Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Game Review - Smash Up

Some games just have a brilliant premise that just cries out to be played, it’s rare when the premise is matched by the mechanics of the game itself.  Yesterday I reviewed Boss Monster, which is an excellent premise that I thought was marred by the execution of the rules themselves.  Today I’m looking at Smash Up... 

The premise for this is a very simple one, go around all the different bases smashing them up...

The basic set comes with eight different factions composing twenty cards.  These factions are Wizards, Dinosaurs, Aliens, Fairies, Robots, Ninjas, Zombies, and Pirates. Each players takes two factions and combines the decks to make their army for the game. 

All players take it in turns to play an action and then play a minion.  It is possible to play more than one action or minion if the cards allow it to be so, but the default limit is a single card play a turn.  Some of the factions are fast at playing cards, some of them are good at hitting hard, and there are a number of other ways to play.  The trick is in picking factions that work well together, one example being Robots and Dinosaurs, the Dinosaurs hit hard and the Robots deploy minions quickly.

The idea behind the game is to destroy the bases around the table, each turn every player puts a minion down at one of the bases on the table, when the break point of the base is reached (the number in the top left corner of the base card), the player with the highest minion strength at the base gets the leftmost number on the card, the second highest the middle number and the third highest the right hand number.  In the event of a tie, players get equal points. 

In the above example, the Dino's have fourteen points around the base and the Robots have six, so the Robots are taking home four points and the Dino's two

First player to fifteen points wins...

When the base is scored, unless the cards around it have something that can move them to a different base, they are discarded, meaning that while you can put all your cards around one base, when that base actually scores, you stand to lose so much more as a result.  This encourages players to go for a number of different bases at once rather than spend all their efforts trying to smash one base at a time.

Really not complex in the way the rules are presented, but the different cards and the ways in which they can be combined makes for infinite numbers of ways to play the game.  With the initial decks alone, there are 28 different combinations that can be tried out, each one with its own strengths and weaknesses. 

There are already three expansions of cards for the game, each one with several more bases and four new factions per box set, each one vastly increasing the combinations that can be tried out.  We’ve played the game with different numbers of players and the game holds up equally well regardless of how many players you have in the game.  The largest of the games was eight players, and while the players going sixth and seventh didn’t get a shot at the first base before it scored, they were first in line to make a good play on the other bases that had been brought out.

I’ve already picked up one of the expansions, and it’s very likely I’ll be picking up the others.

Of the games that I’ve tried this year, Smash Up is easily the lead contender for my game of the year...