— There’s very little doubt that one of the biggest hits at last week’s GenCon in Indianapolis was AEG’s Smash Up.
The fact that the game was received so well and promoted so heavily is a good sign for the tabletop gaming hobby because it is further proof that you don’t need a complex set of rules and mounds of markers and counters to have an impact.
Smash Up’s name comes from the fact that each player takes two of the eight factions and mixes their 20-card decks together to form an arsenal with which they can go capture enough bases to win the game.
The factions are: Dinosaurs, Tricksters, Wizards, Pirates, Aliens, Robots, Zombies and Ninjas. Players will choose their factions from that pool of eight, which means that the game is playable by 2-4. A second copy would easily make the game scale up to 8.
This is one of the more easily taught games of the past several years and a well-written and colorful rulebook would make it easy to teach yourself through the book alone.
One of Smash Up’s strengths is that each of the factions has a distinct feel that goes well beyond the outstanding artwork on the cards. The minion and action abilities on the cards permit each faction to have its own personality, strengths and weaknesses.
After drawing an opening hand, each player may play one minion and one action per turn. Minions are played on the bases. There will be one more base than the number of players in each game. That will allow plenty of opportunity to battle over the bases while still giving enough strategic choices on where to place minions and when to move them around.
Each minion has a power number in the corner of the card. Each base has a target number. When the total of minion power at a base from all players equals or exceeds that number, the base is scored – which means the winner is decided. The player with the most power there gets a point total listed on the base card. There are also point values for second and third.
One small issue with the game for some will be that there is no means within the game components to keep score. Ideally, some type of device for that would have been included. But the players will need to use tokens, dice or pen and paper.
When one player reaches 15 points, the game ends. Most games will be completed in 45 minutes or less. The more players, the longer the game time.
This is one of the most enjoyable games I have played in the past year. There are far more options available than a game this simple normally includes. The artwork allows younger players to take part as there is very little violence included and even the zombies are somewhat wholesome.
The format lends itself to expansions. Todd Rowland, Senior Brand Manager for AEG, revealed that the first expansion will be four new factions and will be released in December or January. Included in those factions will be bears, ghosts and plants.
Smash Up was just that at GenCon and the game’s variety, simplicity and fun factor should keep it rolling strong for quite some time.
To learn more about the game, visit: http://www.alderac.com/smashup/
The game retails for $29.99.