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Review: Smash Up


Let’s face it, at some point in our lives we have all fantasised about destroying the world and putting our own personal flair on it! Hell half the fun of Sim City is creating a happy populated cityscape only to unleash the wrath of nature, aliens and your own inner demons on the tiny people below (do not read into this paragraph, I am a very well adjusted individual!). So taking over/destroying the world is fun but you’ll need to enlist the help of some other force or being to do it – Smash Up has you sorted!
Title: Smash Up
Designer: Paul Peterson
Publisher: AEG, Arclight, Hobby World, IELLO
Players: 2– 4
Play Time: 45 – 60 minutes
Setup Time: <5  minutes
Difficulty Rating: 6
Setting up and grasping the basic concept of Smash Up takes nothing more than a brief flick through the rulebook – there are eight factions in the game (we’ll get to these later!), players select two factions and appropriately smash the decks together (realistically you shuffle them together…because there is nothing worse than that person who tries Las Vegas their cards and bends them all out of shape!) to create one deck. From a separate pile of cards, base cards, three landing marks are chosen and players will compete to control and ‘break’ these bases and grab the points for doing so! The first player to reach fifteen victory points is declared the winner.
See! I said it was pretty straightforward!
Let’s backtrack to those factions though, players can choose between eight different ones in the standard game (expansions will add more decks and bases to play with) – Zombies, Tricksters, Aliens, Robots, Dinosaurs, Pirates, Wizards and Ninjas. There is a seperate deck for ‘Bases’ each with their own breaking points, victory points and unique abilities, there are three bases in play at all times and players will place their cards on the bases and begin their campaigns of domination and devastation.

  • Zombies – handy if you fancy using your own discard pile against  players
  • Tricksters – negating and dismantling your opponents, these dwarves  do it in style.
  • Aliens – they came to invade and they’ll do it by sheer numbers, very minion heavy deck.
  • Robots – not as powerful as other decks but they make up for it in their numbers
  • Dinosaurs – they strapped rockets on some fossils and they’ll ravage your forces
  • Pirates – slippery, they’ll jump ship(bases) and keep doing so until they win!
  • Wizards – you like cards? Prepare to draw them all, really powerful combo plays.
  • Ninjas – the power in this deck is knowing when to strike

SmashUp-contentsPlayers hold a maximum of ten cards at a time, playing up to two cards per turn (unless you play cards that allow you to play extra), one minion (occupies room on the base) and one action card… this is where the chaos begins or at least it would have had I played my first few games with more than one other player!
Truthfully I found Smash Up a little flat when playing against just one person – you’ll get to grips with your deck pretty quickly and you’ll also figure out your opponents pretty quickly and it becomes more of a dash for points, than a calculative strategy. So let’s add one more person and a few more plays and it’s at this point that the game really begins to work – you’re not just trying to outdo a single opponent, you’re trying to keep one at bay while at the same time crush another and trying to think two moves ahead. Couple all of this with the fact that the decks work so differently that just when you think you’ve got ‘Ninjas’ figured out your opponent starts working in their ‘Robot’ strategy and all of your well planned moves mean nothing against an armada of cyborgs and assassins oh don’t forget the other player who’s throwing wizards and dinosaurs at you!
It becomes fast, chaotic and all about trying to work and rework your strategies and I am hooked!
Taking over the world has always been an aspiration of mine and while Smash Up feels a little flat with just two people playing, especially when you consider the likes King Of Tokyo where two players is perfectly matched to the game, but Smash Up excels at 3 – 4 players and is perfect for anyone into quick thinking strategy games.

Doesn’t work well as a 1v1 but grab two friends and this is the perfect game for you! 7/10

If you want to pick up your own copy of Smash Up then the Arcade recommends you check out BoardGamer.ie

Editor-in-Chief, part-time super villain and hoarder of cats. If you can’t find me writing, I’m probably in the kitchen!