Board Game Review: Smash Up!

Smash Up

Smash Up! is one of my favourite games to come out of GenCon last year.  As a “shufflebuilding” game you take two twenty card decks from two different factions, shuffle them into a forty card deck, then compete to smash more Bases than your opponents.  Each faction brings a different game mechanism into play pirates move cards, zombies bring cards back from the discard pile, dinosaurs have huge power – and every combination of factions brings a different play experience.

This game plays well with between 2 and 4 players.  It’s quite funny to play, but also has an impressive level of strategic depth.  A single game takes about half an hour, but who plays just one game?

Zombie

Let’s talk about some of the specifics.

Each turn a player may play a Minion (example shown to the Right).  Minions have a power level (degree of Smash-y-ness) on the top left of the card.  Abilities on these Minions mostly happen right after they’re played, although some are Ongoing and happen every turn.  Other Minion abilities might trigger when a Minion is killed or may change how, from where, or when the minion may be played.

Minions are the meat and potatoes of this game.  Having your Pirate King sail over to a base right before it scores can make unwary opponents sad.  Likewise, if the Wizard team plays down an Archmage and gets to take an extra Action every turn it can add up to some dangerous plays.

AlienIn addition to playing a Minion every turn, players may take one Action (example to the left).  These Action cards may let you play extra minions, draw cards, destroy other minions, or generally just mess with your opponents’ plans.  Action cards don’t directly have power, so they can’t be used to score on bases, but some may give extra power to Minions.

During play, Base cards (each with their own difficulties and abilities) are in play. You attempt to have the most power on the Base from your minions when the Base is smashed. Sounds easy? How easy is it when an opponent’s Alien-Ninja decides to Beam Up your minions to other Bases – flat out Assassinate them? What about when the Pirate-Dinosaur player Full Sails in and releases King Rex to stomp your minions into the ground, or when the Wizard-Zombies use their Mystic Power to create an Outbreak, suddenly flooding minions onto the Base from the discard pile? Or what if you faced a Zombie-Dinosaur player instead and he created an Outbreak of massive beasts all at once?!?

Library

At the end of each player’s turn you check to see if a Base will be scored (the Minions there equal or exceed the limit, pictured right).  When a Base is smashed, each player in first, second and third place scores points. Fourth place? Sorry, bro – try harder next time.

Typically games are played to 15 points, although you can agree on a higher number or set a time limit and declare a winner based on points at that time.  Be careful not to score a base if it would let the second place player win the game!

Smash Up! is only $29.99.  We sell it both on our online store and in person.  Stop by and try it out.

 

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