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When you were a kid, did you ever get into an argument with a friend of yours over whether robots or zombies would win in a fight? Dinosaurs or aliens? Superheroes or werewolves?

Imagine somebody made a game based off of that. Now stop imagining it, because somebody did, and this is that game.

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 three to five "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.

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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. A plethora of expansion packs have come out, with typically four factions eachnote :

  • Awesome Level 9000, with Bear Cavalry, Ghosts, Killer Plants and Steampunks.
  • The Obligatory Cthulhu set, with Minions of Cthulhu, Elder Things, Innsmouth, and Miskatonic University.
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  • Science Fiction Double Feature, with Cyborg Apes, Shapeshifters, Super Spies and Time Travelers.
  • Monster Smash, with Vampires, Werewolves, Giant Ants and Mad Scientists.
  • The Big Geeky Box, with Geeks (and a big box to hold all the cards released to date, with plenty of room for future expansions).
  • Pretty Pretty Smash Up, with Fairies, Kitty Cats, Mythic Horses, and Princesses.
  • Munchkin, a crossover with the other gaming franchise with Orcs, Halflings, Elves, Dwarves, Warriors, Clerics, Thieves, and Mages.
  • It's Your Fault!, with fan-chosen factions: Sharks, Superheroes, Mythic Greeks, and Dragons. It also comes with Tornadoes, a bonus fifth faction, referred to only as the "Shark Delivery System™."
  • Cease and Desist, with factions similar to yet legally distinct from existing franchises: Star Roamers, Astro Knights, Changerbots, and Ignobles.
  • What Were We Thinking?, with the admittedly eclectic Teddy Bears, Grandmas, Explorers and Rock Stars.
  • All Stars Event Kit, a retailer-only set containing the All Stars promotional faction.
  • Big In Japan, featuring factions based on Japanese media: Kaiju, Mega Troopers, Magical Girls and Itty Critters.
  • Sheep, a promotional faction.
  • That 70s Expansion, with Disco Dancers, Kung Fu Fighters, Truckers and Vigilantes.
  • Smash Up TITANS packs (previously included in the TITANS Event Kit), each with titans for 16 factions released before Big in Japan.
  • Oops You Did It Again, with fan-chosen factions: Ancient Egyptians, Cowboys, Samurai and Vikings.
  • The Bigger Geekier Box, containing re-releases of both Geeks and All Stars in another really big box.
  • World Tour: International Incident, with Luchadors, Mounties, Musketeers and Sumo Wrestlers.
  • Smash Up Penguins packs, each with Penguins.
  • World Tour: Culture Shock, with Anansi Tales, Ancient Incas, Grimm's Fairy Tales, Polynesian Voyagers and Russian Fairy Tales.

Planned expansions include:

  • Licenced factions from a partnership with The Op Games | usaopoly.


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.
    • The Star Roamers' Port Me Up allows you to get back one of your minions after a base breaks. Combined with a Ship's Engineer, you can make your minion move to another base instead.
    • Mummies are a special case since they are buried elsewhere after their base scores and you have to unbury them to reactivate them.
    • Sun Tattoos can be used to move somewhere else after a base scores, but only when played at that moment.
  • Action Bomb:
    • The Powderkeg ability turns one of your minions into this, destroying it as well as all minions of lower power on that base.
    • The Nukebot destroys all enemy minions on the same base as it when it is killed.
    • The Ignobles' aptly-named Red Birthday Party does this from a mechanical standpoint, the actual method of the killing is more... visceral.
  • Action Girl: The Tiger Assassin has some of the very rare instances where you can destroy a minion with more than 2 power.
    • Lady Whirlwind is a strictly better version of the Tiger Assassin.
    • The expansions have factions entirely (or mostly) made of female characters, namely the Princesses, the Grannies and the Magical Girls.
  • Art Shift: Each faction has been illustrated by different artists, with very few returning names. This results in very distinct art styles for certain factions.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Several of the so-called "King Minons" note  fall into this. Of particular note is the Dinosaurs' King Rex, while a real life T-rex is about 20 feet tall, King Rex is depicted as being well over a hundred feet, almost making him a full-blown Kaiju.
    • Big in Japan factions take it a step further with titans, which are physically bigger and thicker cards (actually the dividers), more abilities than the average cards and are tougher to deal with.
    • The TITANS Event Kit introduced titans for 16 pre-Big-in-Japan factions.
  • 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. Reinforcing this notion is the fact that the Fan Nickname for them is "King Minon".
    • There's also the Princesses, who have only one copy of each minion, but they're all 5 power, the same power as virtually every other leader.
    • Subverted (or not) by the Vigilantes, who are all 4 power, so they aren't really on the same level as power-5 "king" minions, but they can kick ass real hard.
  • Balance Buff: While AEG has always refused to reprint some of the weaker factions, they released titans that significantly buffed existing factions.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Each faction have distinctive features, namely a different font, a different color for the card names and types, a specific icon and a thematic text frame.
    • Their bases also use the same color as the faction cards, but it's sometimes not that obvious.
  • 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, Kitty Cats, Mythic Horses, Dragons, Sharks, Mega Troopers, Kung Fu Fighters, Vigilantes.
    • Mainly Support: Wizards, Tricksters, Time Travelers, Super Spies, Miskatonic University, Fairies.
    • Both: Aliens, Ninjas, Pirates, Zombies, Bear Cavalry, Ghosts, Killer Plants, Elder Things, Minions of Cthulhu, Cyborg Apes, Giant Ants, Werewolves, Geeks, Princesses, Superheroes, Mythic Greeks, Tornadoes.
  • 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.
    • The Bear Cavalry's Polar Commando has +2 power and cannot be destroyed if it is the only one of your minions on a base.
    • Polynesian Voyagers spread their minions on multiple bases, letting them gradually gain tremendous power as they are left alone.
  • Continuity Nod: A ton of references to existing factions exist in the art of several other factions.
  • 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!
    • The Magical Girls are able to resuscitate discarded minions, even other players' minions. Most notably, Black Magicat can retrieve Lunar Captain from the discard pile, and Lunar Captain can easily retrieve Black Magicat from the discard pile as well.
    • The Russian Fairy Tales have The Water of Life, which it says, can revive any discard minion and have The Birch Woman, which turns into a Birch on death, Birch which then destroys itself to turn back into The Birch Woman.
  • Department of Redundancy Department:
    • The dinosaur's big minion is called King Rex. Rex means "king".
    • There's a Potion of Redundancy Potion in the Munchkin expansion, which gives a minion the talent to use the talent of another minion.
  • Determinator: The aptly named "Tenacious Z"; it can be played from the discard pile at no cost, meaning it will not stay dead.
  • Discard and Draw: The Wizards have an action that resets your entire hand.
    • A Zombie base also have the winner reset their hand but they still get 5 V Ps at the same time.
    • The Mages' power-2 minions have you discard a card and draw a new one.
    • The Russian Fairy Tales have a very crippling action that have all players trash their entire hand and draw a whole new hand of cards.
  • Do Well, but Not Perfect:
    • The Ninjas' bases score 2-3-2, meaning the second place winner of the base gets the most points.
    • One of the Ignobles' bases score 2-4-1, so the winner gets even less than the second place.
    • The Mega Troopers "Blitzing Sword Attack" action depends upon you being in second place or worse as a base breaks, letting your Titan suddenly kill a single, high power minion.
    • Based on the stereotypical Canadian politeness, one of the Mounties' bases have the second winner score more than the winner with a VP split of 2-3-1
  • Dumb Muscle: The Dinosaurs faction specializes in high-power minions and increasing that power even higher, but they can't really do much besides the odd minion destruction. Epitomized in King Rex, who has a power of 7 (most factions strongest is usually 5), but is one of, if not the only minion in the game with no Effect or Talent.
  • Exact Words: Just like most card games, you have to apply the effects exactly as they are worded. This opens itself to [1] when you realize that the use or absence of certain words can be exploited, such as the abilities of certain minions not mentioning their own base means they can be applied anywhere!
  • Extra Turn:
    • The Wizard faction's main ability is to easily draw multiple cards and play more actions per turn. A decent chain of cards from them can effectively result in a whole second or even third turns worth of activity.
    • The Time Traveler's have a card "Time Walk", which allows the player to draw two cards and play an extra minion and an extra action, essentially giving the player an extra turn. One of their bases gives the winner an actual extra turn.
  • Extrinsic Go-First Rule: Each set has its own rule to determine who goes first. The Bigger Geekier Box consolidated rulebook gives a Long List of highly unlikely circumstances to be applied in priority order (the player most recently abducted by an alien, or shanghaied by a pirate, or bitten by a vampire, or...); if nobody meets any of the conditions, you'll just have to figure out for yourselves who should go first.
  • 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. The same applies to the Fairies faction.
  • Giant Robot:
    • In direct contrast to their supporting Microbots, the Nukebot of the Robots is depicted as being similar in scale to King Rex, described under Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever above. Their Warbots are of a similarly gigantic proportions.
    • The Mega Troopers' Combining Mecha Titan: Megabot.
    • The Changerbots have an action depicting a giant robot called Mergacon. They later made it into an actual titan.
  • 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.
    • Sharks also have this element, possessing an action that destroys all power 2 minions on a base in a blood-fueled "feeding frenzy".
    • Kaiju can easily squash clusters of small minions by stomping on them.
  • 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. The whole Changerbot faction features mechas and with the TITANS Event Kit, they can now summon the giant mecha Mergacon. The Mega Troopers can summon the titanesque Megabot.
  • Instant Plunder, Just Add Pirates: The Pirate faction.
  • Kill Steal:
    • 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.
    • Spies, another espionage-based faction, has a few cards that allow special shenanigans as a base breaks to steal the victory.
    • Mega Troopers also specialize in doing this, not just by suddenly bringing in more minions, but by gaining power upon a base breaking and even having an action that lets them destroy hostile minions before it scores, provided they're not winning.
  • Little Green Men: The Aliens and the Science Officer of the Star Roamers.
  • 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 the Robot faction uses 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 loses power on the turn it is played.
    • The Superheroes have Mild Mannered Citizens who can turn into big powerful superheroes with incredible abilities.
    • Certain talents are like this as well; talents are normally once-per-turn abilities, but if a talent is used a few turns in a row the effects can add up quickly.
    • The Mad Scientists have Über-Serums, which make a minion indestructible and slowly gain power on each of their turns.
  • Massive Race Selection: At the start of the game each player must choose a combination of two factions among a whole bunch of weird folks, including sneaky ninjas, Russians riding bears, knitting grandmas, a flock of sheep, gigantic Kaiju monsters, a Star Trek rip-off, cute Princesses,... and the possibilities keep increasing with each released expansion.
  • Mechanical Horse: Super Future Space Armor Power!
  • Mighty Glacier: The Dinosaurs specialize in high-power minions, but are almost unique in that they have absolutely no cards that allow them to play additional minions or actions. Without a potent support faction to team up with, this makes them play incredibly slowly.
  • 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 minions to move around with the intent of weakening them.
    • The Princesses can move a lot of minions; both their own and other players'.
    • The Tornadoes do this better than any other faction, specializing wholly in blowing into bases and throwing other factions around the table.
    • The Sharks have several cards that can move their minions to other bases and destroy a weaker minion on arrival.
    • The Changerbots can transform into vehicles and roll out.
    • Some Star Roamer cards can change a "return a minion" effect into a "move a minion" effect, and they have a LOT of "return a minion" effects.
    • The Mega Troopers are built around moving or playing minions (and their Titan) onto bases right as they break and gaining sudden, massive surges of power from these maneuvers.
    • The Burst from the Superhero faction can move to any base after a minion has been played there, making him one of the most mobile minions in the game.
    • The Sheep move in herds, allowing other minions to follow a minion that has moved to another base.
    • The Polynesian Voyagers have a lot of movement, though usually limited to bases where they don't already have minions, but they can build up a ton of power doing so.
  • Nerf: AEG has always refused to reprint the cards, so they resorted to publish an errata that alters the effects of several cards.
  • Nigh Invulnerable:
    • Certain minions, such as the Warbot, cannot be destroyed at all. General Ivan from Bear Cavalry and Awesome Guy from Superheroes make all of your minions invincible.
    • The Birch Woman can be a pain to deal with. If its base scores or if it's destroyed, it will turn into a small weak Birch. But at the start of that player's next turn, The Birch turns back into The Birch Woman! That cycle can potentially continue like that until the game ends if the other players don't figure out a way to stop it.
  • 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.
    • Thieves also specialize in this to an extent, albeit mainly focused on snatching Play On Minion actions from their foes. They do have one action that literally takes one of the winner's Victory Points and gives it to them instead.
  • 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, and was even called PNZR ("Pirate Ninja Zombie Robot") during development.
  • 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' minions back to their hands, and can also modify the bases themselves, emulating abductions and crop circles. They can also "invade" 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 assassinate high-power targets and launch unexpected plays.
    • Pirates commandeer their ships to provide great mobility as well as destroying groups of weak foes via gunpowder.
    • Robots can mass-produce whole hordes of (mostly) low-power minions.
    • Tricksters prevent other players from taking actions, either explicitly or implicitly (i.e. "you can't do that" or "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 cards from their discard pile, often easier than they can play from their hands.
    • Bear Cavalry has high levels of power, being soldiers on bears (though they are not quite as strong as Dinosaurs), and can force other minions to flee bases due to being intimidating.
    • Ghosts gain benefits as their controller loses cards, growing more powerful as they become more immaterial.
    • Killer Plants "put down roots", so they become stronger if they remain in play for at least one turn.
    • Steampunks "tinker" with bases, adding actions and new abilities to them.
    • Elder Things can be strikingly powerful (they have the strongest minion in the game) for a sacrifice, 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-powerful half-humans.
    • The Minions of Cthulhu acquire great power by inflicting madness on themselves or sacrificing their own minions; one would expect that bargaining with the unfathomable Cthulhu comes with non-trivial drawbacks, while bestowing great power.
    • Miskatonic University's careful study of eldritch horrors lets them gain power and get rid of madness at just the right times in the just the right ways.
    • Cyborg Apes, being cyborgs, like to modify themselves with play-on-minion action cards. Being apes, they can also be whipped into frenzies, increasing their power.
    • Shapeshifters mimic 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 gather intelligence about players' decks, allowing them to plan ahead and disrupt 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 power, but get lots of power-bonus tokens that can be swapped around, simulating them having a hive mind.
    • 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, including countering or even banning them.
    • Fairies have abilities that give them a variety of options, making them very tricky and versatile. They also have a lot of minion-altering actions that can move around between minions.
    • Kitty Cats can use their mix of cuteness and grumpiness to decrease other minions' power and then take control of them, often destroying them for bonus effects.
    • Mythic Horses are herd-based, and can play and move large amounts of minions at a time. Their minions also gain increased power when on bases with ally minions through The Power of Friendship.
    • Princesses have only unique, 5-power minions, befitting their royal station. They also have many actions that let them take control of situations and showcase their supremacy.
    • Clerics use protection and resurection magic to prevent minions from being discarded and retrieve cards from the discard pile.
    • Dwarves dig treasures out of the treasure deck and discard pile and get stronger when they are equipped with treasures.
    • Elves like helping others, by allowing them to draw cards or get power boosts, but they always benefit as well.
    • Halflings, being sneaky underdogs, can spawn several minions at the same time, usually on bases where you're behind.
    • Mages spend your cards as mana to cast powerful spells.
    • Orcs are tough and nearly unaffected by actions. Being bullies, some cards even reward you for overpowering or outnumbering your opponents.
    • Thieves smuggle treasures to get more points or power. They can even steal other players' points or action cards.
    • Warriors hunt down monsters and gain power from destroying them or from being on the same base as them.
    • Superheroes start out as mild-mannered citizens, but can transform into formidable forces for good.
    • Mythic Greeks grant the player bonuses for playing multiple actions in a turn, relying upon godly actions to give them divine power.
    • Sharks move hard and fast, destroying weak minions with ease and drawing more sharks with the resulting blood in the water.
    • Dragons specialize in fire-fueled destruction, ruining bases and occupying the wreckage.
    • Tornadoes are quick and unpredictable, blowing into bases with ease, and scattering enemies to the four winds.
    • Astro Knights use the power of The Fours to increase their power and break bases. Also, they're currently the only faction to have 10 unique minions.
    • Changerbots transform between low-power utility vehicles and high-power robots.
    • Ignobles constantly switch sides and betray their controllers to gain benefits.
    • Star Roamers can teleport your minions back into your hand or move them to other bases.
    • Explorers travel from base to base and search for the next interesting base to break.
    • Grannies can call faraway relatives for a visit (as far as being on the bottom of the deck) and always have a little treat ready in their bag (the top of the deck) for their grandchildren.
    • Rockstars perform way better on the best stages (bases with a high breakpoint) and their performance can attract a handful of Groupies.
    • Teddy Bears can defend you against most threats (high-power minions, swarms of minions, low-power minions, minions with troublesome abilities,...)
    • Smash Up All Stars can easily pass the ball with their partner faction, showcasing their stronger elements.
    • Itty Critters feature trainers that can repeatedly summon their small minions and recall them back into the deck.
    • Kaiju uses the city-flattening Actions of the immense Gorgodzolla to smash bases rather than a standard compliment of minions.
    • Magical Girls have magical powers that get better the more members there are on their team.
    • Mega Troopers wait for the climax of a fight (right when a base scores) to fully unleash their powers and fight for the points.
    • Sheep are the ultimate followers in that their minions actually follow any minion they see moving and they can redo other players' used actions.
    • Disco Dancers can create groups of "synchronized dancers" — if one of them does something (move, gain power, kill themself), the whole group does it as well.
    • Kung Fu Fighters train to gain power and use the power of their opponents against them (hence leeching their power), and can one-hit-KO most minions.
    • Truckers treat base actions like actual trucks, driving them to other bases and stealing them from their opponents.
    • Vigilantes are a "kingless" faction with just minions of power 4, but can still defend themselves quite well and have abilities you really don't want to mess with.
    • Ancient Egyptians embalm your cards, making use of the new burying mechanic, so they can rise from the base they were buried on when the time is right.
    • Cowboys start one-on-one duels with other players' minions in an attempt to destroy the weak minions, because clearly bases ain't big enough for the two of them.
    • Samurai are fighters with a strong, near-suicidal sense of honor who will give you great pride and benefits if they meet their end on the field.
    • Vikings are the ultimate pillagers, stealing and ransacking any card from your opponents' hand, deck and discard pile for you to use.
    • Luchadors like to show off by creating complex card combos, usually setting things up with a Set-Up action and finishing with a big card.
    • Mounties defend the bases against your opponents, pointing their guns when enemies are present and chasing them down.
    • Musketeers' fencing skills allow them to chain a lot of actions.
    • Sumo Wrestlers throw opposing minions off their bases and get stronger each time they eat.
    • Penguins pop directly out of their deck, sometimes going back there, like they are coming in and out of water.
    • Anansi Tales are all about sharing stories with other players and those stories are also worth sharing with others as well.
    • Ancient Incas, known for their architectural prowess, stack actions to create big cities, adding walls, temples, armories, etc.
    • Grimm's Fairy Tales recreate key moments of known German tales, such as reuniting the Gretel and Hansel duo or the lesser-known Red Rose and Snow White duo (renamed "The Other Snow White", not to be confused by the other apple-loving Snow White), using The Woodsman's Axe to kill off Big Bad Wolf to spawn two minions from its remains, or having a minion kiss The Frog Prince to change it into Prince Charming or a better fit.
    • Polynesian Voyagers travel from island to island, exploring unvisited ones or discovering all new ones, and use their tattoo power to gain strength.
    • Russian Fairy Tales revolve around minions transforming into other stuff, a common fairy tale trope.
  • Punny Name: Most of the cards. The Cease and Desist expansion is particularly full of it.
  • Quantity vs. Quality: Some factions (Robots, Innsmouth, Mythic Horses, 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, Princesses) 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 raptor on a base (including themselves).
  • Rule of Cool: This game takes the concept and runs with it.
  • Second Place Is for Winners: Some bases award more points or abilities to the player with the second-highest total power when the base breaks.
    • The Wintersquashed base from Cease and Desist allows you to give minions to other players so they get first place when the base breaks.
  • Shout-Out: A heavy amount of them.
  • Single-Use Shield: Dinosaurs and Tricksters have one-time protection cards.
  • Status Buff: Many cards give power bonuses to minions. Monster Smash introduced +1 Power Tokens, which give permanent boosts to minions and can sometimes be moved to other minions.
  • Switch-Out Move:
    • The Tornados faction specializes in this, being able to move both their minions as well as their opponents' minions.
    • The Aliens and Time Travelers are good at this, being able to remove their minions from play and replay them.
    • The Shapeshifters, Killer Plants, and Superheroes can swap their minions in play with minions from their deck, and Ninjas and Star Roamers 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 Dinosaurs' King Rex.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: The Dinosaur faction is based around having large-powered minions while sacrificing most opportunities to do anything tricky. They have the strongest single minion in the original set (King Rex), which is also the only minion without any special rules at all. Only one minion is stronger, (the Elder Thing) and that has a major drawback.
  • Visual Pun: All over the place. A particular standout is the Giant Ants' "We Will Rock You", which depicts a Worker about to flatten some unfortunate cops with a huge rock.
  • Waxing Lyrical:
    • All of the action cards (and the king minion card) of the Giant Ants faction are named after Queen songs. note  Singing card names when you play them is entirely optional.
    • Most of the Kaiju action cards are lyrics from the song "Godzilla" by Blue Öyster Cult.
    • The name of all the action cards of the Disco Dancers are titles of famous disco songs.
    • The name of all the action cards of the Kung Fu Fighter are lyrics of the song Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting.
  • Weak, but Skilled:
    • The Wizards' minions have 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 which can 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 empower weak minions.
  • Weaponized Animal:
    • The Dinosaur faction consists of dinosaurs equipped with hi-tech armor and lasers.
    • There's also the Cyborg Ape faction.
    • The Mounties ride moose with missiles and machine guns instead of antlers.
  • 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 minions' 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 Zombie faction's ability to play cards from the discard pile also lends itself to this.
    • Mythic Horses are also good at playing a ton of minions on one turn.
    • Halflings can drop a lot of weak minions too.
    • Rock Stars garner Groupies and drop them all at once.

The expansions contain examples of:

  • Always Gets His Man: The Mounties faction obviously.
  • Artificial Limbs: The Cyborg Apes faction is full of those.
  • Ascended Meme:
    • Bear Cavalry is an actual faction featured in an expansion. They even have actions called "You're screwed" and "You're pretty much borscht."
    • The Sheep have a card called "Wood for Sheep," a risque meme about Settlers of Catan.
  • Attack of the Monster Appendage: Some of the Kaiju actions are these.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Ghosts' Make Contact action can take control of ANY minion in play, but in order to play it, it has to be the only card you have in hand and you need to have an action play to spend. You might as well just discard it.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Kung Fu Fighters' Everybody Knew Their Part action card and Disco Dancers' Celebration action card.
  • Badass Adorable: The factions in Pretty Pretty Smash Up are all "cute" things like Fairies and Kitty Cats, but they can throw down with the best of them.
    • The Teddy Bears from What Were We Thinking are supremely cuddly, as befits a whole faction of plush toys, who are also the absolute kings of the Stone Wall strategy.
  • Base on Wheels: The Magical Girls' Titan, the Moving Castle, which also doubles as a gargantuan Spider Tank.
  • Bears Are Bad News: The Bear Cavalry.
    • The Teddy Bears look less aggressive until they start to Cuddle your minions or give you Love Overload.
  • Behemoth Battle: Unlike regular cards, titan cards cannot coexist on the same base, so if one titan comes to a base where there's already a titan, they clash.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The Giant Ants faction.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The Big in Japan expansion has the actual Japanese name of the game on the box.
    • The Mythic Greeks' Favor of Hades has an actual Greek text written on it.
  • Breath Weapon: The Orcs' Death Breath and the Kaiju's Radioactive Breath.
  • Captain Ersatz: Many examples, lampshaded in "Cease and Desist".
  • Cats Are Mean: Kitty Cats may look cute, but you'll soon realize they tend to kill each other quite repeatedly.
  • Chainsaw Good: The Chainsaw of Bloody Dismemberment treasure.
  • Counter-Attack: Death Wisher of the Vigilantes.
  • Creator Cameo: In both the Geeks' and the Smash Up All Stars' Non-Infinite Loop.
  • Crossover: They have a crossover with Munchkin known as Smash: Munchkin.
  • Curse: The Clerics have a Curse of Imprisonment and a Curse of Uselessness.
  • Cute Kitten: The Kitty Cats faction. They use their cuteness to their advantage by taking control of enemy minions, then destroying them.
  • 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 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.
    • Ignobles are tricky to play well with. You can give control of your minions to your opponents to draw cards or play extra cards among other things, but by doing so you give more power to your opponents and can help them break bases in a better position than you. Fortunately, there are some cards that allow you regain control of the minions you donated or just get rid of them.
    • Anansi Tales have you give your own cards to other players. Which cards are worth giving can be a difficult decision, not to mention that you may want to give them useful cards.
  • 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.
    • The Sheep have ways to replay other players' actions, including a cloning card that can copy any action an opponent just played.
  • The Dreaded: The entire stock-in-trade of the Bear Cavalry, being able to frighten other minions off of bases through sheer menace. Rather sensible against most factions, but it enters into outright comedy when a single man astride a bear is able to spook things like King Rex, Nukebot or the Elder Thing just by showing up.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Elder Things. The Minions of Cthulhu also contains one, and Innsmouth is a whole town full of human-abomination hybrids.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: The entire gimmick of the Mega Troopers, most of whom have abilities and actions that trigger during the climax of a battle (right before a base scores), making them very good at pulling the rug out from under your foes.
  • Escape Battle Technique: The Elves have two actions that allow them to flee a base before the victory points are awarded.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: The Cyborg Apes faction.
  • Everything's Better with Penguins: The Penguins faction.
  • Everything's Better with Samurai: The Samurai faction.
  • Everything's Even Worse with Sharks: The Shark faction will hunt down and kill low-power minions and gain power from doing so.
  • Extranormal Institute: The Miskatonic University faction, which can also double as an Academy of Evil depending upon who they get paired up with, specializing in controlling and removing Madness cards.
  • Flavor Text: Nearly all factions have a flavor text in the rules giving some background to the faction or thematic ties to the faction's main mechanics.
  • Foreshadowing: Astroknights, Cowboys and Magical Girls made an appearance in the It's Your Fault! expansion way before they became full-fledged factions.
    • Ancient Incas were also referenced in the What Were We Thinking? expansion more than two years before their own set.
    • Several 70s pop culture references were made before an actual 70s expansion was released.
  • Frankenstein's Monster: The Mad Scientists' "The Monster" minion.
  • Fur Against Fang: A definite possibility thanks to Monster Smash, which includes both Werewolves and Vampires as factions. Though there's nothing stopping you from teaming them up as your selections, and the two aren't a bad combo.
  • Gender Bender: Some of the Astroknight minions have their gender changed from their original counterparts.
  • Giant Spider: Anansi the Spider is a human-sized half-human half-spider hybrid.
  • Glass Cannon: Changerbots have a highly-destructive card in Change into a Gun, where one of your minions changes into a gun (duh) and can destroy a strong minion, but your minion becomes quite weak in the process.
  • Herr Doktor: The Mad Scientists' king Minion is one, and is called by exactly this name. He can place +1 power counters on other minions as a talent.
  • Hobbits: The Halflings faction.
  • Horse of a Different Color: The Bear Cavalry are riding... well, bears. The Mounties are riding mechanized moose.
    • The Tiger Steed treasure card.
  • The Immune: The Elder Thing. If 10 power didn't already put it out of range of most cards, it is also completely immune to all other players' cards.
    • Geeks have the Game Gurus who apparently know the rules so well your cards have no effect on them.
  • Instant Awesome: Just Add Dragons!: The Dragon faction
  • Kaiju: They are featured on the actions and the titan of the Kaiju faction.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: The Orcs are all about overpowering underpowered opponents.
  • Life Drain: The Vampire faction is based on destroying minions to power up your own.
    • The Sharks faction does this as well.
  • Lovecraft Lite: How else could you describe a game where Minions of Cthulhu are balanced against Teddy Bears?
  • Mad Scientist: The Mad Scientist faction.
  • 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.
  • Magical Girl Tropes: The aptly named Magical Girl faction runs with these, of course. We have an Expy of Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask, two magical cats, a Cute Witch, a Meido, and a Technomancer Girl as a Magical Girl Warrior team. Support spells involve summoning and even a cute Magic Wand.
  • Man-Eating Plant: The "Venus Man Trap".
  • Maniac Monkeys/Killer Gorilla: The Cyborg Apes.
  • Mechanically Unusual Class:
    • The Ghost faction is the only faction with abilities reliant on the player's hand size as well as with cards that allow the player to discard cards without some immediate trade-off.
    • The Kaiju faction is the only faction with Action cards that put power on bases. Rather than rely on minions to break bases, they rely on their titan's Actions to bust them.
    • The Geek faction's Banned List cards are the only ones that require the player to call out a specific card name, and therefore the only card that requires foreknowledge of the game. This shouldn't be a problem for any geeky player.
    • The Ignobles, Elves and Anansi Tales all have mechanics about helping others to help yourself. Ignobles have you give your minions to other players, Elves provide card draws and power boost to other players and Anansi Tales put your cards into other players' hands.
  • Mind Control: An ability of the Ghosts allows the player to permanently take control of one of their opponents' minions.
    • Super Spies have a Special action that can take control of a minion at the last second.
    • This is the Kitty Cats' MO. They can temporarily take control of other players' minions, and in many cases destroy them to gain bonuses for themselves.
    • Elves have their three-copy minions able to exchange control with another player's minion.
    • Partially inverted by the Ignobles as you willingly give control of your minions to other players, and if you have the right cards, you can take back control of minions you gave.
  • 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.
    • The Ignobles can also pull this if they aren't capable of recovering cards they've given to other players. Their Betrothed minion is perhaps the most straightforward of the bunch, awarding their owner bonus VP for letting another player win the base.
    • Anansi Tales have Collecting Stories that allow you to reclaim and play a card you own that might be in another player's hand, while giving you peek at their other cards.
  • Mummy: The Ancient Egyptians's weakest minion, but it repeatedly comes back from the dead after its base is scored.
  • Never Mess with Granny: The Grannies faction, naturally, specializing in manipulating their own deck. Even better, one of their Minions is actually called Granny, and she's depicted with a very matronly shotgun.
  • One-Hit Kill: Applied to bases of all things; the Plants, Werewolves and Vigilantes have a card that reduces a base's breakpoint to zero. Taken a step further with Dragons, Kaiju, Tornados and Polynesian Voyagers, who can just straight up destroy a base.
  • Pegasus: Rainbow of the Mythic Horses.
  • 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.
  • The Power of Friendship: The Mythic Horses' hat, in perhaps a Shout-Out to My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Many of their actions and minions gain benefits for having one or more minions on the same base.
    • The Magical Girls faction runs along similar lines, restoring and powering up friendly minions, as well as having abilities and actions that get more and more powerful the more friendly minions are on a base.
    • The Mounties like being on the same base as other players' minions. Though the other players may not exactly see you as a friend.
  • Power Nullifier: The Superheroes have Mind Lady and My Only Weakness that can cancel any minion's ability.
    • The Potion of Paralysis treasure card.
    • Clerics have two "curse" cards that can make minions useless.
  • Power Tattoo: Polynesian Voyagers have tattoo cards that grant them extra power and mobility.
  • Pretty Princess Powerhouse: The Princess faction. They might look girly, but they are all quite powerful.
  • Promotional Powerless Piece of Garbage: The playmats aren't that great, especially in games with factions that can add bases beyond the normal number of bases. The pins don't add anything to the game.
    • Inverted by the different promo packs that add very functional factions or titans to the game, which are far from being garbage.
  • Red Shirt: The Star Roamers' Ensigns are an obvious reference to this. They can even jump in and take damage instead of the minion your opponent was targeting.
  • Sadistic Choice: Some of the Elder Things minion give other players the choice between drawing a Madness card (therefore losing V Ps at the end of the game if they don't get rid of it) and another bad choice.
  • Shapeshifter:
    • The Shapeshifter faction.
    • The Russian Fairy Tales can also transform minions into random ones. ANY minions.
  • Sailor Senshi Send-Up: The Magical Girl faction has expies of Sailor Moon (Lunar Captain, a young blonde woman in Sailor Fuku with a moon motif) and Tuxedo Mask (Fancy Suit Lad, a young darkhaired man wearing...you know) and two magical cats.
  • Shark Man: All the minions of the Sharks faction are basically muscular humans with shark heads.
  • Situational Damage Attack: Cowboys, Ancient Egyptians, Luchadors and Sumo Wrestlers have actions that buff a minion by a certain amount, but that amount changes if the faction's main mechanic is in use at the time the action is played.
  • Stock Animal Diet: The Cyborg Apes eat loads of bananas and the background of their cards often picture bunches of bananas.
  • Strong Ants: The Killer Ants faction, whose weakest minions are able to lift cars with ease and specialize in pumping up themselves and their allies with +1 counters.
  • Take Me Instead: Ensigns take the place of your other minions if other players target those.
  • Vampiric Draining: Surprisingly, not the Vampires, but the Kung Fu Fighters are able to drain +1 power counters from any minions, including those of other players' minions.
  • Volcano Lair: The Super Spies have a base there.
  • Wicked Witch: Baba Yaga is in the game and other players will avoid playing their good minions on her base.
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