Smash Up | The Tabletop Letters

Dear Readers,

Another game I played for the first time at MACE West 2017 was Smash Up.

The man we played with had all the expansions. This game pits players against players each wielding two “factions” based around different themes and pop culture references.

When I played for the first time, the factions I chose were the Star Trek inspired one and Lovecraft inspired one. The Lovecraft cards were especially interesting because some of them require you to draw “Madness” cards that will prevent you from winning unless you can get them out of your hand.

I got the base game a while back. Before we went on vacation last year and thought we might play it, I ended up getting the “Cease and Desist” expansion, which is Sci-Fi/Fantasy themed. We’ll probably get more expansions in the future.

Here’s my assessment of Smash Up’s accessibility, mechanics, and engagement.

Accessibility. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️🌑

There are many, many factions if you have the big box with all the expansions (separate purchases). That means there are some fandoms that you may not be aware of or might not appreciate.

I’m picturing the base game and then the “Cease and Desist” expansion here.

Base Game

Having so very many expansions makes it so that it’s easy to find something that appeals to you. Since my husband and I have played these factions so much, we pick factions at random face down.

Technically, you can play the game with just expansions and bypass the base set – you would just need to keep track of Victory Points without the tokens.

“Cease and Desist” Expansion

There is one caveat: the tricksters (🍀 In the lower right) and wizards* (🦉 in the lower right) are not combined because they are too weak.

The man who taught us said he had an additional caveat that the pirates and zombies cannot be combined because that played would be too overpowered. I don’t recall us using that combination thus far.

The fonts are sometimes strange and could be a little difficult to read for some. The text is an average size. While the colors are interesting, they don’t appear vital to the game, so no need to break out EnChroma glasses. Kids could play this game, but some of the abilities and cards are a little complicated. They might need some assistance especially since there are many “special” cards that break the standard rules or allow for unique actions.

Mechanics ⭐️⭐️⭐️🌑🌑

It’s pretty straightforward. There is one base card for each player and an extra for the table. On hour turn you may play an action card, a minion card, or both and perform any special actions listed on those cards.

When you play a minion by a base card, the total goes toward scoring the base.

Bases have special exceptions on them that are important to pay attention to. Once enough minions have been played to total the number listed on the base card, then Victory Point tokens are awarded per the numbers on the card. The first player to have fifteen points wins.

I knocked it down two points because there are exceptions upon exceptions upon exceptions. You have to really pay attention to the cards in your hand and what other people are playing. I kept having to ask my husband what card he was playing and what it’s abilities were.

Engagement ⭐️⭐️🌑🌑🌑

You may have read where my personal motto (for most things in life) is, “It’s not fun if you don’t go fast”.

When we were playing this game a lot and knew what each of the cards did it was less time consuming to play a turn and more engaging.

I remembered the game being pretty fun, but … this time I wasn’t enjoying myself as much, so I purposefully made a base score so that my husband would win and it would be over.

Perhaps I was just in a blah mood. This particular game felt like it drug on and on.

This game can play very fast and be a lot of fun too. It does have good replay value- the dynamics change quite a bit with different factions, bases, and numbers of players.

In Conclusion: While this is not my favorite game ever, it’s still fun to play. It’s available on Amazon (and it looks like there’s a sale).


*I starred “wizards” because I don’t have the energy to pull out the rule book and confirm that indeed is the correct name for the faction.

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