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Time to Bring the Smack Down - Smash Up Review

Jason Moslander
United States
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Originally posted at

Dinosaurs, Lasers, Zombies, Wizards, Robots, Aliens, Gnomes, Ninjas, and Pirates; need I say more. I didn't think so, but I will. A game that brings together some of the most popular genres of the day. What is more popular than zombies right now (although this is not a trend Mrs. GwT is a fan of)? How many times have you seen the ninja vs pirate stickers on the back of people's cards. Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, it goes on and on. So, what makes more sense than to combine all these together and create the genre of all genres; the one that has all of them. Smash Up attempts to do just that. So, does it accomplish it's goal? Does it embrace all these genres at once? Lets see.

Smash Up is a 2-4 player card game that takes about 45 minutes to play. The game was designed by Paul Peterson and published by AEG. In the game, each player selects two factions from dinosaurs, zombies, wizards, tricksters, aliens, robots, pirates, and ninjas. You then shuffle the two decks for each of those factions making a unique deck--pirate-robots or alien-dinosaurs, etc. Each faction is made up of action and minion cards. On your turn, you can play one of each of these cards. The actions usually give a special ability that has a one-time effect or it can be played on a certain faction or base, and have an ongoing effect. Minions are then played on bases. Bases are what you are trying to destroy in order to gain points. Each minion has a point value. Play the highest number of points on a base and you score the highest point value on the base card (1st place scores the first number, 2nd place scores the second number, and third place score the third number). Each base also has a special effect that can change how scoring is done, or it can add and destroy cards that have been played on it. There are also special cards that players can play as a base is scoring. This can can the scoring for the card. After bases are scored, you the current player draws two cards into their hand, and the next player begins their turn. Once a player scores 15 points, the game ends and they are the winner.

Components & Value
Smash Up comes with 176 cards for $30. Personally, I felt that the game was a little overpriced. Especially if you consider games such as Dominion and Sentinels of the Multiverse come with over 500 cards for about $40. The game also didn't come with anyway of keeping track of points. Sure you can use a pen and paper or some D20s (that was our choice), but a score pad or scoreboard of some sort would have went a long way. Finally, there were some special abilities in the game that were ongoing. Some markers to show this would have been great. I would have also liked some cards to show who had which faction each player is. This would make it easier to decide who you want to attack and where you want to place your minions. Just some simple enhancements would have made the game a better experience. Finally, I really did like that the box insert had spots for what appears to be future expansions. I hate having to have 3-4 boxes for one game, it appears that this won't be the case with Smash Up. I do wish they would have had more factions in the base game, but what can you do.

Game Play
Smash Up plays great. It fills that light-card-game-with-a-heavy-theme niche. It's very easy to learn and play. It's a little bit longer and more in depth than a filler game, but it doesn't drag. It plays in just the right amount of time. There is also lots to explore in this game, with 8 different factions that all have different abilities. Then, you get to explore which combos work the best together, as you can mash them in so many different combos. And then, by the time you get these 8 figured out, you know they will release more factions for you to explore. I also love all the different bases. Each one has it's own environment that changes how you play your minions on that base. From trying to play a bunch of little minions to playing your biggest and baddest. This adds another level of depth to the game. If you like games that are just soaked in theme, and you enjoy combining some of the most popular genres of the day, then you are in for a treat. If you love games with tons of depth and strategy, this may not be the game for you. It really is an Ameritrasher's dream.

How is it with Two?
We have tried this one with two and with three and it worked very well with both numbers. I really think the game scales well. I do think the game does shine more with more players, as the smack talk can reach it's full potential. It is still fun with two and we have enjoyed it with just the two of us, but if you can find a few more friends, you may want to. I could see this one being on our Couple of Couples and on our Games We Play Together Top 10 Lists in the future. It is that much fun. I do wish that it would play with 5 or 6. I am sure that if and when they release expansions they will allow for more players, until then, it is fine with 2, 3, or 4.

Final Thoughts
Smash Up is a good game, I couldn't help but compare it to King of Tokyo. Although both of them are very different, they both fill that Ameritrash 20-40 minute game niche. If I had to choose between the two of them I would pick King of Tokyo, since it accommodates more players and it is a little bit easier to learn. You also get a little more for your money with King of Tokyo. I know I have already harped on it, but I just feel like you don't get your monies worth out of Smash Up. If it have a couple more factions I think it would have been a better value. In the end though, it's a solid game with solid mechanics. I am excited to see what kind of expansions come out for it, as I can see this one being more than just a flash in the pan.

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