Smash Up: Cease and Desist and It’s Your Fault

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Two Smash Up Expansions that I picked up at Gen Con 2016

The Toledo Tuesdays Gaming Club has been playing Smash Up ( Smash Up at AEG ) for quite some time.  If you are not familiar with the game, basically each player selects 2 20 card decks, each with a different theme and “smashes” them together to make a 40 card deck.  Possible combinations are Zombie Faeries, Ninja Steampunks, Time Traveller Giant Ants, etc.  I think you get the idea.  The game is basically about using Actions and playing Minions to win bases.  Get to 15 Victory Points first and you win. It’s fun stuff, not too serious, and pretty much anybody can play it.  The gameplay is pretty deep, mainly because like most card-driven games, finding combinations and playing your cards right are the paths to victory.

Anyway, at Gen Con 2016 I picked up two new expansions: Cease and Desist and It’s Your Fault!  The former contains decks that are parodies of sci-fi/fantasy movies & TV.  For instance, the Star Roamers are clearly Star Trek.

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Star Roamers

And the ChangerBots are Transformers.

 

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ChangerBots.  They turn into bicycles and RVs!  Hilarious stuff!

And of course there has to be a Star Wars deck!

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Astroknights = Star Wars

The latter expansion is a set of decks with themes chosen by fans.  It includes Dragons, Sharks, Tornados, Greek Gods, etc.

Stew was away, so Neal, Lee and Bob got in a game of Smash Up using only the latest expansions.  Neal was Dragons & Sharks, Lee chose Astroknights and Ignobles (think Game of Thrones) and Bob was Mythic Greeks plus Tornados.

 

The game was quite fun with Lee causing mayhem by giving his Minions to Bob and I and then whipping them back (the Ignobles are sneaky!).  The Tornados kept Bob’s Minions moving around while Neal’s Dragons and Sharks were all about brute force!  In the end, Neal won mainly because of the card “Shark Week” which allows the Shark player to draw an extra card every turn.  Here is an example of the play:

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Example of play

Our opinion was that the two expansions were some of the most fun and well-balanced decks yet from AEG.  If you haven’t played Smash Up, starting with Cease and Desist and It’s Your Fault! would be a great way to get introduced to the game.

Pandemic Legacy August Playthrough

After our narrow victory in July (see Pandemic Legacy July Playthrough Part 2) the Toledo Tuesdays Gaming Club (info here ) now was moving on to August.

— SPOILER ALERT BEGINS HERE —

IF YOU HAVE NOT PLAYED THE AUGUST EPISODE OF PANDEMIC LEGACY YET, DO NOT READ THIS BLOG UNTIL YOU DO. PLENTY OF INFORMATION ABOUT THAT THE EPISODE IS REVEALED HERE.

— SPOILER ALERT ENDS HERE —

Recap: In the first seven months, the disease in Asia (i.e. the red cubes) mutated into the non-treatable and incurable COdA virus. In April the virus further mutated into the COdA-403c virus and the afflicted became the Faded, with ground zero for the new mutation in Ho Chi Minh City.  We suffered a crushing defeat in our first attempt at the May episode as Moscow melted down, while the Blue and Yellow viruses spread like wildfire across the Americas and Africa.  In a heroic effort in the second episode of May, we triumphed and kept the diseases under control.  A rather lucky draw of cards in June allowed us to triumph in our first attempt.  But now the government was barely funding events and in our first attempt in July we lost so quickly that one of the three players didn’t get a second turn! We did however find the Virologist.  See review here (Pandemic Legacy July Episode – Part One).  In our second July attempt we managed to triumph despite long odds (Pandemic Legacy July Playthrough Part 2).

August Setup

The Mission Briefing threw a curve right at the start of the game.  We had to rip up the “Eradicate 1 disease” mission!  We did however get a new mission: Find the Immunologist.  It is another “search” mission, much like the “Find the Virologist” that we completed in July.

 

Pan Leg Aug 03

We drew a number of red cards during set up, so there were plenty of Faded on the board.  We knew that we would have to deal with them while also going into Faded cities to find the Immunologist.  So, Bob graciously volunteered to select the Colonel, a character that we had not yet used.

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The Colonel.  He can removed Faded figures from the city that he is in.  He also ignores roadblocks.  He got the scar on Turn 3.

Stew came up a with a great plan to quickly find the Immunologist.  We also anticipated using the July win bonus to put down our 6th permanent military base.  In other words, we figured that we would accomplish 2 objectives quickly, leaving only the mandatory “cure 3 diseases” objective.  So, we chose to go with the standard Dispatcher, Researcher, Scientist combo.  After determining play order, here are our character picks:

  • Stew — Dispatcher
  • Bob — Colonel
  • Neal — Researcher
  • Lee — Scientist

Our Funded Event total was only 2, so we selected “Local Initiative” and “Resilient Population.”  We used our July win bonus to put a permanent military base in London and a temporary military base in Seoul.

Here is what the board looked like after set-up was finished:

Pan Leg Aug 01

Start of the August game.  Photo taken before we placed the 6th military base in London. The base in Lagos is there, but it is hard to see.

Game Play

When the game started, we automatically accomplished the “Have a military base in each of the 6 regions” objective.  Objective #1 down — giddy up!

Turn 1

We all started in Kolkata.  The dispatcher moved to Bangkok and then moved the Researcher and Scientist to him.  For his final action, he “Searched” with the Ho Chi Minh City card.  This moved the search 4 spaces (+1 red/Faded card, +1 Researcher present, +1 Scientist present, +1 Dispatcher present).

The Colonel moved to Bangkok and Searched with the Beijing Card.  This moved the search 4 more spaces (+1 for red/Faded card, +1 for Researcher, +1 for Scientist, +1 for Dispatcher).  As the search moved 8 spaces, we found the Immunologist!  Objective #2 down before the first turn was over!  Yee Haw!  The Colonel then moved to Ho Chi Minh City and removed a Faded figure.

Pan Leg Aug 02

The benefits from finding the Immunologist.  The Virologist that we found previously has the “Gene Sequence” so two more things left to find.

The Researcher (has 5 actions because starting with Scientist–Family Member upgrade) gave 2 cards to the Researcher, moved to Kolkata, treated a cube and then moved to Bangkok.

The Scientist grabbed one card from the Researcher, moved to Kolkata, flew to Baghdad, then moved to Istanbul and treated a cube.

Turn 2

The Dispatcher moved the Researcher to Istanbul, then traveled to Ho Chi Minh City, took a military shuttle to New York City (via the Veteran upgrade), and treated 1 of the 3 cubes there.  We drew our first Epidemic card in Seoul.  We used an “Airstrike” to immediately destroy 1 of the 3 Faded figures there.  After shuffling the discarded Infection cards, we drew Khartoum which had an Outbreak (#1) and Seoul!  Good thing we hit it with that Airstrike!

The Colonel flew to Seoul and removed all 3 Faded figures.  He then drew Epidemic #2 in Karachi.  As you can figure, the Infection discard pile now had only 3 cards in it.  We drew Karachi (outbreak #2) and Khartoum (outbreak #3).  We now were going to have to hussle before the 3 regular diseases got out of control.

The Researcher moved to Khartoum via Cairo, treated 1 of 3 cubes, then moved to Lagos and treated 1/3 cubes.

The Scientist moved to Lagos and took a Blue card from the Researcher.

Turn 3

The Dispatcher took a military shuttle to Lima, moved to Buenos Aires via Santiago and treated 1/3 cubes.

The Colonel got hit with a scar in Seoul and selected “Regretful.”  He then moved to Shanghai and removed 3/3 Faded figures there.

The Researcher moved to Tehran and treated 1/3 cubes.

The Scientist cured the BSNL-419 disease (no action required and no need to be at a research station via upgrades), treated all the cubes in Lagos, moved to Khartoum and treated those cubes, and then moved to Cairo.

Turn 4

The Dispatcher moved the Researcher to Cairo, then treated the cubes in Buenos Aires, moved to Johannesburg and treated there.  He then used the “Local Initiative” card to quarantine Karachi and New York.

The Colonel removed 1/2 Faded in Hong Kong, moved to Kolkata and treated 1/3 cubes there.

The Researcher handed a Black card to the Scientist, then moved to Bangdad and put the “Medical Equipment: Binoculars” on a Red card and moved to Cairo.  He then drew Epidemic #3 in St. Petersburg.  We used the “Resilient Population” event to remove Delhi from the Infection deck.  We then drew Mexico City (2 cubes now), Santiago (3 cubes) and Los Angeles (outbreak #4).

Pan Leg Aug 05

Binoculars–should help in searches needed to finish the requirements on card 30 (see above picture).

The Scientist cured the Blue (Fischer-Titus) disease.  Grabbed the Istanbul card from the Researcher and cured the Black (Sprague) disease.  Objective # 3 met — Game over man!

Pan Leg Aug 06

Panoramic view of the end of the game!

Endgame

Well, none of us expected to win the August episode with an unfunded event total at 2, but our long range planning really helped.  Our “munchkin” strategy of getting 6 permanent military bases paid off, as did placing a bunch of “unfunded events” on player cards.

At the end of the first game in August, the game gives you a new character “The Immunologist” and a bunch of new upgrades.

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New upgrades at end of August game.  Check out the “Nuclear Option”!

We took advantage of these new upgrades choosing: 1) to add the “Tactical Centers Now Online” to the Osaka card and 2) to give the “Hacker” upgrade (+1 card in hand) to the Scientist.  We then moved our Funded event total to zero (yikes!).

Onward to September!

 

 

Pandemic Legacy May Playthrough Round Dos

After the debacle in the first part of May (see Pandemic Legacy May Playthrough) the Toledo Tuesdays Gaming Club (info here ) tried for a second time to defeat the May episode of Pandemic Legacy.

— SPOILER ALERT BEGINS HERE —

IF YOU HAVE NOT PLAYED THE MAY EPISODE OF PANDEMIC LEGACY YET, DO NOT READ THIS BLOG UNTIL YOU DO. PLENTY OF INFORMATION ABOUT THAT THE MAY EPISODE IS REVEALED HERE.

— SPOILER ALERT ENDS HERE —

Recap: In the first FOUR months, the disease in Asia (i.e. the red cubes) mutated into the non-treatable and incurable COdA virus. In April the virus further mutated into the COdA-403c virus and the afflicted became the Faded, with ground zero for the new mutation in Ho Chi Minh City.  We suffered a crushing defeat in our first attempt at the May episode as Moscow melted down, while the Blue and Yellow viruses spread like wildfire across the Americas and Africa.  Outbreaks came at lightning speed and we lost due to the too many outbreaks rule.

May Part Dos Setup

The initial draw of 9 infected cities was fairly neutral: 2 Faded cities, 4 Black, 2 Blue and 1 BSNL-419 (Yellow).  We started with a permanent base in Lima so we only needed to put up 5 more.  We looked at the board and seeing very few Blue and BSNL-419 cubes, we thought that we could quickly eradicate at least one disease (BSNL-419 is the easiest for us to conquer given our advantages–see the board) so we were going to try for that optional mission.  Also, given our military base in Lima and the relative lack of cubes in Africa and North Africa, we thought it would probably be easier to put a military base in all six regions (another optional mission) than quarantine 7 Faded cities (the optional mission that we were not going to try for, unless something made us change our minds mid-game).

Lee was not available, so we were going to give it a go with only 3 players.  We passed out the cards (after choosing and putting in our funded events) and we had a very favorable draw.  Neal drew two yellow cards and Stew and Bob each drew at least one event.

Pan Leg May2 start

The Start in May Part Dos!  Note the paucity of cubes in the Americas and Africa.  Also, the two yellow cards Neal (on the left) drew and the unfunded event that Bob drew (on the bottom).

Player Choices: So we decided to start at our research station in Kolkata and take the following characters (in game turn order):

Neal: Scientist (needs only 4 cards to cure a disease)

Stew: Medic (can treat all cubes in a city, also has the upgrade to treat nearby cities)

Bob: Researcher (can share cards with other players easily)

The Researcher and the Scientist are “Family members” and if they start their turn with each other, the active player gets an additional action.

We used our Win Bonus from April to remove one of the Faded from Sydney (it can be hard to see the Faded in photos–bad Z-Man Games, bad!–but there are three Faded there) and we started the game.

Playthrough

The Scientist and the Researcher stayed near each other, passing cards to the Scientist and removing a few cubes along the way toward the Americas (mainly by flying to the CDC in Atlanta).  The Medic headed into the Faded territory and dropped a military base in Ho Chi Minh City.

Within a few turns, the Scientist cured BSNL-419 and began working on curing Black as the Researcher seemed to get a bunch of Black cards.  Fortunately, the first Epidemic card took a long time to arrive and in Lagos, not really near other problem spots on the globe.  The Researcher used Resilient Population Card to remove Lagos from the Infection Deck so it couldn’t be drawn ever again this game (so Lagos couldn’t directly outbreak).  The Medic drew the Remote Outpost event and used it to drop a military base in Bangkok.  Note, that the Panic Level (Bangkok was at a 2, “Rioting”) does not effect the placement of military bases, only research stations, so our play was perfectly legit.

The Scientist then cured Black and subsequently Blue.  We needed to finish the game by completing the two optional missions (eradicate a disease and place 6 military bases).  We already had three military bases (permanent in Lima, and temporary in Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok) so the Researcher and Scientist moved to the appropriate cities and used cards in their hand to put military bases in London and Atlanta.  The Medic started to make his way toward North America where he was going to clean up the Blue cubes.

It was that last military base that was a problem.  Nobody had a single card in hand for the African region!  We actually were worried that we would fail (two epidemic cards had been drawn and the third was near) just because of bad luck drawing cards!  We contemplated briefly the thought of trying to quarantine 7 Faded cities.  But without the Colonel, Quarantine Specialist, etc, in play, we probably were going to find that a tough haul.

Anyway, our worries were unfounded as the Scientist (brown pawn) drew the Lagos card, moved to Nigeria and put down a military base.  On the very next turn the Medic treated the last Blue cubes in London and Atlanta and the game was over in sweet victory!

Here is a photo of how the game ended:

Pan Leg May2 finish edited

The Sweet Taste of Victory!  Military bases in all 6 regions, 3 diseases cured, and Blue eradicated!  In my haste to take the picture, and our enthusiasm for winning, we forgot to remove the Blue cube in London after the Pink player (Stew–Medic) treated it from New York and moved to Atlanta to treat the last Blue cube.

Endgame Upgrades

For our two upgrades we chose the following:  a permanent military base at ground zero for the Faded, Ho Chi Minh City, and the Common Structure upgrade to the Blue virus.  We also finally got around to naming the Black virus (which we had previously eradicated) as Sprague and the newly eradicated Blue virus as Fischer-Titus (a joke from Neal’s RN wife).

We moved our Funded Event total down to 4 (boo!) and now we are ready for June.

Announcing Toledo Tuesdays Gaming Club Blog

Do you love games?  We do!  Toledo Tuesday’s Gaming Club (TTGC), or ToledoTuesdays for short, announces its new blog.  TTGC meets every week to play board games, card games, and role-playing games (RPG).  Look to this space for weekly reports on our sessions, including run downs of gameplay, strategy tips, and comments from TTGC members.  Every so often one of us will post a review of a game, an extended strategy guide, or perhaps just a wild rambling or muse on something game-related!

In the spirit of that latter sentiment, here is a short list of four must-have games as determined by Neal (see our About page for a thumbnail sketch of the four TTGC members):

Dune-Avalon Hill-A beautiful game that can be won by multiple players on any and every turn.  The board, cards, and player aids all drag the player into Frank Herbert’s spice-fueled world of Arrakis. The constant battling for key strongpoints focuses gameplay on aggressive action and tense face-offs that can end with spectacular success or devasting betrayal and disaster. If you can’t find the Avalon Hill version, Rex by Fantasy Flight Games is an update of the rules and a transposition of the theme into the Twilight Imperium universe without much loss of the charm of the original game.

7 Wonders-Asmodee-A tableau card building game that is intuitive and easy for anyone to play. Thematically is is civilization building along with all the usual components: recruiting military, trade, civil, and scientific advances.  It might look like Civilization lite, but for all its simplicity, there is a remarkable depth of play and no single dominant strategy. I am sure that if you are reading this you know about 7 Wonders, but in case you don’t, go get this game and play it.

Call of Cthulhu RPG-Chaosium-First, don’t get the d20 version, find the original d100 system. The classic Chaosium d100 rules make combat and character improvement realistic and intuitive and those are key parts of CoC.  The insanity rules cleverly deliver on the promise of the H.P. Lovecraft mythos. The combination of horror, mystery, and otherworldly science fiction makes for a unique RPG experience where your character’s combat skills are nowhere near as important as their Library Use skill.

Shadowfist CCG-Inner Kingdom Games-Cybernetic monkeys, shaolin masters, a sinister and secret society of transforming animals, and heroic Kung Fu  fighters all battle for control of feng shui sites–what is not to love!  There are no fireball-channel janky combos and no simple beat down strategies.  Games are strategic because victory is only possible through long-term build-up of faction resources and a well-planned strategy.  Top-decking is much less important than creating subtle synergies between multiple cards (and the drawing back to hand-size mechanism usually means all players have good cards in hand most of the time).  You might never have heard of this game, but you haven’t seen how good a CCG can be until you have played Shadowfist.

Hopefully this short teaser list gives you some idea of the breadth of games that are part TTGC sessions.  Again, look to this space for a weekly report on our activity–including our most recent attempt to successfully subdue out of control diseases in Pandemic: Legacy!