Finally got me a copy of W3T and got to do a couple preliminary tests. We played in a 2v2 format (see rules here) where each of us chose one of the new factions and an old faction of our choice (no drafting). The resultant base deck would only utilize the bases of our chosen factions. Here's what we saw.
P2: Rock Stars/Elder Things
P4: Explorer/Bear Cav
P1 and P3 were on one team, and P2 (me) and P4 were on another team.
Drafting rationales: P1 wanted to combine two deck manipulation factions and see what kind of control he could make happen. I wanted to try to use Groupies to potentially access Shoggoths and Elder Things with greater ease. P3 wanted to choose a faction with lower power and see if Teddies could help them out. P4 wanted to use Explorers to set up Bear Cav units across the map early and have maximum movement.
- P1 had the luckiest start ever. He had a Matriarch and a Spy in his hand, as well as Under the Bed as one of the starting bases. He played the Matriarch on Retirement Community, then the Spy on Under the Bed as an extra minion. As it happened, the top 3 cards in his deck had the Secret Agent and a Mole, which he promptly put on the bottom and scooped up via Matriarch's talent. It was at this point that I knew we were going for a long ride...
- My beginning attempt to rack up tons of cards with Classic Rocker + Hot Venue was doubly foiled by a Cuddle from the Teddies (inactivating his power) and a Knitting Circle that destroyed the Venue. It didn't help that my starting hand had no Groupies, and that all the actions I had were just about putting minions back into my deck.
- Although I had managed to put a Migo on City of Gold during the game, P3 used an extra Flower Child in Under the Bed to grab control of it right after to continue to shunt me out of VP acquisition.
- I managed to drop a ton of points on Lake Minnetonka by Rick Rolling a Classic Rocker, a Byakhee, and the Flower Child over, a 15 power drop. I also used Power Ballad as a Special to prevent Spies from hijacking or destroying my stuff off specials.
- The real gamebreaker, though, was Antarctic Base coming up right as I was starting to get Groupies. P3 played Bear Picnic there, which stops other players from playing 2 or less minions on any other base. It was the perfect storm, because it meant that my hand full of Groupies was totally useless. I ended up trashing them due to having a full hand. I was basically totally outdrafted...with any other base I could have easily dropped 10 power and broken it in no time, but without Groupies Rock Stars are completely useless. Much to my chagrin, my partner never got Bear Necessities to destroy that action either.
- P4 tried to gamble with Idaho Smith to get a better base to break at that point, but unfortunately it was Helper's Hollow with both the 5 power monsters, which added an additional 11 power to the breakpoint (17 -> 28).
In the end, it was an absolute disaster after the Bear Picnic on the Antarctic Base. My team ended up losing by a landslide because we couldn't break anywhere else, something like 30-14.
P1: Rock Stars/Plants
Rationales: P1 wanted to use Plants to continually access Groupies, have extra minion plays for massive bursts, and because both their bases have high breakpoints (21 and 24). P2 (me again) wanted to see if the Dragon's ability to lock down bases with their actions could pair well with base deck manipulation. P3 wanted to pair two good deck cycling factions together and see what he could make happen. P4 wanted to see if Teddies could help get out Mild-Mannered Citizens better.
- Base manipulation proved to be very useful against Rock Stars. In the course of the game, I buried Secret Grove and several high breakpoint bases with Glory Hounds, used Raze to shut down the City of Gold, and then used Burn It Down to destroy the City of Gold and a Turn Up to 11 on that base into Wyrm's Desolation.
- P3 spent far too much time piling weak minions on Retirement Community and not helping his teammate. He was just too obsessed with micromanaging his deck.
- I barely had minions this whole game, but a single Wyvern let me do much work. I managed to place it on Ancient Temple, and then when my turn came around again, the +5 power on it easily enabled me to capture it along with reducing the breakpoint by 3. Then, I used You Call This Archaelogy? to move the Wyvern to Lake Minnetonka.
- Teddies and Superheroes proved to be the MVP this game. The best was his capture of Lake Minnetonka. Using a Mild-Mannered Citizen he had planted there, he got Sir Snuggles out and put out a Fun Bear and another Mild-Mannered Citizen instantly, then moved the Burst over from another base, a 18 power drop that also allowed us to get P1's Monarch out of the way.
- Crystal Fortress meant that P4 was able to continually retrieve his Superheroes and Sir Snuggles back to his deck. Combined with his great Mild-Mannered Citizen stacked hand, there was no way we were losing this one, even though I was of little help.
In the end, this one was a stomp in our favor, 26-20.
- This expansion definitely eschewed disruption in favor of factions that promote setup across the board. The mechanics are definitely really unique overall, and there's no faction that feels too power-creeped, which is a relief considering the previous couple factions have always had that one faction that was a bit TOO good (e.g. Mythic Greeks, Dwarves, Ponies).
- Overall, I was most impressed with the Grannies, to my surprise. Their ability to manipulate the deck surpasses Spies, in my opinion. It helps that they have really excellent bases (hard to crack bases with good abilities) as well as an excellent slew of defensive actions that protect their Talent-reliant lineup. Definitely would like to try out a future game with Innsmouth; think that you could really take advantage of Locals.
- Teddies were also surprisingly good, although I think it's more of a reflection of the lack of disruption in this expansion. They are clearly meant to go toe-to-toe with power carry factions like Dinosaurs, Werewolves, or Elder Things, despite coming in a cute package. I'd like to see them paired with Shapeshifters, or even Giant Ants, factions with low printed power but good abilities.
- Explorers were solid and the most unique faction of the set. No previous faction has had base manipulation to the extent of these guys, and it definitely opens up a very different tactical dimension. Really had a lot of fun playing with these guys. They do need to be paired with a faction that can provide them with cards, though; they are pretty hand-dependent.
- Rock Stars, to my surprise, fell flat in our playtests, although I think it's more indicative of how Explorers and Teddies counter them. The thing is that Rock Stars have great base-breaking ability but no defense whatsoever, which leaves them WIDE open to disruption. At the very least, I think pairing with Fairies, Tricksters, or a faction that can destroy or protect against bad actions would go a long way in helping them. They do feel very powerful though, and I do think that if it weren't for a couple unfortunate plays they could definitely rock the house.
I think this is one of my favorite expansions because of its balance and truly unique mechanics. None of these factions feel like an upgraded version of an old faction, at least, and they open up tons of new tactical possibilities for a lot of underutilized factions in the current meta.
Great session report! Thanks or this, the first in-depth report of the WWWT factions.
The play-by-play of your game summaries is the reason I love Smash Up so much. Even if someone didn't know what the cards meant, it just sounds like an ass-load of goofy fun.
I've only play-tested this expansion a little, but found Explorers to be a quick favorite. Can't wait to pair them with some other teams.
Interesting read through. Always nice to get someone else's perspective. I had a chance to play 3 games with the new expansion last night though unfortunately the game store I was at didn't have a copy, so I guess I'll have to wait to pick up my own.
My initial impression was that Rock Stars seemed to be easily the most powerful of the new decks. The groupies are really their key to success though so I could see how they could be ineffective if you can manage to stop the groupies.
Explorers also looked really solid and fun.
Teddies were only used in one game and they didn't have much luck but I'd like to see them again.
I played grannies all three times. First time paired with Miskatonic and it was a fun combo but pretty ineffective at winning. Second time paired with Locals was decent but couldn't hang with the Explorers Rock Star combo (from a new player too, so just goes to show you how good that combo is). Just when I thought grannies weren't capable of winning I combined them with ghosts on the last game for an awesome victory where I stacked my deck with Ghostly Arrival and Shady Deal on the last round and was able to play a Spirit to kill the 2 power Granny minion just placed on Field of Valor then play Shady Deal as the last card in my deck to score the final 2 victory points without scoring a base. I always love it when you can do that.