While I’ve already done a review of Smash-Up, there are three expansions to the game and those add a ton of new gameplay options and fun to an already excellent game.
As I was recently in a position to try all of the expansions together in a couple of mega-games, I thought that I would revisit the mixed-up world of Smash Up and look at the three expansions and how they change the feel of this wonderful game.
Over the 4th of July weekend, we were looking for a game to take to my mother’s house that would play 7 people and Smash Up, with all the expansions, fit the bill. We had never played with that many people before, but since there are 20 decks available, that should play 10 players, at least in theory. We had no idea how long it would take, how well it would do, or even how much room it would take, but I’m happy to say that it actually worked out well, we finished a game in about 90 minutes and everyone had a good time, even if we were playing with 3 new players. My sister, who like me is a life-long gamer, won one game and I won the second. It was great.
Awesome Level 9000: The nicest thing out of the box are the Victory Point counters. This continues with all of the other expansions as well. No more keeping track on a scrap of paper! Woot!
Killer Plants – Plants are all about giving the player extra things; extra actions, extra power or the ability to do things on your next turn to change the game. This can be both a good thing and a bad thing because it gives all the other players a turn to prepare for whatever you’re going to do. Some cards, like Overgrowth, automatically blow a base at the beginning of the next turn by reducing it’s breakpoint to 0, but once played, you might not be in the best position a turn later to benefit from it.
Ghosts – I don’t know that anyone has ever figured out a really great way to use the Ghosts. I’ve seen people saying how hard they are, and as I played a game with them recently, I agree. Some of the cards are counter-intuitive, that require that you have two or fewer cards in your hand in order to activate an effect. That’s great if you can chain a bunch of cards together, Ghost has a lot of cards that let you discard, and get down to one or two cards and then play, but that’s difficult at best.
Steampunk – This faction, while powerful, is mostly about card control, it allows you to play cards from your discard pile or move things back into your hand. This keeps things hopping as your best cards, once played, can keep coming back over and over again.
Bear Cavalry – The Bear Cavalry is extremely powerful and, as a style, specialize in moving minions around without their owner’s permission. It also keeps your minions safe, something that other players will certainly be trying to change because, with the most powerful minions on the board, you’re going to win a lot of Victory Points.
Obligatory Cthulhu Expansion: The Cthulhu expansion adds a new card type, “Madness”. To be honest, we never really found that it had much effect on gameplay, people just got a card and got rid of it almost immediately. It seems to be more of a slowing tactic than anything else and all the Madness cards are the same and they all have the same effect. You can’t win the game if you have a Madness card in your hand or in your discard pile, the only thing it allows you to do is draw two extra cards.
Cthulhu Cultists: The Cthulhu Cultists are based around Madness, they can move other player’s minions around and force their owners to take Madness cards. They also have some direct Victory Point gains, which is always nice.
Elder Things: This faction is also based around the Madness cards. It not only allows the player to draw Madness cards, it also can force others to draw them, or allow an extra card. Of course, in our games, we never choose to draw a Madness card. Like I said, they just don’t mean much, at least in our experience.
Innsmouth: This is an interesting idea. The only minion that Innsmouth has is “The Locals”, which is power 2. However, every time one of “The Locals” is played, the top three cards on the player’s deck is revealed and all of “The Locals” cards that come up go right into the player’s hand. The rest of the deck is about pumping power or increasing the speed minions can come out.
Miskatonic University: If you want to play fast and loose with Madness, Miskatonic is the place for you. The more Madness cards you have, the more actions and minions you can play and the deck makes it easier to get rid of Madness cards so you can still win.
Science Fiction Double Feature:
Time Travellers – Somewhat like Zombies from the original set, they can get cards back from the discard pile and get anywhere on the board quickly and efficiently. They’re also very good at keeping valuable minions from going into the discard in the first place, a very useful talent.
Cybernetic Apes – This is an action-centric faction, the more actions that get played on the Apes, the more powerful they get. Plus, who doesn’t want to play the damn, dirty apes?
Super Spies – Like James Bond, they are all about gadgets and deck manipulation. While they are not a great main faction, they do great in a support context, getting you the cards that you need while denying your opponents the cards they want.
Shapeshifters – The Shapeshifters are a mimic faction, they perform best by taking on the characteristics of the best cards on the board. Their best minion is a 0 power guy that becomes as powerful as the most powerful minion in play and there are others that let minions take on the special abilities of their opponents.
Like the original game, these expansions are fantastic and add a ton of depth and options to the original eight factions. I leave it to you to decide which ones work best together, but none of them are game-breakingly powerful or too weak to have fun with. Get out there and buy these expansions, you won’t regret it, I promise!
All $19.99 MSRP