“Wil loves deck building games like Dominion and Ascension and 7 Wonders, but the problem is they don’t have much appeal for a visual medium for a show like TableTop,” says TableTop associate producer Boyan Radakovich. “All of the game play happens in a player’s head and it’s difficult to translate that into good programming. Smash Up is different because all of the action happens on the board. You get to see the tension and excitement; it’s a more visual deckbuilding game … and we finally have a deckbuilding game on TableTop!”
Joining Wil to play “The Shufflebuilding Game of Total Awesomeness” are Rich Sommer, Cara Santa Maria, and Jen Timms. The goal of Smash Up is to capture communal bases with your deck of smashed up forces. Each player shuffles two factions to build a deck of combined forces. In the base set, there are 8 factions, allowing for a two to four player game. In this episode, Rich plays Zombie/Ninjas, Jen plays Pirate/Aliens, Wil attempts to dominate with Robot/Wizards, and Cara battles with Dinosaur/Tricksters.
At each turn, players get to play one minion and one action from their decks. Minions are played against a point total on the base and different minions have different abilities. The challenge comes from the fact that everyone is competing for the same bases and playing cars against each other to give themselves the best chance at capturing a base.
Play continues until the minions surrounding the base exceed the base’s breakpoint and the base is overcome. Victory points are awarded to first, second, and third place for those attacking the base, although there are sometimes advantages to not finishing first because bases have ability powers too, granting runners-up special powers.
Smash Up was designed by Paul Peterson, who is known for designing games like Guillotine and Exploding Cow, but worked closely for many years with Richard Garfield on Magic: The Gathering. Peterson’s impact on Magic was huge and his touch could be felt on nearly every set until a couple of years ago, so it’s no coincidence that Smash Up has a bit of a Magic feel to it. Smash Up is an extraordinarily fun game, easy to learn and quick to play.
On the TableTop game of Smash Up, AEG has provided some really nice scoring mats and score tracks to enhance the game. Rumor is that these components will be made available to fans and may be included in future AEG games.
Play is fast and funny, especially as Wil tries to work out all of the combinations for his Robots and Wizards, leading to everyone else to do hysterical Wil impersonations for the better part of the game. Which faction will win? You’ll have to watch to find out.
Smash Up marks the quarter mark through season two of TableTop and, if you follow Wil or Geek & Sundry on Twitter, you know that the second half of the show was taped last week. There’s lots of TableTop to go, but the next episode will be an extended edition of Formula D from earlier this season.