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Posted by Raine Hutchens on Nov 2, 2012

Review – Smash Up (tabletop)

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Product Information

MSRP: $29.99

Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group

Age Range: 5 and up

Game Type: Shufflebuilding Card Game

Set Up Time: <5 minutes

Game Time Length: 30-60 minutes

 Players: 1-4

If pop culture was put into a tabletop game, Smash Up would be that result. It’s a game that comes to us from Alderac Entertainment Group, and packed inside is a world of factions waiting to collide. This game has everything from dinosaurs equipped with lasers to crazy goblins and gnomes. While Smash Up is a card game, it’s not a normal deck building game nor is it a Living Card Game like we’ve seen with previous games in the past. Smash Up is something way different that provides a brand new gaming experience.

Out of the Box – Setup

Smash Up is listed as a “shufflebuilding game.” That’s something new to the gaming community, so what does that exactly entail? It’s simple, really. In the box are 8 different 20-card decks that represent each of the game’s different factions. In setting up the game, players will choose two of these factions and shuffle their decks together, creating a single 40-card deck to play with. Each faction has a specific play style, and contains different features that make them suited for world domination. Let’s take a closer look at each of the factions:

  • Dinosaurs – These guys are all about being big. They’re teeming with power and add a lot of strength to your deck. They’re also good ad pumping each other up with augmentations.
  • Aliens – The Aliens are invaders who are skilled at dominating planets, of course. These little guys allow you to remove other cards from play, and their outfits are totally kicking.
  • Ninjas – This faction is all about being in two places at the same time. In the blink of an eye these cards can disappear from one place and reappear in another when you least expect it.
  • Pirates – Nothing keeps a pirate landlocked for long! This faction focuses on movement and using their superior cannon power to blow other players’ minions right off the board.
  • Robots – Assimilation, multiplication, and complete eradication are the goals of this faction. The Robots focus on assimilating others into their ranks as well as getting as many minions in play in a single turn as possible.
  • Wizards – Wielding magic always lets you bend the rules a bit. The Wizards allow you to take more actions, play more minions, and get cards for free all while taking up as little time as possible.
  • Tricksters – You’ve got gnomes. You’ve got fairies. You’ve even got a leprechaun. These little guys are all about messing with other players’ strategies all while modifying game effects in your favor.
  • Zombies – You can’t keep the dead, well, dead. They keep coming. And you’ll never be able to subdue them for long.

Once players choose their two factions they get their decks together and place Bases on the table. The main idea of Smash Up is to take over Bases to earn Victory Points. You’ll shuffle the Base deck and place a number of Bases equal to the number of players plus one. Once you’re all shuffled and the Bases are placed on the table, you draw five cards from your deck and you’re ready to go! As far as setup goes, it’s that simple. Now let’s get into the gameplay!

Playing the Game

As I mentioned, the aim of Smash Up is to take over Bases that are placed on the table. To do this, you’ll need to place Minions at Bases in order to add strength to their “breaking point.” Each Base has a number printed in the top left corner of the card (top left being when the card is in a landscape position) which is its breaking point value. Once the total Power of all Minions at a Base reaches that number or above, that Base “breaks” and is taken over. The large numbers printed on the Base are Victory Point values that are awarded when a Base is taken over. The player with the most total Minion strength at that Base gets the first place amount, the second most strength player gets second place, and so forth. It’s pretty simple.

The game is played out with each player taking a turn. During your turn you can play one Minion and one Action card from your hand in any order, or none at all. Some cards allow you to take extra Actions and play extra Minions, which bends this rule a bit.

Minion cards each have a name, art, Power value, and sometimes an ability listed on the card. The number in the top left corner of the card is its Power value that it lends when placed at a Base. Any Minion that has an effect on its card usually resolves that effect once it enters play. These effects are self-explanatory and easy to follow.

Action cards allow you to do many different things. They’re usually played and then discarded to your discard pile, though some of them are played on Bases or Minions with different effects. These card effects will be listed as Ongoing, and the cards will remain on the table until destroyed or when a Base is taken over where that card exists.

Once you’ve played a Minion and an Action, just one, or neither, you check to see if any Base scores. If any Base has a total Minion Power to exceed its breaking point it is scored. It is discarded and a new Base is drawn from the Base deck and placed in its place. Once you’ve completed scoring any Bases, you will draw two cards and end your turn.

Play will continue until a player scored 15 Victory Points and has successfully taken over the world. In any event that more than one player reaches 15 Victory Points in one turn (as this has happened to me), the player with the most points wins.

Conclusion

I am extremely glad I grabbed Smash Up. I saw it at Gen Con and decided to wait on it, and I wish I didn’t. It’s a great game and a whole lot of fun to play. Setup is very quick and you can play an entire game within 45 minutes. The only issue I’ve come across with the game is that some factions just don’t seem to work out together. The Ninjas and Tricksters almost never get me a win, whereas the Dinosaurs and Pirates always seem to win every game in which they are played. I don’t know if this is a balance issue or not, but it can be a bit disappointing. I’d like to see more content in the future, and I’m hoping there will be an expansion or two in the future. If you’re looking for a great family game, or just want something that’s a whole lot of fun with minimal setup and play time, Smash Up is a perfect choice. With a $30 price tag, it is well worth the money, especially since the cards are so well-made. What are you waiting for? Go grab your copy right now! We’ve got a world to dominate!

The Good

  • a lot of fun
  • fast setup time
  • factions are cool
  • great family game
  • humorous

The Bad

  • some factions don’t work out well together while others are extremely hard to beat

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