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Subject: Who's down for some 'Smash Up'? rss

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Scott Hinze
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The alien mothership is falling.

Overloaded by an army of zombie-ninja, microbot-laden gnomes, and genetically-engineered dinosaurs magically summoned, the massive vessel tilts and plummets. Every minion on-board is killed spare a lone Chronomage in an escape pod. In the wake of the wreckage, on top of a Jungle Oasis, the dead continue to rise, vengeful leprechauns appear out of the shadows and a portal drops a T-Rex on top of this new base from above. The mysterious players behind these destructive forces have yet to finish their little game, but the Wizards and Dinosaurs are now clearly winning.

SMASH UP is a new card game about domination and control by Paul Peterson out of AEG.

What you get:
- An excellent, thorough rule book
- Eight 20-card decks of different factions
- Sixteen base cards
- A big box with dividers built in to hold all 176 cards, twice over

Object of Game:
To have enough power on a base when it scores to win victory points. First player to 15 victory points wins the game. Bases contain power thresholds that when reached score the base for the player with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd most amount of power invested.

Setup:
- They call it 'shufflebuilding' but it's only a 2-step building process of each player picking one of currently eight 20-card decks: Aliens, Dinosaurs, Ninja, Pirates, Robots, Tricksters, Wizards and Zombies. And then another. Then you shuffle your now 40-card deck. That's shufflebuilding and it's not really a part of gameplay, just a way to describe setup.
- Shuffle the base deck and draw x number of bases. x = player count +1 (3 players draw 4 bases)
- Everyone draws five cards from their now 40-card shuffled deck.

Your Turn:
- You may play one action and one minion; either order
- Check to see if bases score
- Draw two cards. Discard down to ten cards

The Cards:
- Bases can have abilities that are activated at different times.
- Actions do all sorts of things to your minions, deck, bases, opponents, etc.
- Minions are used to power and score bases. They contain abilities that are just as diverse as the actions.

The theme of each unique faction matches their unique mechanics. You will be hearing this incredibly cool fact about Smash Up more than anything else. It is by far the best and sleekest part of a game that's overall pretty great and sleek anyway. Combinations of these mechanics, anticipating them as the 'shufflebuilding' draft selection takes place and then deftly choosing which bases to invest in and when is red geek-meat.

Faction brief:
- Aliens do minion-manipulation and can score instant VPs.
- Dinosaurs are uber-powerful and have upgrades.
- Ninjas are good killers and sneak in to score at the last second.
- Pirates can move around and are generally untrustworthy.
- Robots attack in waves and mod each other.
- Tricksters place curses on bases and can be quite mean.
- Wizards draw cards and play extra actions, heavy deck controllers.
- Zombies arise from discard piles.

Looks:
The first thing you will probably notice overall is that art is very good and its production value is quite high. Well, it better be for a $20-25 card game but it's the first expectation to be met easily. The various artists' work mesh incredibly well together with rich colors and each fit the ridiculously fun theme(s). Each faction uses uniform font and design to easily identify without a lot of clutter or wasted space on the cards.

Gameplay:
The flow actually moves well with the amount of decision-making being asked of by the player. There is just enough of 'screwage' expected out of an aggressive base-claiming free-for all. Leaders can and should be targeted but sometimes victory is inevitable and I foresee games going MUCH quicker than 45min when experienced players happen to draw the right cards early on. The learning-curve is there and AP is possible with more ability-combo tactics, but it's not annoying so - I would recommend this game to mid-tier gamers along side Dominion, 7 Wonders and Magicin terms of complexity. My beef with other games in this wonderful realm of middle-weights is that they have a tendency to 'play themselves' where choices are obvious and mainly dice rolling hinges the tension (Small World, Catan, Quarriors, etc.)

What makes the game so fun is being able to perform card play in ways that both devastate the opposition, but also tells a hilarious story.

Fellow gamer,
John Roberts
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says:
"You know it's a good game when you drive home and can't stop thinking about it. Not necessarily what you should or shouldn't have done in the game, but just how much fun you had. A home run."

I played one 3-player game with this tough critic,
Josiah Miller
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who had the following to add:
"Great value for the quality of components and gameplay. Card interactions create the decison-making, so the more payers the more options and decisions per turn. Its possible that some decks are more powerful than others, but the length of the game does not make it an issue."

We played with random factions that first time but will definitely use the round-robin draft next to ensure a degree of balance. There could be an 'Any Given Sunday' feel to any one combination being able to beat any other, but when power mixes with deck control (like Robot-Wizards or Dino-Wizards... can you tell I like Wizards?) certain smash ups are pretty difficult to stop. Knowing these facts through experience will make the draft of future games more interesting.

Getting in multiple 2-player games and a 3-player in last night's session, I definitely preferred more players than less (due to more options/targets) and can't wait to try it with 4.

I've never played a game quite like this where after one day of sessions I crave an expansion with more factions. The fact that you cap out the entire box content with 4 players using 2 factions each (all 8 total factions in this first set) is the only thing holding back a fifth player option - which would be a real blast I imagine. If I had another 8 factions, I'd be in heaven.

Overall:
I see this as a real keeper. The speed, the humor, the action and at-times tough & risky decision-making will bring me back for a lot more. I imagine I'll always be down for Smash Up! Excellent, elegant and irrationally fun!

Score:

4.5 out of 5

Why it isn't a perfect:
I'd love a physical point-tracking counter component. Four D-20s would work great or even something similar to Alien Frontiers? I don't mind when games like Letters from Whitechaple make me use a pen and paper from outside the box, but this is much more complicated than Qwerkle which tally-marks are fine for. I expect VP-draining abilities coming soon in future expansions which might make tallies a real pain in the future.
It also requires more testing with newer gamers to see if it works with them as well.
The word 'Awesomeness' is on the box cover.

Congratulations Paul Peterson and AEG on a job very well done. thumbsup
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Chris Leder
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This is the second review now that has mentioned that the game is better with more players.

Since my primary gaming is done with only two players, would you recommend this as a buy for me? Is it still enough fun?

Thanks, and nice review!
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Scott Hinze
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It clearly soars beyond 2. Quite a bit of abilities effect "every other players' top card" for more chances to be beneficial to you. 2 players mean only 3 bases and some abilities effect only bases you don't have minions in which favors more bases/players.

We brainstormed ideas last night to make 2-players more fun.

One idea was to use three faction decks for a 60-card deck and raise the VP cap to 20 (also increasing the length of gametime). I want to try this out this weekend and will get back to you.

It would have been nice to throw out certain cards for a cleaned-up 2-player experience but all and all, two chiseled gamers still had a fantastic time with it just the two of us many, many times. So yeah, get it.
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Jesse Carrasco
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When is this going to be in stores? I can't wait to get my hands on it! And when will the first expansion be released? Any ideas or hopes of what a new faction will be?
 
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Scott Hinze
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In stores on the 16th, I believe.

Next expansion in December.

I think there's some details on the AEG page about a 'Ghost' faction.
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Drew Hikes
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As a winner of the game, I got sent a picture of a future expansion. All I can say is, "What's that in the sky? arrrh"
 
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Keith Higdon
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Fragilehalo14 wrote:
"What's that in the sky? arrrh"


A frog?
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Drew Hikes
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Nope
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Edward Bolme
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Fragilehalo14 wrote:
"What's that in the sky?"


78% N2
21% O2
1% awesome
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David Gregg
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edbolme wrote:
78% N2
21% O2

If you ever apply for a job where I work, you will need to know this.
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Anthony Baldassar
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I just got the game last Sat 8/4/12 and just played a two player game last night. I thought it played very well - it would be better with more players, although this is one game I would have no problems playing as a two or more game. It was fun.
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Keith Higdon
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Fragilehalo14 wrote:
Nope


I believe the correct response is..

"A frog?"

"Not bird, nor plane, nor even frog, it's just little ole me, Underdog!"


whistle
 
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Drew Hikes
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I even used to watch Underdog and didn't remember that line. Me fail!
 
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Scott Hinze
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A bird? A plane? A major crossover event?

Just played a 2-player game: arrrhninja vs robotzombie
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glenn3e glenn3e
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scotthinze wrote:
In stores on the 16th, I believe.

Next expansion in December.

I think there's some details on the AEG page about a 'Ghost' faction.


OMG, please tell me this is confirmed info. I haven't got the base game yet but I'm so going to salivate over the expansion...
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Chris Stevenson
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glenn3e wrote:
scotthinze wrote:
In stores on the 16th, I believe.

Next expansion in December.

I think there's some details on the AEG page about a 'Ghost' faction.


OMG, please tell me this is confirmed info. I haven't got the base game yet but I'm so going to salivate over the expansion...


Yes, this has been announced in an official AEG (electronic) flyer.
 
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Andre Lucato
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And then this game has 'magically' climbed up on my radar list ranking.
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