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Card Game ADD: Smash Up

Card Game ADD Smash Up

Welcome to the first installment of Card Game ADD.

Card Game ADD is an article series which focuses on taking a look at games that we don’t normally cover here at CardGameDB but I think might be of interest to the users here. First up we have Smash Up.

Smash Up is a different kind of card game from the normal CCG and LCG that many of us are used to. Created by Paul Peterson and published by Alderac Entertainment Group, Smash Up introduces a new and unique mechanic dubbed “Shufflebuilding”. The premise of shufflebuilding is very simple, each faction in Smash Up is consists of 20 cards, you take two of these 20 card decks and shuffle them together and you’ve got your deck.
The object of the game is to score victory points on bases. You do this by playing Minions which contribute their power to your totals at a base and actions which have interesting in game effects. Bases have break point values associated with them and when the combined power of each player's Minions is equal to or greater than the breakpoint value of the base the base scores. Players then total up their power at a base and are awarded victory points based on whether they came in first, second, or third. Play continues with each player struggling in a tug-of-war to rack up 15 victory points.

There are 8 factions in the first release of smash up. Each faction has a theme it follows and gives you access to unique abilities.

A very simple summary of the focus of each faction:
Ninjas are good at targeted killing

Zombies can manipulate your discard pile
Robots swarm the table
Pirates are the masters of movement
Tricksters force your opponent to discard cards and have nasty surprises
Aliens bounce minions back to hand
Wizards draw cards and play extra actions
Dinosaurs are big and mean (and are packing lasers)

Enough of the technical stuff though, for a better idea of the mechanics you can browse the rule book and visit AEG’s Smash Up site.

How does it play? It is very fun and while your turns tend to be quick there is quite a lot of potential for interaction. Barring some combo action you are only allowed to play one Minion and one Action on your turn. This has been great for some in my game group who occasionally suffer from analysis paralysis as they can still complete their turns in a reasonable time. It makes even 4 player games have very little downtime.
Winning strategies differ greatly between 2 and 4 player games. Two player games tend to have quite a bit of strategic maneuvering because if you can manage to score a base while your opponent has no minions there it results in a large swing of points. Four player games tend to focus more on strategic scoring to try to get the best possible position on each base. All of the games though thrive on tricky actions, messing with your opponents, and skilled play.

Smash Up has been a huge hit with my game group. It is extremely easy to pick up for anyone who is used to CCG and LCG type games. For those who are not accustomed to these types of games it takes me about 5 minutes of explaining to have them playing with very few questions. We’ve played about 30 games so far in various combinations of 2 to 4 player and have found that the flavor of each faction and the shufflebuilding concept makes each game feel different and gives this plenty of replay value.

Ratings:

Art and Theme: 5/5 - The art is very nice and each faction feels unique and visually appealing.
Gameplay: 5/5 - The game is fun, quick, and easy to learn.
Components: 3/5 - The box is nice and comes with an insert to hold all the cards (plus extra slots for expansions), but it doesn't include a score tracker so you're going to have to break out the pencil and paper, dice or old trusty abacus to track each players points.
Metagaming: 2/5 - Likely the biggest downside for any die-hard CCG and LCG player will be the lack of deckbuilding. It is part of the appeal of the game though as something you can just pickup and play but don't expect to be agonizing over decklists in the wee hours of the morning.
Replay Value: 5/5 - My group and I have played this dozens of times already and each game has been fun. It is especially good trying new factions together and seeing the interactions and combos you can come up with.


There is also much to look forward to. Playdek, creators of some of the great iOS card game adaptations like Summoner Wars and Ascension, are working on an iOS version of Smash Up. Smash Up also has great expandability potential and Todd Rowland, Senior Brand Manager for AEG, has also shown off artwork for upcoming factions like ghost, plants, and apes.

Smash Up retails for $29.99. If you are looking for a game which is easy to learn and offers fun for all ages I would pick it up. I personally will be using Smash Up as my new ‘gateway game’ for non-card gamers to show them how fun our hobby can be.


3 Comments

You should look at Bloodbowl as well.. i have found that game a hell of a lot of fun and easy going adn it should have an add on out soon
This is a great idea for a series! This seems like a pretty fun "party game. Although I'm sure our group is going to turn this into a super competitive game. lol
As is always the case....

My group does the same.