The official rulebook contains a basic description of how to play. This wiki page attempts to describe in complete detail exactly how the general rules work to resolve any confusion. (Individual cards are discussed on separate pages.) Much of this page is elaboration on the official rules with the goal of staying true to the original intention and providing an explicit and consistent process for resolving difficult issues.
With each expansion, the rulebook has gone through many changes. Some rules and clarifications were added and some rules were modified. Players are expected to use the most recent version of the rules.
Paul Peterson and Todd Rowland, the creators of the game, have provided little to no authoritative clarification on the rules, so the Smash Up Community is left to resolve issues on its own. Hence, this wiki is no more or less authoritative than any other community decision on these matters.
For the terms and definition relevant to the game, please check the Glossary page.
Smash Up can be played with 2-4 players. Follow these steps to set up a game of Smash Up:
Choose 2 FactionsEdit
Each player plays with two different factions. There are many ways of deciding which combination of factions each player will play with. One method suggested by the rulebook is:
Kickin’ It Queensberry: For formal play, put at least 2 factions per player in the middle of the table. Randomly determine who goes first. The first player chooses one faction. Choice continues clockwise. When everyone has chosen one faction, the last player chooses a second faction. Choice continues in reverse order.
You can use this method or some additional methods like all-random or ban+pick on Geeky Box Matchmaking page.
Originally, the pool of factions for the Kickin' it Queensberry method included "all the factions" (Core Set rulebook). Then, it was changed to "at least 8 factions" (from Awesome Level 9000 to It's Your Fault!). In the Cease and Desist rules, this was changed to "at least 2 factions per player".
If you have multiple copies of the same set(s), different players are allowed to play with the same faction, provided that there are enough copies for each one. But a given player cannot play with two copies of the same factions.
Each player shuffles the 20 cards from each of their factions together to form their deck of 40 cards.
Each player has a deck, a hand, and a discard pile. Your deck remains face-down throughout the game. Your discard pile remains face-up throughout the game, and anyone is allowed to look through it at any time. The order of cards in your discard pile does not matter, but the order of cards in your deck does matter. Drawing a card means drawing the top card from your deck and putting it in your hand. You should not reveal your hand to other players (except when required by special rules, e.g. Probe, The Spy Who Ditched Me).
Big in Japan factions only: Place the corresponding titan(s) near your deck.
Prepare the Monster and Treasure Decks Edit
Note: This step is unnecessary if no player has chosen a faction from Smash Up: Munchkin.
Gather all the monster cards together to form the monster deck. There are twenty monster cards in total. Shuffle them and set this deck face-down to the side within easy reach.
Gather all the treasure cards together to form the treasure deck. There are twenty-two treasure cards in total. Shuffle them and set this deck face-down to the side within easy reach.
Each of these decks has its own discard pile. These decks and their discard piles work the same as described above for players.
Build the Base Deck Edit
After every player has chosen their factions, gather the bases that come from the sets corresponding to the chosen factions and shuffle them together to make the base deck.
For example, if the chosen factions are Dinosaurs, Clerics, Ignobles, Aliens, Werewolves and Fairies, the corresponding sets are the Core Set (because of the Dinosaurs and Aliens), Munchkin (because of the Clerics), Cease and Desist (because of the Ignobles), Monster Smash (because of the Werewolves) and Pretty Pretty Smash Up (because of the Fairies). You then gather all the bases (not just the ones matching the chosen factions) from the Core Set, Munchkin, Cease and Desist, Monster Smash and Pretty Pretty Smash Up and shuffle them together. You just created the base deck for this game!
If you don't remember which bases come with which set, please refer to the list of Bases on this wiki.
If multiple copies of the same factions were chosen, you only use one of each set of bases.
Before Smash Up: Munchkin, the rules only said to shuffle all the bases together to create the base deck. Since that expansion, because there are so many factions, each one with two associated bases, shuffling all the bases together means that a player may never see the bases associated with their factions, so the rule was changed. Though the bases mostly only share a thematic connection with their matching faction, some bases incorporate gameplay elements that are useful to the factions of the same set, e.g. monsters, +1 power counters or Madness cards.
Arguably, if you only own a few sets, you can still follow the old rule and shuffle all the bases in one big pile to create the base deck, regardless of the chosen factions.[houserule]
Draw the BasesEdit
Draw one base per player plus one more, and place them face up in the middle of the playing surface. Space out the bases so there is room to play other cards around them.
Munchkin bases only: The first player draws as many monsters from the monster deck as the monster number shown on the new base and plays them there. That's the official rule, but in practice, it doesn't make any difference who plays the monsters when a Munchkin base comes into play, since they don't get credit for playing the monsters that way.
There is also a base discard pile. This deck and discard pile work the same as described above for players.
There is a base that has an effect when it's played (Moon Dumpster). If this base is drawn during setup, it's resolved before the players have drawn their hand of five cards.
Throughout the game, bases may be discarded, but always one at a time, and will always be replaced by a new base immediately afterward. The number of bases in play is, therefore, usually constant throughout the game, though some cards may affect that number, e.g. Weird New Worlds, Idaho Smith.
Prepare the Madness Deck Edit
Note: This step is unnecessary if no player has chosen a faction from The Obligatory Cthulhu Set, or if you didn't shuffle any bases from that expansion in the base deck (if you're following the old rule for building the base deck).
Gather all the Madness cards together to form the Madness deck. There are thirty Madness cards in total. No need to shuffle this deck because those are thirty copies of the same card.
Place this deck to the side within easy reach so if one player needs one, it can be drawn or passed to them. While not stated in the rules, you should put this deck face-up to avoid confusion with a regular player deck.
Unlike the base deck and the player decks, there isn't a Madness discard pile as the only way to get rid of a Madness card is by returning it to the Madness deck.
Draw 5 CardsEdit
Each player draws 5 cards from the top of their deck.
If you have no minions in your hand, you may reveal your hand, discard it, and draw 5 new cards. Each player can only use this rule once per game. (In the original Core Set rulebook, players must use the mulligan rule if they had an initial hand of 5 actions, but the Pretty Pretty Smash Up expansion changed this to be optional.)
If you do it, you will indeed start the game with 5 cards in your discard pile and 30 in your deck, compared to 0 and 35 if you did not.
Determine the First Player Edit
Use your preferred method for determining the first player.
The rules suggest choosing the first player based on an objective criteria. From the Core Set to Smash Up: Munchkin, it was whoever woke up first this morning. In It's Your Fault!, it was whoever got blamed for something most recently. In Cease and Desist, it was whoever borrowed something most recently. In What Were We Thinking?, it is whoever had a birthday most recently. In Big in Japan, it is whoever watched anime most recently.
It seems that the first player to play is not necessarily the same as the first player to have chosen a faction if you use the Kickin’ It Queensberry method. The latter is chosen randomly, while the former is determined based on a criteria.[probably]
As with most card games, turn order is clockwise. (i.e. After your turn, the player to your left takes a turn.)
Each turn goes through five phases.
Phase 1: Start TurnEdit
- Prior to the Pretty Pretty Smash Up rulebook, this phase was called "Crank It Up".
Phase 1 is considered as "the start of your turn" (for the Current Player). Some cards are triggered by this event (e.g. Overrun, Water Lily, Mushroom Kingdom) and some abilities expire during that phase (e.g. Glymmer, Mind Lady). In accordance with the Card Resolution Order, if multiple cards in play would trigger and/or if multiple abilities would expire[probably] simultaneously at the start of a turn, the Current Player decides the order.
During this phase, if an ability allows you to play an extra card, it must be done immediately or not at all. It cannot be saved for the Play Cards phase of your turn. See the definition of "extra". For example, if you use Sprout's ability to play Zapbot, you must immediately decide to play an extra minion or not. If you do, it must be played immediately. Otherwise, the extra minion is lost.
Also, during this phase, if you manage to play an extra card with an ability that triggers "at the start of your turn", it is immediately activated because it is still the Start Turn phase of your turn. For example, if you use Sprout's ability to play Water Lily, then Water Lily's ability immediately activates and you draw a card.
However, a problem arises if you use Sprout's ability to play another Sprout. Based on the wording, you would then be forced to activate the new Sprout's ability and destroy it. Presumably, Sprout is an exception to this rule and the intention was that Sprout cannot destroy itself on the turn it is played.[probably]
Phase 2: Play CardsEdit
Phase 2 is where most of the game is played. During this phase, you may play one minion and/or one action (or neither) from your hand in any order. These cards are referred to as "free" or "regular" cards. If you get extra minions or actions to play, they are also optional and can be played in any order unless otherwise specified.
For example, if you use your free action to play They Keep Coming, you get an extra minion to play. That extra minion can be played at any time during this phase, even before you play your free minion. However, if you don't play it during this phase, it is lost; you can't save it for the other phases of your turn.
There is some confusion on whether or not you must play extra cards and if you should play them immediately. Many cards seem to take responsibility for deciding the answers to these questions with wording like "Play an extra minion..." (Abduction) vs "You may play an extra minion..." (Terraforming) or "...play an extra action." (Winds of Change) vs "...play an extra action this turn." (Chronomage), but the definition of "extra" says that extra cards in Phase 2 (except for Specials) are always optional and can always be played in any order. So, even if a card says "Play an extra minion/action" without "you may", it's actually optional.
For more information on how to play cards, please refer to the Playing Cards section of this page.
Using Talents and "On Your Turn" AbilitiesEdit
During this phase, in addition to playing cards, some abilities can also be activated. These abilities are all the Talent abilities, and some of the Base, Ongoing and Special abilities that say "on your turn". (e.g. Archmage, Ninja Acolyte, Secret Grove) Talent and Ongoing abilities must be in play to be activated, but Special abilities can be activated whenever they are applicable, even from your hand (e.g. Fan) or your discard pile (e.g. Tenacious Z).
Talents and "on your turn" abilities can be activated at any time during Phase 2 of each of your turns, but only during the Phase 2 of your turns. These abilities cannot be activated in the middle of resolving other abilities.
Talents and most of the "on your turn" abilities can only be activated once per turn as long as they are in play (e.g. you can only play one extra minion with a single Enshrouding Mist on each of your Play Cards phases), the only exception is Subterranean Lair, which can be activated once again if the extra minion is no longer on the base. For the Talents, the Standing Stones base allows a minion there to use one of its talents a second time.
If multiple copies of a card give you the same Talent or "on your turn" ability, you can use it separately for each card that has it (e.g. two Zeppelins, two Enshrouding Mist) unless stated otherwise (e.g. Classic Rocker).
If you use a card's Talent or "on your turn" ability, and on the same turn remove the card from play and re-play it again, you can use its ability again. (e.g. using Change of Venue on Zeppelin or Enshrouding Mist, or using Doctor When's ability on Time Raider). That is because the game doesn't keep track of the use of each individual copy of a card, and so replaying a card isn't treated as playing the same card, even though it's physically the same.
Phase 3: Score BasesEdit
- Prior to the Pretty Pretty Smash Up rulebook, this phase was called "Check for Scoring".
This is the phase where we check whether or not some bases are ready to score. A base is ready to score if the total power of all the players on that base is higher or equal to its breakpoint during this phase. Before that phase, it doesn't matter how much power each player has on each base, they will only score if they meet the requirement during this phase, and this phase only.
For example, during Phase 2, if the total power of all the players is 22 on Mushroom Kingdom (breakpoint of 20), as long as the Current Player doesn't declare that they are done, Mushroom Kingdom doesn't score. If the players move on to Phase 3 and the total power is still equal to 20 or higher, Mushroom Kingdom can be scored. However, if a minion on Mushroom Kingdom is moved, destroyed or returned before we move on to Phase 3, bringing down the total power below 20, we can't score Mushroom Kingdom. Even though the total power managed to its breakpoint at some point during this turn, all that matters is whether or not the requirement is met during Phase 3.
Here's how to proceed during this Phase:
- Check which bases are ready to score. For each base, if the total power of all the players on that base equals or exceeds the base's breakpoint, the base is considered as "ready to score". If no bases are ready to score, go to Phase 4 of the turn. Otherwise, go to step 2 of this Phase.
- Note: You'll often come back step 1 after doing the other steps. When you do, you need to recheck all the base. Indeed, it's possible that a base that was previous considered as "ready to score" does not meet the requirement anymore (e.g. a minion there was destroyed or lost power as a result of another base scoring). In that case, it's no longer considered as "ready to score". On the other hand, it's also possible that a base that was not previously considered as "ready to score" now meets the requirement (e.g. a minion was moved there). In that case, that base is now considered as "ready to score".
- Choose one base that is ready to score. If only one base is ready to score, that base is automatically chosen. If multiple bases are ready to score, the Current Player decides which base begins scoring; the others do not score yet, but probably will right after step 9 of this process. Once a base has been chosen to score, go to step 3.
- Play/invoke "before scoring" abilities. This is the "Before Scoring" step. Some abilities in play are activated by this step and some cards in hand can be played during this step. (e.g. Hidden Ninja, Things Best Not Known, Cthulhu's Chosen, Mole). These can be recognized as they say "Before a base scores", "Before the base scores" or "Before this base scores". Abilities that say "Before this base scores" can only be activated if the card is on the scoring base, if the card is attached to a minion on the scoring base or if the card is the scoring base itself. If multiple abilities can be invoked or played during this step, please refer to the Card Resolution Order section of this page to decide the order of activation/play. Then, go to step 4.
- Note: During this step, if someone manages to play Stasis Field on the scoring base or destroy the scoring base, scoring stops for that base and you must go back to step 1.
- Award VPs and play/invoke "when scoring" abilities. At this point, the base is scored regardless of how much power is still left on it after the previous step; even if there are no minions left, the base still scores.
- All the players are ranked based on their total power on the scoring base and are awarded victory points based on their rank.
- A player is a winner if NO player has more total power there and receives as many VPs as the number on the left.
- A player is a runner-up if exactly ONE player has more total power there and receives as many VPs as the number in the middle.
- A player gets third place if exactly TWO players have more total power there and receives as many VPs as the number on the right.
- If three or more players have more total power there than someone, that player doesn't score any points.
- Note: A player must have at least one minion on the base (even if they have 0 total power there, e.g. a Worker without +1 power counters), or at least 1 total power on the base (even if they have 0 minion there, e.g. Tail Smash) to be eligible to receive victory points in this step.
- In addition to awarding victory points, some abilities in play are activated by this step and some cards in hand can be played during this step. (e.g. Rhodes Plaza Mall, Factory 436-1337, Happily Ever After, Angry Pillagers). These can be recognized as they say "When a base scores" or "When this base scores". Abilities that say "When this base scores" can only be activated if the card is on the scoring base, if the card is attached to a minion on the scoring base or if the card is the scoring base itself. If multiple abilities can be invoked or played during this step, please refer to the Card Resolution Order section of this page to decide the order of activation/play.
- Then, go to step 5.
- All the players are ranked based on their total power on the scoring base and are awarded victory points based on their rank.
- Award treasures. If the base has no monsters on it, go to step 6. If the base does have one or more monsters on it, whether controlled or uncontrolled, add up all treasures awarded by the monsters and reveal that many cards from the treasure deck. In the order of total power each player has on the base, from highest to lowest (not just the top three), each player chooses one of the revealed treasure and places it in their hand. In case of a tie between two or more players, the order among them goes clockwise from the current player. A player must have at least one minion on the base or at least 1 total power on that base[probably] to get a treasure, even if that minion adds 0 power to the base. If there are more treasures than eligible players, continue in the same order until all treasures are claimed. Once all the treasures are distributed, go to step 6.
- Play/invoke "after scoring" abilities. This is the "After Scoring" step. Some abilities in play are activated by this step and some cards in hand can be played during this step. (e.g. Return to the Sea, Wormhole, Buffet). These can be recognized as they say "After a base scores", "After this base scores" or (rarer) "After another base scores". Abilities that say "After this base scores" can only be activated if the card is on the scoring base, if the card is attached to a minion on the scoring base or if the card is the scoring base itself. Abilities that say "After another base scores" can only be activated if the card is on a base that is not the scoring base. If multiple abilities can be invoked or played during this step, please refer to the Card Resolution Order section of this page to decide the order of activation/play. Then, go to step 7.
- Note: You can only invoke/play "after scoring" abilities during this step, but some of them won't have an effect until steps 7 to 9. For example, if you want to use a First Mate's ability, you must declare it during this step, but it won't move until step 7, because First Mate's ability affects what happens during that step (notice the phrase "instead of the discard pile"). On the other hand, if you play Port Me Up after a base scores, the minion is immediately returned to your hand.
Note: Some bases only say "The winner..." without saying "After/when this base scores". (e.g. The Greenhouse, Dragon’s Lair, Inventor’s Salon) It seems there's an implied "After this base scores" to the ability and so it would be activated during this step like any regular "after scoring" abilities.[probably]
- Discard all the cards on the base. All the cards on the scoring base and actions on the minions on the scoring base go to the discard pile simultaneously (The Current Player doesn't choose the order!) Some abilities played or invoked during step 6 above make something else happen "instead" of this (e.g. First Mate, Scout, Return to the Sea, Ritual Site). In that case, do what these cards say, but the other cards are still discarded. Some of the cards going to the discard pile have abilities that are triggered when they are discarded (e.g. Igor, Jumper, Clyde 2.0), this step triggers them as well. Once there are no more cards on the scoring base, go to step 8.
- Discard the base. During this step, the scored base is simply discarded into the base discard pile. Then, go to step 9.
- Replace the base. You now reveal a new base to replace the scored base. By default, the new base is drawn from the top of the base deck, but some abilities can change how this is done (e.g. School of Wizardry, The Nexus, Time is Fleeting). In case multiple cards changed how a base is replaced, the one that was activated first takes precedence.[probably] Weird New Worlds is the only card that can make you ignore this step. Once the new base is revealed, some base's abilities finally retroactively trigger (e.g. The Greenhouse, Tortuga). The new base is revealed before any decisions must be made for those abilities.[probably]
- Munchkin bases only: The Current Player draws as many monsters from the monster deck as the monster number show on the new base and plays them there. That's the official rule, but in practice, it doesn't make any difference who plays the monsters when a Munchkin base comes into play, since they don't get credit for playing the monsters that way.
- Go back to step 1.
Note: Prior to the Pretty Pretty Smash Up rulebook, the rules mentioned checking for the end of the game at the end of this phase, and then also say to check "at the end of the turn". This confusion was cleared up in the rules change which just puts the check at the end of Phase 5.
Phase 4: Draw 2 CardsEdit
- Draw 2 cards.
- If you have more than 10 cards in your hand, discard until you have exactly 10 cards left in your hand.
(None of these steps are optional.)
Note: You only need to discard down to 10 cards during this step and this step only. If you ever draw more cards either during other players' turns (e.g. Imperial Dragon, Lord of the Prance) or during your End Turn phase (e.g. Missing Uplink, Difference Engine), you don't discard down to 10.
Phase 5: End TurnEdit
- Prior to the Pretty Pretty Smash Up rulebook, this phase was called "Shut It Down".
Phase 5 is considered as "the end of your turn" (for the Current Player) and "the end of the turn".
- Some cards are triggered by this event (e.g. Assassination, Missing Uplink, Difference Engine) and some abilities expire during that phase (e.g. Swashbuckling). In accordance with the Card Resolution Order, if multiple cards in play would trigger and/or if multiple abilities would expire[probably] simultaneously at the end of a turn, the Current Player decides the order.
- Next, check for the end of the game: If one player has more victory points than all other players and that player has at least 15 victory points, the game ends. Note that this check is only ever done at this time (i.e. Invader cannot end the game during the "Play Cards" phase.) If you didn't play with Madness cards, the player with the most VPs is the winner. If you did, each player must search through their hand, deck and discard pile, and count their Madness cards. Each player loses 1 VP for every two Madness cards. The player who has the most VPs left after this is the winner. In case of a tie, victory goes the tied player with the fewest Madness cards. If there's still a tie, all tied players share the victory.
Note: Prior to Pretty Pretty Smash Up, there was some confusion in the rules about checking for the end of the game at the end of Phase 3.
Whose Turn is Next?Edit
Normally, the player to your left starts their turn after you end your turn.
The exception to this rule is if Portal Room was scored on this turn. In that case, the normal turn order is suspended, and an extra turn or multiple extra turns occur before the player to your left takes their normal turn. If multiple players are the winners of Portal Room, they each take an extra turn before the player to your left takes their normal turn. If you were a winner, you take your extra turn first. Then if the player to your left was a winner, they take their extra turn, and so on. If no one was a winner of Portal Room, then the turn order is not affected.
While extremely unlikely, this situation can theoretically get even more complicated if Portal Room is recovered from the base discard pile and scored ''again'' during the extra turns. In this case, the extra turns are interrupted by even more ''extra''-extra turns.
Playing Cards Edit
There are different kinds of cards in the game. The most common ones are minions, actions and bases, though some sets introduced particular kinds of cards, i.e. monsters (which are all minions), treasures (which are minions or actions), Madness cards (which are all actions) and titans (which are a distinct kind of card).
Playing Minions Edit
To play a minion:
Step 1. Choose a minion from your hand and choose a base to play it on. At this point, the minion is not "in play", and its power is exactly equal to the power printed on the card. Your minion and base choice must be a legal play. (e.g. You cannot choose War Raptor and Tsar's Palace.)
Step 2. Place the chosen minion card face-up next to the chosen base card. Position the minion pointing toward you indicating that you are the controller of the minion. (The controller of a minion can change; e.g. Make Contact.) The minion is now "on this base" and "in play".
Step 3. Do exactly what the card says, step by step (a minion may have multiple abilities), and resolve it entirely.
- An ability that does not start with "Ongoing:", "Special:", or "Talent:" is resolved immediately (e.g. Ninja Master). This kind of ability is informally referred to as an on-play ability. This card's on-play abilities are resolved only once and have no further effect. Some on-play abilities may state a deadline, e.g. "until the end of the turn". In that case, it is resolved when the card is played and is maintained until the stated deadline. If an ability says "you may", you have to immediately decide if you want to do it. If you don't, it is lost. If you decide to do it or if the ability doesn't say "you may", you must do it immediately, except if the ability gives you an extra minion or action to play.
- An ability that starts with "Ongoing:" immediately becomes active. Unlike on-play abilities, it lasts for as along as the card is in play. Note that an Ongoing ability may state that it is triggered during a certain phase (e.g. "at the start of your turn", "before this base scores") or if certain conditions are met (e.g. "after this minion is destroyed, "if you have two or fewer cards in hand").
- An ability that starts with "Talent:" is never resolved immediately. You'll be able to activate it on each of your turns (including the turn the minion is played), but only after you finish resolving everything involved with playing a minion and only if the minion is played during Phase 2 of your turn.
- An ability that starts with "Special:" is only resolved when the stated conditions are met. If you play a card with a Special ability and the condition is already met, you must resolve the Special ability.[probably]
Step 4. Trigger card reactions. Some abilities may be triggered by the minion you just played, either from it being played or from resolving its ability. These cards are recognized as they say "After (something happens)"; that something being a minion being played or something that was caused by the minion's ability. Several cards either in play or in hand can therefore be activated. To decide the order of activation/play, please refer to the Card Resolution Order section of this page.
Playing Actions Edit
To play an action:
Step 1. Reveal it to all the players.
- If the action starts with "Special:", it can only be played at special times. You cannot choose to play it as your normal action or as one of your extra actions (if any) on your turn. (e.g. You cannot use Hidden Ninja to simply play an extra minion like Summon.)
Step 2. Do exactly what the card says, step by step (an action may have multiple abilities), and resolve it entirely. The abilities are resolved exactly like how a minion card is resolved with the following exceptions:
- If an action's ability says to "Play on a base." (or similar wording), choose an eligible base in play, and place the action there with positioning similar to a minion played there (see above). The action and base choice must be a legal play. (e.g. You cannot choose such an action and The Dread Gazebo) At this point, the action is "in play" and "on this base". Then, continue resolving its ability. This is very similar to how minions are played and their abilities are resolved.
- If an action's ability says to "Play on a minion." (or similar wording), choose an eligible minion, and place the action card on the minion card. The minion and the action don't necessarily have the same controller. There isn't really any good way to position an action played on a minion to track the action's controller. (The controller of actions played on minions cannot change. However some abilities let you play other players' actions, making you the controller. e.g. Mass Enchantment) At this point, the action is "in play" and "on a minion here" (or similar), but not "on this base". Next, continue resolving the action's ability.
- If an action's ability does not say to play it on a minion or a base, the action is never "in play", and the action "goes to the discard pile" after all of its abilities are resolved. (e.g. Lend a Hand cannot shuffle itself into your deck.)[probably]
Step 3. Trigger card reactions. Some abilities may be triggered by the action you just played, either from it being played or from resolving its ability. These cards are recognized as they say "After (something happens)"; that something being an action being played or something that was caused by the action's ability. Several cards either in play or in hand can therefore be activated. To decide the order of activation/play, please refer to the Card Resolution Order section of this page.
Step 4. Unless the action was played on a base or on a minion, you must now discard the action into the appropriate discard pile, usually yours. Madness cards are discarded into your discard pile if you chose to draw two cards. Treasures have their own discard pile. If you played an action owned by another player, the action is discarded into their discard pile. Note that some cards may change where they end after being used, e.g. Time Walk is placed on the bottom of your deck, Woodland Helpers does it for all your actions, Wand of Dowsing is shuffled back into the treasure deck,...
Playing Bases Edit
Bases are only played:
- at the start of the game as part of the setup.
- after you finish resolving the scoring of a base to replace it.
- when a card tells you to play a base, e.g. Weird New Worlds, Idaho Smith.
When you play a base, place it face up in the middle of the playing surface. Space out the base so there is room to play other cards around it.
Munchkin bases only: The Current Player (or first player during setup) draws as many monsters from the monster deck as the monster number shown on the new base and plays them there. That's the official rule, but in practice, it doesn't make any difference who plays the monsters when a Munchkin base comes into play, since they don't get credit for playing the monsters that way.
Playing Monsters Edit
Monsters are only played:
- After a Munchkin base comes into play.
- When a card tells you to play a monster.
When a player plays a monster, it only triggers abilities that react to a player playing a minion (e.g. Leprechaun, Fairy Circle) if it was played because of one of their cards. (e.g. Taunter, Mass Summoning) If the monster was played as one of the monsters that appear with the base, or because of a base's ability (e.g. The Gauntlet), it doesn't count.
They are considered as minions and play exactly like minions, with the following exceptions:
- They don't have any owners.
- They aren't a faction.
- They are not controlled by the player who plays them and so they don't face any particular direction when they are in play. For readability purposes and to save table space, you can overlap uncontrolled monsters and place them beneath the base card so that only their powers and abilities are visible.
- They don't count as extra minions for cards like Eliza.
Playing Treasures Edit
Treasures are either minions or actions and are played exactly like normal minions or actions, with the following exceptions:
- They don't have any owners.
- They aren't a faction.
Playing Titans Edit
Titans are neither minions, actions, nor bases. Titans are only played when a card (including the titan itself) tells you to play one. To play a titan, you must not already have one in play. Just like extra cards, playing a titan is always optional, but unlike them, if you choose to play one, it isn't "banked" and must be played immediately or not at all.
To play a titan:
Step 1. Choose a base to play it on.
Step 2. Place the titan card face-up next to the chosen base card. Position the titan pointing toward you indicating that you are the controller of the titan. The titan is now "on this base" and "in play".
Step 3. Do exactly what the card says, step by step (a titan may have multiple abilities), and resolve it entirely. The abilities are resolved exactly like how a minion card is resolved.
Step 4. If there is another titan on that base, the former titan and the new titan "clash". To do that, compare the total power of each titan's controller on that base (not just the titan's power !); the player with the lowest total power must remove their titan from that base. In case of a tie, the new titan is removed and the former one remains. Exception: If the base is Kaiju Island and if its ability isn't cancelled, you must ignore this step.
Order of Operations EditIf an ability has multiple distinct parts in sequence, resolve each one completely before moving on to the next. For example, Headlong has two distinct sentences: "Move one of your minions to another base." and "Place two +1 power counters on that minion.". You must completely resolve the first sentence before moving onto the second sentence.
Note that if resolving an ability gives you an extra play, you must not play the extra card right away unless a later part of the ability requires that the extra be in play. For example, playing a War Raptor on The Homeworld occupied by an enemy Leprechaun will not allow you to play more War Raptors before the Leprechaun's ability triggers and tries to kill the first War Raptor. However, IT'S ALIVE!, which lets you play an extra minion and then place a +1 power counter on it, requires that the minion be in play before the ability can be fully resolved. In this case, the extra must be played as part of resolving the ability (verification pending).
If multiple things are supposed to happen at the same time, for example two different on-play reactions, the current player chooses one of them to resolve first. That ability is resolved completely, then the current player decides the next one to resolve, and so on until all abilities have eventually resolved.
Card Resolution Order Edit
After a card is played or after a certain event occurs (e.g. the start of a turn), it's very likely that more than one ability can be activated by it. Here is the rulebook's official process on how to resolve the conflicts:
Step 1. If the trigger is a card being played, finish resolving the card just played. Then, go to step 2.
Step 2. If other cards were in the middle of resolving (so the card from step 1 essentially interrupted them), finish resolving these cards. Then, go to step 3.
Step 3. Cards in play that are triggered by the card from step 1 are resolved first. If there are more than one, the Current Player decides the order. Make sure to resolve all the cards in play before moving on to the next step.
Step 4. Cards in hand with a Special ability that can be activated because of the card from step 1 are resolved next. If several players want to play such cards, start with the Current Player and continue clockwise. When it's their turn, each player may play one card or pass. This round continues, so a player who has passed may later decide to play. Continue until all the players have passed in sequence.
Step 5. If the card from step 1 was an action that is not played on a base or on a minion, this card is discarded.
While the above chart gives a rough idea on how to resolve most card reactions, several cards don't seem to wait until step 3 or 4 to be activated.
Mimic vs Nightstalker Edit
Possible Resolution: Resolve the played card first: According to the official chart, you must first resolve Nightstalker's ability before resolving card reactions. So Mimic's ability doesn't readjust its power yet and Mimic is still a power 0, and therefore eligible for Nightstalker's power. Mimic can therefore be destroyed.[probably]
Possible Resolution: Passive abilities: However, you can also view Mimic's ability as a "passive" ability, one that is always active and is automatically re-evaluated as soon as the state of the game changes. So, as soon as Nightstalker comes into play, Mimic's ability immediately readjusts Mimic's power to match the highest printed power in play, and so Mimic's power is increased to 4 and Mimic cannot be destroyed.[houserule]
Sprout vs The House of Nine Lives Edit
The House of Nine Lives is in play and Sprout is on another base. At the start of Sprout's controller's turn, Sprout's ability triggers. Sprout's controller must then follow Sprout's ability step by step: Destroy Sprout, search their deck for a minion of power 3 or less, play it on Sprout's base, and shuffle their deck. However, The House of Nine Lives gives them the opportunity to move Sprout there instead of destroying it. But when can the move be done?
Possible Resolution: Interruptive abilities: The House of Nine Lives interrupts resolving Sprout's ability right when the player is about to resolve "destroy this card", and before they do it. The player then has the opportunity to either move Sprout there, or not and so Sprout must be destroyed. Once they've made their choice, the player must then resume resolving the rest of Sprout's ability. So, if the player chooses to move Sprout, the extra minion will be played on The House of Nine Lives, otherwise, it will be played on the base where Sprout was when it was destroyed.[houserule]
Cub Scout vs Headlong Edit
A player has a power-2 minion on a base. Another player has a Cub Scout on another base. If the first player plays Headlong to move their power-2 minion, when is Cub Scout activated? Before or after that minion gets a +1 power counter?
Possible Resolution: Resolve the played card first: According to the official chart, you must first resolve Headlong's ability before resolving card reactions. So the power-2 minion gets its +1 power counter and therefore survives Cub Scout's destruction attempt.[probably]
Possible Resolution: Only "after a card is played" abilities wait until after resolution: Cub Scout doesn't react to Headlong being played, but to the minion being moved. So as soon as the minion finishes its move, Cub Scout interrupts Headlong's resolution to be activated and destroy the minion before the rest of Headlong's ability can be done.[houserule]
There are a number of ways for turns to last forever.
Delay of GameEdit
It's fairly trivial for a player to do a sequence of things that allows them to repeat that same sequence of things arbitrarily many times.
The simplest example is playing Collector on The Homeworld and then using the Collector's ability to return itself to your hand. Since The Homeworld lets you play an extra minion of power 2 or less after doing that, you can simply repeat that operation over and over again.
Since this repetition is voluntary, the situation is easy to resolve by speaking aloud the phrase "Stop that!". Any kind of delay-of-game penalty that applies to players simply waiting for an hour to take their turn could apply to this situation as well. One example of a delay of game penalty is to not invite that friend over to play Smash Up anymore.
As of the Pretty Pretty Smash Up set, there are some situations that cause infinite loops and break the game.
Buccaneer vs Cub ScoutEdit
One player is Pirates, and another player is Bear Cavalry. A Buccaneer has an action attached that reduces his power, such as Poison. All bases have a Cub Scout on them (or a manned High Ground). Some ability attempts to destroy the Buccaneer, such as Seeing Stars. At this point, the Buccaneer will not die, but instead move. However, once he arrives at any base, a Cub Scout (or High Ground) will attempt to kill him. At this point, the Buccaneer will not die, but instead move. And so on.
In summary: Destruction triggers moving; Moving triggers destruction.
Smash Up creator Paul Peterson himself actually commented on this situation saying this:
That is a wonderful question. The answer is that the Buccaneer bounces between the bases forever. I know that's not very satisfying, but it is the way the rules would work in that case.
If you wish to deal with it with a house rule, that's up to you. Perhaps you could just set the Buccaneer to the side, assuming that he's never actually at any base. Or you could just continue the game and assume that the Buccaneer is actually at every base all the time because it is constantly moving. This will make it very tough to resolve a base, though as he will both be there and not there all the time. Eventually a Bear Cub will go to the discard, though, and the Buccaneer will come to rest.
- - Paul Peterson - Board Game Geek Forums
Unlike the "Delay of Game" situation above where a player is deciding to delay the game, this situation is actually impossible to resolve while following the rules.
Here are some proposals for resolving situations like this:
Possible Resolution: Stalemate: As the game cannot meaningfully continue, all players agree to end the game and no one is declared winner, loser, or anything else. This is similar to an insufficient material situation in chess where both players are capable of defending against every possible strategy from their opponent.[houserule]
Possible Resolution: Game Over: As the game cannot meaningfully continue, declare the game over and count up victory points. This is slightly more fair than the Stalemate resolution above.[houserule]
Possible Resolution: Finite Abilities: Although a bit difficult to comprehend, there is a more satisfying resolution to the situation in which one imagines that there is an upper-limit on the number of times an Ongoing ability can trigger in one sequence of events. In order to not affect the normal play of the game, imagine this limit as something very large, say 1000. Each time Buccaneer eschews destruction, he uses his ability once. Each time a Cub Scout attempts to destroy the Buccaneer, the Cub Scout uses his ability once. It is evident that no matter how high the limit is, the Buccaneer will run his ability dry before any Cub Scout, since there are more Cub Scouts involved that are sharing the work load. Therefore, the Buccaneer dies. This resolution can be applied generically to any infinite-loop situation like this.[houserule]
Possible Resolution: Pirates Playing Limbo: This solution is that the buccaneer is suspended in limbo. He is theoretically on every and on no base. He will be suspended in limbo and out of play until an opening is made for him to return. Such as a base scoring or one of the involved Cub Scouts or High Ground being destroyed itself.[houserule]
Sleep Spores vs In Plain SightEdit
A Killer Plants player plays Sleep Spores on a base. "Play on a base. Ongoing: Other players' minions have -1 power here (minimum power 0).". Then an Innsmouth player plays a power 3 minion there, at which point the minion becomes power 2. Then the Innsmouth player plays In Plain Sight there. "Play on a base. Your minions here of power 2 or less are not affected by opponents' cards."
Since the minion is power 2 and is being affected by an opponent's Sleep Spores, that effect is negated. The minion returns to power 3. Since the minion is power 3 now, it is not longer protected by In Plain Sight, and so Sleep Spores brings it back down to power 2. Then this paragraph repeats.
As with the Buccaneer vs Cub Scout example above, the Stalemate, Game Over, and Finite Abilities resolutions could apply here as well.
For the Finite Abilities resolution, the situation would play out like this. Each turn, the minion starts at base power 3. Then Sleep Spores acts to reduce the minion's power. Then In Plain Sight acts to restore its power. Then Sleep Spores again, etc., etc., etc. Since Sleep Spores acts first, it runs out first giving In Plain Sight the final say, and the minion ends up at power 3. After anything changes the situation, like playing another minion, the turn ending, going to Phase 3, anything, reset the finite ability limit and start this process over. The result is always the same. In order to get consistent results, think of Ongoing power modification as always starting with base base power, and then acting at every time it would matter.[houserule]
Void Where Prohibited Edit
These rules appear in the various rulebooks.
- Often, card text and rules text will conflict. When there's a fight, card text wins. It has a black belt in rule-fu. So there’s an invisible “unless stated otherwise” with every rule in this book. Exception: Minion power and base breakpoint are never reduced below zero.
- If cards conflict, the one that says you can't do something beats the one that says you can.
- If multiple effects would happen at the same time, the player whose turn it is chooses the order. If a single effect affects multiple players, the order starts with the current player and goes clockwise.
- You can play a card even if its ability can’t or doesn’t happen. For example, you can play an action that destroys a minion even if no minions are in play, or if the minion you choose is immune to destruction. This helps you get unneeded cards out of your hand.
- You must follow a card’s ability, even if it’s bad for you. Exceptions: Extra cards are optional, and Talents are always optional, as are abilities that say you “may” do them.
- If an ability says “any number” you may choose zero. You may play a card that says “all” even if there are no targets.
- If you get to play extra minions or actions outside the Play Cards phase, you must play those extra cards immediately or not at all.
- When a card that others can see goes to the hand, deck or discard pile, it goes to the one belonging to the card’s owner (i.e. the player whose deck the card came from), no matter who played or controlled it, unless it originated from a special additional deck, like the Madness deck. Madness cards that you discard go to your discard pile, you can only return them to the Madness deck if you are told you can by a card (like the Madness card itself). Exception: monsters and treasures go their respective discard piles.
- When a card leaves play, any cards and counters on it are discarded.
- Anyone may look through any discard pile at any time. And yes, zombie fans, they will be rifling through yours all the time if they’re playing smart to keep track of what you have....
- Specials may be played at any time they are applicable, even on other players' turns.
- If you are playing with the Obligatory Cthulhu Set, remember to check for Madness cards VP reduction at the end of the game. If, after players have counted their Madness cards up, any players are tied for most victory points, the player with the lowest number of Madness card wins.
- “A minion” or “minions” means any minion in play, including monsters and treasures, unless stated otherwise. Exception: “Play a minion” refers to minions in the hand.
- If a card resets a base’s breakpoint, that refers to its printed value. Monster power and other effects add to or subtract from that value.
- If a monster is controlled by a player, its power adds to the player’s power at that base. Otherwise, its power adds to the base’s breakpoint.
- Monsters and treasures belong to no player or faction, and have no owner or hand. A monster has no controller unless a player takes control of it.
- Monsters are not opponents or “other players” to anyone, but each player is “another player” to monsters.
- Monsters and treasures have no owner or faction. Monsters don’t go to a hand, and are only controlled if an ability lets a player take control of them.
- A player who destroys a monster gets its treasure.
- Monsters and treasures always go to their discard piles when they leave play.
- The power of a minion not in play is only the number printed on it, but once in play its power includes all modifications. Its power may never go below zero.
- If not stated, the effects of an ability expire at the end of the turn, or when its card leaves play, whichever is sooner. Exception: with no stated deadline, a control change of a minion lasts indefinitely.
- “You” on a minion, action, or titan means the controller of the card; on a base it means any player it describes, often the current player. “Other players” means everyone except “you”. “Your” cards are those you control, whether or not you own them.
- “Here” means the base the card is at; “there” means the base just referred to on the card.
- If you “look” at a card, show it to no one else. If you “reveal” it, show it to everyone else. If you “search” a deck or discard pile for a card you must reveal the card chosen. After searching a deck it must be shuffled.
AEG released an official FAQ in 2012 September. This FAQ contains several reminders and assurances that the rules and cards are meant to be interpreted literally, and does not contain any additional or modified rules. A careful reader of the rules and card abilities will learn nothing from the official FAQ.
- ↑ https://boardgamegeek.com/article/15455888#15455888
- ↑ https://boardgamegeek.com/article/15664458#15664458
- ↑ https://boardgamegeek.com/article/25184584#25184584
- ↑ https://boardgamegeek.com/article/20211371#20211371
- ↑ https://boardgamegeek.com/article/20231922#20231922
- ↑ https://boardgamegeek.com/article/11934123#11934123
- ↑ http://www.alderac.com/smashup/files/2012/08/SU-FAQ.pdf