Smash Up is a board game from AEG. The game lets you pick 2 from a huge selection of factions and use them to fight up to 3 other players to prove who can smash the most. Even with the amount of expansions the game has, it has always felt balanced. It is very easy to get into and is a great way to introduce people to both TCGs (Trading Card Games) and Board Games. Smash Up has been a favorite among my family and friends and I was very much excited to hear that it was adapted into a video game by Nomad Games.
Immediately after opening the game, I noticed something that I just did not agree with. A huge majority of the factions were locked behind a paywall. Now, I would understand if they locked out the expansions or even if they left enough cards for a 1v1 match but no no. They left only 3 factions for you to choose from.
Anyone who has ever played a game of Smash Up knows that it is impossible to play a game with only 3 factions since each player needs to take 2. Simple math would tell you that you would need at least 4 to start a match. The game “fixes” this problem by allowing people to select the same factions.
Smash Up, like any card or board game requires some strategy. You need to formulate a plan and play the cards that would benefit the factions you are using in order to win against other players. Now, since this version of Smash Up allows you to pick the same factions as other players, I found that sometimes the cards I play benefited the other players as well. I played a card that gave extra power to a minion of a specific name in order to win the battle. It was the move that would allowed me to smash the base and come out the strongest. Sadly, another player had that particular card in play. Two actually. It gave him the bonus as well and made it so that he won the base. I would be fine with the duplicate factions thing as long as my buffs only affected my cards.
Now, this presents a crap-ton of balancing issues. There are cards that only allow a specific faction to enter a base for a round or until countered. This was created to specifically benefit the user of that card. It allows them to catch up on power points or even steal the base altogether, but now someone with the same faction can just jump in unhindered. A card that was designed to give you leverage and time is now meaningless. Alternatively, there are cards that block out whole factions altogether. This turns a card that was initially designed to screw over one person into something that can mess with everyone . Oh, and guess what? The factions known for being dick-ish are not part of the initial 3 choices.
The game itself pretty much plays like the majority of the board game adaptations out there. Very simple and direct. Presentation-wise it was okay. The interface is simple enough and shows you what you need to know. Honestly feels like one of those games you can find on browsers. They could have added more effects during the smashing of bases or the killing of minions to emphasize these events in the game. They might. The game is still in early access so they might improve how the game feels in the future.
I personally think the decision to make this game Free to Play is the root cause of many of the issues I have with Smash Up the video game. The mechanics they sacrificed or had to implement rather opens the game up to balancing issues that were never conceived of in the board game that this is based off.