I bet with a title like that, it looked like this post was going to be related to the Incredible Hulk. Nope! This is my first game review, yay! For the first couple of reviews, I’m going to go over some of my personal favorites, games I love to play, and ones that I personally pull from my shelf when someone asks me for a recommendation. And for the first one, I’m going to go with the game that got me into this hobby: Smash Up.
Smash Up, by Alderac Entertainment Group is a “shufflebuilding” game according to the box. In other words, it’s a card game that’s fully contained in the box, that has players shuffle decks together to play! Players take turns playing cards from some of their own factions, such as ninjas, pirates, robots, and attempt to claim victory points by winning bases. The game ends when a player gets to 15 victory points or above.
Out of the Box (First Impressions)
This game out of the box is kind of…how can I say this? Kind of bleak.
The box is empty on purpose though, because it fits up to 2 expansions inside comfortably, but the base game by itself is very playable by itself, and can just be done that way. However, I completely recommend getting the expansions, because they add different dimensions to gameplay that I appreciate, but I’ll get to that a bit later.
Robot Ninas fighting Dinosaur Pirates?! Sign me up!
What’s good about this game that it hooked me into the world of tabletop games outside the traditional 8-in-1 chess box and various playing card games? It’s simple to learn, has enough strategy that it can feel different every time you play, and makes you want to play a lot of games. That’s it. It’s a blast to learn because the rules explanations only take a few minutes, and there’s so many different faction combinations. There’s 8 different factions in the base games, and each faction pairing just feels like you’re playing a different deck. Ninja Dinos feels a lot different than my favorite pairing, Ninja Robots. Because of this, there’s 36 different combinations you can play just with the base game. When you start throwing expansions into it, which come with 4 factions and more bases, the number just keeps going up!
The Pitfalls of Alien Wizardry
With the good also comes the bad. My first impression of the game out of the box wasn’t the best, but my first playthrough totally made up for it. However finding the nuances in how all the factions are different felt a bit grindy, because after awhile, it starts to feel like a very linear predictable build to 15 victory points.
Miskatonic University Findings
This game is very well supported by the creators, there’s a new themed expansion coming out pretty much every 6 or so months, and they add multitudes of extra dimensions to the game. I got the Obligatory Cthulu Set, which adds something the call the Madness deck that lets you draw cards for the price of losing victory points, and the Science Fiction Double Feature which adds really cool new factions. The other expansions add things like discard effects that help you, and effects that come with moving your minions to different bases. They even came out with a bigger box for those of us with so many expansions that they don’t even fit into the base game’s box, called the Big Geeky Box, that even comes with it’s own faction! Granted there are some factions that I’m not a big fan of playing (I’m talking to you Steampunk), but still have their own merits when paired up.
9/10 Ninja Robots Would Agree
That they would recommend this game to a lot of people. I’m a fan of showing this game to any game fan, if you have some friends over for some drinks and a light game night, I’d grab this off the shelf. If you want to play some games with your kids, I’d grab this game off the shelf. If you even have some hardcore board game fans that haven’t played this yet, I’d grab this game off the shelf. Smash Up just has what I look for in a game I like to play a lot. I believe that it follows Bushnell’s Law of “easy to learn, hard to master”, especially with all of the different expansions coming out every so often. The replayability is off the wall, the art and themes easily resonate with all ages, and games go by quick, so you can get multiple games in if you’re say at a Friday Night Magic, and your Local Game Store has a demo copy, or you can play a lot of games in between beers with friends, while having friendly conversation. I’ll definitely be keeping this game in the easy to reach section of my game shelf.