Smash Up

Smash Up Core Set
Contents
Events Played
Box Contents
How to Play
Scores
My review
Expansions
Shared Playing AreaCards


Events Played
31st August 2015
7th September 2015
14th September 2015
15th October 2015


Box Contents
8 faction decks of 20 cards apiece.
24 Base cards (there are 3 Bases that match the theme of each faction, but are not controlled by the corresponding faction’s player but may have effects similar to those of that faction).
Victory tokens valued at 1 and 5 VP.


How to play
Each player picks two factions and then shuffles them together. Most factions have 10 Minions and 10 Actions.
The factions are: Aliens; Dinosaurs; Ninjas; Pirates; Robots; Tricksters; Wizards; Zombies
Each faction has a unique game mechanic or other specialised trait that can make 28 different and unique decks. However, some deck combinations will be more complimentary than others and some can be downright contradictory so the more you play, the more you get to know which combinations work better than others. It is even allowed for more than one copy of the game to allow more than 1 player to choose a specific faction, though 1 player cannot mix the same faction twice.
Minions have a power (usually 1-5) and usually have an ability which is used as described on the card. Most abilities are only triggered when the Minion is played but some are ongoing or can be triggered each turn or can even be activated while in the hand or discard pile.
Actions are a bit like Minions’ abilities, and again, most are activated when played either as a one-shot effect or lasting effect and can be played on Bases, Minions or other Abilities in play.
Bases are placed on the table from the shuffled Base deck equal to the number of players plus one.
Each base has 4 numbers on it. A two-digit number in the top-left corner is the Break Point of the Base. Once the combined power of all Minions played on a base meets or exceeds the break point, the Base is scored. The other three numbers are the points given to the three players with the most power on that Base. Most Bases also have an action, which is triggered at specific times.
Starting with 6 cards, players take turns performing 2 plays. Play 1 Action and Play 1 Minion. Either play can be performed first and both plays don’t have to be played. Minions are played on Bases and their power goes against the Break Point of that Base. Actions are played either to the players’ personal discard pile (at no time does a player’s card end up in another player’s deck), or to the Base or Minion of their choice.
Many cards will allow the play of extra cards which are not counted towards the original 2-Play turn.
If a Break Point is reached, the current player completes their turn as usual and then the Base is scored and the players with the most Power on that Base get the corresponding points as printed on the card. So the player with the most points gets the 1st numbers, the next player gets the 2nd and so on. There’s no prize for fourth place.

Scores

Number of players 2-4 (though with expansions, I have played with more).
End game conditions 15 points
Victory condition The most points
Replayability Oh, yes please! With 28 different combinations to try out with the base expansion (666 combinations including all current expansions – the last one being the Munchkin Smash Up) and with the 40-card decks being randomly shuffled, no two games will be the same.
Reading Requirements Oh yeah! I forgot it did that! Although almost every card has game text on it, the big font, standardised actions and concise wordage mean that no too much turn time is taken up with players reading their cards.
Rules Comprehension I only read through the rules three times Very quick to understand and easy to explain.
Game-Breakability Someone please roll a double! Some faction combinations can be quite overpowered but most of it can be countered or relies on chance draws.
Durability Use as directed As long as no one spills their drink on it…
Box Size Under Arm The square shape makes for easy storing.
Play Area Coffee Table With little personal play area only needed for the deck and discard piles, only space for up to five bases and attached minions is needed.
Component Stability Indoors or no wind Cards don’t fall over, but they can be blown away.
Storage Layout Hey, I can fit all my expansions in here too! (Including Big Geeky Box) Each faction slots into compartments. Extra spaces are included for expansions.
Aesthetics Photogenic The different factions each have their own artist, providing a wonderful array of styles for their themes. Nicely done, too. The artwork is also aimed for families, so the Zombie faction, for example, are ‘fresh’ with no gore.
Walker
Turn Time/Involvement That’s my go, I’ll go and put the kettle on This can depend on factions, some of which have a high level of deck manipulation. Others, not so much.
Game Length We’ll get a couple of games in before bedtime Some factions are quicker to play than others, but normally you’ll get more than one game in.
Setup Time Seconds Open box, choose decks, shuffle, shuffle & lay-out bases. Done!

My Review
Described by the game makers as a shuffle-building game, the only ‘building’ that takes place is right at the start of the game when each player chooses 2 factions, and shuffles them together thereby ‘shufflebuilding’ their 40 card deck to play with. These 40 cards will be the only cards a player will use. So the description on the box can be a bit misleading, particularly if you’re looking for another game like Dominion. It also stands apart from the constructed deck card games where players agonise for hours beforehand, trying to choose just 40 cards from a pool of hundreds. With this, it’s just “I’ll be Pirate…Aliens” and, one shuffle later, your deck is done.
The distinctive look of each faction, courtesy of different artists, gives them a distinctive ‘feel’ by the use of colour palettes and art styles, but at the same time keeping the content to ‘family friendly’. Zombies, Ghosts, Cthulhu etc. in other games are often represented with the high amounts of horror and gore in keeping with their genre. This Smash-Up Walker has definitely got that zombie vibe, but without the gruesome bits.
Experienced players may have come up with which faction combinations make the best synergy, new players also get a good shot at making a deck fitting their playing style by the factions play-style being relevant to their names. Dinosaurs are big hitters, Ninjas are sneaky, Aliens abduct and do weird stuff and Zombies don’t stay dead.
With only a handful of bases on the table at any one time, it is easy to keep track of everything going on, even when multiple minions and actions are in play. When it starts getting complicated on a base, it generally scores and the whole mess is taken off the table and replaced with a new and empty base.
The basic rules are so straightforward, most new players should pick it up in the first few rounds. Play one minion, or play one action, or do both. Not too dissimilar to Fluxx in that regard, particularly when many cards that are played allow further cards to be dawn or played.
With minions and abilities with special abilities and base scoring taking place whenever the break point is reach, all players are usually fully involved with the game play, even when it’s not their turn. Even if not directly involved, watching a player navigate through the actions of a Robot Wizards deck with their endless replications and spell-casting, can be entertaining, not to mention important (in case they’re cheating).
The Bad:
With so many possible faction combinations to choose from, inexperienced players may find themselves with a deck that just plain sucks against players who have very strong tried and tested combos.
The Good:
Looks great and has a very high replayability factor.
Final Verdict:
Add this to your collection!

Expansions
Each expansion can be played as a stand-alone, meaning if you spot one in a shop and you don’t have the ‘Base Game’ as so many expansions demand (albeit in small print you don’t see until you get it home), you can still pick it up and play it (apart from the Big Geeky Box, there’s only one faction in it). Furthermore, with the introduction of each expansion, it is conceivable to increase the number of players by half the number of factions. So with a four-faction expansion, the four-player base game can become a six-player. It doesn’t state this in the rules, but I’ve played this with 5 and it worked great, there’s a bigger incentive to invest minions in a base to qualify for third place, at least as, with each extra player, the chance of losing out on points increases. More players mean more bases, so the dynamic of the game doesn’t change, though consider putting a time constraint on each turn. Each expansion (apart from the Big Geeky Box) also comes with extra VP tokens in the style of two of the factions in the expansion. As with the base game, each faction has 3 associated bases to add to the base pool.
Awesome Level 9000
Awesome Level 9000
No new game mechanics
Four new factions: Bear Calvary, A hard-hitter to rival Dinosaurs; Ghosts, the less cards in your hand, the more they can do; Killer Plants, start weak, but grow stronger over time; Steampunk, a lot of base affecting abilities here.
The Obligatory Cthulhu Expansion
The Obligatory Cthulhu Set
Introducing the Madness Deck: Triggered by associated base cards and factions exclusive to this expansion, players for the first time can actually build upon their deck. These ability cards have uses, but count as -1 VP for each pair in a player’s deck at the end of the game. In this way, the player who scored the game-ending 15 can find themselves under 15 at the final score (they still win, provided they’re in the lead).
Four new factions: Elder Things, lots of madness here-for everyone else; Innsmouth, all 10 minions are the same, and each one brings out another minion; Minions Of Cthulhu, self-inflicted madness, but this time it’s a potentially good thing; Miskatonic University, fight the madness, go on, I dare ya!
Science Fiction Double Feature
Science Fiction Double Feature
Four new factions: Cyborg Apes, augmentable simians; Shapeshifters, minions played, don’t stay as they are; Super Spies, deck management-other players’, that is; Time Travellers, similar in some respects to Zombies, but more time-wimey; and Cyborg Apes, more augmentation
At this point the box the base game came in is full (unless you take the insert out).
The Big Geeky Box
Smash Up
Yay! A big new box to hold all the cards in, and large, beautifully illustrated plastic dividers to separate all the factions, bases and madness cards. Each subsequent expansion will include their own dividers. Also includes large, foam blocks to help hold the cards in place until further expansions are acquired.
If you had no intention of getting every expansion, reconsider getting this box. Its hefty price tag doesn’t give you much considering you can just take the insert out from the original box and invest in some rubber bands or suchlike. With only one new faction, it doesn’t even add much to the gameplay. However, if you’re a completionist nut, then this will allow you to hold and organise all existing expansions and there’s enough space left for just as many cards again.
One new faction: Geeks, filled with those obscure rules from games only dedicated geeks know about.
Monster Smash
Monster Smash
New game mechanic that uses the unclaimed victory points as +1 power markers played directly on cards.
Four new factions: Giant Ants; Mad Scientists; Vampires; Werewolves. Most use this new mechanic if their own specific way.
Pretty Pretty Smash Up
Pretty Pretty Smash Up
Despite their girly look, don’t think for one second these factions are any weaker.
Four new factions: Kitty Cats, have the ability to steal opponents’ minions for a turn; Mythical Horses, get stronger as a group; Pixies, have a choice of two abilities each; Princesses, tougher than they look.
Smash Up Munchkin
SU8 Box_Top
The biggest expansion to date, and with the new Monster and Treasure decks, is actually bigger than the base game.
Monsters are added to Bases and add their strength to the break point of the Base as well as whatever it is they do.
Treasure is won when Monsters are killed, and just like in Munchkin can be added to Minions to improve stuff.
Eight new factions all from the well-known Munchkins franchise (just the vanilla version-no space/zombie/Cthulhu/vampire/etc.).: Warriors, Clerics, Mages, Rogues, Orcs, Dwarves, Elves, and Halflings.

Pictures of us playing this game:
smash-up

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