Review – Smash Up by AEG
Design – Paul Peterson
Art – Dave Allsop, Bruno Balixa, Conceptopolis, Francisco Rico Torres
AEG provided a copy of this game
The AEG stand was surely buzzing at Essen. What with the Tempest series of games (not interested in Euro Games I’m afraid except for the wonderful card game, Love Letter…) and Smash Up.
A “shufflebuilding” game of total awesomeness! That’s how AEG‘s Smash Up is billed. The players pit different factions against each other. Interestingly, you will combine 2 factions to do battle and there are fun combinations amongst the 8 factions that come with the base game. Basically, how many fanboy hot buttons can we push and “smash up” in one game? Aliens? check. Ninjas? check. Pirates? Dinosaurs? Wizards? Zombies? Robots? and “Tricksters” (gnomes, leprechauns, goblins and the like)? Well that’s a good start anyway as expansions will be on the way.
A game for 2-4 players age 12+, Smash Up is basically a punch-up. Ok, so I’m interested, as it’s obviously a confrontational “take that” card game.
Inside the box, you get –
• 8 factions with 20 cards each (160 cards total)
• 16 base cards
• A rulebook
The box itself and plastic card holder insert has lots of space for future expansion factions. The art is good, has a real sense of fun and shows that the game isn’t anything pretentious, just chaotic fun. The card text easy to follow and the rule book works pretty well, although I will say that I HATE the use of “cool slang” in the rules which just feels false and like the designer was trying too hard to have the game appear cool. There’s no need for this and it just seems silly and contrived.
Minions are used to attack bases. Actions have specific descriptors that have all kinds of effects.
Your objective is to use your minions to destroy enemy bases. The first player to score 15 victory points (VP) wins! It’s that simple. Shuffle all the base cards together to make a deck. Draw one base per player, plus one. Place the bases face up in the middle of the table. Each player draws five cards.
1 . Cards that have abilities that take place at the start of your turn are actioned.
2 . Play cards – On your turn play one Minion, play one Action, or play one of each. Cards can be played in any order or not at all.
Minions have a numeric power are played against a base card. You simply do what the card says. The bases have a point total that needs to be equaled or surpassed, usually by Minions of more than one faction. The three highest scoring factions played against a base receive the victory points on the base for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. There may be other benefits or actions as stated on the base card.
To play an Action card. Then discard the Action (unless it has an Ongoing ability).
3 . Check for Scoring
Score any bases are ready to score. After scoring bases, check to see if any players have 15 or more victory points. They win. If not…
4 . Draw 2 Cards – The maximum number of cards you can have in your hand at this time is 10.
5 . Shut It Down – Anything that happens at the end of the turn happens here. Play passes to the player on the left.
The process is very straight forward and moves quickly from player to player which is a good thing. Slowing down the process is the reading of cards, both Minions and Bases, and this can’t be helped until you become familiar with the cards. You will find yourself going back to read the base cards regularly just to check what will happen when scored and other effects. I didn’t find this too much of a problem. A bit of slowing things down, but not an issue. Its a case of getting used to what’s on the cards.
A nice feature of the rules is a glossary of key terms and descriptions of each faction to give the players a good sense of how each faction plays.
Did I like it?
I like what’s going on with Mash Up. It’s chaotic, unpredictable and yes you are subject to the lack of the draw, timing, etc. and I’m fine with all that. I really like the idea of “mashing up” 2 different factions to create a fun and interesting fighting force. Its a “take that” game for sure. There will always be a tendency to go after the leader but you have to keep your eye on the other players sneaking in for the win so there are definite choices to make. Smash Up is not meant to be a heavy game and the mechanics keep it simple. I look forward to more factions!
There is some down time in that you have to keep referring to card text but for me that’s not a huge deal. I am thinking that perhaps you can reduce the winning score to 10 points for faster games. 15 doesn’t seem like a lot but when you are using Actions to intervene with other players, it does make the game longer than it needs to be.
Overall, a fun experience and if you get into the spirit of the factions, you will have a great time.
For more information go to – http://www.alderac.com/