Wednesday 14 May 2014

Board Games - Smash Up and Last Night on Earth

A dragon slew our internet the other day. We made a Virgin sacrifice and it’s up and running again, but this is why I still haven’t got around to the next Chrissie post. 
The Virgin technician was very nice and fixed the internet for us, but the model will require some more TLC: the rider's lost a horn and both wings came off the dragon.

My brother and I were meant to go climbing last night, but when it got to evening he really wasn’t feeling it and I’m pretty skint so instead he came over for board games.

Husbit recently acquired Smash Up and has been keen to play it since, but (apart from Blood Bowl) I’m not particularly fond of competitive gaming, preferring things more co-op (á la Arkham Horror or Pandemic) so had been reluctant. However, I thought my brother might enjoy it so we started there.

The game is pretty simple: there’s a bunch of different factions such as wizards, ninjas, dinosaurs represented as a small deck of cards: you randomly grab two, shuffle them together and that’s you. Your deck has action cards and minion cards: you can play one of each per turn. Minion cards have different ‘strengths’ and abilities and action cards do things!

You then lay a set of bases (the number down depends on the number of players). These have 4 numbers on them, and a special rule. The small font number in the top left corner is the total number of minion strength needed to ‘score’ the base. The other three large font numbers running across the middle of the card are the points scored: the player with the highest minion strength scores the first, the second the second and the third the third. Any other players don’t score anything and in the event of a tie both players get the points for the highest position they are eligible. The minions are discarded and a new base is drawn. First to 15 wins.


Each faction has strengths – ninjas are good at sneaking in extra minions when scoring bases and killing off opponent minions; robots are good for laying down lots of minions; tricksters seem to just be nails; dinosaurs are good for suddenly ramping up their strength to score a base unexpectedly; pirates blow stuff up; wizards have all the actions and zombies keep coming back (I didn’t really notice what aliens did – score extra points, I think). Mashing two factions together gives each game a unique feel.

From playing so far, I like the trickster, ninja and robot decks best, but think trickster wizards would be the most powerful.

For our first game, I drew ninja robots, Husbit trickster (fairy) dinosaurs and brother alien pirates. Brother snatched victory from Husbit with some clever play that left me miles behind. Second round, I drew wizard dinosaurs, Husbit had zombie pirates and Brother had my ninja robots. He thrashed us again!

I am not very good at tactical thinking or paying attention to special effects in play. Despite the seemingly simple nature of the game, that is a disadvantage when not playing with drunk people. However, because the game is very simple and plays well without tactics, it does suit drunken gaming in a way most of our games don’t.

I’d asked Brother to bring Pandemic because I really enjoy it and it’s quicker than Arkham Horror, but he also brought along Last Night onEarth and was very much in the mood for zombies so we got that out. I hadn’t played it before but Husbit had and he begged to be allowed to control the zombies. Haven’t just convincingly lost two hands of Smash Up and having had a long day, I wasn’t really paying that much attention to the rules, so will summarise as best I understood:

There were two people playing heroes, so we both randomly grabbed two characters. I got two male characters and my brother two female. The characters have special rules and health levels depending on age: my priest was the only one with two health, the others were all students. We were playing a scenario where Brother and I had to find 4 townsfolk and keep them alive to morning: Husbit had to kill two heroes or prevent us finding and keeping 4 townsfolk to win.

Heroes can search in buildings. This involves drawing the top card from the deck and (in this scenario) hoping it’s a person. Zombies can walk through walls and smash into heroes, but they only move one square around whilst heroes move D6. Heroes can also change the order in which each goes every round.

When fighting with a zombie, the zombie gets one die and the hero two, but zombies win ties. If the zombie wins, then the hero takes a wound. If the hero wins, the zombie is fended off. If the hero wins and rolled a double, the zombie is killed (there are weapons and cards that mean you get to roll more than two dice and if the die that means you win is not part of the double rolled, you still win and kill the zombie).

It didn’t take long for Husbit to overwhelm the least combat-like heroes, who ran away. We found three weapons, all with a chance to break and all breaking on their first use! We finally found a townsfolk, only for a zombie card to be played that meant he was actually a zombie and then my characters were killed on consecutive turns and the zombies won.

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