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Smash Up» Forums » General

Subject: Terrible Two-Player Experience...? rss

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Matt F
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I recently acquired Smash Up in a trade, and thought its simplicity would appeal to my wife and I, as we enjoy other fast, simple card games like Dominion, Pinata, Lost Cities, etc.

We started a two-player game, my wife choose Dinosaurs and Tricksters, I chose Pirates and Aliens.

And the game just draaaaaagged. I kept checking the rulebook for some sort of two-player variant, thinking that we must be missing something, but I found nothing.

It seemed like it was way too easy to wreck someone's plans, and we just kept going back and forth, placing minions, having them taken away with an action, repeat and repeat and repeat. It took forever to gain any sort of foothold, and even then, there were cards that could move ALL of an opponents minions back into their hand!? It seems crazy that one card can effectively erase many, many turns worth of minion placement. (In fact, we quit after I played that card.)

Are we doing something wrong? Was this a bad mix of factions? Will it get better with future plays? IS there some 2 player variant out there? Or should I just treat this as a 3+ player game?

Thanks!

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Scott Mohnkern
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Honestly I think Smash up is a horrible two player experience.

Smash up, at its core, is a "Take that" game. Significant portions of the game focus on interfering with the other players plans and actions. Honestly, in two player games, I find this completely unfun. It's kind of like bare handed boxing with brass knuckles....

I think Smash Up plays best at 4 players. Even three is good, but four is the sweet spot.
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Andrew Kapish
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I'd rather super glue my face to a rail road track than play a 4 player free-for-all game of Smash Up.

I'd rather volunteer to join a human centipede than play a 4 player free-for-all game of Smash Up.

I'd rather tie a bungee chord to my eyeball and leap off the Golden Gate than play a 4 player free-for-all game of Smash Up.

2 players is rather casual. Not the best, but playable. (We've banned Tricksters from 2 player games)
3 players is just right.
4 player 2v2 teams is fantastic as well.

As with most tactical card games, the more aquatinted you become with the cards the more quickly things seem to move along.
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Mike Czerniewski
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I have found that a 2 player game of Smash Up is less strategic and far more confrontational than a 3 or 4 player game. For pure strategy and maximum enjoyment, you need at least 3. 4 is ideal.

If you have expansions: 5 is kind of pushing it but still doable. Never play this game with 6 players.
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Chet C.
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Smash Up has 46 official factions. Of these, a few are u]intentionally [/u] designed to slow the game down. It's possible that Aliens slow the game's progress more than any other faction, especially in 1v1. So it's unfortunate that you used Aliens on game 1.

I'll assume that your Smash Up set consists only of the base game with no expansions.

As mentioned in other posts, Smash Up is best played with 3 or 4. If you're going for speed, I suggest 3 players because you can get points on every base, which makes for faster games.

Also mentioned in a previous comment, Smash Up can be played much more quickly when you are familiar with the cards. I usually suggest that new players pick a favorite faction (or two) and play it a few times, instead of trying something new. Common favorites from the base set include Zombies, Robots, and Ninjas. Familiarity will greatly increase the player's strategy, the game's speed, and the group's fun factor.

If your first few games of Smash Up must be 1v1 and you want it to move quickly, I suggest any of the following match ups:
-Zombie Dinosaurs vs. Ninja Robots
-Dinosaur Ninjas vs. Robot Zombies
-Zombie Tricksters vs. Wizard Dinosaurs

Or simply follow these rules of thumb that should help you get the experience you want until you are more familiar with the game or have more players or factions available:
-Avoid Aliens. Also avoid pairing Robots with Wizards.
-If one player is using Pirates or Ninjas, the other should use Zombies.
-Every game should include Dinosaurs, Robots, and Zombies. Or at least two of these.

Shoot for 15-second turns and figure out what you want to play before your turn comes around. Above all else, know that the "30-minute" logo on the box is a lie. Smash Up is not a quick filler game. It is a fun and silly tactical card game. If you spend too much time on the strategy and not enough on the fun and silly, it will surely be a long game full of analysis paralysis. In my opinion, making fast decisions is part of the fun.

Lastly, it helps to speed the game along and ease the brain power required if you print off some base mats from the Files section on BGG or use a d20 or even a pen and paper to keep track of the power on a base. If you have to do the math every turn, it slows things down.
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Bob Watson
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I think you went in with the wrong expectations. Having played many games of Smash Up, I don't think any of them were "fast, simple" games. This game is popular because of the variety of experiences it offers, not for those reasons. Those who don't like the game often comment about it's complexity and mathiness, which is actually about as opposite as you can get from fast and simple.

We don't usually play 2-player anymore because of some of the reasons you listed, as well as the fact that it's a little too easy to tie. For three players, it's fantastic, and I even enjoy the four player games, although it is slow.
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Marc Webber
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I had a similar experience with 2 player Smash Up. Love the game but it seems ideal for 3 and chaotic fun at 4.
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Jay Young
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My friends and I come from MTG and Yu-Gi-Oh competitive scene. 2 player SU Scratches our itch for AP and competition just right. If you dont like AP and you dont under stand you dont want to ALWAYS destroy their minions then no 2 player isnt right for you.

You need the other persons minion on your base to score it so stop destroying them even if it means you don't get to play an action that turn or use that minions ability that you played. A lot of players dont seem to understand that no matter how many games they played.

I agree that smash up is very much a take that kind of game but there is a lot of strategy that is involved.
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Jonathan Maisonneuve
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Smash Up is best played with 2 players. A game should last about 20 minutes. You can plan stuff, have a strategy and act accordingly to it.

With 3 players, a game last 60-90 minutes and most likely, you won't be able to do anything because most likely all your minions will be gone when your turn arrive.

With 4 players, a game can last forever because the chance that you have a single minion alive when your turn arrive is slim to none.
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Andre Oliveira
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Basically you cannot strategize until you have some grasp of the cards.

Beyond that, action paralysis people kill this game's fun
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Jonathan Maisonneuve
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zyocuh wrote:
My friends and I come from MTG and Yu-Gi-Oh competitive scene. 2 player SU Scratches our itch for AP and competition just right. If you dont like AP and you dont under stand you dont want to ALWAYS destroy their minions then no 2 player isnt right for you.

You need the other persons minion on your base to score it so stop destroying them even if it means you don't get to play an action that turn or use that minions ability that you played. A lot of players dont seem to understand that no matter how many games they played.

I agree that smash up is very much a take that kind of game but there is a lot of strategy that is involved.


Very important advise here. The goal is not to score a base alone (though, when it happens it is amazing), it is to score more than your opponent.
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Matt F
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Wildhorn wrote:
[q="zyocuh"]

You need the other persons minion on your base to score it so stop destroying them even if it means you don't get to play an action that turn or use that minions ability that you played. A lot of players dont seem to understand that no matter how many games they played.


Yes, this was a good comment and it clicked as something we were not grasping very well in that first game.

I don't think this realization totally "fixes" the issues we had, but it certainly would have been more enjoyable.
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Timothy Goddard
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Wildhorn wrote:
Smash Up is best played with 2 players. A game should last about 20 minutes. You can plan stuff, have a strategy and act accordingly to it.

skidawgkc22 wrote:
For pure strategy and maximum enjoyment, you need at least 3. 4 is ideal.

andrewkapish wrote:
I'd rather super glue my face to a rail road track than play a 4 player free-for-all game of Smash Up... 3 players is just right.


This game, man.

I prefer Smash Up with three players, but will happily play it with 2 and only-slightly-less happily play it with 4.

Usually, I do end up playing it 2-player with my wife, and most of our other games tend to be along the lines of the ones you describe. Smash Up is definitely an outlier, but she enjoys it well enough and it's one of my favorite games, so it sees the table with some regularity.

One important lesson I have learned is that there are certain factions I just shouldn't play if I want the experience to be pleasant for both of us. As a rule, minion-destruction factions are not a wise choice when playing my wife. I made that discovery on my own. Swarm decks are not a great idea, either--I was told that very blatantly after one too many Robot Plant romps. Fortunately, the beauty of Smash Up is that there are still literally hundreds of possible combinations even when excluding those archetypes.

Those are our interpersonal dynamics. YMMV, but they may have some relation to your experience.
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Matt F
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timgoddard wrote:


One important lesson I have learned is that there are certain factions I just shouldn't play if I want the experience to be pleasant for both of us. As a rule, minion-destruction factions are not a wise choice when playing my wife. I made that discovery on my own. Swarm decks are not a great idea, either--I was told that very blatantly after one too many Robot Plant romps. Fortunately, the beauty of Smash Up is that there are still literally hundreds of possible combinations even when excluding those archetypes.

Those are our interpersonal dynamics. YMMV, but they may have some relation to your experience.



This is very good advice, thank you, and definitely has a relation to my experience.

I wish I had sought out Smash Up advice sooner, though!

The problem now is that my wife is something of a reluctant gamer, and she does not enjoy learning new games. So when we do play something for the first time, if it falls flat, it might not reach the table for months - or ever again! It also means that it's that much more difficult to convince her to learn the next new game...!

I'll at least hold on to my copy of Smash Up and try to reintroduce it again at a later date.

This is off topic for this thread, but what other games do you and your wife enjoy?
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Peter Cooper
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mofo83 wrote:
This is off topic for this thread, but what other games do you and your wife enjoy?


Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective and Love Letter.
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Jay Young
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Stephanie Baynes wrote:
mofo83 wrote:
This is off topic for this thread, but what other games do you and your wife enjoy?


Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective and Love Letter.


FANTASTIC game for non-gamers. I have very rarely found a person who dislikes this game. My 15 year old sister in law, very prep popular girl type loves this game and every-time I visit she wants to play.

Very quick light hearted and if you are a gamer you can use strategy and if not it is just fun to guess things
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Andrew Kapish
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mofo83 wrote:
what other games do you and your wife enjoy?

Patchwork
Raptor
Thunder & Lightning
Targi
7 Wonders Duel
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Jonathan Maisonneuve
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Patchwork
Smash Up
Mage Wars: Academy
On The Underground
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Matt F
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zyocuh wrote:
Stephanie Baynes wrote:
mofo83 wrote:
This is off topic for this thread, but what other games do you and your wife enjoy?


Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective and Love Letter.


FANTASTIC game for non-gamers. I have very rarely found a person who dislikes this game. My 15 year old sister in law, very prep popular girl type loves this game and every-time I visit she wants to play.

Very quick light hearted and if you are a gamer you can use strategy and if not it is just fun to guess things


I have many of the games mentioned (Love Letter, Sherlock Holmes, Targi, etc.) and most of the others were already on my radar, but maybe I'll give them a closer look. Thanks!
 
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Timothy Goddard
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I'll second 7 Wonders Duel & Patchwork. Morels is another we really like that may fit. I'll need to take a closer look at some of these others myself...
 
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Matt F
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timgoddard wrote:
I'll second 7 Wonders Duel & Patchwork. Morels is another we really like that may fit. I'll need to take a closer look at some of these others myself...


I've had Morels for awhile now but haven't had a chance to play it. I'll also have to move Patchwork from my Amazon Wish List into my Amazon cart, haha.
 
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Johny D
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mofo83 wrote:
I recently acquired Smash Up in a trade, and thought its simplicity would appeal to my wife and I, as we enjoy other fast, simple card games like Dominion, Pinata, Lost Cities, etc.

We started a two-player game, my wife choose Dinosaurs and Tricksters, I chose Pirates and Aliens.

And the game just draaaaaagged. I kept checking the rulebook for some sort of two-player variant, thinking that we must be missing something, but I found nothing.

It seemed like it was way too easy to wreck someone's plans, and we just kept going back and forth, placing minions, having them taken away with an action, repeat and repeat and repeat. It took forever to gain any sort of foothold, and even then, there were cards that could move ALL of an opponents minions back into their hand!? It seems crazy that one card can effectively erase many, many turns worth of minion placement. (In fact, we quit after I played that card.)

Are we doing something wrong? Was this a bad mix of factions? Will it get better with future plays? IS there some 2 player variant out there? Or should I just treat this as a 3+ player game?

Thanks!



As a 2 player game, SU is a fast and fun game (if neither of you suffers from analysis paralysis). It is true that some factions create imbalances in a 2 player setting (hell, some factions tend to create imbalances even in a 4p setting), but you can exclude those (aliens and kitties are good examples of factions that shouldn't be picked for 2p games)
 
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Markus
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There's a key element to Smash Up that is often overlooked, especially during the first games.

Smash up is not a game about removing other players minions. It is a game about breaking bases and scoring more points than your opponent(s) while doing so.

I have so many times seen players go all out to remove/return minions of other players while getting absolutely no advantage while doing so. It is really tough to break those bases alone - you need the other players to have minions on the table. You just have to make sure that you are getting more VPs than the other players.

It might even be a good idea to let one player dominate a base alone. Sure, they will eventually break it but you will probably be able to sneak one of your minions aboard just before it breaks, gaining 2nd place points with minimum effort.

So, don't remove/return other players minions just for the sake of it. Only do it when you have VPs to gain. That's the key to keeping this game interesting and much faster to play.
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Andrew J.
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DeePee wrote:
There's a key element to Smash Up that is often overlooked, especially during the first games.

Smash up is not a game about removing other players minions. It is a game about breaking bases and scoring more points than your opponent(s) while doing so.

I have so many times seen players go all out to remove/return minions of other players while getting absolutely no advantage while doing so. It is really tough to break those bases alone - you need the other players to have minions on the table. You just have to make sure that you are getting more VPs than the other players.

It might even be a good idea to let one player dominate a base alone. Sure, they will eventually break it but you will probably be able to sneak one of your minions aboard just before it breaks, gaining 2nd place points with minimum effort.

So, don't remove/return other players minions just for the sake of it. Only do it when you have VPs to gain. That's the key to keeping this game interesting and much faster to play.


Yeah, I always make sure to tell newbies -- minion destruction doesn't cut it, because you don't want to make sure no one has minions on your base, you just want to outscore them. It'll make the game flow much better.
 
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Johny D
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DeePee wrote:
There's a key element to Smash Up that is often overlooked, especially during the first games.

Smash up is not a game about removing other players minions. It is a game about breaking bases and scoring more points than your opponent(s) while doing so.

I have so many times seen players go all out to remove/return minions of other players while getting absolutely no advantage while doing so. It is really tough to break those bases alone - you need the other players to have minions on the table. You just have to make sure that you are getting more VPs than the other players.

It might even be a good idea to let one player dominate a base alone. Sure, they will eventually break it but you will probably be able to sneak one of your minions aboard just before it breaks, gaining 2nd place points with minimum effort.

So, don't remove/return other players minions just for the sake of it. Only do it when you have VPs to gain. That's the key to keeping this game interesting and much faster to play.


This is especially true for game with a higher player count (3-4). Basically if you outmaneuver your opononents, you will always win due to the nature of how points are distributed when a base scores. Also, having a good spreed across bases is more important than fighting for a single base, but be carefully not to get your armies too thin.

We usually finish games in 15 minutes X number of players even when playing with new players. SU is a game about gaining an advantage over your opponent by either a big play or a sneaky move.
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