In the Beginning
This is my very first blog post ever, so let me get you to know me so you know me, you know? Right, I love games, obviously. I’ve been playing games for a few years now, but it feels like I’ve been playing for my whole life. The moment I was introduced to my first game of this type I was absolutely sucked in. Now when I heard that a few of my friends where into games I thought to myself, – ok so you guys get together and play like.. Sorry, na monopoly? No no, my friends these are no ordinary games. This first game that i’m reviewing is the game that started it all. This is the game that turned my brain inside out and made me think in new and obscure ways.
The Game – Smash up
Smash Up is a card shuffling/deck building game designed by Paul Peterson from Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG). The core game consists of 8, 20 card decks called Factions, and a separate deck refered to as the Base Deck. Since the games release, AEG has introduced expansions containing new factions, bases, and some add new game mechanics.
The Set up
Smash Up‘s game play is fairly simple and can be tought to almost any age that’s willing to sit put and listen. The portion of this game that makes it so great is that AEG left the door wide open for a large amount of strategy, which in turn can make the game really complicated.
To set up the game, start by placing a number of the base cards from the base deck to the playing surface, where the number of base cards equal on more than the amount of people playing. The game is built for four players, you can play with more but I don’t recommend it because it makes the turns very, very, long.
Now you select your factions. To do this determine a player to select their cards first. the first person selects only one faction and passes the rest to the following player. This continues untill all players have selected one faction. Once this is complete the remaining factions are then sent back around in reverse starting with the player who selected his first faction last.This continues till all players have to factions.
With the bases out and your factions shuffled together you’re ready to get to it!
How to Play
I would first like to mention that the rules to this game are highly important. I will only be going through a quick run through of how the game is played and won. Here is a link to the PDF version of the Smash Up Rules, and if you have any questions about them please ask me in the comments below!
To start, draw five cards, the turn starts with the person who woke up first this morning. during your turn you can play one “free” minion and one “free” action (shown below). Each minion has a power, in the case of the mimic below its power is zero and these are played on bases. Actions do not have a power and can be played on bases on minions or simply played (to effect play) then discarded. Players draw two cards at the end of each turn. Bases also have what appear to be a power, this is the bases break point. As minions get played on bases, the minions power total up to the breakpoint of the base, everyone’s minions total together to break the base. Once the base is broken and the current player has finished playing both free cards and any other cards allowed, then the base enters a scoring phase. The player with the most power towards the breakpoint is awarded first place, second place is awarded to the player with the second most power and so on. Before the base scores ( before victory points are awarded), players can play any of their cards that read before a base scores. this allows plays to change the order in which the victory point are awarded. If a player is able to change the power toward the base to be less the the bases breakpoint the base will still score.
Winning The Game
As you have probably figured out, victory points and the hot commodity in this game, the player to reach 15 victory points first wins the game, but keep an eye out on other players victory points because if two players simultaneously reach 15 victory points the game will proceed untill a player has the most victory points.
Smash Up is the game that brought me into this crazy world of bizarre games. I was amazed how many different games I’ve experienced with just the core set of cards (now imagine having all the expansions at your fingertips). Not once have I been able to play the same game twice. This is what puts Smash Up and games with open-ended strategy strides ahead of the rest.
The great thing about Smash Up is that you can make it as hard or as easy as you want it to be. As soon as you are able to get through the rule book. It’s a fairly simple game with an awesome opportunity to master it.
Like I mentioned before the rules are the most important portion of the game. This can prove to be one of the more difficult parts of the game. You must read the rules very carefully. If you are one of those gamers that run through the rules saying, “Blah, Blah, Blah” for a majority of them, then you best hand this off to a friend who is far more patient. Now don’t get me wrong, the rules are written very well and very clear, but because of the nature of the game it leaves a few open end and “up for interpretation” situations. An example of a rule that my friends and I had a hard time with is, the notation that reads, “at the end of the turn” vs “at the end of your turn”. For starters, we thought the difference between the two was “the turn” meant once all players have gone, and we thought “your turn” was when you drew two cards. We eventually figured out that a turn begins when a players starts and ends when he or she draws two cards. So both notions mean the same thing in most cases except for if I am allowed to play a card out of turn. If the card says “the turn” the effects last till the current player picks up two cards. If the card says “your turn” the effects last till you pick up two cards ending your turn. Long story short.. PAY ATTTENTION TO THE RULE BOOK.
Game length vary based on number of players. Most games I play last 45 minuets.
Construction & Durability
The cards are well made, and durable. I would go as far as saying they have the same quality as nice cards at a casino. Although if they are handled quite a bit you will notice wear and tear. After only a few months of owning the game a few cards began to separate in the corners. I placed all my cards in card sleeves and they do a fine job. AEG’s customer service is pretty top-notch though, and if you were to accidentally tear a card they would most likely send a replacement.
The box (especially the Big Geeky Box) is very well constructed and will last quite a long time. As you fill up the big geeky box be sure to pick up the box with two hands. If the box has all of the expansions filled into the rows and someone picks up the box with one hand, it could tear the dividers away from the wall of the box.
I love Smash Up, I’ve been playing this game for almost a year and a half now and can’t say that I’ve completely mastered it. I still have so much to learn and discover about different combos, including how my cards interact with my opponents cards.
Taking into consideration everything that was looked over, including the attention that needs to be paid to the rules, and the condtruction of the cards and boxes I give this game a 9.6 out of 10.
Being this is my first blog post I would love any and all feedback to help improve this review or my review process in general. Thanks and comment below!
Pictures were taken directly from AEG website. These photos belong to AEG I am not claiming them as my own.
I am not affiliated with Alderec Entertainment Group (AEG). I am reviewing this game of my own free will.