Game Spotlight – Smash Up

Ever wonder who would win in a fight between ninja and time travelers or between wizards and dinosaurs? Well now you can find out with Smash Up! Smash Up is a card game where each player picks two different factions, such as dinosaurs or wizards, smashes them together, and see who comes out on top. The base set comes with eight different factions: wizards, dinosaurs, robots, ninja, tricksters, zombies, aliens, and pirates. That makes for a good number of combos (28) but there are multiple expansions to add even more crazy combos to the mix.

Each faction is 20 cards, consisting of 10 minions and 10 actions. Players can play 1 minion and 1 action on each turn. Actions have a variety of effects, while minions have a strength rating (typically 1 – 5) and are played on bases. When a base has a certain amount of total minions on it the base “scores” and players get victory points based on how many points worth of minions they have on that base. First to reach 15 vP wins. The strategy comes from trying to build up your minions on a base in order to score it while keeping your opponents from doing the same.

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The wizards and ninja are ready to take on all comers!

Overall it’s a pretty fun game but it does have some downsides. The most fun part by far is choosing which two factions you want to play. Each faction plays very differently and combines in different ways with other factions. The creators did a very good job of making each faction play like the group they represent; the wizards are good at getting lots of extra actions (spells), the dinosaurs are just big huge creatures that stomp you and don’t do anything fancy, the zombies keep coming back to life (from the discard pile), etc. The base set comes with those 8 factions I mentioned earlier, and the expansions come with 4 new factions each for some additional mayhem. Each expansion has a theme to it, so you can add more sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural, etc. to your game.

The game does have its flaws though:

  • The factions aren’t very well balanced. Some are much more powerful than others, especially in certain combinations. The robots are particularly brutal and combine very well with the zombies amongst others. I was personally very disappointed with the time travelers from the sci-fi set; I love time travel stuff so I was excited to play them (I chose that for my first expansion just for them) but they turned out to be pretty lame.
  • The games are a little long, even a bit tedious. It takes a long time to score even one base, and a base will typically yield 4 points to whoever wins it. With a win taking 15 points, gametime can add up, especially with more than 2 players. I think if bases had lower break points it would make the game a little better.
  • It can be a little tough keeping track of everything that’s going on, between the minions that have ongoing effects, base effects (almost every base has a special ability), cards that have been played, etc. Players end up asking “What’s the total on that base?” over and over again and having to redo the math.
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All set for a new game…can the wizards and ninja defeat the tricksters and spies?!

It is pretty fun though in spite of those drawbacks. I’ve picked up two expansions and may pick up some more. The base game box will hold two expansions but after that you need to buy the Big Geek Box, which holds everything and even comes with a faction of its own: the geeks. It’s rated for 2 – 4 players and it’s probably best to stick to that. I’ve played a 6 player game and that took a long time.

So anytime you want to see if the wizards and tricksters can take out the dragons and dinosaurs let me know and we’ll find out!

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Game Spotlight – Smash Up

  1. Very good points on the problems with this game. I wonder what sort of house rules could help this? What about fewer bases at a time? I hadn’t actually pinpointed it, but so true about it taking too long and getting tedious with all the tracking. I think that’s my issue. I usually go into the game feeling okay about it, and then that part hits and I get impatient (as you *may* know).

    Maybe another help would be having a index card of tallies or even some dice that could indicate the current base total? That also sounds a bit tedious, but maybe it’s the lesser of two evils.

    I think I would do better with a kid version of this game with less complex actions and minions. Actually, I bet they could make a good kid style!

    • dantherpgman

      Bad news: I think the expansions add more levels of complexity with more actions and even tokens. I remember reading about one faction (plants I think?) that put tokens on the minions and makes for all this extra bookkeeping. I think one of the expansions even comes with counters 0_o Like the index cards or dice you mentioned…

      A simpler version might be a good idea!

  2. Pingback: Game Spotlight – Brawl | Dan...on games!

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