Another day (ok, month), another Smash Up expansion.
You’d think that was all I played. Granted, it does get played twice a month because of a regular workplace get-together, but I do play more games than that!
With two expansions a year, there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight for the game.
And that’s a wonderful thing!
Today, we’re going to be talking about That 70s Expansion, with four factions that come straight out of the disco or corny movies you remember (if you’re a certain age) and into your smashed up heart.
Does it meet all of those expectations raised by such interesting subjects?
That’s a solid yes.
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 all of the other super-talented people at AEG have put together some more faction ideas that you would think would come out of a pot-induced haze.
But no, it’s actually their imaginations all the time!
The four factions in question all are 70s staples, two of which may trigger insane singing at the table (you know who you are).
- Disco Dancers
- Kung Fu Fighters
(I’m wondering if Paul and the others were wearing their bell-bottom pants when they designed these)
Let’s start with the Vigilantes because they all seem to be armed and sneering at me for some reason. Please stop doing that, Clint.
Artist: Francisco Rico Torres
This faction is obviously based off of those 70s private detective TV shows and revenge/cop flicks. Dirty Harry, Jim Rockford, Shaft, etc.
The Vigilantes are one of the few (and the only one I can think of offhand) factions where all of their minions have 4 power.
The Vigilantes seem to be kind of a reactive faction, so it takes a bit of deft play to get them right.
Shrug it Off will let you cancel the abilities of a base until the start of your next turn. Since it’s a Talent, the card will just be sitting there waiting for you to activate it. That can be very useful, and since Talents can be activated at any time on your turn, you can use the base ability and then deactivate it (if it’s something that can be used and not just an effect that happens at the end of your turn, like “if you have a minion here at the end of your turn, draw a card”).
The Revenge gives you a bonus if you didn’t win a base, letting you move one of your minions to another base instead. That could give you a step up, or even break another base if it’s close enough!
Foxy Green gets more powerful the more actions people play on minions at that base. I guess you’re pissing her off by doing that (even though she could be the minion affected)?
Finally, Dusty Henry shuffles a minion at that base into its owner’s deck. It could be a way to reclaim control of a minion somebody took from you, or just removes the minion and gets it out of the way.
I particularly like Death Wisher (not pictured), who has an ongoing ability that when another player destroys a minion they don’t control, you can destroy one of that player’s minions. That will teach ’em!
I haven’t had the chance to play with this faction yet, though I have been in a few games with them, and they are a tricky one to play well. While some of their cards do add power to minions (or get more powerful themselves), for the most part they react to what other players do.
The fact that all of their minions have 4 power is really interesting (they only have 7 minions in total rather than the usual 10 to make up for that).
If they’re not combined with a faction that is more powerful, I think it would be hard to win, but I could be mistaken on that.
The artwork for this faction is great with wonderful caricatures of those 70s standbys.
It’s a fun faction, and definitely worth checking out.
Artist: Klaudia Bulantová
The Disco Dancers are kind of divisive just because some of their rules can get really complicated.
First, I have to compliment whoever named these cards, as all of the actions have song titles for names and even some of the minions (Dancing King, anybody?). This is one of the two factions that might involve players breaking out into song (again, I’m talking to a certain someone here…)
Of course, some of the cards aren’t complicated at all. It’s Raining Men just lets you play an extra minion (but does it have to be a male minion? Inquiring minds want to know).
But then you get We Are Family, Diva, and Dancing King, which is where it starts to get a little hard to work out.
Diva, for instance, says that when a standard action directly affects one or more of your other minions, you can choose to have it affect Diva as well. Dancing King lets you do that for any minion.
Note, not any of *your* minions, but any minion. Thus, if a standard action destroys a minion, you could have it destroy any other minion at the same base. Powerful stuff!
With these cards, you really have to understand how the rules for Smash Up work. What’s a “standard action?” What does “directly affects” mean? We ran into similar questions with the Musketeers in International Incident (speaking of which, one of these days I’m going to combine these two factions together…look out!)
The idea behind this faction is all about actions and spreading the action around. Many of the cards have that “if one minion is affected by an action, affect another one” idea, but other cards in the faction are about getting actions played in general.
Some cards let you get more powerful the more actions are played on them (or other minions) while others are pretty standard (Play an extra minion, move one of your minions and draw a card, etc)
It’s a fun faction and the artwork for it is fantastic as well. You really get that disco feel.
Just don’t start singing.
Artist: Alberto Tavira
While we’re talking about singing, let’s get the other one out of the way.
The Kung Fu Fighters are hilarious in their own right because every action is a line from the song Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting by Carl Douglas.
The namesake action itself (pictured above) is pretty awesome and fits the song to a T. Each player with a minion at the chosen base destroys another player’s minion there. Woo! Look at the carnage!
Let’s Get It On lets you destroy multiple minions at a base if you have a minion there, as long as the total power of these minions matches the power of yours. Put that Dragon Warrior down there and you could potentially destroy 2-3 minions!
The Kung Fu Fighters faction is all about adding power to minions through various means.
Dragon Warrior lets you transfer multiple +1 power counters from one minion to another. Cricket will let you do that once.
This is good because Drunken Master (not shown) lets you put a +1 counter on him if he doesn’t already have one. Put a counter on him, then transfer it to somebody else and suddenly next turn he doesn’t have one again.
These guys can get pretty powerful pretty quickly if you do it right.
They’re just such a fun faction to play because of all the dancing around. You can chain some good stuff with it, and if you pair this faction with a powerful faction (like the Dinosaurs), I can see some astronomical minion strengths.
The artwork is hilarious and so fitting for this one.
It’s my second-favourite faction in the expansion.
Artist: Gong Studios
Which of course leads us to my favourite, the Truckers.
Some people seem to have trouble with this faction and I’m not sure why. I find them incredibly easy to use and also very versatile. They’re quite good by themselves but they can also make a potentially weaker faction stronger with how they play.
They concentrate on getting more power through base actions as well as moving stuff around. Chain a few of their actions/minions together and you can move a bunch of actions/minions en masse from one base to another, breaking it while you go from last place to first place in power on it.
In fact, all of the the Trucker actions are either actions you play on a base or an action that lets you take control of or play another base action.
Convoy is played on a base, and lets you get +1 power for each action (including itself) that you have on the base. If you can get those other Trucker actions out there, that can be quite intimidating.
The El Bandito minion lets you take control of an action that’s on his base, which is really nice when your opponent has played an action on the base that really annoys you. Make it annoy them instead! The talent is also nice, letting you play an extra base action or letting you transfer a base action to another base.
Rubber Chicken just gets more powerful the more base actions you have there.
Finally, Rally can be a base-saving action because you play it when the base scores. Giving a minion +2 power for every action on the base until the end of the turn can turn the tables really quick!
Other base actions let you move the action and a minion to another base, and one minion lets you move it and a base action to another base. Chaining those together can get you points really quickly if you do it right.
I love the Truckers. The artwork is probably my least favourite in the expansion, though it’s quite good. Just not as appealing to me. But the faction itself is wonderful to play.
It may not be to everybody’s taste, but if I get a chance to play with the Truckers, I’m tooting my horn and joining the convoy.
The bases, as usual, reflect the abilities of the factions represented by them.
Funky Town can get quite confusing because of all the Standard Action shifting and applying it to other minions. Especially when you don’t have the Disco Dancers actually playing!
I do like the Tournament Site, though. It’s all or nothing, and if you can reduce opponents’ power and/or score it before all of your opponents get minions there, it can be quite a big source of points.
Otherwise, they’re pretty standard.
What do you think of this expansion? Have you tried it?
Or do strobing disco lights turn you off?
Let me know what you think in the comments.
(The factions in this expansion were played 4 times for this review)
Other Smash Up Reviews:
- Smash Up (base game)
- Science Fiction Double Feature
- Cease & Desist
- What Were We Thinking?
- Oops, You Did It Again
- World Tour: International Incident