Smash Up!

From: Alderac Entertainment Group
Reviewed by: Marty Connell

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you take ninjas, pirates, robots, aliens, wizards, leprechauns and zombies and throw them all together? Well now you can find out in the hot board game Smash Up.

The premise of Smash Up is pretty simple. Take two of the eight faction decks and shuffle them together to create a 40-card deck. Use minions and actions from that deck to attack and destroy bases. The first player to accumulate 15 points from the destroyed bases wins the game.

From the website: Smash Up, designed by Paul Peterson, is the all-new Shufflebuilding game from Alderac Entertainment Group.  In Smash Up players take two factions, such as pirates, ninja, robots, zombies, and more, and combine their decks into a force to be reckoned with!

At the beginning of the game, place the eight faction decks on the table (Aliens, Dinosaurs, Ninjas, Pirates, Robots, Tricksters, Wizards and Zombies). Determine who is going to be player 1 and that player selects one of the eight decks. Proceeding to the left, each player then selects a deck. The last player to select chooses his/her second deck and each player does the same going in reverse order. Each player then shuffles their two decks together. The base deck is shuffled and then one card is drawn for each player plus one. These base cards are placed on the center of the table. Play is now ready to begin.

Each player gets the opportunity to play the Minion card and one Action card in any order. When playing a minion, choose a base and place the card beside the base so that it faces towards you. Resolve any abilities/effects of the minion card. When playing an action card, show the card to the other players and do what it says. Most action cards are one-time actions, such as destroy a minion, play an extra minion card or action card, or move minions between bases. Some action cards have ongoing abilities which will affect the game as long as the card is in play.

After each player finishes his or her turn, the strengths of all minions attached to each base are added together. If the combined strengths exceed the bases Breakpoint Value then that base is scored and players receive their Victory Points. Each base card has three victory point values. The player who had the most combined minon strength gets the winner victory points, the player with the second highest combined strength gets the runner up victory points, and the third highest strength gets the third place victory points. After any scoring, the player draws two cards and then play passes to the player on the left. Each time a base is scored, check to see if any player has 15 or more victory points. If so, the game is over and that player is the winner.

From the rulebook: The Shufflebuilding Game of Total Awesomeness.

At its heart, Smash Up is a simple card game along the lines of Fluxx. You play an action, play a minion and draw two cards. From that you try to gain victory points by destroying bases. The strategy of this game comes in trying to synergize two faction decks with each other as each faction plays totally different. For example, dinosaurs are very powerful and have high strengths, zombies are weak but keep coming at you by special actions that allow additional zombies to be played from the hand and discard pile, and pirates can easily move from base to base. As such, this adds to the replayability of the game since you can mix two different factions each time you play. However, one drawback is that some combinations seem to be stronger than others which leads to some balancing issues.

For more experienced gamers, Smash Up is great quick game for when you are waiting to start a more serious game. This game is really more a filler for a game night as you are waiting for others to show up or need a break between longer games.

For more casual games, it is a great game to teach because it is easy to learn and easy to play. There is enough strategy to keep people interested but it is not so deep that it will lead to long periods of analysis paralysis.

One group where Smash Up is a hit is with children. Kids are drawn towards dinosaurs, wizards and aliens. So right out of the box, they are very intrigued by the game. The art style is very cartoony and child friendly so there is no need to worry about images of scary zombies. As stated before, the rules are simple and as long as the kids can read and understand the cards, they can play the game. Highly recommended for this group.

Smash Up is a game that tries to answer those questions us geeks have asked at one time or another. What would happen if you mix aliens and zombies? Wizards and robots? It’s a pop culture mashup. Don’t try to reason why these factions would play together; just do it and enjoy it. Who knows, maybe the old age question of Pirates vs. Ninjas will finally be answered. Unless they play together….hmmm.

Codex Rating: 15

Product Summary
Smash Up
From: AEG
Type of Game: Board Game
Game Design by: Paul Peterson
Graphic Design by: Kalissa Fitzgerald
Number of Pages: Rulebook: 12
Game Components Included: 8 faction decks (20 cards each), 16 Base Cards, Rulebook
Retail Price: $29.99 (US)
Number of Players: 2 to 4
Player Ages: 12+
Play Time: 45 min
Reviewed by: Marty Connell