The setup rules for Scythe say:

Faction Selection:

Randomly shuffle the the Faction Mats and Player Mats, then deal 1 of each to each player.

Starting Player:

The player with the lowest number in the label on their Player Mat will go first. Play proceeds clockwise from there.

Designer's note:

The higher-numbered Player Mats offer slightly more lucrative starting track positions than the others, as those players are more likely to have 1 fewer turn by the end of the game than the player who goes first.

The question here is - when setting up the game - say I'm playing with three people - should I just randomly assign the three lowest ranked player mats, or I randomly assign three of total five?

The thing that I'm thinking about, is what say I randomly assign the 1,2 and 5 ranked player mats, if the person who has the five ranked player mat - has a larger advantage than if they'd been assigned the three ranked player mat.

  • Your conclusion is a non sequitur - that someone can get a larger advantage doesn't lead to using the worst three (or the best three, or the middle three). You presume that the game is somehow unbalanced if the mats are {1,2,5} but that same advantage exists in a five-player game, except there aren't another two players also getting some kind of advantage.
    – Nij
    Commented Aug 11, 2019 at 4:50
  • 2
    @Nij The logic in a five player game is that having more people go ahead of you is a disadvantage. Do you reject that logic in general, or do think that it somehow applies differently when comparing five and three player games? In a five player game, there are two more players that can end the game before Player 5 can take their last turn. Commented Aug 11, 2019 at 17:37

1 Answer 1


It's really simple, actually:

  1. The rules say

    Randomly shuffle the the Faction Mats and Player Mats

Do they say "shuffle a number of mats equal to the number of players, starting with the lowest ranked mat"? No, they don't. If they wanted you to do it so, it would have been written there.

  1. You bought the game. It's your property.

Think it would be better using the lowest ranked mats? Do it, it's your game, you can do whatever you want. Or you can go for a bidding, even. Or you can directly allow people to chose their faction mat -like we always do, so to try different factions every time. Or you can stop someone on the street to chose one for every player. Or maybe give all the players the same faction.

Luckily there is no law preventing you to experiment with a game that you own, and luckily the game will not self destruct after the first play. Do whatever you want, and if you don't like the outcome do it differently the next time you play. Simple, right?

  • This doesn't really answer the question.
    – ilkkachu
    Commented Aug 12, 2019 at 13:48
  • @ilkkachu: the question is "can I do something that is not written in the manual?". The only possible answer is "If you think it works better for you do it"
    – motoDrizzt
    Commented Aug 12, 2019 at 14:28
  • 1
    They're asking for clarification to the manual. Quoting the same manual back at them isn't going to be useful at that situation. Rather the question is if there's something useful to know outside the manual. If the designer had an intent that didn't end up in the manual, or has (re)considered the subject after the manual was written, or if other players have noticed any difference in game balance between the possible options.
    – ilkkachu
    Commented Aug 12, 2019 at 15:03
  • 1
    @ilkkachu: I run a board game association of sort, I've been teaching games to people for a while now, and I've learned there is nothing more efficient to complicate and ruin things to everyone than asking clarifications about imaginary rules. A manual states everything that can be done. The OP here is not asking for clarification to the manual: instead is asking about a rule that is not written in it and that he made up in his mind about a game he has never played. If a rule is not written then it doesn't exist, and if you don't know the game at all then you shouldn't try to change it.
    – motoDrizzt
    Commented Aug 16, 2019 at 10:00
  • 1
    Funny, I sort of run a board game association too (actually it runs itself quite well), and I've noticed that hobbyists have a tendency to think about the content and phrasing of the rules. For better or worse, but sometimes it means having to look for clarification on the rules, and that's partly what e.g. the forums on BGG are for. And, umm, assuming that someone has never played a game based on the fact that they have a question about it seems very, very bold to me.
    – ilkkachu
    Commented Aug 16, 2019 at 13:04

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