Published on January 13th, 2015 | by Justified Croak0
Smash Up – Review
Average play time per game: 45 minutes
Suitable for ages: 8+
Number of players: 2-4
When I was a kid we would spend whole lunch breaks setting the world to rights. We never talked politics, religion or about our studies – we remained focus on what we thought were more practical issues which demanded a more urgent resolution. Would ninjas survive the zombie apocalypse? Could a Tyrannosaurs Rex get past Gandalf? Would Robocop have been able to end maritime piracy in the 18th century? Smash up is here to provide the answers.
Smash up stands as a wonderful introductory game. It’s slick with theme, easy to learn, minimal fuss to set up, quick to play and genuinely a (pirate) boat load of fun. Players pick a combination of themed factions, shuffle them in to a deck and then start playing cards to smash stuff up. Points are scored by playing minions on randomly chosen base cards. First player to 15 points proves beyond any further doubt that their two factions are the greatest.
in order to start players must:
– Select two factions and take the corresponding 20 card decks from the box.
– Thoroughly shuffle your factions together in to one 40 card deck.
– Shuffle all the base cards in to one deck and draw bases equal to 1 more than the number of players (3 bases for 2 players etc.) Place all bases drawn this way in the centre of the table with the rest of the bases remaining in the deck nearby.
– Each player draws 5 cards. If a starting hand has no minions players have the option of discarding to draw another 5 cards. The second hand must be kept.
– Designate a first player.
Each turn players may play one minion card and one action card in no particular order. Each minion is played on a base card and has a power level. Minions vary from saucy wenches to zombie overlords. Depending on the faction it belongs to a minion will have wildly varying abilities. Pirates can hop from base to base, zombies keep coming, ninjas spring from nowhere, dinosaurs are just huge Etc.
Action cards help a player get their strategy on. Whilst a minion stays on a base when it’s played, action cards tend to be one use cards all though some can attach to a base or minion (your own or your opponents) it’s with these action cards you can return a minion to its owner’s hand with the alien abduction, put one of your opponent’s minions up against one of your dinosaurs with natural selection or redirect your pirates at the last minute with set sail.
Once a player has played their minion and action (and their 15 other actions if they are using wizards – sigh) then they draw 2 cards from their deck and all bases are examined to see if any of them break and deal out some tasty victory points.
Eventually the base will reach its break point (a set value which will vary from base to base) once the total power listed on all minion cards attached to that base exceeds the break point of the base, that base is then scored and points awarded.
Each base has 3 victory point values. The first and usually highest is awarded to the player with the highest minion value on that base. The second value is for the player with the second highest minion power value and you guessed it third value for the third highest minion power. A player must have a minion on a base to score. The base is then discarded and a new one drawn from the base deck. When a player has 15 or more victory points in total then it’s game over. In the case of a tie then the player with the highest V.P. total wins. If there is still a tie then another round is played.
I like a game that’s easy to learn and play. It’s one of those games where it’s all written on the cards so you get minimal time having to trawl the rulebook and none of the card abilities are too complicated so it feels accessible to even your first time geeks. What really gets me is that with 8 different factions, all with their own play style there is a wonderful sense of balance. Regardless of which factions you combine nothing seems distinctly overpowered which must have taken an unholy amount of playtesting. Yes, its entirely possible theres a killer combo or two that got overlooked, but for the most part I just picked which ever combo sounded the coolest rather than which one would bring my opponent to tears the quickest.
Smash up also boasts a continuing roster of expansions with number five “pretty pretty smash up” due for release this spring. Each expansion adds 4 new factions to the game including but not limited to: Steampunks, Cthulhu, kittens, giant ants and bear cavalry…. is that a thing? So while the initial factions soon get a little samey, you always have the option of throwing in a few extras to keep things fresh.
In conclusion – I love it. I really do. Whilst I hardly play this weekly it’s always a good one to dust off if I’m trying to wean my “normal” friends on to games or just waiting for the cleric to turn up on RPG night. For the R.R.P. of around £25 (expansions are usually just over £10) it’s a steal for the amount of fun you’ll have. It may also be worth mentioning that this game has inspired about 90% of Sy-Fy’s feature content past 8:00pm.