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Home  Board Game News  Board Game Review of Reviews: Smash Up

Board Game Review of Reviews: Smash Up

Posted Saturday, 3-Oct-2015

If you’ve looking for a game that pits a team-up of zombies and dinosaurs against Ninjas and Aliens then look no further than Smash Up.


Contributed by Troy Pitschman


Smash Up is a self-titled “shufflebuilder” designed by Paul Peterson (Guillotine, Pathfinder Adventure Card Games, Clout Fantasy) and published by Alderac Entertainment Group (Abandon Ship, Love Letter, Istanbul) in 2012.

This area control and hand management game mashes together nearly every major geek-related trope that you can think of.  It may not be the most analytical and involved strategy game on the market, but it’s a solid game beyond just the hilariously awesome team-ups.


Smash Up plays best with 3-4 players and takes around 45 minutes to play.
Smash Up plays best with 3-4 players and takes around 45 minutes to play.


How do you play Smash Up?

Smash Up is a game comprised of combining 2 of 8 factions, shuffling them into a deck, and using your faction to take over different bases around the board. Calling the game a deck-builder isn’t entirely inaccurate, of course the building has to do with shuffling two of the game’s faction decks into one.

Gamerati’s Andy Vet described the game’s key concept in his review of Smash Up, “Smash Up tosses various genre factions into a blender and demands they conquer one base of operations after another for victory points. Zombies join robots, wizards ally with aliens, and they hammer on an assortment of pirate coves, factories, and mother ships.”

Game play is relatively simple and fast-paced for Smash Up. ISlayTheDragon’s Future Wolfie describes the basics behind this crazy geek-fest tag-team:

Each turn a player can play 1 Minion, and 1 Action.  These cards can be played in any order, and neither of them HAVE to be played.  Minions are played to one of the available Bases, and feature both a Power level and usually a special ability.  Actions do a variety of things, from protecting your minions, to destroying other minions, to drawing more cards – it all depends on which faction you have.


Smash Up was nominated for several board game awards, including the Golden Geek.
Smash Up was nominated for several board game awards, including the Golden Geek.


While the game is light and fast-paced critics point out Smash Up’s faction variance as one of its stronger points. Matt Drake from Drake’s Flames explains some of the faction differences:

The dinosaurs (the ones with lasers) are really good at being really strong. The pirates can move around a lot, and it’s tough to kill someone when they won’t stand still. The Martians keep abducting people, and the zombies simply refuse to stay dead. Combine the factions that work best for you, and get ready to blast something with eye lasers and magic wands.”

Given the game’s strategic ceiling is rather low but for a half hour game that promises laser toting dinosaurs, and aliens teaming up with zombies to take down pirate-ninjas anything more would probably just get in the way. Just don’t be too distracted by the game’s random awesomeness or you’ll have your base stolen right out from under you.


Is Smash Up the right game for you?

Smash Up is a quick, light-game that’s sure to get a laugh or two from whoever’s playing.  Critics describe the game as a great filler with the game’s fast-paced, hilarious nature it’s not something you’ll want to play all night but it’s perfect for a break from a more grueling strategy game. One such reviewer, Father Geek’s Marty Connell, writes:

“Smash Up was an excellent game filler or the perfect mental break between heavier games. A very light game indeed, but an enjoyable one to play. No deep strategy or tactics here, but what it lacks in depth is makes up for in speed and fun.”

But don’t let the game’s simple ruleset and light gameplay fool you into thinking that the game lacks replay value. Future Wolfie from ISlayTheDragon was an enthusiastic about how the game’s faction mechanics played a heavy role in giving the game some variance. Wolfie writes, “I have played every faction at least once, and seen a wide variety of combinations; and I’m always impressed at the unique and effective ways the different mechanisms can be used together.”


Smash Up works as a great 'gateway' game to introduce others to board games.
Smash Up works as a great ‘gateway’ game to introduce others to board games.


While it probably won’t be the most involved or complex game in your collection, it’s still a great game to have around especially for non-gaming friends or if kids are involved. Josh Edwards from Board Game Reviews by Josh describes the game’s accessibility, “Smash Up is (I believe) a non-gamer friendly, easy to learn, fast and easy to play game. It can appeal to people beyond just gamers because of it’s theme, and it is an easy way for them to play games and have fun.”

So if you’re looking for a great filler game that you can play with just about anyone and you have a hankering for dinosaurs shooting lasers then Smash Up just may be the game for you.


See what others are saying about Smash Up

Smash Up received generally positive reviews from critics who cite the game as being a great introductory game, a conversation starter and a filler if you need a break after an especially intense game. However, the game’s accessibility and light-play aren’t its only positives.

ISlayTheDragon’s FutureWolfie loved the game’s thematic qualities, “Smash Up is a beautiful and highly thematic geek-fest layered on top of a very enjoyable card game.  If the humor wears thin quickly, the mechanisms of each faction and the way the mechanisms of different factions collide lasts much longer.”

Meanwhile, Andy Vet of Gamerati cautions players who might have a tendency to over-analyze the game’s theme. Vet writes, “So long as you’re able to wallow in it, it’s fun finding ways to station your minions on bases; other times it’s an infuriating morass of activity that’s hard to keep up with and almost impossible to predict.”

Finally, Josh Edwards from Board Game Reviews by Josh gives the game his approval in terms of introducing it to new people and perhaps that’s where the true strength in Smash Up comes. Edwards commented, “Whereas I won’t be playing Smash Up on a weekly basis, I look forward to getting to pull it out and teach it to new people and watch as they enjoy getting to throw Ninjas and Dinosaurs together to see what happens.”

If you’re ready to see what happens when dinosaurs and zombies join forces to take on the rag-tag team of aliens and ninjas and you have a half-hour to spare then you just might want to give Smash Up a go.


Ready to buy?  Find the best prices for Smash Up on BoardGamePrices.com.

Published by BoardGamePrices.com

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