All Aboard December 2012

This month, we had the regular All Aboard open gaming event and I attended with both my nephew (his first time) and my girlfriend (her third). The regulars had several tournaments planned for games that I wasn’t into or didn’t know how to play – I think it was for Netrunner, Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures, and A Game of Thrones LCG – so I was pretty free to try out any new games that were available. It’s really an advantage going to these events with at least three people with you – going alone means you’d really have to hope that a group takes you in, going as a pair can allow the both of you to try games that are good for two players, but as a trio there are more options since there are a lot of games that require 3 or 4 players as a minimum.

So, the three of us tried a game that I had heard of several months (around the time I started attending this event), Smash Up:

Smash Up

Termed as a “shufflebuilding” game, Smash Up is a card game where players try to take over as many bases as they can. To do this, each player chooses two out of eightof the most popular cultural factions in history: Aliens, Pirates, Ninjas, Robots, Zombies, Tricksters (dwarves, gnomes, gremlins and other fantasy figures), Wizards, and Dinosaurs. Each faction has different “minions” and “actions” and a specific overall strategy on how to win the game. From the game publisher’s website:

  • Pirates move cards around the table keeping your opponents unbalanced.
  • Ninja strike from the shadows and steal victories from under enemies.
  • Zombies refuse to stay in the discard pile, continually returning to the fight.
  • Robots churn themselves off the factory line with frightening efficiency.
  • Dinosaurs (with lasers) bring stunning power to the fight, dwarfing their opposition.
  • Wizards use their arcane knowledge to secure whatever  cards you may need at the time.
  • Tricksters use their mischievous nature to make life extremely difficult for opponents.
  • Aliens change the very nature of the battle, moving enemies about, and manipulating the Base cards you fight for.

Players combine cards from two factions and use their strengths and strategies to try and capture bases. Capturing bases result in the players earning Victory Points (VPs) based on how much of their minions were at the base during the time of capture – the player who had the most minions is the winner and scores the most VP, followed by the runner up and the third place player.

One thing that I’d like to highlight about Smash Up was how easy it was to read through the rules – I only needed one read through and we were able to understand how to play it easily. The game plays between 20 to 40 minutes, but it took us longer because it was our first time to play. We chose randomly, I ended up with a Tricksters/Aliens combination, my nephew had a Wizards/Pirates team, and my girlfriend got a Robots/Zombies deck. After a tight battle, my girlfriend won with 18 VPs, I came in second at 15 VPs and my nephew at a close third at 14 VPs.

Smash Up AA

The box (seen above) has plenty of space for the cards of the eight different factions as well as room for future expansions. One expansion that is slated for release this 2013 involves four new factions that consist of Ghosts, Steampunks, Killer Plants, and the Bear Cavalry. The eight original factions already provides plenty of combinations to try out but the addition of four new factions increases the replay value of this game a lot. I definitely have my eyes on this game, probably purchase it when I get the chance.

The next game that we tried was Incan Gold:

Incan Gold

In Incan Gold, players take on the role of treasure hunters that are exploring Incan ruins to get treasures and artifacts. Each player has the option to go farther into the ruins or move back outside to store any treasures that they’ve obtained. The farther you go, the more treasures you get to collect. So why would you want to go back up so soon? That’s because the ruins present dangers that can result in certain death.

Incan Gold Omens

The players move into the ruins as a group. Each time they move farther into the ruins, a quest card is revealed – this card represents whether the group found more treasure or an artifact, or if they encountered a hazard (the five types of hazards are indicated in the picture above).

Players can decide to go on or leave, but everyone reveals their choice by way of revealing one of two Hero cards. Showing the Hero card with the image of a man going down into the ruins means the player wants to go further; showing the card with the man going up from inside the ruins shows that he wants to leave. Players continuing to venture on keep revealing quest cards until they finally decide to leave on their own terms or if they have already encountered two of the same hazard card – and when that happens, they lose all the treasure that they collected this round.

Incan Gold AA

It may sound interesting when you read about it, but when we played the game we really weren’t that engrossed in the game. Honestly, it felt like the card game version of “chicken”. All three of us didn’t like it that much, it was too quick and we didn’t really feel the danger or urgency.

After that, we got invited to play Ultimate Werewolf:

Ultimate Werewolf

Ultimate Werewolf is a party game where players draw cards to determine their role in the game. After the roles have been assigned, players attempt to identify who the Werewolves are during the “day” phase and have the chance to “lynch” one player via a majority vote. After being lynched, the player is killed and his role is revealed to the village. At night, everybody “sleeps” and the werewolves get the chance to kill off one of the other players. The next “day”, the killed player is revealed to the group and using that knowledge, the village again attempts to identify who the werewolves are and try to kill that player before the village is overtaken.

There were nine of us who played and the group played two games with two Werewolves in the group. I drew the Seer role on the first game, which had the ability to discover the role of one player per night. There were only 4 of us remaining in the game, and I had correctly identified the remaining Werewolf but the villagers wouldn’t listen to me and lynched me instead. When I got revealed as the Seer, well, they knew I was right and they should have lost the game but we had the Bodyguard in who successfully protected the Werewolf’s target.

In the second game, I drew the Tanner, a role where I would only win if I had gotten killed. I was quiet the entire first day, and I think that made me a target of the Werewolves. I was the first to get killed, and while that made me a winner (great strategy, keeping my mouth shut), that also took me out of the game too soon. I would’ve wanted to mess around with the group and pretend to be the Sage or something and get lynched or get innocent people to get lynched.

I’m planning to buy a copy of this game and use it at work for team building exercises and I’m even considering promoting this game to some managers at work as an activity that would help develop our employees communication skills. Hmm, anyone know where I can buy a copy of this?

All in all, another fun All Aboard day where I got to play three new games. I discovered Flash Point last month, discovered Last Night on Earth several months back, and now I discovered Smash Up. I can’t wait for 2013’s first All Aboard event, by then I’d already have my expansions for LNOE and ATOE.

Here’s my updated list:

  • Shadows Over Camelot
  • Dixit
  • Last Night On Earth (bought it)
  • Jab
  • 7 Wonders
  • Pandemic
  • Monopoly Deal
  • Cutthroat Caverns
  • Conquest of Planet Earth
  • Defenders of the Realm
  • Flash Point: Fire Rescue (bought it)
  • Smash Up
  • Incan Gold
  • Ultimate Werewolf
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