Off in the distance a strange saucer-like craft descends from the skies. At the same time, there's a rumbling as something huge and prehistoric stomps through the trees. While that's happening, a powerful wizard crafts a daring spell and hordes of microbots descend on the area! And the zombies, always the zombies have to show up when times look tough. How could all of these genres and tropes all cram together into one setting? Smash Up, my friends, Smash Up. The board game that forces everyone's favorite genres into the same box.
If you've ever wanted to create a dream team of, say, Dinosaurs and Zombies... here's your chance! If you've ever wanted to pair up Ninjas with blood-thirsty robots... here's your chance! Some of the genres in this game favor horror and thriller fans, others cater to Sci-Fi or Fantasy fanatics, but everyone's going to enjoy this game.
The core of the game is all mixing and matching. It is, in its very essence, a card game. There are eight small mini decks of cards that are each attributed to one faction. The factions are: Zombies, Robots, Dinosaurs, Wizards, Tricksters, Ninjas, Pirates, and Aliens. Starting with the person who woke up earliest (for real... it's right there in the handbook), that person chooses one of the eight decks. After that, everyone else chooses, and then chooses a second deck. So every player has a deck comprised of two different factions that then get smashed up (get it? Smash Up?).
Each deck contains both creatures with a power rating on their card (usually between 1 and 4) and actions which manipulate the field of play. Players lay out a series of bases on the table. These are places like "Tortuga" or "Wizard's School" and all have a point value to them. The goal is to use your deck and your creatures and actions to match or exceed the point value on the base. Once that's done players get paid out for first place, second place, and third place on a base. The first player to fifteen points wins!
This game can be played over and over again. Every time I make some bold proclamation about the "perfect combo" of cards, I play a different combo and change my mind. Last time I thought Zombies and Dinosaurs were the combo to beat, until I got beat by Wizards and Aliens. This most recent game I tried out Robots and Dinosaurs and found that they meshed amazingly. But that's no accident, the game has been designed carefully so that these cards continually interact with one another. If you want good replay value in your game, give it a high interaction rate!
This is a new and popular board game in the indie/small game circles. And it's absolutely worth checking out. It's absurd, free-wheeling, and easy to teach to new players. You'll have a blast mixing these genres (much to the disdain of the world you're trying to conquer) and maybe you'll find a new combo that seems "unbeatable" too. Just don't make any grand statements, you may end up eating your words the next time you play the game!