Is more always better? In board gaming, more is almost always better. We want more scenarios, more characters, more tiles, and more cards. Sometimes, though, “more” makes the game bloated or changes it so fundamentally that it is no longer that elegant, streamlined game we once lovingly referred to as “one of our favorites.”
And then floats in Pie In The Sky, the expansion for the hit family game from Stonemaier Games, My Little Scythe. For those of you who have just emerged from hiding out from the authorities for years in a duck blind near Chicot State Park, My Little Scythe was Stonemaier Games offering of a family friendly version of Scythe. (See our review of My Little Scythe here.)
Does Pie In The Sky spice up the original game? Let’s find out!
My Little Scythe: Pie In The Sky is a 2020 expansion for the base game designed by Hoby Chou and his daughter Vienna Chou, with art by Katie Khau. It is published by Stonemaier Games, and plays from one to six players in about 45 minutes. Stonemaier Games graciously provided us a copy for review,
The box cover art for PIe In The Sky welcomes us back to the wonderful world of the animal kingdom of Pomme in My Little Scythe. Inside, players will find two new kingdoms — the Fox (yes!) and the Owl (who?) — including miniatures and trophy tokens.
In addition, players will see a beautiful miniature of the airship, a die for moving the airship around, airship mats for each kingdom, tokens, and new power up tiles and quest cards. Plus, the box includes rulebooks done in that textured, linen finish style that Stonemaier Games loves.
All of these components fit nicely and neatly into the original box. Remember that giant GameTrayz storage kit that the base game supplied? Yep, it appears that Stonermaier Games had in mind the potential for expansion(s), and left us plenty of room for storing the new stuff.
All in all, this is a typically top notch production, worthy of the past history of Stonemaier Games’ releases.
We return to the Harvest Tournament, this time with two new factions ready to win the competition. The clever Fox clan joins the fray, along with the magic-wielding Owl Kingdom. Where the base game lacked the asymmetric powers of the original Scythe game, Pie In The Sky adds just a hint of separation of powers from each kingdom in the form of the new airship mats.
We discussed the nuts and bolts of playing My Little Scythe in our previous review, but to summarize, players attempt to earn four trophies through pie fights, deliveries, and completing quests before any other player does. (This is similar to the star system of Scythe but leaves out the money / points for ease and quickness of play.)
In Pie, players are also given use of the airship at the end of every SEEK action turn. On the player’s turn, the airship die will be rolled, and the player will move the airship the maximum spaces shown on the die. Then, the player has a choice: either (a) grab an extra apple or gem from the airship space and store it in the unlimited cargo hold; or (b) perform the Kingdom’s unique airship ability. (Players can start the game with the assigned power of their kingdom, or mix them up and choose randomly for fun.) Items in the hold can be spent by players anywhere and anytime, even if they are not on the space that the airship is located.
Because the airships add in special powers that help complete quests and tasks more easily, the game end state changes with Pie. Instead of winning with four trophies, players will need to earn five trophies to win.
This is a high level overview of the game play. For more information about what is is in the box and how the game plays, check out our unboxing and overview here.
BUT IS IT ANY FUN:
Sometimes an expansion becomes an absolutely necessary part of the game. After playing the base game a few times, I remarked in our review that it is suitable for families, and maybe a good beer & pretzel game, but that many weekly board game groups will find that there was not enough “there” there.
That changes with the Pie expansion.
Don’t be put off by the name. This is a very strategic expansion that incorporates solid twists in the mechanics that really flesh out the experience. In my mind, the expansion elevates the base game from a solid experience for families, to a solid experience for all gamers.
First, the airship mechanic is so smoothly integrated into the gameplay. Explaining the airship is easy. It only moves during SEEK actions (well, except for the use of one of the added Power Ups), limiting the analysis paralysis that new players may face in deciding whether to move the airship. It never does battles, or enters the center hex. Its main use is as an unlimited storage spot for your apples and gems.
But its other use is where the fun comes in. Giving players a side board to the player mat that adds one easy to read, easy to understand special power, means that players will instantly want to find out what the other powers are and use them during subsequent games. With nine different powers, and the ability to mix and match them at will, there is a whole heck of a lot of replayability built right in.
Plus, like any good expansion, the fact that there is more juicy content for the base game really spices up the experience. Of course players want more power up cards. Of course they want more factions. And, of course players will want more quest cards. There are not a lot of them (two kingdoms, four new power ups, and two new quest cards), but the addition of these and the airship mats are a perfectly sized expansion.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention the inclusion of a double-sided “achievement sheet”. On one side, Stonemaier Games includes a ton more goals for players to earn by winning games of Pie In the Sky with different kingdoms, or difficulty levels in the solo game, or player counts.
Plus, there is a way to “rise in the ranks” on an achievement sheet, similar to any level ladder system in a video game. Moving up through the ranks from Apprentice to Senior Scout to Sky Captain and beyond does not just give you a cool new nickname, but it also lets players have fun, inconsequential perks like choosing a seat at the table or renaming the airship.
If you are a fan of My Little Scythe, this is an absolute no-brainer expansion to buy. There simply is no reason not to include Pie In The Sky in every game you play. It is not overly complex, but it adds just enough to the base game to make it indispensable to our game experience.
This is also the rare expansion that may make the base game a bit more fun for those that did not enjoy it the first time. Give the expansion a try if the base game was too quick and vanilla for your group. You just might find that the addition of the airship special powers and the move to five trophies instead of four spices up the game experience enough.
That’s My Little Scythe: Pie In The Sky Expansion, which I highly recommend for fans of the base game. Until next time, laissez les bon temps rouler!
— BJ @boardgamegumbo
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