Welcome to Theology Of Games' very first Double-Take Video Review! We're still going to do the written review, but we're experimenting with some video reviews and previews. Yes, we know this video is raw—and we made lots of mistakes and have lots of things to learn. But we're going to get better! So check after the jump for the written and video review...
Awesome Level 9000 is an expansion for the hit "shufflebuilding" game Smash Up. You can read our review of that game right here.
4 new Factions: 20 cards in each Faction (Plants, Steampunk, Bears, and Ghosts)
8 New Base cards
16 original Base cards with updated graphics.
This expansion doesn't really add any new mechanisms, so if you want to see how to play the game, just check the review of the original at the link above.
These guys get stronger as your hand gets smaller. So there are a number of cards that allow you to discard cards or get rid of cards, and then others that give you VPs if your hand is small enough.
The Bears will just eat your face off. They're not complex, and there's not much nuance. There's just face-eating bears that will eat your face off and then poop out your face. Ewwww....
The plants want to overwhelm you—with both their numbers and their ability to stay out on the table. And the longer they're out there, the worse it is for their opponents. Better grab the weed killer...
The Steampunks are all about playing actions on bases and then triggering effects or talents that let you move your own minions to those bases with actions on them, or move your opponents' away from there. And they have that cool locomotive-helicopter thing!
The Verdict, and Recommendations
Jeremiah—If you love Smash Up!, you'll love this expansion; it's more of the same with enough twists and additions to tell that it wasn't just phoned in.
Firestone—It's a great expansion. It adds more of the stuff you want from the base game, and then throws in some cool extras—all for a low $20 price point!
Jeremiah—I'm so happy AEG added VP tokens, the pen and paper thing was reminiscent of playing 5 Crowns or Hearts or something. Even with my snazzy scorekeeper app it felt like I didn't have everything I needed in the box. It was an oversight in the base set, but they were awesome enough to correct it!
Firestone—Well, the lack of VPs in the base game felt like more than an oversight to me—there's no way VP trackers didn't come up in playtesting. So it just felt like they were being cheap at the expense of gameplay. But they included them here, and they're awesome. All is forgiven!
Another great and unexpected addition is the updated Bases! The font size is now larger, so it's easier to read from across the table. Both this and the VP chits are things AEG didn't have to do, but the fact that they did is really, really great. It shows a company willing to admit mistakes, listen to their customers, and go the extra mile to make it right. I love that.
Jeremiah—I'm a fan of all the new factions with maybe the exception of the Ghosts. Mechanically it's a very cool concept that ties into the theme very well!—It's the theme for me that doesn't jive; it's very non-threatening but. Meh...it's still Ghosts.
Firestone—I don't mind the Ghosts as much as Jeremiah. But maybe that's just because one of the factions in the base game is Zombies, and those are way creepier than the Ghosts.
Jeremiah—The plants I thought were cool, they remind me of Little Shop of Horrors, or even better that awesome BBC miniseries of Day of the Triffids! B-film making at its finest!
Firestone—My biggest problem with the base game is unchanged here, so it's still a problem: You spend a ton of time reading cards... I have to read my cards, and then when I get ready to play a card I need to read other cards on the table. And then when I play a card I need to read it aloud to the table. And then when it's the next person's turn, they go through the same thing. It's not at all a dealbreaker for me, and it hasn't kept me from playing the game with my 8-year-old. But it's probably the #1 thing that keeps it from getting played in my game group.
Jeremiah Final Verdict—I'm a big fan if the Smash Up franchise, the shuffle building technique is ingenious, and I learned and can teach the game in about 2 minutes! I love that AL9K offers more options and a little more depth, but doesn't make wholesale fundamental changes to the game, you can pick it up add it to your base set and know the different card abilities in about 30 seconds!
Firestone Final Verdict—This game has definitely grown on me. I thought it was fine when I played in my game group, but it's really shined for me as I've played with my oldest. This expansion is a great addition, and as I said before, it adds just what this game needed in an affordable package. And I agree with Jeremiah: no new major rules craziness means you just open the box and you're ready to seamlessly add to the base game and play! And play you should!
Put It On the Table! You may not bring it out for the young kids because of the Ghosts and all the reading. But it's a fun, light game for gamers, great family game, and the learning curve is fast for casual players!
Thanks for reading! And now...feel free to watch! Here's the video review. Remember: First attempt! But feel free to offer constructive criticism...and subscribe to the YouTube channel! Thanks!
Oh, don't forget! You can get Awesome Level 9000 on Amazon here!