A Sudden Onset of Card Games

The other night I had a couple friends and my brother slide over to my place to play some card games, as its the only way I can really get any gaming in, as I’ve mentioned. So, the night started with multiple baby interruptions, but they faded away as the evening went on.

The first game that we decided to play was the decidedly fun Smash-UP. The game plays smooth with a simple design but seems to have a lot of replayability.

Smash up, the base set, starts with 8 decks of cards with different themes and abilities: Robots, Wizards, Tricksters (Fey Creatures), Aliens, Zombies, Pirates, Dinosaurs and Ninjas. Each deck contains two types of cards: Minions and Actions.Both are clearly labeled on every card, which makes mistakes pretty unlikely.
Every minion that I saw had an ability and a power score.

Every action has an easily understood mechanic.

Each person is dealt two decks at random, which they then shuffle together to build their deck of cards. Then, locations are dealt out that will be the focal point of the game. They have a target number for total minion power at the location. When that is met, it scores the printed victory points for first, second and third most powerful players on the location, as decided by total power. You want to stack as much power as you can onto each location to try and get the first place victory points, in order to score the 15 to win.

The game is a simple two action game: Play one minion card, play one action card. Both are clearly labeled on every card, which makes mistakes pretty unlikely. Drawing 5 cards as your starting hand, your not allowed more than 10 total. Each location has some rules on it, affecting either minion play or giving an effect when scoring. Some places are better for certain faction, and others are just straight up great. Each location, once completed, is scored and replaced with a new one.

The basics are simple, as I said, but like many good games has a significant amount of depth to it. With 28 different decks, there is some serious replayability, though getting that Final Deck achievement might be harder than it seems. I ended up with Wizard Robots, which was really cool: Tons of card draw and card filter, with robots providing a serious minion advantage. I didn’t even come close to winning, but it was really fun.

Here is where it gets cool: Expansions are already being built, and only offer greater replayability and zaniness. The first expansion is The Obligatory Cthulu Expansion and it delivers on its time honored promise: Beings from Beyond, Cultists, Researchers and townsfolk. This second game we used the Expansion with one Chthulu deck, and one Standard deck. I got the Zombie Townsfolk, which seemed pretty cool. Zombies are discard pile (graveyard) focused, and townsfolk are focused on getting more townsfolk out by skimming through the deck. It works together pretty well.

except that one of the locations allowed anyone to move cards from my discard to the bottom of my library, significantly decreasing my ability to use my discard pile. This lead to an aggravating start of the game and an impossibility of winning, but it was an enjoyable experience I would definitely try again. I look forward to it, even.

Then, We got down to playing some Commander.

After my last commander session, I sat down and did a hard look at my decks, trying to figure out how to do more, not bigger. After the game, I think I got it right. While I didn’t dominate the game in any way, I did find a way to win. Mostly off the the game plan I’d built the whole Riku of Two Reflections deck to accomplish: whatever the opponent is doing I do to. Forks, clones, and deflections litter the deck in order to utilize the opponents cards. I also have a splash of big fatty creatures and some solid ramp. Combined with Riku’s static abilities, I was able to stave off danger as long as possible, cloning Sylvan and Luminate primordials to stabilize my board after others got them out faster than I did, and then dropping a double butcher orgg once the board had cleared again. It was a long, fun game, and though I won, I didn’t feel that I’d dominated the game. I was simply the least dangerous player on the board, until I won. The other decks were Sharuum The Hegemon, Jolrael, Empress of Beasts, and Reaper king. Everyone kept blowing up Sharuums artifacts, I blew up Reaper Kings red mana to keep that vindicate machine from working, and Sharuum kept on blowing up Jolrael to prevent her from killing us all. That cycle worked itself out in my favor as everyone kept beating each other up, letting me gather all the land known to man and casting all sorts of big bombs to end the game.

It was very good times with fun guys, and I look forward to more Smash-up and EDH in the future.