Alderac Entertainment Group’s recent offering in the Smash Up series following on from the highly enjoyable Marvel Smash Up. The factions brought into this game are based around some favourite Disney movies and their popular characters. These are Aladdin, The Lion King, Big Hero 6, Wreck it Ralph, Frozen, The Nightmare before Christmas, Beauty and the Beast and finally Mulan. This is Disney Smash Up.
For anyone unfamiliar with the Smash Up format it is a game for two to four players (and it works well with however many players you have within this) that sees a player combine two factions together, a faction having 20 cards, to make a deck of 40 cards and compete to be the first to fifteen victory points. Victory points in the main are achieved by breaking bases through your minions’ power and you will take the most victory points away from that broken base if your side offers the most power. Each base offers three scores to the winner with highest power taking the first score, 2nd place taking the second score, if you have a 3rd player they take the third score, and if there is a 4th player they take nothing if they have minions present. A new base comes out from the base deck and you go again. There is more than just one base to compete over in a game, the number of bases available is equal to 1 more than the total players participating. So, three bases available to go at in a two-player game.
Turn play is simple. You can play one action and play one minion. That is all. In the case of Disney (and Marvel) they don’t have minions, but characters instead, which is understandable. Calling Simba a minion seems a little off. After you have played your action card and minion card (which is optional) players check to see if bases are broken and score if appropriate. Then draw two new cards to their hand with a maximum hand size of then cards and play passes on.
That’s it, a beautifully simple game.
Every card type in this game brings a unique ability of some sort. Whether it is a minion or an action there is something unique coming with it, that will form your strategy and timing of playing such a card. There are some duplicates within a faction deck, usually with the characters but every faction offers a unique approach to the game which makes for a significant challenge.
Then you have to combine and shuffle two factions together making for a unique combination to take on your opponents’ unique combination with each faction bringing a certain style of play. Disney is no exception here with unique attributes coming forward once again. Will the
combinations gel well and complement each factions’ unique attributes or will they not work and it be a labour to get involved in the game? From my experience so far, all the factions within this set have blended very well and competed fiercely. All players at the table have been close to securing victory for the games held in our home.
Besides new factions in a Disney theme, AEG have added some base cards to the deck to aid in tracking where the breakpoint is at and how far play is from it. This is useful, particularly for those players who are not so quick with mental arithmetic and keeping track of all the little bonus powers in play at any one time. It’s hard to believe it took them ten years to think of including this helpful additional item but it is here now and incredibly welcome to aiding in play.
Smash Up’s Genius
I love this game because of its simple game play mechanics combined with unique factions. What is fantastic is Disney Smash Up can be played as a standalone game, but it will also combine seamlessly with every other set of Smash Up produced to date and that is amazing! AEG have smashed (excuse the pun) it with this gaming series, to the detriment of my wallet, where everything ever produced plays together without issue. I’ve not seen a game series do it so well as in this game because anything you can think of as a faction, they can do it. I see Star Wars in the future with how it has all recently gone…
Some people I know have criticised the game in general. They see with every new set or expansion coming out being that little bit stronger than before and that makes the original content almost uncompetitive. They feel the base game was perfect and it should have been left there. From my experience that is just not the case. I see two factions being shuffled together and where a player may not succeed is the random chance element (of shuffled cards) not coming in out in the most successful way for the side. Isn’t it the random element of games we love that makes for that variation and replayability in a game? I know it is the reason I cannot stand chess as there is no random chance. For me, I simply get some other factions out to mix up, go again and see what happens because it is truly exciting to see how they blend and perform in a unique way every time. I love how the game plays and completely disagree with those critics.
For any Disney fans that also love board games this one is a pure winner. You may not be completely comfortable with your favourite characters going toe to toe, trying to smash each other up, but it is not that graphic and highly enjoyable to see which film is coming out on top. Plus, the artwork on the cards is sensational, clearly it was important to all to ensure the quality of all characters was on point and it absolutely delivers here. Previous Smash Up expansions have been close to something in a theme but they have changed the wording for copyright. Not the case here, licensing clearly allowed for Disney use and it is actual characters involved with the real Disney art. Very nice work AEG and Ops games.
My personal favourite is Aladdin. The genie is a tyrant in this game and the unique approach with wishes was very cleverly pulled together. But I am so excited to try more combos with this excellent new addition to the range.
Another amazing addition to an incredible series in Smash Up. The game plays well with on it’s own or with it’s predecessors and the artwork is stunning. It’s great with 2 people but incredible with 3 and 4, there is no weak option here. I’m a huge fan of this and it will continue to feature regularly on our table top.