Scythe Review: Is It Colorblind-Friendly?

Updated on October 4, 2019
shawna.wilson profile image

Shawna has been a registered nurse (RN) since 2004. She earned her Bachelor's of Science in Nursing at Arizona State University. Go Devils!

Scythe by Stonemaier Games
Scythe by Stonemaier Games

My husband and I are board game enthusiasts. Our collection totals more than 120 games. When considering a new game, we prefer that it plays well with two people. It must have a theme and a mechanic that we both enjoy. Because my husband is colorblind, our board game purchases are also guided by how well a game plays for people who are colorblind. The rest of this article will focus on that.

Understanding Colorblindness

For the unfamiliar, colorblindness is more like blurry vision than the ability to not see any color at all (except for a small percentage - monochromacy/achromatopsia). Generally, for those who are nearsighted, a small letter “E” far away is hard to discern, and a giant letter “E” up close is easy to discern. Similarly, someone with red/green deficiency (deuteranopes) may have a hard time discerning a small red swatch far away, but close up it can be clearer. There is a wide spectrum of blurry vision problems, as there is also with color blindness. This review will discuss how colors are used in the game Scythe, and how much colorblindness (deuteranomalous) affects game play.

Scythe—Strategy Board Game

Scythe is a Worker Placement/Economic Engine board game set in an alternate-history 1920s period. Each player receives color specific faction pieces, a faction board, and a player board. There are a lot of pieces and colors, which can lead to an intimidating look at first glance. Let’s dig into each part.

Player Pieces

Each player receives 8 workers, 6 stars, 6 cubes, 4 recruit discs, 4 buildings, 1 pawn, 1 leader, 4 mechs and a faction board. Most pieces start on your player board, and some will stay there. The buildings, workers, leader, and mechs may go onto the main board and mix with other players colors.

Game Pieces

  • Red—Rusviet
  • Yellow Gold—Crimea
  • Black—Saxony
  • White—Polania
  • Blue—Nordic
  • Green—Albion (Expansion)
  • Purple—Togawa (Expansion)

Scythe-Players Pieces for Nordic/Blue
Scythe-Players Pieces for Nordic/Blue

Popularity, Power, and Stars

Three types of tokens go on the board and immediately are surrounded by other players pieces. Each player has a heart token that represents how popular your faction is. A power token, which we call a bug, stays on the main board. When players complete objectives they get to put stars on the main board. The base game colors seem to have been chosen to minimize issues for colorblind players. If a pair of the factions seem too similar to you, you may want to only play with one of them. Each player needs to be able to easily and quickly determine how much power (bugs), popularity (hearts), and stars the opposing players have. If you have to ask out loud which color is which on the power track, other players might get an idea of who you want to attack.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Scythe Power TrackScythe Star TrackScythe Popularity Track
Scythe Power Track
Scythe Power Track
Scythe Star Track
Scythe Star Track
Scythe Popularity Track
Scythe Popularity Track

Mechs and Leaders

Mechs and leaders for each faction are very unique. Mechs match the player color, and the designers did a good job matching plastic to painted wood colors. Leaders are gray with a colored plastic base. The shapes for all the models vary greatly. Crimea/Yellow has a person with a bird, while Nordic/Blue has a person riding an ox. There is only one leader per faction, and they stand out better from all the other pieces since they are grey. As far as gameplay goes, it makes sense for the leaders to stand out from the mechs. If they were the same color as the mechs, it could make gameplay more difficult. The mech shapes also vary between factions. Saxony/Black look like a small tank with giant legs and Crimea/Yellow look like a large Tractor. The strong primary colors help in distinguishing the player pieces. If any two colors look similar, then the shapes should help separate them. I have seen some copies of Scythe with mechs painted metallic. In these images, it seems harder to connect the mech to each faction because of the metallic color that doesn't match the faction color.

Scythe Mechs and Leaders
Scythe Mechs and Leaders

Buildings and Workers

Each player has up to 8 workers and can put up to 4 buildings on the board. The small wooden workers are unique per faction, but the buildings are the same shape for all factions. A person with colorblindness may get the workers confused even with the shape differences. The shape differences basically boil down to different hats. If buildings from two factions are close together and you cannot determine the colors, you will have a hard time knowing whose is whose.

Scythe Buildings and Workers
Scythe Buildings and Workers

Player Board and Factory Cards

Player boards in Scythe have holes that the pieces fit into. The action icons are the challenging part in regards to colorblindness on the player boards. The boards have a row on top that says "Pay" and another that says "Gain." The pay icons have a red background and the gain icons have a green background. My husband can’t really tell which ones are red and which are green. He just has to remember that the top row is "Pay" while the next one down is "Gain." The coin/popularity/power icons appear on top of the red/green background. Because of the icon, there is less of the red/green to see. The resources you pay for your bottom row have a black outline of the resources with a red background. It seems easier to see those as a color than the coin ones. Factory cards give you an extra action slot and have the same icons as the player boards. When you pick a factory card, you do so in secret. So it is important to pay attention to the "Pay" and "Gain" lines.

Scythe Factory Card (left) and Player Board (right)
Scythe Factory Card (left) and Player Board (right)


There are four main resources in Scythe: wood, metal, oil, and food. We have played the collector's edition (painted resin/metal) and the retail edition (wood) and the resources in both editions are easily distinguishable. Each resource shape matches what it is and they are each different colors.

Resource Pieces

  • Wood—brown hex log
  • Food—yellow bag
  • Metal—gray bar
  • Oil—navy blue oil drum

The resources are different shapes, sizes, and colors from the player pieces. There doesn’t seem to be an issue telling the resources from the players pieces when on the main board.

Scythe resources compared to workers
Scythe resources compared to workers

Main Board

The main board is a hex grid laid on top of artwork. The artwork is part of the game play, since mechs and leaders cannot cross rivers in the beggining. Each hex grid has one of six icons which show which type of resource it produces. Four of the icons are the four main resources (wood, food, metal, oil). Another icon is the standard meeple and stands for (re)producing to get extra workers from your player board onto the main board. The last icon represents lakes. Only certain factions can travel to lake hexes. The lakes do not produce anything. The artwork is beautiful, but it does give the game a very busy look. It can feel a little overwhelming at first for someone who is colorblind. Each of the hexes that produce goods have a name (farms, mountain, village, etc), but the names don’t seem critical to play. Icons for hexes on the player board have the resource icon on them.

At the beginning of the game each player starts in their own corner of the map. It takes some time before the pieces start mixing up. Once they do, then color blind issues could be a concern if using pieces that are not distinguishable.

Some of the hexes on the main board have round encounter symbols on them in addition to the resource. These are easy to distinguish from the resource, but don’t stand out from the background artwork very well. This might make game setup challenging for someone who is colorblind, but once set up, there shouldn't be any issues. A few hexes on the board have a giant mine icon that is different from everything else. These are easily distinguishable.

Each game has one structure bonus tile that gives extra coins for meeting specific conditions when building. They may have resource icons on them that tie to having buildings on hexes with those icons. This does not become a colorblind game play issue as the resource icons are unique.

As stated before, the main board feels a little busy from the background artwork. Being colorblind, it may feel muddy to decipher the information. The information may have been easier to see if all the hexes were solid colors/designs combined with the resource icons on top.

Scythe Main Board
Scythe Main Board

Invaders from Afar Expansion

The base game colors are yellow, red, blue, white, and black. These are easily distinguishable for most people, even if they are colorblind. The expansion (Invaders from Afar) brings in two colors that usually cause problems for people with colorblindness-green and purple. My husband and I have not played a game yet with green and red or blue and purple, so he can’t comment on how much being colorblind affects those factions. Comparing the tokens, it seems that it could be an issue. We will likely just avoid a game with red and green.


Scythe is a game with a lot of colors and pieces. The pieces should be distinguishable enough that those with colorblindness won't struggle. We have played a few games all the way through, and my husband has not had to ask other players to clarify the colors of any pieces. In that regard, we give it a thumbs up for colorblindness. It is a colorblind success and quite fun.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Kulsum Mehmood profile image

      Dr Kulsum Mehmood 

      3 years ago from Nagpur, India

      Very nice hub ..... very well written .....


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)