Smash Up is a competitive, “shufflebuilding” card game for 2 to 4 players, ages 12 and up, designed by Paul Peterson, and published by Alderac Entertainment Group. Games are intended to last around 45 minutes.
As Smash Up is a card game, setup is mostly shuffling decks of cards. It can go as quickly as you can shuffle them.
At the start of the game, each player will need to take two different faction decks (each containing 20 cards) to create their 40 card deck for the game. You can choose which factions you’d like to combine or you can select them randomly.
Next, you’ll need to shuffle all the base cards together and draw one for each player, plus an additional one. Place the bases face up in the middle of the table.
Once the following two steps are done, each player draws their opening hand of five cards. If you have no minion cards in your starting hand, show your hand to the other players, discard it, and draw another hand. You must keep the second hand regardless of what cards are drawn.
Play begins with the player who got up the earliest that morning.
Smash Up is quite simple in terms of actual gameplay. Each players turn consists of five steps:
- Start of Turn – Some cards in play may have abilities that occur at the start of your turn. Those are resolved now.
- Play Cards – Now you can play either one action card, one minion card, or one of both. This is done in whichever order you choose.
- Check for Scoring – After you’ve played your cards, check to see whether any bases are ready to score. If there are some that are ready, begin the process of scoring and replacing them.
- Draw Cards – Here you will draw 2 cards. As each player has a hand limit of 10 cards, you’ll need to discard cards down to your limit of 10 if you end this step with more than 10 cards.
- End of Turn – Some cards in play may have abilities that occur at the end of your turn. Those are resolved now.
And that’s how play goes. The other important facet of gameplay is scoring bases. As you can see on the base card below, there are several numbers.
In the top left corner is the number of points required to “break” the base. If a base is broken, that means it is ready to score. In order to break a base, there need to be minion cards on it whose collective point value equal or exceed that of the base.
The numbers in the middle of the card represent how many Victory Points each player earns in regards to how many points they personally had on the base when it broke. On this base, the top scoring player would receive 5 VPs, the second player would receive 3, the third player would receive 2, and if there was a fourth player present, they would be SOL.
Once a base is scored, all minions on the base are discarded and the base is replaced by another base drawn from the base deck.
In the event of a tie, both players receive the same amount of Victory Points.
A game ends when one player reaches 15 total Victory Points.
Artwork and Quality of Game Components
I’m a sucker for games that have good artwork and Smash Up is no exception to that rule. Every card has a vivid illustration on it and, while some are better than others, they all really add to the atmosphere of the game. It’s over the top, just like the theme of the game and I think it fits it perfectly. Every expansion I’ve gotten thus far holds true to this statement as well.
In terms of component quality, there was no slouching done in production. The cards are great quality with a nice finish on them as well as a good feel to them. Games come with cardboard VP tokens which are nice and durable. If you own the Big Geeky Box expansion (the box of which is also excellent quality), you’ll even have a place to use all those card dividers that come with the expansions. The dividers themselves are the standard to which I hold other card dividers now.
Smash Up is easily one of my most favorite games that I have in my collection. I love playing any chance I get. There’s a huge amount of variety in terms of gameplay due to how different each faction is and the fact that you use two different factions every game. Even with just the core set, you’d be playing for a long time before you exhausted all your combination options.
If you’re a fan of card games, lunacy, and things that shouldn’t go well together, but somehow do, then I would absolutely recommend that you give Smash Up a go. Maybe I’m a bit biased here, but I don’t care. It’s a great game, it’s a staple in my collection, and I see myself playing this one for years to come.