sleeves (each with an old playing card as backing to stiffen it up).  Again, thanks to Jamey Stegmaier for making all of these files available!  Sharing essentially the entire game as a print and play really speaks to the confidence he has in his game.  And the artwork is gorgeous.

In hindsight though I can honestly say that making the decks of cards was definitely the most painful part of the whole thing.  You see, I cut the tip of my finger off while trimming the cards!  It’s mostly healed up now, but at the time it stung quite a lot.

Sorry if you're squeamish!
Sorry if you’re squeamish!

The coins I took from an old copy of Livingstone I had laying about.  The colors look great, they match the ‘earthiness’ of the Scythe art very well.

After all this work Scythe needed a nice box, so I mocked one up.  Sorry Livingstone, get over here!  I flipped the insert over to create two wells, one for the game bits and one to protect the mechs.  Everything just barely fits.

The finished box
The finished box

Did I say I was finished?  I’ve forgotten one important thing.  The Power Dials.  I printed and trimmed them and then ran them through the laminator.  To hold the dials together though, could I really just rely on a standard paper fastener?  That would look so, so pedestrian now.  So I sat back down at the computer and modeled a little snap-together hub for the dials.  With a 3D scythe in the center.  And printed them in gold with the scythe in silver.   🙂

FullSizeRender (1)

They look spiffy.  The buttons don’t take long to print, but it is tricky to get the silver scythe on top.  I had to watch the print and stop it to switch colors at just the right spot.  A little extra time, but I think it was worth it.

So that’s the version of Scythe my friends and I have been playing with this past month.  I think it’s about as close to a production version of the game as you can come (well, except perhaps for Jamey’s prototypes).  It’s beautiful, and it makes the game all the more fun.  Still, I can’t wait to get the production version.  I expect it will be ten times better.  If you didn’t get in on the Kickstarter it’s not too late.  You can pre-order a copy of the game here.

I had all of the 3D files done during the first week of the Kickstarter.  And I was excited about how it all turned out.  Still, I didn’t want to hurt the campaign in any way, or create any confusion by releasing the models.  Jamey had enough on his plate, there was no need for me to potentially pile on more issues for him to deal with.  I pinged him and we agreed that holding off until after the campaign would be the best thing.  But now the Kickstarter is over, the orders are all taken, and I want to share the files.  So here you go.

The 3D files are all up on Thingiverse right here.  There are a lot of files, all of the faction mechs, the faction leaders, tracking tokens, four sets of resource tokens, and the power dial buttons.  They’re all there to download free of charge.  But they’re being released with the condition that people aren’t reselling either the model files, derivatives, or the resulting prints.  Print them out for your personal use, but please don’t print them out to sell.

And enjoy the game!  I’m still wrapping my head around the strategies myself.   🙂

Oh yeah, the models do have their rough spots, I haven’t gone back and made them perfectly clean.  They can have a little bit of stringy fur, or the support walls may fail to print all of the way on occasion.  I may get to cleaning that up later.  But the models published today print fairly well, and have supports built right in.  Just print then carefully snap the support walls away from the model.



Polish Robots and Kickstarter

I like board games.  A lot.  According to the stats over on Board Game Geek I own over a thousand of them.  But there’s always room for one more, right?

Especially when it has giant robots, farming, and a mysterious ‘factory’.  I’m talking about Scythe.  It’s all the rage on Kickstarter right now.  The crowdfunding campaign ends on Thursday night, so if you want to grab a copy hop over to Kickstarter now and make a pledge.

I first heard about this game late last year when the designer, Jamey Stegmaier, shared some of the artwork for the game.  Giant mechs roaming through a 1920’s agrarian post-war Eastern Europe?  It was cool and beautiful.  Click here to see some of the artist’s work.  The non-sequitur nature of the paintings reminded me of Dinotopia.  There’s just something fascinating about things appearing where they shouldn’t be.

The art is great, but is the game good?  I think so.  I built a print & play version of the game just so I could try it out (Print & Play is just board game-speak for downloading the game bits and printing them out on paper or cardboard.  It’s not as nice as a professionally manufactured game, but it gives you an idea of what the game will be like).

After nine plays I can say the game has really grown on me.  The first two plays were a little rough, and I was doubting my pledge.  The people I played it with weren’t wow’d either.  The turns seemed a bit ‘samey’, none of the factions felt all that unique (there are five different countries/factions in the game).  Should I cancel my pledge?

I then tried the ‘Automa’ version of the game.  Automa is a deck of cards that mimics a second player, allowing you to play the game solo.  I racked up several more games this way and discovered something.  I had no idea what I was doing!  The Automa deck was beating me quite handily.  Slowly I saw strategies emerging, and I could see where opportunities had passed me by in my early games.  The more I played against the Automa deck the more I found I enjoyed the game.  There are many ways to win, many strategies to follow.  I think the game will have a lot of replay-ability.

Still, it’s not a game for everyone.  It takes two hours to play.  And it looks like a really advanced version of Risk, which turns a lot of people off.  At a recent game gathering I could only find two other people interested in playing.  It just didn’t look like your typical Euro-style game (even though it’s a very Euro-style game under the hood).

I like it.  So I’ll keep my pledge and support it.  Besides, the artist is from Poland, I’m Polish, so how could I not support him?  I should have the production version of the game next summer, after it’s finalized and manufactured.  But between then and now I’ll have my beautiful print & play copy to fiddle around with and impose on my friends.  The mighty Polonia mechs will not be defeated!

Do you have a Kickstarter project you’ve hemmed and hawed over?  How did you decide?

For those looking to play the game, here are some things I’ve learned:

  • Area Control is a large part of winning Scythe.  That means the more hexes you control on the board, the better your odds of victory.  Spread your guys out and try to hold on to territory.  In our games the points from area control are clocking in at around 40% of total points.
  • Movement equals flexibility.  Being able to move every turn allows you to spread out faster, grab more encounters, and respond quickly to combat.  Unlock the Speed power on your faction mat and get to the Factory to grab a tech card, not just for the top benefit it brings but especially for that bottom ‘double move’ benefit.  You’ll be zipping around the board. Or focus on your faction’s special movement power. Grab that and you’ll suddenly be unique, jumping around the board in unexpected ways. It keeps everyone on their toes.
  • If someone is stockpiling resources on the board, don’t let them.  Go over there and fight them for it.  Sure, if you win your popularity may go down.  But you’ll gain a hex (points) and take away all of those resources from your opponent’s economic engine.  Don’t let people sit on piles of resources at the end of the game, those count as victory points as well.  Take them!
  • Combat is a key element, especially late in the game.  The point swing from combat can be huge.  You’re not only gaining hexes and resources, you’re denying someone else from scoring those points.  So taking a hex may be worth three points to you, but you may be taking away three or four points from someone else at the same time.  Not counting the resource points.  There really isn’t another way to have such a large impact on the final score with a single move.  Don’t shy away from combat.
  • Plan for what happens after you initiate combat.  I failed to do that early on and depleted most of my combat strength/cards on my first attack.  Recognizing that I was now weak, every other player on the board attacked my positions to rack up easy stars.  There was nothing I could do but march all of my forces back to home base.  Plan ahead and don’t create opportunities for others.
  • Encounters are great!  They’re a sudden influx of resources, popularity, or combat power.  Get to those encounters and your engine may spark to life.  It’s fantastic when your encounter reward matches the bottom action you’ve just selected…Hey, I can do that bottom action now.  Bingo!
  • You don’t have to do it all. In fact, you can’t.  I’ve played games where I didn’t build a single building.  Or maybe I didn’t put out any of my workers onto the board.  Or complete an objective.  Don’t try to do a little of everything, it’s ok to focus on just a few accomplishments and to build your strategy around that.  It’s fun to see how your approach to the game will change.
  • And finally, make sure to share the art on those encounter cards around the table.  Read the descriptions for each reward out loud.  Those are some of the best laughs we’ve had while playing the game.  Pause, take a breath, and enjoy the theme.