Art work and design have an interesting way of creating an initial dialog about a game. Often, one finds that the game is nowhere near what was expected, and sometimes it delivers something above and beyond. Recently, I had the opportunity to play Smash Up for the first time with my cousins, age 15 and 13, and Ravenshire manager Grant, age 40-something. I, at age 26, was the one to open to the box for this genre mash up game, and became the one to lead play by reading the rules. This would be a true stress test across very different age groups for Smash Up.
At first I was a bit disappointed when I saw a few handful of cards neatly packaged, but the others weren’t phased by this. For some reason I was expecting more inside the box, but that can be fixed in the future with the numerous expansions that have been released. It was a quick turn-around for me in feelings as we each began to open our decks. Each deck is constructed with two classifications of cards such as Pirates and Robots, Wizards and Zombies, Dinosaurs and Aliens, or Ninjas and Tricksters. While in future games an individual could choose any two classifications, we decided to play with the already separated decks. When I started going through the cards to shuffle the deck, and get an idea of what the different cards were, I was immediately impressed how each faction had a distinct art style. The art styles are impressive takes on what could be considered the popular comic art style for each faction.
After the four decks were handed out, there was a fifth deck of bases of which one for each person plus an extra base would be displayed. The goal of the game is to use your minions and actions, the two card types that make up each faction, to attempt to gain majority control of a base before it is scored. A base is scored when there are enough points from all the minions on the base to destroy it. The points and effects of scoring a base vary, allowing each person to attempt a different strategy that best works with their deck and play style.
While it took a bit to understand how the turns progressed, and the possible choices one could make, by the middle of the game we all understood how to play and really began to figure out the strategy for our decks. It was a great experience with the game, as we all seemed to approach strategy from a very different angle due to age and experience with games. While Grant won, by beating out yours truly by one point, it wouldn’t surprise me if with a few more plays the kids begin to better understand how to play and begin to find their own strategies. What I found with this game is that it is a great game for the younger teen audience that wants to play something with more depth, and for adults it’s perfect for a group that wants to pick up a fun and funny game. The greatest strength that I can see from this experience is the possibility for it to be played by families with kids in the , looking for a fun challenge on game night.