In the world of card games, there are a lot of different mechanics. These range an incredible amount in regards to how the game plays, and this is because cards are such a versatile tool for game designers to use. One such mechanic is deck-building, dating back to the collectable card games of old, but rapidly having grown more popular over the past few years. It’s astonishing how new game designers can create different ways of using such an old gaming medium. This is where this blog post comes in.
Smash Up, at its heart, is a deck-building game. The core box contains eight different factions for the players to play with, ranging from Pirates, to Aliens, to Zombies, to freaking Garden Gnomes. Each deck consists of 20 cards; however, and this is where Smash Up is unique, the players each play with a deck of 40 cards. How is this possible? It’s simple, they take two decks and “smash” them together, building one awesome uber deck, comprising of two different factions.
Naturally, this leads to a lot of combinations in the core set alone, yet alone the millions of expansions it has now given way to. The core contains eight different factions, meaning there are 28 different combinations of decks in that core set. I have one more expansion (Monster Smash) resulting in an additional four factions (meaning 12 combos on their own), or 66 different combinations when added to the core set. That is a lot of replayability.
Where Smash Up is really clever though is that each faction has its own abilities and behaves in a very specific way. Zombies, for instance, can return from the discard pile. Dinosaurs are incredibly powerful. Magicians can play additional actions in their turn. In the expansion, Monster Smash, power points were added meaning that certain factions can increase the power of their units just by playing specific cards. Generally speaking, the game is very well balanced; however, I may have found a way to shift the odds a little with one specific combination.
For those who don’t know Smash Up, each card has a specific power value. The aim of the game is to play cards onto bases, to build up to a total power value. When the base tips (ie. when the number of points on it are equal to the value of the base) the base is counted up and the points value for that base is distributed among the players who played cards on it. The player who played the most points gets the first player points (usually, but not always, the most), second gets the second player points, and third gets the third player points. It’s that simple.
Okay, so if you are new to Smash Up then this post may not make a huge amount of sense to you; however, if you are familiar with the game then this may be an interesting strategy for you to try.
For you to try this strategy, which I have dubbed the “Super Igor” strategy, you will need both the Smash Up core set and the Monster Smash expansion.
The Super Igor strategy revolves around one concept – the build up of power within the game. Generally speaking, within Smash up, a card is worth the power it is when it is played. There are a few exceptions to this, for instance, some cards build on other cards to create a stronger whole, however, generally speaking power is fairly static. This strategy relies on a whole new power mechanic, brought in during the Monster Smash expansion. Namely, it is possible to build up a character or card and the power it has making a one-man super minion.
This is possible through one deck, in particular, the Mad Scientists. For this strategy to work you will want to pair them with the Pirates. It’s a strange combination, but aren’t they all in Smash Up?
Specific cards to watch include:
(MS=Mad Scientists, A=Action, M=Minion, P=Pirate):
- MS A – Jolt: Place +1 Power Counter on each of your minions.
- MS A – It’s Alive: Play an Extra Minion. Place +1 power counter on it.
- MS M – Lab Assistant: Place +1 power on another one of your minions.
- MS M – Igor: After this minion is destroyed or discarded, place a +1 power counter on one of your minions.
- MS M – Herr Doktor: Place a +1 power counter on another one of your minions.
- MS A – Uberserium: Play on a minion. Ongoing: At the start of your turn, place a +1 power counter on this minion. This minion cannot be destroyed.
- P M – First Mate: Special: After this base is scored, you may move this minion to another base instead of the discard pile.
Looking at these cards and you can see a few ways they can connect already. The Mad Scientist deck has so many amazing cards, and yet all you need is one card from the Pirate deck. The First Mate is your vessel to victory.
The first step is to play the First Mate and, if possible, play the Uberserium on him. This secures the First Mate for the rest of the game. He cannot be destroyed because of the Uberserium, and he doesn’t get discarded because of his special ability. There are very few ways to destroy a character like that (off the top of my head I can’t name any apart from, maybe, a couple of Alien cards that may force him to return to the hand which would remove all of his additional power and attachments).
Now the game is to build up the power of the First Mate as much as possible by playing and, in some cases, sacrificing the Mad Scientist cards. Through doing this, and through experience, it is possible to build up a character with around 12 additional power points, giving an overall strength of 14; however, this is difficult to do. What you want to aim for is around 12 power in total. This will make him the most dangerous card in play.
Just by moving the Super First Mate (not as catchy as saying “Super Igor”) it is possible to guarantee the second place on almost any base, and first in some. When a base tips over, he just moves to another base rather than to the discard pile, additional power and all.
Then, all you need to do is play the Pirate cards, as normal, to make up the additional points and boom, every base is yours.
There are plenty of other strategies available when playing Smash Up. Another great one would be a Zombie combination, making sure that minions keep coming back; however, there is something so incredibly about the one-player-power-house that the First Mate becomes. His ability makes him the perfect candidate to spread power across the bases.
The best thing is with the Uberserum – with that card attached the First Mate will gain power each and every turn.
Yes there are ways of removing attachments with some factions; however, generally speaking, this is my favourite strategy that I have come across so far.
That being said, I will explore more in other posts at a later date as there are a few other combos that are forces to be reckoned with.
So, if you’re a seasoned Smash Up player, what is your favourite combination? Let me know in the comments below.