Monday, July 8, 2013
Game Review: Smash Up!
I read about Smash Up on another blog and it sounded like so much fun that I went right out and bought a copy.
Here's how I explained it to Lily:
Me: You can choose from two of these different factions and mix them together into one team, like alien-robots or dinosaur-pirates. The factions are aliens, zombies-
Lily: I want to see the zombies!
Me: -pirates, ninja, pixies-
Me: -and wizards. Hey, that kid looks like Harry Potter. So, which group did you want to see first?
Lily likes zombies. I think she's spending a little too much time with my friend Frederick.
Each player chooses any two of the factions and combines them into one deck. (Things my parents never said to me "Be sure to shuffle your pirates in with your zombies.")
Each faction has its own gimmick. Zombies come back from the dead, ghosts (a faction from the expansion set) grow more powerful the fewer cards you have in hand, pirates move around quickly, robots can assemble themselves quickly and can work around the only-play-one-minion-per-turn rule, etc.
In addition to the factions, there are a couple base cards, each of which award a certain amount of Victory Points when the total power of all the minions at that base surpasses the power of the base. 15 victory points wins you the game.
The art is bright and clear and colorful and it has an undeniably sense of whimsy. The cardstock is solid and they should hold up to multiple shufflings.
Jen and Lily and I decided to play a game. The rules are pretty straightforward, and the cards describe exceptions to them (play an extra action this turn, play this card from your discard pile) clearly and concisely. I played robot-wizards, Jen was ninja-tricksters and Lily had zombie-pirates. ("Daddy, daddy! I found a girl one! And she's kind of pretty for a zombie!")
The game says it is for players 12 and up, which seems very conservative. Lily is only six years old. A very precocious six, but still, a kid with only six years worth of experience and brain development. She played fine on her turns and was able to read everything on the cards, but she didn't always puzzle out the ramifications of the mechanics. (Which is to say, she understood that card A did X, but not the best time or place to play it in order to get the maximum benefit.) Also, her attention tended to wander when other people were taking their turn. With a little more experience though, I think she'll be able to play without coaching.
We played with 3 people and that's probably the sweet spot. (The box says 2-4 players) In general, a player only takes actions on his or her turn (though there are a couple exceptions), so additional players don't slow the game down to the extent additional players slow down the game in Magic or Munchkin.
We've only played one game, but both Lily and I have been thinking about different decks we might assemble. (She wants pirate-ghosts next time, but doesn't want anyone else playing her beloved zombies. I'm not sure if the robot-zombie deck I'm imagining is worth the epic sulk it will beget). Just by its nature, it seems endlessly replayable. I am very happy with this game. Real life friends, next time you're in the neighborhood on Game Night, swing on over and play a game or two!