Since the first time my robot dinosaurs systematically devoured my son’s zombie wizards, quickly followed by his robot tricksters eradicating my pirate ninjas, I’ve been a fan of Smash Up. I went out and immediately grabbed the Awesome Level 9000 Expansion from my FLCS after reading Jonathan Liu’s coverage (in which he also covers the basic game – great read, especially if you haven’t played for a while). I loved it, but if I’m being honest, the faction themes excited me more than how they played. So I ended up skipping The Obligatory Cthulhu Expansion. But when I heard there were going to be Cyborg Apes in the Science Fiction Double Feature Expansion, I really couldn’t resist. Cyborg Apes, people! What am I, made of stone?
And I’m glad I picked this set up. The talents and actions bring a lot of variety to the game. Be it creating mega-minions that can destroy bases on their own; making sure you have every card you need at your disposal, while thwarting your opponents; or maybe just undoing that awesome “action-stacking” move that someone just threw down on their turn; this expansion brings with it, not just different factions, but fun factions.
Speaking of, let’s take a closer look:
Cyborg Apes – You thought Dinosaurs were overpowered? You haven’t seen anything yet! In the game I played with my son last night, I had an augmented silverback gorilla that, on his own, had enough power to break a base – then I gave him a jetpack so he could fly to the next base and repeat his destructive path. Once the jetpack was used up, he retrieved it from the discards, strapped it on again and destroyed another base. It was glorious.
Shapeshifters – Playing these are actually a lot more subtle than I initially thought they’d be. While you can pair them with a strong team (like Cyborg Apes or Dinosaurs), you can also just field them against any team that has lots of strong minions, using their power and abilities for your own. Either method is effective, but I like the extra knife in the back that comes with copycatting your opponent’s “A-HA!” moment. Against weenie minion decks, this one won’t be nearly as effective.
Spies – Speaking of minions – hopefully you’re not all that attached to yours. Spies are about two things – knowing where their cards are and making sure their opponents don’t have access to their own. These are definitely a “support” team, but their ability to bring your best cards to the top of your deck and bury everyone else’s ensures that you have the best starting position round after round.
Time Travelers - The perfect antithesis to Cyborg Apes, and the faction you should be diving for as soon as someone picks them up. So you have a raging Cyberback, augmented and juiced up, flying around from base to base to base, how do you counter that? You drop a Time Slip on him, strip him of his augmentations and send him back to your opponent’s hand. They’re useful against just about every faction, but they seemed to be created to keep your opponent’s raging robo-simians in check.
I’m much happier with the Sci-Fi Double Feature Expansion than I was with Awesome Level 9000 (Apes > Bears). They’re both excellent; but this set plays well together and complements the base game better. If you only have the scratch to pick up one, this is the one to get.
Of course, for the Smash Up faithful, it’s not about whether or not you have the budget, but if you have room! If you’ve also picked up the Obligatory Cthulhu Expansion, you are out of cards slots in the original box. Well you’re in luck – AEG is releasing the Big Geeky Box this summer to fit all your expansions, in addition to a new bonus faction: Geeks! Featuring Wil Wheaton and the gang from TableTop, these guys are all about messing with the meta-game (check out the Game Art tab on the AEG page for a preview). Sadly there’s still no sign of oversized countdown cards (as featured on the TableTop episode); but hopefully we’ll see them in a future expansion!