The game comes with eight different “factions”—a set of cards with a theme. There are pirates, ninjas, dinosaurs, aliens, zombies, wizards, tricksters, and robots. Each faction is very thematic and plays very differently. The ninjas can swoop in and exert influence at the last second, while the zombies can take things out of their discard pile. Basic stuff.
But where Smash Up is different is that you mix two of the factions, shuffle them up, and have a different combo each game. So you could have zombie pirates, or trickster dinosaurs, or alien robots. You get the best of each faction! Each faction has Action cards (that let you do cool stuff), and Minion cards (that exert influence and also do cool stuff).
The point of the game is to get to 15 victory points (VPs), and the way you (mostly) do that is by scoring Bases. The game comes with a slew of Bases, each with a unique name and special ability. So on one Base, each Minion there exerts +1 influence, or if you place a Minion on this base you can add another Minion to another base. Each Base has a different trigger number, and once the influence of all Minions there adds up to that trigger number, you score the Base. Generally, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place at a Base score, and the amount depends on the Base.
It's a pretty fun game, and a fast...ish filler with some neat combos. And I see that there’s lots of potential for expansions--and it’s put out by AEG, so YOU BETTER BELIEVE THERE WILL BE EXPANSIONS.
My biggest problem is that there's special text on the bases and all of the cards. So you spend a lot of time reading your own cards, reading your played cards out loud to the rest of the table, and reading other people's cards (and the base cards) already on the table. So what should have been a fast filler can be just a bit too long for what it is.
Also, some VP chits would have been nice.
Still, this is a fun game, and light enough that I could play it with my kids, or a youth group, or some nongamers. Check it out!
Thanks for reading!