13 people found this review helpful
Recommended
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 6.1 hrs on record (5.5 hrs at review time)
Posted: Jul 20, 2019 @ 9:59pm
Updated: Jul 22, 2019 @ 7:01am
Product received for free

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Smash Up: Conquer the bases with your factions is an interesting board game that has a lot of variability in gameplay due to the different cards that are being used all of the time. Each game starts with each playing drafting two different factions (each 20 cards) in order to make up the 40 card deck that is then used for the game.

There are special abilities within each faction to work well with each other, and when combining two factions, often you can find some synergies that will give you even more chances of doing well. With nine different factions in the base game and four more added in the DLC, the combinations are many and how you play is entirely up to yourself.

The game starts with the players picking factions, and the game actually allows different players to pick the same factions, because the luck of the draw plus how you best manage your current cards will still play a dramatic role in how the game progresses.

The base cards are also placed down in the beginning, the number being the number of players +1. Since the game is for 2-4 players (AI), you will start with 3-5 base cards. The goal is to place enough minions or use actions to have enough power on a base card in order to score the victory points from the bases. First player to 15 points wins the match.

Each turn you can only play one action card and one minion card, unless you use the special abilities of many of the playing cards or the bases in order to play more cards to try to edge out the other players.

How you plot your advances is up to yourself, but many things happen mid-game that could turn the tides instantly. You may be trying to take over a base with high powered minions, and next thing you know the opponents are using special abilities to completely overwhelm you without even trying.

There's definitely a learning curve in this game. Learning the base game is fairly straight forward, but in order to play well, I feel that you really need to learn all of the different types of decks and how they work well within themselves and also with the other faction decks. Learning over time from experience will allow you to anticipate some stunts that you opponent may be trying to pull, so that you can counteract them more effectively.

There have been many expansions to the physical board game since it originally came out. Lots of fan-input led to significant new decks being created and distributed. Unfortunately for the digital version, only one of those expansions are available as a DLC, the rest are not there. Though the base game + DLC will have plenty of variability and replay value it would be nice if the additional content were also added. I imagine that perhaps they are not due to the drastic differences among each deck and all of the abilities that would need to get added on into the code from all of the random cards/bases from the expansions that it might get too messy. But who knows? Maybe it's just because the game didn't have a good reception from the beginning and further digital conversion plans got dropped. Either way, it's a real shame that they are not there, but the base game + 1 DLC does offer enough to be quite fun and enough to learn about.

I have read some of the negative commentary about the UI issues. It's not perfect, but it's hardly unusable. The interactive tutorial in the very beginning is very good about telling the player about all aspects of the UI and very basics to get started. I got used to it pretty quickly and had no problems continuing. The meat of the learning comes from getting to know the individual decks and how you can put the cards together for them to work well with each other. Inevitably for cards of the same faction, it is fairly easy to figure out. It's just a matter of getting used to it. But then tack on a secondary faction, and you are plotting out strategies in some games that you never thought could work, but somehow they do.

To get an idea of how the computer completely beat me up on medium difficulty (albeit that I am fairly new at the game and am actively learning), look no further than here:

https://youtu.be/EhwhNPDQxvs

Gameplay
Good tutorial, learn as you go otherwise. All of the rules are written on the cards. Try to outwit each other or the computer AI and gain more victory points.

Controls
Mouse, the UI really works fine.

Graphics
Cards with minimal animations, feels just like the cards got transferred over to the PC.

Music
High energy, though can get repetitive after a few hours. You may want to turn it down and play your own music.

Audience
I think the card game is recommended for ages 13 and up. This is not a difficult game to learn, so a precocious 9-10 year-old should be able to play it too. The gameplay is not that complex, the difficulty is learning the different cards and working out how you can best use what you have in combination against your opponents. It will take some time to get to learn the different decks.

Pricing
Price for the base game is $6.99 USD, and that gives 9 factions and 16 base cards. The expansion costs $1.99 and gives 4 more factions and a few more bases. Price is totally reasonable for this, though I do have to say that if you want to play online, make sure you and your friends coordinate. There seems to be not too many simultaneous online players (according to SteamDB). I have a press key and I am unable to access the multiplayer section. The kind folks at Nomad Games figured out the issue with the press key and I was able to play online with a friend, and the MP version is definitely more fun than against the computer!

Conclusion
Smash Up: Conquer the bases with your factions is quite a fun card game that will definitely have you going back for more, once you learn it and especially if you have a group of friends who want to play together. It's a board game that is made into the digital version here on Steam, but it definitely maintains its board game look and feel. I would recommend it for its single-player games against AI as I think it's fun enough as is, and if you have more people to play together, even better. (The MP game online with friends is definitely more engaging and fun than the single-player mode.) I do wish more DLCs are added to be able to access more of the physical expansion sets available for physical board game owners. There are just not enough people playing online at the moment, which is a shame.

Putting that all together, I would rate this game 7/10.

I received the product for free. I did not receive any compensation to write this review. The opinions represented here are entirely my own and were not influenced in any way.
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