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Subject: Help ranking decks by difficulty (easy:medium:hard) rss

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Ryan Brown

Wisconsin
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Since I've gotten back into Smash Up I've begun introducing and re-introducing the game to some friends. Having just received the last set I was missing (monster smash) I've decided to categorize my cards in 3 difficulty levels for new players, in my Big Geeky Box :^) .

Easy decks are decks that anyone can pick up and play and feel satisfied with. Low analysis paralysis, usually high power, and of course, draw bonuses.

Medium decks are decks that take a little bit more skill to use, introduces new mechanics (looking at you madness), has a larger focus on alternative play styles (move minions a lot or manipulating opponents/break points), can cause a lot of analysis paralysis, and/or aren't always too friendly on the hand. Usually a new player can combine one of these with an Easy deck and coast along fine.

Hard decks are decks that can get plain out way too confusing too fast or require a higher level of Smash Up knowledge to play well. Basically decks you'd never want someone with a low level of Smash Up knowledge or interest to play unless combo'd with something extremely friendly to them.

This is how I currently have it, starred *** decks are one's I'm less sure on a placement of.

Easy:
-Robots
-Zombies
-Cyborg Apes
-Killer Plants
-Dinosaurs
-Steam Punks
-Super Heroes
-Werewolves
-Orcs
-Vampires
-Sharks
-Mythic Horses
-Halflings*** (I havn't played them but they seem basic enough)
-Mad Scientists
-Changerbots***
-Astro Knights

Medium:
-Giant Ants
-Bear Cavalry
-Pirates
-Ninjas
-Dragons
-Warriors
-Super Spies
-Tornadoes
-Shapeshifters
-Wizards (mostly due to how much AP they can give newbies)
-Aliens
-Mythic Greeks
-Elder Things
-Princesses
-Miskatonic University
-Fairies
-Thieves*** (really straightforward, but the treasure focus might get confusing for newbies)
-Mages
-Tricksters

Hard:
-Geeks
-Time Travelers
-Kitty Cats
-Elves
-Ghosts
-Dwarves
-Innsmouth
-Clerics*** (I played them once and I figured the whole grave control aspect could get weird for newer players.)
-Minions of Cthulhu*** (It's been a while since I've played them. I remember them being convoluted with how focused on madness and alternative scoring they were.)
-Ignobles
-Space Roamers***

EDIT: 09/12/16
-Moved Tricksters to "Medium"
-Added "Cease and Desist" factions
 
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Andrew J.
United States
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Other than moving miskatonic and spies a slot harder, I think this list looks great! I might copy it myself. Coincidentally, the BGB has three rows to put cards in. . .
 
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Ryan Brown

Wisconsin
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aaj94 wrote:
Other than moving miskatonic and spies a slot harder, I think this list looks great! I might copy it myself. Coincidentally, the BGB has three rows to put cards in. . .
Those two decks were some of the few that really made me put my thinking cap on in terms of where to place them. Both are definitely boarder line, for sure.

Miskatonic is almost an Easy deck if you're up against madness or with another madness deck. On their own, they're like a slow/awkward version of Wizards imo. I definitely see where the whole madness control aspect makes them hard to figure out on their own. I slotted them Medium because if Madness is play in any way, this deck is a clear go to Easy. I'd caution friends if they picked it without a compliment though.

Spies is a pretty solid Medium. The only things that made me second guess them earlier on was having to figure out who/when to mess with. Then I figured if Wizards, Dragons, Shapeshifters, and Ninjas are Medium, these guys may as well be Medium. Friends who have played with this deck in past didn't always get some of the more subtle strategy with them in terms of manipulation, but over all had a very satisfying game with the drawing, minion power, and play as base scores effects.
 
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Galen Kaup
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OK, some of my thoughts. This is a good list!

Halflings are generally not so easy to play correctly. Beginners tend to mistime them. I'd make them a Medium.

Robots have some depth, but they're strong even when played in a faceroll style, so I assume that's why they're in Easy.

Bears and Giant Ants are simple to play, but I assume you have them in Medium because they're weak. However, so are the Vampires, and in my opinion finesse can help the Vampires a lot more than the other two. I'd either move Vampires to Medium or the first two to Easy.

I think you're right about Thieves. The treasure focus means you need to deal with discards as your hand hits 11+, and you need to be able to recognize which Thieves cards are just awful. Also, to me, Miskatonic and Spies are both solid Mediums. Spies look harder than they are to play.

Most of your hard stuff looks hard, but Clerics, Tricksters and Dwarves are no harder to play than the other Medium factions. If you're worried about treasure deck knowledge being a thing for Dwarves, just show the newbie Chainsaw and Boots of Butt-Kicking and those are the main two treasures he needs. (I know there's more that matter, but a newbie will do fine with those two.) Cthulhu is definitely hard to do right. Tricksters are really bad but easy to play because they don't benefit from finesse or skill that much. If Bears, Vampires, and Giant Ants are all rated lower, Tricksters belongs with them.

Now Innsmouth belongs in hard because it's bad AND requires hand management skills that most factions don't.

 
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Eric Bridge
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Roanoke
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How would you rank the most recent factions in "Cease and Desist"?

I think I'd place the "Ignobles" in the Hard category. The others seem pretty simple.
 
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Anonymous Person
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I would definitely not put Time Travelers in hard, they seem simple enough, in fact the only thing difficult about them is deciding when/how to use Time Raider (i.e. the level 3 with the talent of putting a card from your discard onto the bottom of the deck).

Yeah they're a support faction and you need to know what they're useful with, but they are not really difficult. I'd put them between easy and medium, leaning towards easy.
 
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Ryan Brown

Wisconsin
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Nelagend wrote:
OK, some of my thoughts. This is a good list!

Halflings are generally not so easy to play correctly. Beginners tend to mistime them. I'd make them a Medium.

Robots have some depth, but they're strong even when played in a faceroll style, so I assume that's why they're in Easy.

Bears and Giant Ants are simple to play, but I assume you have them in Medium because they're weak. However, so are the Vampires, and in my opinion finesse can help the Vampires a lot more than the other two. I'd either move Vampires to Medium or the first two to Easy.

I think you're right about Thieves. The treasure focus means you need to deal with discards as your hand hits 11+, and you need to be able to recognize which Thieves cards are just awful. Also, to me, Miskatonic and Spies are both solid Mediums. Spies look harder than they are to play.

Most of your hard stuff looks hard, but Clerics, Tricksters and Dwarves are no harder to play than the other Medium factions. If you're worried about treasure deck knowledge being a thing for Dwarves, just show the newbie Chainsaw and Boots of Butt-Kicking and those are the main two treasures he needs. (I know there's more that matter, but a newbie will do fine with those two.) Cthulhu is definitely hard to do right. Tricksters are really bad but easy to play because they don't benefit from finesse or skill that much. If Bears, Vampires, and Giant Ants are all rated lower, Tricksters belongs with them.

Now Innsmouth belongs in hard because it's bad AND requires hand management skills that most factions don't.



I put bears into Medium because they require a bit more pre-planning to play well. Often when friends picked them up, what was exactly going on with them didn't click until mid to late game. If pirates get Medium, bears get Medium.

With Giant Ants, you have to manage all the counters for one and there are a lot of instances where you shift the counters around. They're not exactly hard to play, but I could see a newbie being turned off to them.

Also, yeah, I agree that I probably rated Clerics, Tricksters, and Dwarves a little too harshly. Tricksters is definitely boarder line, but I'm sticking with keeping Clerics and Dwarves in the hard bin. A lot of Clerics cards involve a good deal of threat analysis and aside from the deck/grave control (which is already a difficult niche to play with) nearly all of their abilities are random and only have specific uses. As for Dwarves, they do treasure in a really stale way and unless you know what you're doing (pre-planning) the newer player, heck even a mildly experienced player, is going to look at their hand and be like "Man, why did I even pick this faction??"

Tricksters could be Medium though. I may be persuaded to move them in the future.

ebridge wrote:
How would you rank the most recent factions in "Cease and Desist"?

I think I'd place the "Ignobles" in the Hard category. The others seem pretty simple.


I actually don't have that set yet :^)

From what I've seen, Ignobles are 100% for SURE hard.
When I get time, I'll check their deck lists again and get back to you.

EDIT: I'd say Changerbots is Easy. While I've rated other movement heavy factions as Medium, these guys don't really need to move. Probably a good introduction deck to movement heavy decks.

Space Roamers are in the medium to hard range. I'd have to play them to really know. On paper they look like a more confusing version of Aliens. For now I'd rate them Hard.

Astro Knights look Easy. Their central idea is to power up minions and play extra power up moves, all of which is really straightforward.

To reiterate, I don't own these factions and I've never played them so I don't know for sure.


Father Time wrote:
I would definitely not put Time Travelers in hard, they seem simple enough, in fact the only thing difficult about them is deciding when/how to use Time Raider (i.e. the level 3 with the talent of putting a card from your discard onto the bottom of the deck).

Yeah they're a support faction and you need to know what they're useful with, but they are not really difficult. I'd put them between easy and medium, leaning towards easy.


Ok, Father Time, just because you understand the complexity that is Time Travelers doesn't mean the casual community even wants to begin to have to deal with that faction.
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robert
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The list is pretty close to what I would do, only a couple of changes:

-Mythic greeks, wizards, and mages moved to hard. Each of these give alot more things to consider. If you only play them at a medium level, you will miss extra plays you could have had, or extra counters, or discarding the wrong card, etc.


-Tricksters- move to easy. I find them straight forward, and they dont realy have cards you can use that wrong.

-Innsmouth- I would put them as easy. They are just bad, which probably makes them seem hard.

 
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Chet C.
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I would agree with most of your sorting, but suggest some changes to the sorting system itself. I think the ease of play is best measured by how much help/experience is required, and not by things like card draw or other mechanics. The following could define the groupings by ease.

Easy:
- New players don't ask questions about card text and don't misunderstand the cards.
- New players can see a clear strategy with the cards in their hand with no knowledge of the other cards in the deck.

Medium:
- A new player may occasionally ask what a card does or misunderstand card text.
- New players don't discover the faction's playstyle immediately and may not know how to use some cards effectively.

Hard:
- New players ask about several cards and make several mistakes. They have to reread cards every turn because it is hard to remember what they do.
- New players have no idea how to use some cards, either because the strategic use of the card is not obvious (likely because it is part of a combo or requires advanced tactics) or because it requires knowledge that comes from experience or the Smash Up Wiki , such as Ban List.

I think these criteria will appropriately define ease in terms of the gaming experience rather than the faction's mechanics.

As an example, Giant Ants are not medium difficulty because they have a low win rate or because of power counters; and player that can't understand power counters after it's been explained once should not be playing Smash Up. Giant Ants should be medium because a new player who is not aware of all the action cards will probably play the best cards too early. They may also need to ask questions about a few of the cards.
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Galen Kaup
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ebridge wrote:
How would you rank the most recent factions in "Cease and Desist"?

I think I'd place the "Ignobles" in the Hard category. The others seem pretty simple.


Ignobles are hard and also should have an asterisk - they're also hard to play against. Don't play them against a new player unless you want to confuse the poor soul and teach them wrong ideas about how to play the game.

Changerbots are basically easy. They have movement abilities but those abilities generally aren't very good due to -1 power, so playing them straight works fine. Just tell a newbie "don't get fancy" and they should handle them well.

Star Roamers are probably medium because they have so many different things to read, and I'd also put the Astroknights in medium because while they're straightforward to play, you often have to play patiently and end up with 11+ cards in hand.
 
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Anonymous Person
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Nelagend wrote:
ebridge wrote:
How would you rank the most recent factions in "Cease and Desist"?

I think I'd place the "Ignobles" in the Hard category. The others seem pretty simple.


Ignobles are hard and also should have an asterisk - they're also hard to play against. Don't play them against a new player unless you want to confuse the poor soul and teach them wrong ideas about how to play the game.


One of these days I want to take someone who's never played Smash Up before, have them play as Ignoble Ghosts and see what happens.
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Anonymous Person
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RyanDanger wrote:


Father Time wrote:
I would definitely not put Time Travelers in hard, they seem simple enough, in fact the only thing difficult about them is deciding when/how to use Time Raider (i.e. the level 3 with the talent of putting a card from your discard onto the bottom of the deck).

Yeah they're a support faction and you need to know what they're useful with, but they are not really difficult. I'd put them between easy and medium, leaning towards easy.


Ok, Father Time, just because you understand the complexity that is Time Travelers doesn't mean the casual community even wants to begin to have to deal with that faction.


I forget you mortals can't travel 4 dimensions sometimes.

In all seriousness what makes Time Travelers a hard deck to use? It seems straight forward.
 
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Kevin González
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Father Time wrote:
In all seriousness what makes Time Travelers a hard deck to use? It seems straight forward.


I agree, they are not a hard deck. However, they can be a bit tricky depending on its partner faction:

-Time Raider's utility is confusing to new players, as sometimes you have to consider what you want in your discard pile instead of your deck.

-Do Over is also a really powerful card that a lot of new players don't use to its full potential (most new players on my group end up discarding it more often than not)

-Time Walk is not something that you want to play as soon as you get, and new players tend to play it as soon as they see how good it is.

Everything else seems simple enough.
 
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