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Smash Up: Awesome Level 9000 and The Obligatory Cthulhu Expansion Set Reviews

Smash Up- Awesome Level 9000 Smash Up- The Obligatory Cthulhu Set

“Awesome Level 9000” and “The Obligatory Cthulhu Set” double the “Smash Up” fun.

After being released in late 2012, “Smash Up” became an instant hit with board and card gamers. As the game’s popularity continued to surge in 2013, it soon became apparent that expansion sets were inevitable. Sure, the base game provided a fair amount of factions to choose from (8 to be exact), but the game’s design makes it possible for a seemingly endless amount of expansions to be created down the road (perhaps even licensed properties?). Thankfully, AEG didn’t make fans wait long as they have promptly released two expansion sets titled “Awesome Level 9000” and “The Obligatory Cthulhu Set.”

The first expansion set (“Awesome Level 9000”) provides gamers with 4 new factions to choose from (Killer Plants, Steampunks, Ghosts, and Bear Cavalry). It’s a strange assortment to be sure, but the wacky factions certainly fit the wonderfully chaotic card battle game. In case you are unaware of the rules of “Smash Up,” the game is simple. Each player takes 2 different 20 card factions and smashes them together (AKA shuffles them together). Each player than draws 5 cards at the start of the game and plays 1 action and 1 minion on a base (or perhaps more depending on what a card states). The number of bases in play depends on the number of players in the game. For instance, if it’s a 2 player game, there are 3 bases on the board. The amount of bases always equals 1 more than the amount of players. Now, as far as the gameplay goes, the object of the game is to get 15 VP (Victory Points). In order to do this, players have to “fight” on a base to get the highest VP number on the base. You see, each base lists 3 numbers in the middle (the VP placement numbers) and 1 number in the left hand corner (the base’s breakpoint). The breakpoint is the total number of minion power points allowed on the base. Once the breakpoint is reached, whichever player has the highest number of minion power points total gets the highest number VP on the base card. The player with the second highest number of minion power points gets the second highest number of VP and so forth. There’s a little more to the rules than that, but that’s the basic gameplay. Consult the handy rulebook for further details.

Going back to the ‘Awesome’ expansion, this set offers up a nice mix of factions that gamers can strategize over. Faction combinations are definitely a big key to the game as the right combo can help your chances in winning. Knowing which cards to play on which base at what time is pivotal to winning. If you’re looking to play multiple minions and damage opponent’s minion powers, the Killer Plants are perfect for this strategy. The strengths of the Bear Cavalry deck are plentiful as it can allow you to destroy minions, move minions, and power up minions. The Steampunks deck is a MUCH more action oriented deck that gives gamers a chance to destroy actions, play (or take) a discard pile action, etc. Last, but not least, there is the Ghost deck which offers up discard strategies as well as minion protections and power-ups. You can even get a VP bonus with the ‘Shady Deal’ card.

Also included in the set is a rulebook, 8 new base cards, the original 16 base cards with new and improved graphic art, and the much welcomed addition of VP tokens (8 5 point tokens and 20 1 point tokens). The original base set lacked any sort of score keeping component to keep track of each player’s VP scores so I’m glad the folks at AEG corrected this issue by including them in the expansion.

Despite the fact that Cthulhu is entirely overdone in the gaming world, the cleverly named “The Obligatory Cthulhu Set” is an absolute delight for anyone who admires the works of H.P. Lovecraft. Like the “Awesome Level 9000” sets, ‘Cthulhu’ includes 8 new base cards (R’lyeh included!), a rulebook, 8 5 point tokens, 20 1 point tokens, and 4 new factions (Innsmouth, Elder Things, Minions of Cthulhu and Miskatonic University). But wait, there’s 1 more thing! ‘Cthulhu’ also introduces a NEW gameplay element (yes, you read that right). The new element? A 30 card Madness deck. Each card of this action deck is exactly the same. The directions on the card read: Draw two cards OR return this card to the Madness deck. Sounds simple enough, right? There’s a little more to it than that. While the reward is great, having a Madness card in your deck is not the best thing. At the end of the game when the victory points are tallied, players LOSE 1 VP for every 2 Madness cards in their deck. In other words, you need to use the cards wisely and hope you can find ways to remove the cards from your deck.

While I enjoyed the “Awesome Level 9000” set, I found myself much more excited by ‘Cthulhu’ (although I may be biased as a fan of Lovecraft’s stories). ‘Cthulhu’ is obviously a much more thematic expansion and the four factions prove to be a great addition to the overall game.

 The Innsmouth faction is the first one I used to play and I found it very useful in playing (and picking up) additional minions. The only real downside is that the minion powers are generally very low (although you can power them up slightly with cards). The Elder Things deck contains some extremely powerful minions (such as the 10 power Elder Thing and the 6 power Shoggoth) and is useful in giving opponents unwanted Madness cards. Miskatonic University may be the least appealing of the 4 factions, but gamers can still use this deck to their advantage by picking up or discarding Madness Cards for additional benefits. With the Minions of Cthulhu faction, gamers have a variety of actions that they can perform such as destroying minions, picking up action cards, powering up minions, giving an opponent a Madness card, gaining victory points, etc.

Overall Thoughts: If you own “Smash Up” or are looking to pick up the game in the near future, I whole heartedly recommend picking up these two expansions. Not only do the two expansions expand the gameplay (as they are designed to do), but they give the game much more replay value. I’m already looking forward to trying more faction combinations in future gameplays. Now, I wonder what the third expansion will be…

September 25, 2013 - Posted by | Game Review | , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] Note: If you are looking for details on how to play “Smash Up” and or information on the previous two expansion sets, check out my review here: https://dvdcorner.net/2013/09/25/smash-up-awesome-level-9000-and-the-obligatory-cthulhu-expansion-set… […]

    Pingback by Smash Up: Science Fiction Double Feature Expansion Set Review « DVD Corner's blog | April 13, 2014 | Reply

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