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Written Review – Smash Up!

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Have you ever daydreamed about what would happen if robots rebelled and raised the dead? Or what if aliens landed and brought dinosaurs back with them? There is no need for fantasies like these anymore, because Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG) has brought us a shufflebuilding game that does just that. Smash Up is an active card game in which you combine two random factions together to make a formidable team to dominate not only your opponents, but the world. The factions available are Aliens, Dinosaurs, Ninjas, Pirates, Robots, Tricksters, Wizards, and Zombies, and let me assure you that you will have fun no matter which combination you choose.

Out Of The Box

In the box you will find 16 base cards, 8 factions containing 20 cards each (making 160 player cards total), and the rulebook. Each faction deck is identified with a logo in the lower right corner, and contains two types of cards : Minions and Actions. Minion cards will have a number in the upper left corner, this is their strength. Most minions will have text on the bottom of their cards. This text can be an ability that activates once coming into play, an ongoing effect, an ability that triggers once the minion is destroyed, or even a special ability (which we will discuss below).  Action cards allow you to do anything from adding effects to a base, destroying other minions, increase the strength of minions, and so much more. Now, on to the impending destruction!

Playing The Game

To begin, you must determine what your teams are. The rulebook recommends putting all factions in the center of the table, allowing a randomly chosen first player to choose their first faction, then pass the choice. Once all have chosen their first faction, first player begins again by choosing their second faction. Shuffle these two decks together to make your fearfully awesome alliance. Next, shuffle base cards, then draw one base per player, and one additional, and place these in the center of the table. Each player draws 5 cards from their deck as their opening hand, and the game begins.

The objective of the game is to be the first player to 15 victory points. You gain victory points by scoring bases. The combined strength of all minions at a base are added up at the end of each turn to determine if it breaks or not. Each Base card has three VP values. The player with the highest numerical strength at the base gets the first number. The second highest gets the second number, and so on. If you have no minions on a base when it scores, no VP are awarded to that player. If there is ever a tie, in a 3 player game, the first place winners would both get the first place points, and the runner up gets the 3rd place VP, not the second.

Each turn consists of playing one minion, and one action, The only exception to this is if a minion and/or action that you play states that you may play additional ones. Wizards, for example, have lots of cards that allow a player to take multiple extra actions. Some Robots will allow you to play an additional minion with strength 2 or less if it was the first minion played that turn, etc. Once these two (or more if you’re lucky) things have happened, the current player draws 2 cards, and passes the turn. If ever the draw deck runs out, shuffle your discard pile to make a new deck.

Many bases have text that will determine what happens to the minions that are placed there, a perk for the first place winner on that base once its scored, and more. For example, the Tortuga base says “The runner up may move one of his or her minions to the base that replaces this base”, giving an advantage to actually falling in second place here. You still get second place victory points, and a chance at getting the upper hand on the next base. Above, I mentioned that some minions have special abilities – some minions can move at the last second to a base that has just scored, which could possible take a victory away from you! As mentioned before the first player to reach 15 victory points wins the game!

Final Thoughts

So, what army will you form? Zombie Dinosaurs? Robot Ninjas? Pirate Tricksters? I’ve loved this game since I first played it, and I recommend it to anyone with even the slightest interest in tabletop because it will draw them in. I’ve yet to see this game played and not enjoyed, and well, its hard to not have fun when you combine unlikely (or likely) teams. My personal favorite is Zombies and Dinosaurs! If you haven’t heard of this game, I strongly feel that this should make its way into your game library and get to smashing up your friends!