Classic Callback: Smash Up

Welcome to Classic Callback, where Marti, @fluffymeeple, checks out some of the great games of the past so that new gamers can get a fresh look at what we think of them! This month, we’re going into the arena with Smash Up by AEG!

Game: Smash Up
Alderac Entertainment Group
Paul Peterson
Main Game Mechanisms:
Area Control, Hand management, Take that
Number of Players: 
2 to 4
Game Time:
45 minutes

The Game: Have you ever wanted to join forces between strange groups of fantasy and real-world characters? Maybe Magical Horses and Vampires? Or perhaps Dinosaurs and Geeks? In Smash Up, the crazy game of hand management, area control, and take that, you get to do that and more.

The base game has 8 different factions, but there have been several expansions that make a total of 60 factions (in Fall of 2018, there will be four more added, for a total of 64). Before you do anything, you choose two factions (randomly or by your own choosing) and, as the name suggestions, smash ’em up! It’s like a bad fan fiction – but in a card game. You shuffle your two factions together to get a 40 card deck.

You set up the base deck, which has the bases from whatever sets that you’re playing with. These are where most of the play happens, and it’s where you get your victory points from. Add 1 to the number of players and you get the number of bases that you put on the board.

Then, each turn goes through 5 different phases.

  • The “Start of Turn” phase, which is where abilities on previously played cards that are activated by the start of your turn happen.
  • The “Play Cards” phase, where the current player can play up to one action and one monster, and other players may have cards that allow them to react to what you’re doing.
  • The “Score Bases” phase, where, if the attack of monsters and actions on a base are past the breaking point, you score based on the numbers on the base and whatever the rules on the base have to say. Then, after a base is scored, it’ll be taken off the board and replaced with a new one.
  • The “Draw” phase, where the current player draws two cards.
  • The “End Turn” phase, where abilities on previously played cards that are activated by the end of your turn happen.

Smash Up is fairly straightforward – you can play your action and/or monster, and you follow subsequent directions. Almost everything that you need to know is on the cards, and the rulebooks clarify a lot of things that may come up with the cards too.

Why It’s Worth a Classic Callback: 

It’s Super Easy to Learn. As I mentioned above, the game is super easy to learn. It’s a little nuanced, due to the fact that every faction does something different when you play their cards, but a lot of it is just reading what the cards say and following through with it. There is a huge Wiki that you can use for resources and each of the rulebooks is laid out the same way, allowing you to find information quickly and get what you need when you need it. I believe that there are FAQ’s available somewhere as well.

It’s Got a Fun and Crazy Theme. The theming is part of why I enjoy Smash Up so much – I totally admit it. Who doesn’t want to play My Little Ponies (that aren’t actually My Little Ponies) alongside Dinosaurs? The fact that they are always adding new and fun factions to the game makes it that much more goofy and exciting to play at times. This theming is just a lot of fun.

Variablility Between Games. A side effect of having all sorts of factions in the game is the fact that it also allows you to have all sorts of abilities that you can play. There are thousands of combinations that you can try out, which means that the game is chocked full of variability. Even if you only have the base game, you’ve still got a few dozen ways that you can play it – and you can’t say that for a lot of games that are out there.

Who Won’t Like Smash Up? 

  • If you don’t like “take that” style games, you will likely not like Smash Up. It’s all about screwing your neighbor over and trying to beat them out on each base – if you aren’t fond of that, you won’t have too much fun here.
  • If you’re someone who has a lot of analysis paralysis, Smash Up may not be the best game for you. I have had games of Smash Up take much longer than 45 minutes because players think too much about what they’re doing. If you’re dealing with AP, it can kill the fun.
  • If you aren’t too big on the theming or humor of it, you may not enjoy it too much. It’s meant to be silly and goofy and, if you’re always in it to win it, you may not have as much fun (or the people you’re playing with may not have as much fun, either).

Who Will Like Smash Up? 

  • People who enjoy player interaction are going to love how much interaction is involved in a game of Smash Up. Like I said above, it’s about beating each other up, and you can’t “play nice” or be a “Care Bear” when it comes to playing Smash Up. Rawr!
  • People who like to make up funny stories about the games that they play will have a lot of fun with the “smash ups” that they put together in this game. I always make some funny comments about my Vampire Princesses or whatever else that I’m playing.
  • Those who want something that is a little thinky, but not so much that you can’t just disconnect and have fun with it. There’s a fairly good balance of it here. You’re looking for the combos, but it’s so goofy that, if you screw up, it’s not a big deal. It’s all about your attitude, and if you’re willing to go into it with a good attitude, it makes it that much better.

As you can see, I’m fond of Smash Up and think it deserves a callback. Have you tried Smash Up? Are you like me, where you have 3 or 4 different expansions so that you can put together all of the combos that you have ever dreamed of? Or are you someone that really

Game On!
Marti – The Fluffy Meeple


  1. This is one of my favorite games when we have company or a dinner party. The game has enough strategy to keep serious players interested but light enough that non-gamers can play without too much difficulty.


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