Another day, another Smash Up expansion.
This is becoming almost a weekly thing! Or maybe it just seems that way.
Anyway, with my latest expansion acquisition (not the latest expansion period, since I am nothing if not eclectic (Editor: You mean random, right?) in my Smash Up buying habits).
Still haven’t come up with the meta joke yet to open these reviews, but I guess that will probably happen with the last one.
Ain’t that always the way!
My latest expansion is What Were We Thinking? The expansion is once again designed by the illustrious (and probably extremely handsome) Paul Peterson with art this time by Alberto Tavira, Marcel Stobinski, Gong Studios, and Francisco Rico Torres. It is once again published by Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG) and was released in 2017.
As with previous expansion reviews, I’m not going to get into how to play Smash Up. See the review for all of that (and just for more of my excellent writing). (Editor: I’m surprised you fit through the doorway with that ego).
I love the tagline for this expansion: “We really shouldn’t pick factions when we’re…tired.”
This is a wonderful mix of factions that do a lot of interesting things, including some new variations on some of the old stand-bys.
The factions are:
- Rock Stars
- Teddy Bears
I want some of the acid Paul and the people at AEG are doing. That is amazing.
Age before beauty (but they’re beautiful too), let’s start with the Grannies.
The Grannies love deck manipulation (are they commenting on common family dynamics?)
Looking at all the cards above, you are often looking at the top or bottom of your deck, and then playing (or drawing) the card if it’s either a minion or an action. Or sometimes you are placing cards on the top or bottom of your deck, so that later on you can play/draw them.
Grandma always knows what she’s doing.
As you can see, Family Reunion really combos well with Nana. Family Reunion has you reveal the bottom card of your deck. If it’s a minion, you draw it. But if it’s an action, you place it on top of your deck.
Then, lo and behold, playing Nana lets you reveal the top card of your deck. If it’s an action, draw it or play it as an extra action. What could be better?
You’d think Monty Python had come up with it.
I love the artwork in this faction. It’s a beautiful style that just brings to mind going to Grandma’s house for Christmas.
The Explorer faction loves new bases. Many of the cards allow you to manipulate the base deck and, very possibly, play a minion to a new base after the old base scores, getting the jump on everyone else.
In fact, they like exploring new bases so much that they can really fill the table with bases!
Idaho Smith plays a new base whenever you play him, and it’s not like one of the cards in the Cease and Desist expansion that plays a new base but then does not replace the next scored base. With that card, you’ll always eventually go back to the normal amount of bases.
No, these bases are permanent. There will always be more bases. More, more more! And all of that treasure to get!
The Explorers can be a fun faction because they never have to be surprised at what’s coming next, and they get a head start on them too. They can move their minions around to make sure they are in position to benefit from bases too.
They do have great combo abilities too. One action (not pictured) lets you look at the top two base cards and put them back in any order. Make sure you have a bunch of minions scattered out on the table. Make sure you have a low break-point base on top of the base deck. Then play Idaho Smith.
Boom! You score the base before anybody else even has a chance to play anything there. Nothing like locking out your opponents!
That may be hard to pull off, but if you can, it’s a wonderful feeling.
The art on this faction is brilliant as well. It’s very pulpy, bringing back Indiana Jones memories and the other serials that it was based on.
Rock Stars love it big and broad. Everything needs to be turned up to 11!
If a base has a break point of at least 21, many Rock Star cards will benefit from it. So much so that other cards will make sure that the break point is 21 or higher.
The Groupie minion enables you to just swarm a base if you have a bunch in hand (there are five in your deck, so that’s very possible!). I’ve seen that swarm happen to me, and the Guest Star action above will enable you to play a regular minion (maybe the Monarch?), then grab a Groupie from your discard pile/deck and play it. Voila! All those other Groupies in your hand suddenly flood the stage like a Tom Jones concert (I’m not sure why there isn’t a Tom Jones card, now that I mention it).
Rock Stars can be muted a bit if there aren’t any high break-point bases, though at least they’re guaranteed to have two of them in the deck (their bases have break points of 26 or 27), but even without that, they can be quite a good faction. Hot Venue still gives +1 power to all the player’s minions at that base, but that draw card action may not happen much if the bases are low power.
Once again, the artwork on this faction is brilliant. I love all of the lights in the background of most of the cards. The Monarch is a wonderful piece of work too, just to name one.
Last, but certainly not least, we get to the Teddy Bears, one of my favourite factions (that could be because playing one minion and an action ended up ramping my power on a base to 17 from the original 5 and won me a game).
The bear cuteness is often overwhelming to the other players, either cancelling abilities or limiting their power to play certain minions.
Who can resist a Bear Picnic? This causes players to not be able to play low-power minions anywhere but the base where that action is played. Because really, if you can come to the picnic, why would you go anywhere else?
Snuggly Bear allows a bit of a swarm tactic, though not quite like the Groupies (there are only 4 of them instead of 5 like the Groupies). Also, they only have one power. However, they’re triggered by you playing other minions and not having played a Snuggly Bear first (which the Groupie requires). This lets you play Sir Squeezes (for example) for some real swarming action! Assuming you have a bunch of minions in your hand, of course.
This can be made possible with the Square Deal action (not pictured), which allows you to draw cards until at least one player has fewer cards than you. If you’re lucky, this could pack your hand with minions!
Group Hug is the action that won me the game previously referenced, since there were 7 other minions there when I played it. Yikes! It can be quite powerful when played on a heavily-contested base.
The main ability of the Teddy Bears is to affect other players’ minions and to use their collective abilities to gain power from those minions as well.
I love that combination of messing with people and increasing my power. I think this goes well with most factions (except the Ghosts, which benefit from having a small hand size while Teddy Bears love a bigger size).
Need I say it? The artwork on this faction is also wonderful. Cute and cuddly, and I love how it incorporates other expansions in the artwork. The “Cuddle” action has a bear hugging a vampire, for instance.
The bases are a very good mix with some interesting abilities.
Looking at the 16-power City of Gold, that’s the exact kind of base I was talking about for my master Idaho Smith maneuver. You can lock in 3 points without giving your opponents a chance to get the 1 point.
However, getting 1 point a turn may be a good thing as well, so maybe leave it out on the table?
Palooza has the highest break point I’ve seen, and it really benefits the Rock Stars (but of course it does).
Retirement Community gives each player a taste of what the Grannies faction can do, placing a minion from the base on the top or bottom of the owner’s deck. Of course, while the Grannies may want to do that, I don’t think anybody else will be putting them on the bottom of the deck.
And Under the Bed adds to the Teddy Bear ability of playing low-power minions by letting players play a minion there if they’ve played a minion anywhere else that turn.
Because Teddy Bears are good at hiding.
What Were We Thinking is my third expansion, and I’m really on a roll as I think this is the best one yet.
Not only does each faction have its unique style that may have similarities to previous ones but turns them on their head, but the artwork is amazing and I can’t really find one that I would say “yeah, that doesn’t work for me.”
The factions continue the humour found in the rest of the series, and while it’s not as spot on as the parodies in Cease and Desist, it goes over the top in other ways (of course the Rock Star faction has a Rick Roll card)
While there are definitely some factions that will not work well with these (I already noted the Ghosts and the Teddy Bears, which is sad because Ghostly Teddy Bears would be a great combination otherwise), overall the factions are fun to play. I’ve seen Super Spy Rock Stars benefit greatly from the deck manipulation that Spies have, and my own Shapeshifting Teddy Bears fit together really nicely.
If this is an example of what happens when AEG personnel are
on acid really tired, then please do it more often!
What Were We Thinking? We were thinking of total awesomeness.
(These expansion factions were played with twice)