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Smash Up: Awesome Level 9000 - Board Game Box Shot

Smash Up: Awesome Level 9000

| Published: 2013
Expansion for Smash Up
386 34 8

The Smash Up: Awesome Level 9000 expansion features 4 all-new distinct factions that you can mix and match to defeat your opponents. Try them with the Core Set to create exponential new combinations!

Killer Plants – Better deal with these guy fast, leave them alone and they’ll grow all over the place… like weeds! *rimshot*

Ghosts – Unlike just about every card game in history, Ghosts benefit from having less cards in your hand. Can you be immaterial?

Steampunks – Can’t leave a good base alone, the Steampunks will add new abilities to bases to help your strategies.

Bear Cavalry – What’s scary? A bear. What’s really scary? A cossack riding a bear! Bear Cavalry will use fear to drive opposing minions away to other bases.

Combine these groups into teams of two for various effects! Smash Up: Awesome Level 9000 also contains 8 new Base cards to compete over.

User Reviews (4)

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Scorpion Clan-Legend of the Five Rings
36 of 38 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Nothing new - but makes 4 person Smash Up better!”

Smash Up (base game) is a nice light twist on deck building or CCGs (LCGs). The basic premise is that the deck building has already been done for you. The base game comes with 8 factions (Dinosaurs, Ninja, Pirates, Wizards, Tricksters [Leprechauns/Fairies], Robots, Aliens and Zombies) each with their own deck. The players each take two of these decks and shuffle them together – abracadrabra! you now have a unique deck to play.
You then compete with the other players to accumulate 15 points by playing one minion and one action a turn (plus more based on the special abilities of the cards) to have the most power a the various location cards in play (one more than the number of players). When a threshold for that location card is met it is scored and points are divided up based on relative power among each player present (i.e. first may get 4 points, second 2 and third 1).
The basic game is simple – play a minion, play an action, check to see if a base scores, draw two cards. Where the game becomes interesting is how the different factions interact with each other.

As examples:
The dinosaurs have high power cards and ability to boost power more
The ninja have the ability to jump into a location out of turn
The wizards draw a lot of cards.
Zombies come out of the discard pile.
Aliens get victory points in other ways
Robots swarm
Tricksters manipulate how the locations interact
Pirates move between locations

This may seem like a lot of variability, but after a few 4 person games it quickly starts to seem all the same. With the base game, with 4 players every faction is used every game. Robots may be teamed up with dinosaurs this time – but they are going to do the same things.

This is greatly fixed by the new expansion. There is nothing new here as far as rules goes (not entirely true as there are a few new effects on some of the new factions). What is new is that there are 4 new factions. This means that in a 4 person game you aren’t seeing every faction in the box. I may know how my mix of factions could handle the big bruisers of the dinosaurs – but the dinos may not be in this game!

This new expansion adds:
Bear Cavalary – force other players cards to move (and likely die in the process)
Plants – get more powerful the longer they stay in play (did have a good run our first game – clearly take some deck knowledge and planning)
Ghosts – do better when fewer cards in hand (I played with zombies first game and actually discovered real synergy between the two – though I lost)
Steampunks – interact with locations (not sure how they are different from Tricksters – we haven’t played them yet).

Smash Up will never be a serious game – but for light fare it has been greatly enhanced by a simple expansion. A rare example of a game that is improved by an expansion.

My requirements for a good expansion:
1) Doesn’t extend game duration significantly
2) Doesn’t require massive learning of new rules
3) Can add complexity but not so mush to change the weight/feel of a game
4) Adds freshness to a game (and not all games need this) and improves replay (I rate the base game a 3/5 for replay ability)

Smash Up: Awesome Level 9000 meets all these requirements.

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Legend of the Five Rings Fan
Advanced Reviewer
Guardian Angel
39 of 43 gamers found this helpful
“Mayhem, Revisited”

You can re-create or subvert some of your favorite Internet tropes with Smash Up, such as Lizard Wizards (Dinos and Wizards) or Pirates vs. Ninja. Smash Up: Awesome Level 9000 adds to the fun so that you might try Plants vs. Zombies and other such variations.

AL9K comes with four new factions, each with its own new schtick(s): Killer Plants grow out of control if left unchecked, and entangle their opponents; Bear Cavalry intimidate other minions out of the way, sometimes into an ambush; Ghosts become stronger the fewer cards you have in hand; and Steampunks toolbox their way into leveraging bases to their advantage. These four faction decks can be employed with the base game to increase the number of deck combinations from 28 to 66, or they can be used as a standalone game — though with only six combinations, the fun there will dry up very quickly. As with Smash Up, each faction has two bases each which interact well with its schtick, leading to eight new bases total. AL9K also includes all of the bases from the base game so that there is more variation as a standalone game.

An overview of game play can be found in my review for Smash Up here:

So what does the expansion add to the game? Increasing the number of factions definitely changes the strategic play of Smash Up — you have to be ready not only for what the new factions can do, but also what having games without certain factions will do, since a four-player game no longer uses all of the factions in the game. Beware of games where no one is using “surprise factor” factions (Ninjas/Pirates), as they become very straightforward power ramps. In those situations, minion destruction becomes even more important. AL9K’s four factions do not add any new off-turn surprise factor to the game.

Bear Cavalry adds a ramped-up kill factor, as well as potentially slowing the game down just by moving minions away. Whereas Pirates tend to strategically use movement to score bases, Bear Cavalry establishes superiority at a base and dares you to come crawling back. Plants borrow pieces from several factions — Sprout is similar to Ninja Acolyte; another minion has a high Power on every turn except the one you play it. AL9K also introduces a new mechanic on Minions: a “Talent” is an action on a minion in play which may be taken once on each of your turns. The Plants’ Venus Man-Trap, the faction boss, can use this to “bud” Minions of 2 Power or less into play each turn.

Steampunks don’t look very intimidating at first, but they have a number of base-related tricks up their sleeves, including movement tricks, ways to preserve Minions that would normally be destroyed, and sudden force multipliers that can turn an army of small grunts into instant base breakers. Ghosts are perhaps the trickiest faction of all, with effects that get better with fewer cards in your hand. They can be counterintuitive in how they play, as ordinarily you want to have more options up your sleeve, but mastering them can unlock one of the most powerful factions available.

The new factions’ interactions with the old makes for some interesting combos. None of the new factions is a lightweight with Zombies, which is a testament to the strength of recursion. Steampunks and Robots are a fantastic mix, since Robots’ Minion flooding works well with Steampunks’ force multiplication; Steampunks also play nicely with Tricksters, where preservation and recursion of on-base Action cards can ruin your opponents’ day. Plants and Dinosaurs interact well — Sprouts can fetch either Stegos or War Raptors to rapidly increase the Power on the board. Similarly, the Venus Man-Trap can bud various Robot Minions to chain into further Minion play. Bear Cavalry is a strong faction on its own, but can be enhanced with either further movement (Pirates) or kill (Ninjas, Pirates, Dinosaurs). Ghosts are another strong faction, where the support of the secondary faction can be key. Oddly, Wizards can work very well with Ghosts, with the card draw and extra actions chaining together to leave you with the desired low card count.

Finally, it may be tempting to run games with more than four players now that there are additional factions in the game. These can be fun, though there is a lot of player downtime between turns and decision paralysis with large games of Smash Up. Overall, the new factions add strategic fun to the game, if not a whole lot new. Talents are a good way to represent Actions that existed in the base game without extra cumbersome language. The variety of choice has now more than doubled the combinations available, and the artwork and text maintain the level of fun established by the original.

I can’t complete this review without a nod towards the one element that the base game was missing. Included in AL9K are cardboard punchout tokens (in 1 and 5 denominations) for tracking players’ total score — these are a much-welcomed accessory to the game.

New scoring tokens
Adds to the strategic complexity of the game without making the game itself more complicated
Increased number of ways to hinder your opponent
Can be bought and played as a limited standalone game
Entertainment value of factions, art, and text

No additional surprise factor
Some pairings further enhance the faction schtick imbalance

Player Avatar
I'm a Real Person
Smash Up Fan
I play yellow
Comic Book Fan
16 of 18 gamers found this helpful
“--Take two-- A great addition to the base set!”

You already Wrote this!
So, I’m actually completely re-writing an old review I had created then just recently deleted. It was well reviewed (14/15 found it helpful), but the changes I had to make made the title misleading. I didn’t think an update would do, so here is a complete re-write. I’m mainly re-writing because of the Ghosts faction. With them, it’s extremely important that you have a good understanding of your opponent’s cards the base effects, and your cards when playing with, or against, the ghosts. I really didn’t care for them at first. Our group was 0 – 8 when playing with them and eventually no one would touch them. That was around when I wrote my first review. But, after a while someone drafted them, and won. And then they won again, and again, and again… So here’s my second review…

The Awesome 9000 expansion is probably the best 1st expansion to buy for the base set. It adds great new combinations, VP tokens, new bases, counters to powerful pairings, the element of discovery, and the “talent” mechanic (which is more of a re-wording). It adds a lot without changing game play or game time.

Here is a look at the factions:

Bear Calvary:
These brutes are all about destroying minions that are moved. They are kind of a power/control group. They move other players minions and destroy minions pretty well. They play slow, so it can take some time to develop strategy, but they will wreak havoc on minions. They don’t have any power 2 minions, instead they have a lot of power 3’s and a power 6 instead of a 5. They can also create a strange situation with the ninjas and pirates called the “Quantum Buccaneer” where the buccaneer is no where and everywhere at once. Read about it on BGG.

Killer Plants:
These guys are all about drawing cards, playing minions, and actions on bases. They grow, and change and expand like plants. I’ve played a few games where they run out of their minions and have none left in their deck, although it’s not very common. These are a great support group for getting minions out but are pretty powerful on their own.

These tinkerers are all about actions on bases but also move well from base to base. Their actions can create a surprising amount of power, and be very disruptive to opponents. Some of their minions and actions can then get those actions back into their hand. So, they have the potential to become a base breaking juggernaut by recycling the powerful cards. However, a lot of their power relies on 2 cards, so they are very reliant upon drawing them. They are kind of a power/support faction.

They don’t work like the other groups; their cards are the most useful when you have 2 or fewer in your hand. Many of their cards are either about gaining abilities or power with 2 or fewer cards. To help with this many of their cards also discard. You often have to decide if it is worth it to use the discard. Do you discard some useful cards to gain power? Or get rid of a lot of cards so you can destroy a powerful minion and gain a VP? They are very challenging to play because you have to understand all of the decks in play, and you have to make challenging decisions in regards to discarding. They are hard to play against since the ghosts can be played one of many ways. They’re not quite a support group, not quite a control group, and almost a power group making them sort of a “wild card.”

Well there you have it. My favorite groups of this set are probably the ghosts because of their strategic element. Although the other three are tied for a close second. If you bought the base set, and like the game, then buy this immediately. It makes it a LOT better through the combinations alone.

I really like the ghosts. You may hate them at first, but just keep playing and try to come back to them. They will hopefully surprise you.

Player Avatar
I'm a Real Person
10 of 20 gamers found this helpful
“Different factions to add to the Smash Up mayhem”

If you are looking at this expansion, then you probably have an understanding of the base game, rules and what it comes with. The expansion adds 4 new factions, some bases and much needed tokens. They added one new card ability called “talent”, an ability that allows you to use it once, per your turn. It’s an optional ability, meaning you don’t have to use it if you don’t want to.

Quality is still the same; cards are good stock and tokens are good. You could recycle the xpac box and put these new factions into your main box. But the box art and quality are nice enough that i keep them.

The four factions are nicely done, each with their own personalities that doesn’t copy any of the original set’s flavor. Even though this is an expansion, techincally you can play it as a base game (mainly a 2 player scenario). It’s a wonderful add-on to the main Smash Up game.

To Summarize: More of the same; more factions and bases. You get tokens! And for the price point (between $15-$20), it’s a good price of an xpac and it adds more combos.


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