Traveling With Kids – Victoria – Smash-Up

The Great Smash Up

Ok, hold on, there wasn’t an accident or anything. We were at my BFF’s place with her and her husband, her two amazing daughters and the oldest daughter’s boyfriend.

It took two days to do this right. This is from the 2nd night.

My BFF, upon hearing that Sunday was Game Night immediately began to research what would be a great game for the boys. She searched high and low until she finally came up with a game.

smash up1Smash-Up is that game. Wil Wheaton has a video on it. It’s a card game where you get to play aliens or dinosaurs or ninjas or pirates or robots or wizards or zombies. It could be the greatest game ever made.

At least as far as the boys are concerned.

We learned the rules on game night, played one quick game and then went back to the motel where they were plotted and schemed. The next night we came prepared and very excited.

The boys were sure this would be the BEST NIGHT EVER!!!

Prettiest-girl-in-the-world talks with my BFF

Prettiest-girl-in-the-world talks with my BFF

I mean, who could doubt it?

They got to have hot dogs, their favourite food, they didn’t have to sit and listen to us talk about work or the world or hemorrhoids, so whoohoo, and they didn’t have to meet new people and behave like they were saintly children from a mythical, well-mannered English family.


Lots of factions

Plus, you know, they got to play aliens and dinosaurs and ninjas and ghosts and robots and wizards and zombies. Even bigger plus, they got to play with their new bestest friend in the whole wide world. The boyfriend of one of the girls in the family. A teenager! A super nice teenager!! A super nice teenager who makes them laugh!!! (OK, he makes us all laugh).

So, yeah, this was the going to be a great night.

smash up base

The Base

Here’s how the game works. You get to choose 2 factions and they join forces to take over bases. Bases give you victory points and the first to 15 points wins the game.

The players are…

My BFF, AKA, Mom, perhaps the most deadly Magic player of all time, a woman so brilliant, that when she plays with all the chubby, bearded guys who play Magic, they all have to work if they hope to win. She usually sends them all home in tears. In this game, she plays robots and killer plants. An odd combination, but she will make them game winners.

Next is the Cool Boyfriend. He plays Bears and Steampunk. He’s spent the afternoon reading up on the factions and has a pretty damn good head for strategy. He thinks his good looks and charm and sense of humor will distract us all from the fact he means to beat us all and beat us all badly.


The Oldest’s nickname in the game

Beside him is the Oldest who has been planning and strategizing about the game since last night, and that includes in his sleep. He plays the super powerful zombies and wizards. He knows none of his minions stay dead for long. He can bring them all back from the grave. He can barely sit still, bobbing up and down in his chair, waiting to unleash his magical hordes on the world in general (and his brother in particular.)

Beside him, the oldest-girl in my BFF’s family (aka the cool teenager’s girlfriend). She has chosen to play pirates and ninjas. Last night, she giggled every time she plays the saucy wench card and this night should be no different. She has some devious plans for her hidden ninjas who can steal victory points. She is very sneaky.



Then there is the elite team of me and the Youngest. I’m there to help him read, but you know what, he doesn’t need my help at all. He kinda knows it, but it makes him feel better to have someone there who can tell him what terraforming means. We are playing the powerful Dinosaurs (that have laser beams shooting out of their eyes), and aliens who specialize in abductions and probing anyone who gets in their way. The Youngest can’t wait to probe someone.

The Prettiest-girl-in-the-world has decided to sit this one out. It’s going to be a bloodbath and she’s wisely chosen to sit and watch. She’s simply too nice to play at this level. Six players enter, One player leaves.

The bases are placed and the game begins. The Youngest is so excited, he’s vibrating. He has all sorts of dinosaurs waiting to be unleashed and he means to show everyone that he’s not just another pretty face.

The Mom devastates a base with a mass of robots. The Oldest spawns zombie after zombie after zombie and, at one point, has so many cards in his hand that the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world has to help him hold them all.

The Cool Boyfriend somehow has bears that cannot be killed and has placed them on the best bases to capture. The Oldest-girl had ninja’d victory points from everyone and claps each time she does it, looking sweet and innocent the whole time.

But we’re not fooled.


So, like, Joe, should I abduct my brother or probe him?

The Youngest and I play a different strategy. Each base gives victory points to the one who captures it, but also to the ones who are in 2nd and 3rd place. So we go for 2nd and 3rd place while the other devious players claw and chomp (and sprout) all over each other to be #1.

We’re also waiting for that probe card. With every draw of our new cards, we pray for one (and by ‘pray’, I mean the Youngest jumps up and down and shouts, I want the probe card!, I want the probe card!!!)

What amazes me, though is how fast both the Youngest and the Oldest can do the math in this game. “So, the 2 plants have 4, +2 points when it’s not their turn, but one ability gives them both +1, and the bears are 2 but it’s the only bear so it’s 6, and there’s our Alien with 3, but in other player’s turns he’s 5, so that’s….”

Me- I pull out a piece of paper. “Carry the one… what was that about the plants, again…. Err, wait, hold on, I almost got this…”

The boys – “Hello, Joe! It’s 17 on your turn, 19 on everyone else’s.”

Ah, right, sure.

The Prettiest-girl-in-the-world nods. Being a super smartie, she does what she does at work. Add things up and correct people like me who always seem to get it wrong.

IMG_5016The battle rages for an hour. The Oldest impresses me with his ability to know the strategy behind the game after playing it only once before. He’s working combinations and rush attacks and even tries talking a bit of smack. However, to be honest, his smack talk could use a bit of work (“So, yeah, baby, yeah, zombies, yeah, up your butt, and, yeah, zombies.”), but it’s great he’s so comfortable with everyone that he can let go.

The Youngest, too, impresses me with his ability to read complex descriptions on the cards, then figure out a way to use them to crush his enemies. He guns down a whole base with his terraforming card, and his smack talk consists of maniacal giggling.

It’s a close game. We’re up against the best, the most ruthless, the most devious of players.

But then The Youngest and I get a perfect match. A super dino with cannons on his back matched with augmentations that make the cannons really, really big with laser sights and all.

We play the two cards and win the game.

The Oldest is stunned that his brother has beaten him, but takes it so well. It’s hard to lose and yet, he takes the time to congratulate his brother and even expresses admiration for a well-played hand. I am so proud of him.

It was a great game, well-played by all.

The Boyfriend, the Mom, the oldest daughter all vow revenge.

We promise a rematch will be held when they come over.

But the boys were right. It was the bestest night ever!


What games have you played with your kids?

Have you played Smash-Up?

About Joe Cummings

Aquarius. Traveler. Gamer. Writer. A New Parent. 4 of these things are easy. One is not. But the journey is that much better for the new people in my life. A life I want to share with others, to help them, maybe, to make them feel less alone, sure, to connect with the greater world, absolutely.
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