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Tabletop Game: Smash Up

Smash-Up is a 2012 Card Game by Alderac Entertainment group, which can be played from 2-4 players. Players each take two different factions with 20 cards each and Smash-Up those factions together. Then they try to put as many powerful minions as possible on one of four "base" cards while also using actions and abilities to help themselves and hinder their opponents. When the total power on a base reaches above a certain amount, it breaks, and the players gain Victory Points according to whoever had the most power on it. The first player to earn 15 Victory Points wins the game.

The main draw of the game is being able to combine factions, giving many different playstyles. Each Faction has unique traits and abilities that make them really effective in world domination- Ninja-Pirates will be able to move freely and strike unexpectedly, while Zombie-Robots manufacture massive armies that easily come back from the dead.

The original 8 factions are Aliens, Dinosaurs, Ninjas, Pirates, Robots, Tricksters, Wizards and Zombies. Five expansion packs have come out with four factions each (except the Big Geeky Box)-
  • Awesome Level 9000, with Bear Cavalry, Ghosts, Plants and Steampunks.
  • The Obligatory Cthulhu set, with Minions of Cthulhu, Elder Things, Innsmouth, and Miskatonic University.
  • Science Fiction Double Feature, with Cyborg Apes, Shapeshifters, Super Spies and Time Travelers.
  • Monster Smash, with Vampires, Werewolves, Giant Ants and Mad Scientists.
  • Big Geeky Box, with Geeks (and a big box able to hold all the cards released to date with plenty of room to spare).


Smash-Up contains examples of:

  • Abandon Ship: The ability of the Pirate's First Mate allows him to escape a base after it breaks (normally, minions on a broken base go into the discard pile).
    • The Cyborg Apes' Flying Monkey grants a one-time use of this power to a minion.
  • Action Bomb: The Powderkeg ability turns one of your minions into this, destroying him as well as all minions of lower power on that base.
    • The Nukebot destroys all enemy minions on a base when it is killed.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Typically, the strongest minion in a given faction will be unique, and something in their name will identify them as the 'leader' of their faction (including King Rex, General Ivan, Zombie Lord, Microbot Alpha, etc.). The Elder Thing is a slight variant: instead of having a title to identify it as the leader, the faction is named after it.
  • Combat and Support: Most factions are a mix of both, but there are examples that usually fall straight into one:
    • Mainly Combat: Dinosaurs, Robots, Steampunks, Mad Scientists, Vampires
    • Mainly Support: Wizards, Tricksters, Time Travelers, Super Spies, Miskatonic University
    • Both: Aliens, Ninjas, Pirates, Zombies, Bear Cavalry, Ghosts, Killer Plants, Elder Things, Minions of Cthulhu, Cyborg Apes, Giant Ants, Werewolves
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Zig-zagged for the Robot faction's Microbots. They're easy to spam and have 1 power, but their Fixers passively power them up, and the Alpha gets more powerful for each other minion in play.
    • Inverted by the War Raptors. They have a power of 2 plus 1 for each War Raptor on the base (including self).
    • Enforced by the Elder Thing. It is THE strongest minion in the game, but you have to kill two of your own minions to play it, which typically creates an "exchange two weak things for one strong thing" situation.
  • Death Is Cheap: The Zombie faction. They have abilities that allow them to draw and even play from their discard pile, where minions go if they are killed. They even have a unit that can be played from the discard pile itself!
  • Department of Redundancy Department The dinosaur's big minion is called King Rex. Rex means "king".
  • Determinator: The aptly named "Tenacious Z"; it can be played from the discard pile at no cost, meaning it will not stay dead.
  • Extra Turn: The Wizard faction's main ability is to easily draw multiple cards and play more actions per turn.
    • The Time Traveler's have an ability "Time Walk" lets the player draw and play as if they were taking another turn, but doesn't count as another turn for abilities/effects that deal in such things (ie: "At the start/end of your turn...", etc.)
  • The Fair Folk: The Trickster faction is comprised of small fey including gnomes, brownies and leprechauns. In line with this trope, they are completely credible threats.
  • Herd Hitting Attack: One specialty of the Pirate faction. They have actions that kill off groups of weak minions- great for stopping a Microbot/Innsmouth horde before it gets too strong.
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Mecha: The Warbot and the Nukebot. The Dinosaur and Cyborg Ape factions also count, being cybernetic versions of their respective animals.
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Ninja: The Ninja faction.
  • Instant Plunder, Just Add Pirates: The Pirate faction.
  • Kill Steal/Ninja Looting: A Ninja tactic. Ninjas do last-minute plays right when a base breaks, which can mean either gaining some points on a base where they previously had no minions, or even allowing them to take the lead on that base.
  • Little Green Men: The Aliens.
  • Magikarp Power: The Microbot Alpha. It initially has 1 power, even weaker than the weakest minions of other factions. However, when it's in play, it makes all the player's units considered Microbots (even those that aren't robots) and then gets 1 power for each Microbot in play. Considering that Robot use Zerg Rush tactics, this makes it even more powerful than their "Super" unit, the Nukebot.
    • The Plant faction is based on this, with minions/actions that do powerful things at the start of their controller's turn (ie: before they've played anything, including those minions/actions), but often doing nothing special on the turn they are played. One minion's ability is that it is *weaker* on the turn it is played.
    • Certain talents are like this as well, talents being abilities that a minion can activate once per turn; if a given talent is used a few turns in a row, the effects can add up quickly.
  • Mobile Menace: The Pirate faction has abilities and actions based around quick movement from bases.
    • The Steampunk faction can also do this, albeit to a lesser extent than Pirates.
    • The Bear Cavalry inverts this; it forces other player's minion to move around with the intent of weakening them.
  • Nigh Invulnerable: Certain minions, such as the Warbot, cannot be destroyed at all. General Ivan makes all of your minions invincible.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Literally the premise of the game. Players must take two different factions and combine them. The base set even includes Ninjas, Pirates, Zombies, and Robots.
  • Outside-the-Box Tactic: Many abilities amount to "do X to a minion". A whole world of possibilities open up when players realize that they can do these things to their own minions (including killing their own minions to activate on-death effects, and placing their minions back into their hands so they can replay them).
  • Planet of Hats: Each faction centers around a given mechanic/playstyle, usually related to the faction thematically, but most factions can do a little everything.
    • Aliens pose a pest to planets and players by forcefully beaming players' cards back to them, and can also modify the bases themselves, mirroring abductions and crop cicles respectively. They can also invade and conquer parts of the battlefield, granting them points without breaking bases.
    • Dinosaurs are big and powerful, and focus on beefing themselves up even more or crushing weaker foes.
    • Ninjas are sneaky tacticians who can move freely, destroy high-power targets and launch unexpected plays.
    • Pirates commandeer their ships to provide great mobility as well as destroying groups of weak foes via cannons.
    • Robots can mass produce whole hordes of (mostly) low-power minions.
    • Tricksters prevent other players from taking specific actions, either explicitly or implicitly (ie: "you can't do that", "you can do that, but there's a penalty").
    • Wizards wield their magical powers to warp physics, easily drawing more cards and playing more actions in a single turn.
    • Zombies refuse to stay dead, and can play things from their discard pile, often easier than they can play from their hands.
    • Bear Cavalry has increased power, being soldiers on bears (though they are not up there with the dinosaurs), and can force other minions to flee bases due to being intimidating.
    • Ghosts become more powerful as their controller loses cards, justified in flavor-text as them 'coming from nothing'.
    • Plants "put down roots", which is to say, they become stronger if they remain in play for at least one turn.
    • Steampunks add abilities to bases, reflecting a tendency to tinker with things.
    • Elder Things can be strikingly powerful (sporting the strongest minion in the game), and cause insanity in their opponents.
    • Innsmouth has only low-level minions, but can empower them and play them in droves, mirroring the town's status as being populated by belligerent but not-particularly-threatening half-humans.
    • The Minions of Cthulhu are a potentially very powerful deck, loaded with game-changing actions and abilities, but often forcing their controller to draw madness cards, or destroy things they have in play; one would expect that bargaining with Cthulhu comes with non-trivial drawbacks, while also bestowing great power. The 'destroy your own minions' part also reflects human sacrifice.
    • Miskatonic University lets it's controller empower themselves by drawing and getting rid of madness at just the right times in the just the right ways. Makes sense for an institution of the mind that routinely encounters eldritch horrors.
    • Cyborg Apes, being cyborgs, like to modify themselves. Being apes, they can also be whipped into frenzies, increasing their power.
    • Shapeshifters are based around mimicking the power and abilities of other cards, including cards belonging to their controller or other players. Many of their minions can be exchanged for other minions.
    • Super Spies are all about planning, having cards that facilitate plans on the part of their player, while disrupting the plans of other players.
    • Time Travelers let their controller dip into the 'past' by replaying things that are already on the field, or in their discard piles.
    • Vampires drain minions, destroying them while increasing their own power.
    • Mad Scientists "experiment" on their minions to augment their power levels.
    • Giant Ants have minions with relatively low printed power, but get lots of power-bonus tokens that can be swapped around.
    • Werewolves can gain temporary bursts of power, representing their transformation to wolf form.
    • Geeks can negate or otherwise mess with the cards in various ways.
  • Quantity vs. Quality: Some factions (Robots, Innsmouth, to a lesser extent Zombies) represent quantity, being able to put lots of minions in play. Opinions vary on what a 'quality' minion is, but high power (Dinosaurs, Elder Things, Cyborg Apes, Bear Cavalry) and useful abilities (Minions of Cthulhu, Tricksters, Aliens, Elder Things) certainly come to mind.
  • Raptor Attack: The War Raptors, who all gain an extra power per additional raptor on a base (including themselves).
  • Rule of Cool: This game takes the concept and runs with it.
  • Shout-Out: A heavy amount of them.
  • Status Buff: Some cards give power bonuses to minions. Monster Smash introduced +1 Power Tokens, which can be added to minions and sometimes moved to other minions.
  • Switch Out Move: The Alien and Time Traveler factions are good at this, being able to remove their minions from play and replay them.
    • The Shapeshifters and Plants can swap their minions in play with minions from their deck, and Ninjas can swap their minions in play with other minions from their hand.
  • The Trickster: Surprisingly, not the Trickster faction, which is more about restraining players than tricking them. The Ninjas fit this trope though, being based around surprising moves, and come-from-behind victories. The Super Spies also qualify, as their theme is facilitating plans on the part of their player, and disrupting the plans of other players.
  • Tyrannosaurus rex: The King Rex.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: The Dinosaur faction is based around this. Their minions are strong, and they have the tools to get stronger, but aside from that (and a limited ability to destroy other minions) they don't really do anything else.
    • Their strongest unit King Rex has a huge power of 7, making him the strongest character in the base set, but he has no special ability whatsoever. In the expansions, there's a minion stronger than he is (the Elder Thing), but it's player has to destroy two of their own minions to keep it in play, meaning King Rex remains the strongest minion that has no active drawbacks.
  • Weak, but Skilled: The Wizard faction has minions with decreased power, but they have many abilities that allow the player to draw extra cards and play extra actions.
    • The Robot faction has multiple 1-power minions, but said minions have abilities that buff each other up or summon even more minions. Sometimes both.
    • Innsmouth has literally no minions with anything other than 2 power (which is usually the lowest power in a given deck), but their ability makes it easy to play lots and lots of them, and they have many actions that somehow empower weak minions.
  • Weaponized Animal: The Dinosaur faction consists of dinosaurs equipped with hi-tech armor and lasers. No, really.
    • There's also the Cyborg Ape faction.
  • Zerg Rush: The Robot faction's strategy. They're the only faction to have 18 minion and 2 action cards note , and many of their minion's abilities let their controller play extra minions, but they're also the only faction with minions of 1 power.
    • Innsmouth plays with this trope; they focus on drawing lots of weak minions rather than playing them.

The expansions contain examples of:

  • Ascended Meme: Bear Cavalry is an actual faction featured in an expansion. They even have an actions called "You're screwed" and "You're pretty much borscht".
  • Bears Are Bad News: The Bear Cavalry.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The Giant Ants factions.
  • Cthulhu Mythos: Featured in the Obligatory Cthulhu Set. The big guy himself isn't playable, but his minions are.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Elder Things. The Minions of Cthulhu also contains one, and Innsmouth is a whole town full of human-abomination hybrids.
  • Difficult but Awesome: Ghosts. They become stronger by having fewer cards in-hand, running counter to conventional strategy, and being hard to deal with because of it, but they gain really do gain lots of power through this mechanic.
    • Time Travelers are also this. They have very little base-breaking or minion-altering abilities, instead utilizing their deck and discard pile in unconventional ways, such as placing cards from their discard pile on the bottom of their deck. If played well, however, they are a useful support faction with huge late-game potential.
  • Ditto Fighter: The Shapeshifter faction. They have minions who can take on the power of the strongest minion in play, minions that can take on the abilities of other minions, minions that can replace themselves with another minion (essentially transforming into them), and action cards that take on the form of other's action cards.
  • Life Drain: The Vampire faction is based on destroying minions to power up your own.
  • Madness Tropes: The Obligatory Cthulhu Set runs into many of these, having an entire madness deck (30 cards named 'Madness'), and being themed around source material that often involves people losing their minds.
  • Man-Eating Plant: The "Venus Man Trap".
  • Maniac Monkeys/Killer Gorilla: The Cyborg Apes.
  • Mechanically Unusual Class: The Ghost faction, who rely on having as few cards on your hand as possible, and have cards that allow the player to discard cards.
  • The Mole: The Super Spies have a minion named after this. They also have ability that lets them control an opponent's minion, retroactively meaning that that minion was a mole.
  • Mad Scientist: The Mad Scientist faction.
  • Mind Control: An ability of the Ghosts allows the player to take control of one of their opponents' minions.
  • One-Hit Kill: Applied to *bases* of all things; the Plants and Werewolves have a card that reduces a base's breakpoint to zero.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The Vampire faction.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: The Werewolf faction.
  • Power at a Price: Madness Cards. You can either return them to the Madness deck (which costs an action), or use them to draw extra cards (something just about every faction benefits from). The catch: every two Madness cards you have at the end of the game deducts one Victory Point from you!
    • This is the hat of the Minions of Cthulhu. They have powerful and varied abilities, but often force the player to draw madness cards, or destroy their own minions.
  • Shapeshifter: The Shapeshifter faction.
  • Stock Animal Diet: The Cyborg Apes eat loads of bananas and the background of their cards pictures a bunch of bananas.