Published on April 30th, 2015 | by Justified Croak0
Pretty Pretty Smash Up Review
Average play time per game: 45 minutes
Suitable for ages: 8+
Number of players: 2 (more with expansion)
Mechanics: Area Control, Hand Management
Eurgh…. Really Smash Up? Really? Fine. Smash up is a wonderful “shuffle building” card game that has recently released its ultra cute 5th expansion. I can only assume the brain storming session for this expansions theme went some thing like this “So we’ve done dinosaurs, ninjas, pirates, zombies, Cthulhu, werewolves and just about every over awesome pop culture faction we can think of” “what about all the fluffy things with giant anime eyes?” “Ooh, yeah – That’ll sell.” Well it sold to me at least, and hopefully this review will help you decide if your willing to undergo the embarrassment of requesting the pinkest, sparkliest game box ever, from your local geek retailer.
Smash Up is a genre to its own where players build a deck by selecting two factions (be they wizards, pirates, robots, Vampires etc.), shuffles them in to one deck and begins to stomp on their opponent’s face in a thematic fashion. Pretty Pretty Smash up is a four faction expansion for the base game which also works as a two player stand alone. The game also includes 4 dividers for the new faction for those who have purchased the Smash Up Geeky storage box, which is some thing they intend to do with all future expansions.
Regardless of whether you are playing with the core game, an expansion or both Smash Up has a very approachable learning curve and nearly always keeps a good pace. Pretty Pretty smash up offers no real deviance from the existing rules and was released only to give players more combinations and play styles. Whilst I have explained the sequence of play in my review for the core game (see the bottom of the review for a link) here is a very quick run through of how the game is played.
Players all select two factions from those available and shuffle them together to form their deck for the game.
Reveal X amount of base cards, where X is the number of players +1
All players draw 5 cards for a starting hand, first player is designated, with play proceeding clockwise.
Players may play a minion and an action on their turn. Minions have a power number and are played on the various bases. Each base has a power limit. Once the power total for a base is reached, the base breaks and scores. Each base awards a different number of points to three players with the highest minion totals on the base, usually with the most points going to the player with the most minion power. First player to 15 points wins the game.
Now that you are all refreshed on the rules lets have a closer look at Pretty Pretty’s four fluffy factions.
First up we have the Fairies. At a glance these guys look a lot like the tricksters from the core game but on closer inspection we can see that fairies are in fact forged from pure evil. Tricksters were irritating but I found a lot of their cards too situational and often my play hand would clog up with the unused action cards. Fairies are just as sneaky and devious with plenty of cards to negate or even steal your opponents action cards right off their minions but the cool thing? A lot of fairies have OR abilities. For example Magic Acorns gives you the choice of forcing all players to discard a card or you may draw a card and play another action. Playing this deck, I always had a trick up my sleeve, much to the irritation of my opponents.
Mythic Horses. Friendship is magic apparently and that’s what these fabulous equestrians are all about – whilst at the same time taking the bare minimum precautions as not to infringe on copyright. Horses get stronger and give bonuses if other horses are in play or on the same base and can get pretty beefy. They’re fairly simple but effective as you’ll see lots of synergy across all 20 cards.
Kitty cats. Why did it have to be Kitty Cats? Inevitable I suppose. Cats are horrid, horrid creatures. They specialise in taking control of other player’s minions for a turn. They can also destroy their own minions for a one off bonus. Can you see where this is going? If you manage to get the right combos in hand this faction is devastating and very upsetting if you’re the opponent.
Princesses are an odd one. All princess minions, apart from being a some sort of Disney reference, are level 5 power. Too much power you say? Well consider there are only 6 minions in the faction deck. The Princess action cards are the most varied in this expansion but little of note. The coolest action would be the heirloom cards, of which there are 3 in the deck. The heirloom card attaches to a minion and gives +1 power for each heirloom on the minion. That’s a total of +9 power in the off chance you can find and attach all 3. This has to be the least exciting for me on its own however as the lack of minions will sting you sooner or later.
There are a few interesting mechanics amongst the factions but no game changers, which is of course a good thing as the balance is maintained. Now the expansion technically works as a stand alone game but must be used with at least the core game to see its full potential. I was on the receiving end of a Ninja/Fairy deck recently which used fairies to steal my attached actions and ninjas to detach my minion’s spinal cord. Or the vampire kittens that momentarily took control of my minions with their cuteness and then consumed them to make the vampires stronger which now I think about it, must be a film some where. The Pretty Pretty expansion opens up some interesting if curious combos but I’ll leave the rest to you as after all finding this bizarre yet effective combos is the best part of the game.
I think this game is a love it or hate it. The art work fits with the previous sets but may just be a little too cutesy for some players to handle. On the other hand I’m sure there were plenty of players out there who are relieved we have some lighter, sillier factions. Speaking of the mechanics this expansion given the theme was much more brutal than I expected. There is potential here for some truly mean combinations, especially in regards to Kitty Cats and Faeries. If your trying to keep smash up a quick and friendly game this expansion may not be for you, as for all their cuteness – some of these factions want to claw off your face and wear it as their own.
For me at least I find the theme vile but at the risk of becoming the Mr. Grumpers minion, I appreciate that’s the point of Smash Up. It’s silly – you’re not meant to take it seriously. Even I have to chuckle at the idea of a princess charging in to battle on a T-Rex or a deck of undead My Little Pony knock-offs. Bottom line is – if you love Smash Up like I do, it’s mostly more of the same but why fix what isn’t broken. I’d say it’s a fair price for the laughs it gave.
For my review of Smash up core box click here