It’s hard to quantify just how much enjoyment Smash Up has given to me, especially in the middle of a long work day when it’s just fun to sit down with two co-workers and try (and usually fail) to kick their asses.
In a game, I mean.
There are laws against that otherwise.
Anyway, the interplay of all the different factions just makes Smash Up a satisfying use of an hour and never ceases to cause a lot of laughter.
The latest expansion (wow, this is actually current!) is Smash Up: International Incident and it has four new factions that all have an international flavour to them. It’s part of the “World Tour” series of expansions (Culture Shock is coming out later this year).
One of them being Canadian, and with me being Canadian (wow, who knew?), I was especially wanting to try this one as soon as I could.
Would it live up to all of that expectation?
Let’s take a look at it.
As with previous expansion reviews, I’m not going to tell you how to play the game. You can see that in my review of the base game.
Designer Paul Peterson and the other
insane very creative folks at Alderac Entertainment Group have come up with four more interesting factions to match up with all of the other ones in new and creative ways.
Unlike the previous expansion, there are no new mechanisms in the game. Instead, they use the existing ones in interesting ways.
The four factions are:
- Sumo Wrestlers
And all of them can get quite violent.
Let’s start with the Sumo Wrestlers, since they’re looking at me kind of mean-like and they’re threatening to bounce me from my office.
Artist: Gong Studios
What’s the idea behind the Sumo Wrestler faction? Getting other minions off of their bases and adding power to themselves through the act of discarding (I think there’s a life lesson in there somewhere).
A lot of Sumo Minions (that would make a great band name) will allow you to move other players’ minions off of the base you played them on. Or, if that’s not what they do, then they will somehow get strengthened when you discard at least one card.
Look at the Top Tier minion above. Anytime you discard one or more cards, you get a +1 power counter on it. While you only get +1 no matter how many you discard, you do get +1 for each distinct discard action. So if you have multiple cards that let you discard, you will get +1 for each use (assuming you are able to play extra actions of course).
Yokozuma is one of the few 6-power minions, and he’s a doozy! He prevents other players from moving your minions around, and then he lets you draw a card or lets you move another minion there to another base.
You don’t want to mess with him.
I love the Body Slam action! Clearing out all of one player’s minions from a base where you are can be pretty sweet.
The Sumo Wrestlers are a pretty cool faction and I really love playing with them. They work well with any faction that has Discard actions of some sort, and they can really let you power through on a base.
The artwork on the cards is gorgeous and hilarious. I cringe (in a good way) every time I see the Grasp the Belt card. Ohhhh, that poor guy’s nether regions!
Artist: Victor Corbella
The Mounties are good Canadian boys and girls! We’re peaceful! We are kind, and we love our gravy.
Well, until you piss us off, anyway.
Then we’ll pull out all the stops to get our…um…person.
The artwork is a wonderful parody of Canadian stereotypes. How can you go wrong with the War Canuck or the Battle Moose?
The Mounties are all about working together for their common…umm…people. They have strength through numbers, or sometimes they get their strength through their enemies as well.
Look at the Mountie Major, who gets +1 power for every minion at his base controlled by the other player who has the most minions there. He can stand on his own! He doesn’t work as well when his mates are with him, though.
The War Canuck gets +1 power if there is another player’s minion there. Not a bad bump and it’s not dependent on numbers.
How can you go wrong with a moose that’s equipped with missiles! Probably one of the funniest cards in the expansion as far as artwork goes, and it’s a pretty effective one too, preventing your minions from being destroyed by other players’ cards. The Battle Moose is on duty protecting his people!
When Calls the Badge lets you really get strength through numbers, letting you play it when a base scores to give each of your minions +1 power there.
As much as I love the Mounties and their cards (each one makes me laugh or marvel at the beautiful art), I do actually find them the most boring faction in the expansion. They’re all about hitting you in the face with numbers (or when they’re outnumbered) and it’s all just about the power.
They don’t really do much that’s interesting.
I’m not saying they’re a bad faction or anything. They can combo pretty well with pretty much anybody.
They’re just kind of blah, though.
And that’s nothing like us!
Thankfully, the art saves them.
Artist: Gong Studios
The Musketeers are an interesting faction in a number of ways.
First, they have no maximum-value minion (no 5 or 6 power). Instead, all of the minions are 4-strength except for the trainee, who is 3-strength.
Secondly, most of their minions and actions have to do with getting stronger by playing actions that directly affect them.
It also is open to playing them wrong. The first time we played them, we read “action that directly affects this minion” to be an action that says “play on a minion.” The Musketeers don’t have any actions that say “play on a minion,” so we were wondering what the hell was wrong with this faction?
Of course, that’s ludicrous. (I blame the lack of coffee).
Instead, any time you play an action that you can then choose to affect that minion (like “Choose a Minion:” actions), they get more powerful. At least for the rest of the turn.
Look at Aramis up there. Once during your turn, if you play an action that directly affects him, you can then play another action that directly affects him.
Athos helps his brothers out by giving them +1 power until the end of the turn if they’ve had actions that directly affect them played on them.
Biding Time will give a Minion +2 power and then let you play another action that directly affects them
What a boost!
Then, of course, there’s To Battle where you can play an extra minion on your turn and play an action that directly affects him.
The Musketeers have to be one of my favourite factions in this expansion, mainly due to the intricacies of how you play them and the actions in your deck. It’s very common that you’ll be able to chain actions on your minions and increase your strength exponentially in one turn. Probably not enough to fully break a base on their own, but still very nicely.
The lack of a super-minion is made up for by the lack of a low-level minion. This faction is there and ready for battle.
Finally, once again the artwork is wonderful. It’s fun and adventurous and I just love this faction to pieces.
Artist: Francisco Rico Torres
The Luchadores have to be my favourite faction in this expansion, however.
While they don’t add any new mechanics like Duels or Burying, they are thematically solid because they set you up and then reverse things just as you think things are going well for you.
A number of their actions are “Set-Up” actions, which you play on other minions. These set-ups always give you a bonus as long as they’re in play. The Smart Set-Up above lets you draw a card the first time on each turn that a minion is played on that base. Another one may give you power as long as the set-up is in play.
But then look at the Reversal above. Prior to a base scoring, you can play this card to take control of a minion that has a set-up action on it.
Who saw that coming???
I really like the minions in this faction as well. Senor MuchoSlam lets you get an action from your discard pile into your hand when you play him, and then will also let you play an action on another player’s minion as an extra action. Those can pile up.
Capa Roja’s probably my favourite, though. I’ve been on the receiving end of his powerful ability too many times to be comfortable with. Before a base scores, he can destroy a minion at his base from *all* other players that has a *printed* power of 3 or less.
There was one game where another player had a 3-power minion with five +1 markers on it. Didn’t matter that it was 8 power. Printed power is 3, poof! it was gone.
I love how intricate this faction is. It’s not for the inexperienced Smash Up player as you do have to work to chain some of these actions together and be aware of what’s in your deck.
Combine this with a faction that has a “Your minions can’t be destroyed by other players’ cards” action in its deck, and watch out.
These could be very deadly.
It also helps that the artwork is hilarious.
And then we come to the bases.
The bases are decent (and also Rock Star friendly!) but they just basically do what many of the bases do: give one of that faction’s abilities to everybody else. The Squared Circle lets you take a random action from your discard pile into your hand when you first play a minion there.
The Bastion Saint-Gervais gives the “if you play an action that directly affects a minion…” ability that the Musketeers have.
I do like that the other Mounties base (not the one pictured) has a higher 2nd place score than a 1st place score.
That’s so Canadian.
While Smash Up: International Incident is not my favourite expansion, it does rank up there pretty highly. The factions are pretty cool with some interesting twists on the mechanics that we are already familiar with (so no adding new ones that slow the game down).
Gorgeous art work, great factions and even more corny card names.
What’s not to love?
I highly recommend this expansion if you’re into Smash Up. You can’t go wrong with these factions.
(These expansion factions were played 3 times prior to this review)
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