October 21, 2014
Smash Up is a dueling card game in which factions like ninja robots, zombie pirates, and alien wizards vie for control of valuable bases while beating up their foes. Set in a whimsical world of post-modern conflict, two to four players each choose two faction decks to blend together into a 40-card team deck and duke it out in a highly-strategic battle for control. Each faction confers specific abilities and has a certain theme, so the variations that can be attained by adding two of them together are great. Pirates, for instance, are very mobile, while Dinosaurs are big and stupid – but they have lasers!
Each player may take a single action and play a single minion per turn, though certain effects will allow the play of more cards. Points are scored by smashing bases, which happens when the combined power of all players’ minions at the base exceeds that base’s breakpoint. Typically, but not always, the player with the most power on the base scores the most points. But each base also has an ability which can drastically affect the strategy of trying to conquer it. After a base is smashed, all the minions present there are discarded, preventing any one player from gaining too much momentum. Throwing all of your minions at a particular base is risky, as certain minions have special abilities that can limit the power of others. Your opponents can use this to lure you in and ruin your plans – and they will.
Games typically last about an hour, usually coming down to the wire, with anyone able to steal the victory at the last second. As you become more experienced with the game, the most powerful combinations of factions become more evident, but your opponents will likely pick counters to stop you, or pick the second faction that you might need in order to stop you. We’ve created an optional rule for random faction-blending, just to keep things a bit more even in this case.
The base set of Smash Up includes eight different factions and sixteen bases. There are currently five expansion packs with specific themes, altogether adding seventeen more factions and thirty-four more bases the game. Playing with any expansion packs will allow you to play with more than four players, however I might recommend limiting it to games of five players maximum to keep it manageable; anything more than that can easily be split into two games. The expansion packs can also be played as a standalone game with two players. There are so many variations possible with the various mixtures of factions and bases that you’ll essentially never play the same game twice.
Smash Up is fast, fun, and easy-to-learn. It makes a great filler or warm-up game in-between the biggies on your game nights. Magic players will get it right away, but no experience is necessary. All you have to do is choose, shuffle, strategize, and SMASH!