Amazingly, I haven’t played any board games at all in quite some time. This might shock and dismay some of the more fanatical members of the board-gaming community who seem to act like they ever miss a single day of gaming, they might go into savage withdrawals but I just haven’t had the time or the cooperation of others in a couple of months.
We planned to sit down on April 5 for International Board Game Day and play a couple of games but it didn’t work out. Therefore, when we had a spare hour, we broke out AEG’s Smash Up for some quick fun. Here’s my review.
Smash Up was a game written in 2012 by Paul Peterson and released by AEG. It’s a shufflebuilding game where players take two different factions (the base set comes with 8 factions so up to 4 people can play), smash them together and play to take control of various bases on the playing field. In the base set, you can choose from the Robots, the Dinosaurs, the Aliens, the Zombies, the Tricksters, the Pirates, the Ninjas and the Magicians. Each has their strengths and weaknesses and approach the game from different perspectives. Each have a 20-card deck with two types of cards, the “minion” and the “action”, two factions mixed together produces a 40 card deck that each person plays with. In the center of the table are various bases, numbering one more than the number of players in the game. The goal for the players is to play minions onto these basis so that they “pop” and provide victory points. How do you pop these bases? Each one has a number that needs to be exceeded and every minion, regardless of which player played them, adds to that number. When it pops, the person with the most value in minions on the base gets the most victory points, the player with the next most gets the next set of victory points and the third player gets the third set of victory points. It’s not necessarily in order though, sometimes the second-place player gets the most points off that particular base so you have to be careful. Then the base is replaced with a new one from the deck. Virtually all minions have powers associated with them, some will let you play additional minions, some will let you kill other player minions, some will let you move minions around to other bases in play. The bases themselves also have effects, some that occur when it is scored, some during the turn of the player, it all depends. The point of the game is to get to 15 victory points first.
There are currently 3 expansions for Smash Up, Awesome Level 9000, the Obligatory Cthulhu Set and the most recent, Science Fiction Double Feature. Each one adds more decks to the game for even more possible combinations.
The game really is a ton of fun and while no deck combo is absolutely the best, a lot of it depends on how your cards come up. Whereas most factions have 10 minions and 10 actions in their decks, the Robot faction has 2 actions and 18 minions, they act by overwhelming the board quickly, lots of their minions allow you to bring out more than one minion per turn. The Aliens work by sending cards back to their owner’s hands, they block other players from building up minions quite well. The Pirates are very good at moving minions around the board and blowing up the minions of their enemies. Zombies give their player the ability to recall cards from the discard pile and get them back onto the board. It’s not a difficult game by any means but it is one with a ton of replayability. It’s one of the few games I’ve seen where I’ll buy just about any expansion they come out with because every new deck adds a ton of variation, the more decks you have, the more combinations that are possible. Expansions don’t just add to the fun, they multiply it. The really cool thing though, they foresaw the future and the basic box has slots for storing a ton of new decks right in the box.
This is a quick to learn, quick to play, fun game for 3-4 players, it’s not really that good for 2. While you may eventually learn which decks work well together, if you either play with random decks or don’t play so often that strategies become obvious, there’s a lot of great fun to be had with even the strangest of combinations. It will be coming back to the table again and again as the laser-wielding dinosaurs go after the hordes of zombies. This one is highly recommended.