FTW Staff Picks - Smash Up
For The Win Board Game Cafe's Staff Picks is a weekly series where we take a quick look at some of the staff's favourite games, old and new.
Genre: Card Game
Designer: Paul Peterson
Player Size: 2 to 4 Players
Game Length: 50 minutes
For fans of: Small World, Cosmic Encounter
Sometimes the success of a game can be measured in its immediate impact on the market and in its critical acclaim. Other times, a game's success can be measure by its longevity and ability to maintain a loyal fanbase. When Smash Up first launched with its original 8 factions, it was a neat little card game that had its fair share of flaws. It took a little too long to play and was likely phased out of most gamers' collection after just a few plays. Almost 5 years later, some of those flaws still exist, but the support that AEG has given their flagship title is nothing short of admirable - especially given the volatility of the tabletop market.
With each additional faction added, more possibilities and combinations are added. And as outrageous as some of these factions may seem, they all follow a strong thematic play-style that builds upon older factions. Of course, with all of these additional factions it creates a bit of a longer game setup. We prefer using the Cosmic Encounter method of randomly drawing 4 faction cards and choosing 2 of them for your deck.
The gameplay here is relatively easy to pickup, but getting used to all of the factions and their unique abilities adds a tough learning curve for mastering. But like Small World and Cosmic Encounter, having the ability to form temporary alliances to slow down a runaway leader is useful in balancing. Some combinations you will certainly encounter as steamrollers, but for the most part, games come down to just a few turns to victory for at least two-players. That's all you can really ask for when considering the immense balancing task that developers have to consider.
With two full expansions, a promotional free faction and an All-Star event kit all scheduled for 2017 it seems that AEG has no intention on slowing down their support for Smash Up. There are now 46 available factions which is nearly 6 times the original number over the course of 5 years. Even if you aren't a fan of the game, it's hard not to appreciate the level of support. I'm sure we would love to see all our favourite games receive the same treatment!