Friday, 9 May 2014

Super, Smashing, Great

Once in a blue moon, something fleeting comes into your life that has you giggling with pure glee. Something too good to be true. Too beautiful. Too perfect. Maybe that ‘well fit’ girl that settled for you when you arrived on that holiday camp way back then. You couldn’t believe your luck. But that same Saturday, come the evening, she disappeared. Off home, before you’d even unpacked. Gone, but never forgotten. Oh, what could have been. If only you’d had more time together...

Well, I wanted more time with my King Rex card. When it arrived into my hand from my deck, I was dribbling with excitement. What stomping it would do for me! Look out pirates. Take this, zombies. But then (like the girl at the camp) King Rex was gone. Just like that. Chris had played his alien ‘Probe’ action, which gave him the chance to look at my hand and discard any card he chose. It was obvious what he’d pick. My joy was fleeting.

But I got over it. Because every turn brought some new attack. Some dastardly gremlin. A stubborn gnome. A cheeky pirate. A surge of undead. Even though players have to study their hands and ponder their moves, I never once felt bored. Maybe because I had my dinosaurs and tricksters all fanned out while feverishly planning my own onslaught.

Players fight over four themed bases. They jostle for position in a sort of ever-changing two-dimensional king-of-the-hill scenario. If hills were flat.  Minions budge the score around each base’s track, though played action cards scupper, augment and blow asunder the cards played. No player, nor his minions can rest easy. There are blocking manoeuvres. But these can be undone, albeit with some small sacrifice. Then when a base’s score passes its required figure, the players represented there are scored accordingly. That base  is removed, and another is drawn and fought over. Until the game ends in glorious, if wonderfully ridiculous victory. With dinosaurs crushing robots. And the like.

I loved the game. In ours, (and my first) Paul picked pirates and robots. Chris chose zombies and aliens. With no prior experience, I snatched up tricksters and dinosaurs on a whim. The dinosaurs oozed might and ferocity. Good hard troops. My tricksters were a bit of a nuisance here and there but useful once I knew what I was doing. Chris’ zombies seemed relentless. He kept bringing cards back, just when you thought you were rid of them. Paul’s pirates got about a bit, but somehow just ended up all over the show. And his robots didn’t quite pour out as he hoped they would.

Me and Chris won a few bases and while Paul threatened to jump aboard and pinch our victory points, he never quite made the leap. It was between me and Chris. But with a pair of war raptors and an ‘armor stego’ on a base protected by a trickster hideout card, I only had to augment them to take the base and win the game. Chris reckoned he’d have had the win a turn later. Heh. I’m looking forward to another game. Who knows? I might even be reunited with King Rex.

James 15, Chris 12, Paul 8.

Then out came Kingdom Builder. We’re enjoying this right now. We love to act like terra-forming gods creating the world as we, erm, pick four boards from eight and lay them out randomly. Colour-challenged Chris gets his bright orange day-glo houses, as per usual, and off we go, jauntily playing this game with its easy-to-understand handful of rules. Until...

...We realise we’ve got something wrong again. Why, oh why we can’t get through this game properly, I’m not sure. If it’s not all of us doing something wrong, it’s certainly one of us. This time Chris got his location tiles mixed up and played his barns as farm’s for half the game. Paul misunderstood the requirements for scoring the knight. And I was probably doing something wrong too. But we fumble through. We enjoy it. One day, we’ll properly complete a game in strict adherence to those few ‘simple’ rules. D’oh.

This time, I was confident I’d won. I was in contact with all five cities. Fifteen points right there and a winning strategy in previous games once added to the three other scores. But I’d under-estimated Chris’ spread of hermits. He won by one point.

Chris 60, James 59, Paul 53.


  1. Thanks for writing that James. I'm glad we gave Smash Up another chance. I think 3 players is a better number for it than four. And you have got to be prepared for a bit of downtime between goes as people weigh up their options. We started to speed up once we got going but there was a bit of "Ah crap, I forgot to do such and such ongoing action."

    I liked my faction combo but yours definitely seemed to compliment each other.

  2. Never underestimate Chris's hermits.

  3. It's sort of cleared up now. Ever vigilant in case of a new break out though.