One popular pastime for the geek world is arguing over what groups would win in a fight (also the subject of the tv show Deadliest Warrior). The card game Smash Up from Alderac Entertainment Games tackles this issue -- sort of -- as factions slug it out for control of bases.
But Smash Up goes beyond simple "play and check" mechanics. A lot of cards give you more plays (like a minion that lets you play another minion, and that new minion may let you play another card, and so on), and it's not uncommon for someone to go through most of the cards in their hand each turn. In addition, the different factions feel and play like their namesakes: Ninjas are great at playing surprises from their hand, Dinosaurs are big, Zombies can play minions from the "dead" discard pile, Pirates can sail from base to base, and so on. In addition, factions working together usually give their benefits to their allies, creating even more possibilities. Since they all have their own strengths, players can do as well making their own fun combinations (my Plan 9 from Outer Space group was made of Martians and Zombies) as fretting over what works best together. And Smash Up has a lot of humor, from the over-the-top instructions to cards like the zombie Tenacious Z or the Trickster's "Flame Trap" with an exploding cereal box that has a leprechaun on it.
Smash Up doesn't have any deep strategy or heavy thinking. It does have a lot of gleeful celebration of its geeky groups, and there are plenty of ways of playing to reach victory. Smash Up is very easy to teach, fairly quick to play, and a blast for all!
Overall grade: B+
Reviewed by James Lynch