Thursday, 20 June 2013

House of Cards: Smash Up

For the first one of these reviews I thought I’d look at a game new to my circle of gamers, and one that’s quite a new release.
Smash Up is a game that allows you to take some of the greatest factions from fiction and have them battle against each other. The core set comes with eight factions:
Each of which has 20 cards in a deck; players choose two of these decks and shuffle them together to make their combined faction, who are now ready for battle. This makes for some great combinations; Pirate Wizards, Zombie Ninja’s, you get the idea.

Each faction has its own distinct flavour: Zombies can come back from the discard pile. Wizards draw more cards than the other races.
Ninjas strike when you least expect.
Robots bring more robots to the fight.
Tricksters steal and disrupt.
Dinosaurs are heavy hitters.
Aliens mess with other people stuff.
Pirates roam about the board.

This means that while choosing your faction for its awesome theme there is also benefit to choosing your faction for complimentary rules.
Citizen Williams is one of our founding members and a passionate board game player, he's been writing a Blog (A Murder of Ravens) for 3 years now, focusing on Warhammer 40,000 and Malifaux. 
Main Systems:

Malifaux: Arcanists, Guild



Faction decks contain two types of cards, minions and actions.
Minions are your troops and are how you can take over locations and score, most have an extra ability linked with their faction theme.
Action cards re usually one shots or continuous affects you can play on minions’ or location cards to change their effect, give them a new effect or sometimes just plain destroy them.
In addition to the 8 faction decks, Smash Up also contains sixteen "base" cards bases form the board Smash Up is played on and are the locations your new forces are fighting over.

Each base has a score in the top left corner called a breaking point. This is how much power (from minions) it can take before it is destroyed. Upon its destruction a base generates points, the highest number to the player with the most power, second for second and so on.
Some bases also have special effects which are written on the card most of these are what to do with minions placed there, or what happens to minions once the bases i destroyed. Upon a bases destruction most of the time all minions on that bases are discarded.

The game itself is very simple to play. Once they have chosen their two factions, players draw a number of base cards equal to the number of players plus one. So for a four person game you deal out five bases.
Players then take their turns. On their turn, a player may play one minion and one action in any order they wish. Some minions or actions allow you to play more cards which is allowed as cards text always trumps the rulebook. A player then checks to see if any of the bases are at breaking point, if so score that base, if not the player draws two cards and play passes round.

The first player to reach 15 victory points is the winner. It couldn’t be simpler. The more in depth rules are on the cards themselves but everything is clearly explains and just in case the rulebook comes with a clarification of each key word and which one takes precedence in a tie.
In addition to the core eight factions the Smash Up expansion; Awesome Level 9000” adds four more.

Bear Cavalry who hit hard and chase you down.
Steampunks who build on bases to keep them strong.
Killer plants which grow the longer they’re alive.
Ghosts who get stronger the fewer cards you have.

The small box expansion also comes with new look base cards that are easier to read, and eight additional bases, themed to the four new races.

Also in the expansion is a sheet of victory point tokens which helps immeasurably with scoring as previously players had to rely on pen and paper.
Over all I love the simplicity of the game, its fast to set up and play but gives you a feeling of a more complex card game like MTG. The combination of the 8 (12) factions is vast especially if you have multiple copies of the decks. There are more expansions planned with a Cthulhu themed set hitting shelves in September.

So my final rating:

Fun - 8
Fast pace and frantic the whole game can be over in 25 minutes or a couple of hours staying exciting most of the time. Longer games do drag on a little but hopefully new factions will fix the late game.

Ease of learning – 7
This score would be higher but it takes new player a while reading their hand each turn.

Portability – 7
Both the core game and expansion fit in the original box with slots to spare still, and the box its self would easily fit in most bags or even the front pocket of a miniatures case.

Mechanics – 9
A delightful take on deck building I keep coming up with new ways to use factions together and how to cover some weaknesses in heavy factions like the dinosaurs with the wizards high card drawing, while not as in depth as CCG’s or LCG’s it got great scope.

Cost - 7
Coming in at around the £20 mark is a little pricey for a card game, but its well made and very robust, so it can surviv without sleeving. The expansion is pricey at around £12 but isn't necessary to play. As a cheaper option the expansion pack also works as a two player version of the game.

Total: 38/50

I hope you enjoyed this article, feel free to leave any questions or comments below or contact me at

House of Cards - Introduction

For years I've loved card games. Even as a child every Christmas or late evening on holiday we'd always rack out a pack of playing cards and go through all the old family games, a tradition that continues to this day, but one I was not content with.

In my early teenager years a close friend and I began to embrace nerd culture to its fullest. From D & D to high fantasy novels and miniatures games we got into it all, but most of all we played Magic: the Gathering.

I fell in love with magic for many reasons. Its look, the mechanics of playing and the ease of having a deck tucked away in a rucksack or even my pocket so gaming was always possible. Most of all though I liked deck building. Deck building is one of my favourite pasts times to this day. I love looking at the cards for a system and seeing how they synergies and which cards I need to pull the power cards I wanr, it gives me shivers just thinking about it

Magic sadly dropped in interest for me mostly because I got to playing at a high level where many player spends hundreds of pounds (dollars, etc.) on their decks so that eventually you're beaten by a wallet not a player.
This left me looking for new card games and over the years I've found more than a few. This series, which will run on both "A Murder of Ravens" and the Hobbynomicon will look at some of these card games, from LCG's, to deck building games and beyond we'll look into the world of cards.

The games will be rated on
Ease of learning
and Mechanics.

The first one of these will be up by the weekend.

I'd love some feedback on games you'd like me to feature or any you want to know more about.
Email:, or contact me through the Hobbynomicon's "House of Cards" forum thread.. .

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Winter is Coming - Malifaux 2E Battle Report

So recently Gmort (of Gmort's Chaotica) and I have been play testing the beta rules for Malifaux 2.0. We've had about four games and I've had a couple of others to try and test the changes in the rules and how the new rules set holds up.

During our most recent game I decided to take notes in the hope of writing a battle report, show casing not just the new rules but also Rasputina. Before I begin that however lets have a look at the changes M2E has made from Malifaux 1.5.

1) There are now only two types of duel;
Simple duels which target your own models (usually for buff spells)
Opposed duels where one player attacks or targets an opposing model, where one player can resist the other players duel.

2) Most model can buy upgrade cards.
In some cases these grant a model an ability it previously had in 1.5 or a last effect that alters how that model plays in the game. These upgrades can change between games an can give models a totally different feel, taking some from combat monsters and turning them into support characters or vice versa and many others in between.

3) Setting up and playing a game has become much more simple with players flipping on small concise charts for strategies and schemes (though players are still free to choose, if they so desire).

Some other changes will be covered in the battle report, but I intend to do a more encompassing review of the system when we have the final rules set.

But on to the main focus of the article, the battle report.

We chose to play a 35 soul stone game which is the starting box for Rasputina (Raspy, Wendigo, Ice Golem and three Ice Gamin) and Seamus (Seamus, The Copy Cat Killer, Madam Sybelle and three Rotten Belles.) and leaving enough points for some upgrades. This is a smaller game by 2.0 standards and we both took a larger than average cache of soul stones into the game so we could test the new effects.

Rasputina Crew - Citizen Williams

Rasputina (Cache of 3) - 0
Wendigo - 3
Ice Golem - 10
Ice Gamin - 4
Ice Gamin - 4
Ice Gamin - 4
Total - 25 SS

Rasputina Upgrades:
Child of December (1) - Grants Rasputina Bear Skin armour and gives her the (0) ability Shatter.
Decembers Pawn (2) - This allows Rasputina to treat the Black Joker as a second Red Joker.

Cold Nights (1) - Gives Rasputina the (1) action spell Ice Pillars.

Ice Golem Upgrades:
Sub Zero (1) - Grants all models with 'Frozen Heart' within 8" the Df trigger sub zero which ends an attacking models activation once the model with 'Frozen Heart' takes damage.

This puts my crew at 30 SS and gives me a maximum cache of 7 Soul Stones in the game.

Seamus Crew - Gmort

Seamus (Cache of 3)
Copy Cat Killer - 3
Madam Sybelle - 8
Rotten Belle - 5
Rotten Belle - 5
Rotten Belle - 5
Total - 26 SS

Seamus Upgrades:
Sinister Reputation (1) - Grants Seamus the (1) action live for pain and gives opposing models within 6" -2 Wp.
Mad Haberdasher (2) - Allows Seamus to prevent damage using his hat.
Not Too Banged Up (1) - Gives +2Wk to models effected by a Belle's 'Lure' spell.

Sybelle Upgrades:
Bleeding Tongue (1) - Gives Sybelles combat attack two triggers, one to force a model to do an action and one that can instantly kill an enemy model.

Picture by Gmort

This Put Gmort on 31 SS and gave him a cache of 7 Soul Stones also.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Winter is Coming - Part 1

So we've know Malifaux 2.0 has been on the horizon for a while now. Wyrd told us that the masters and models from the core 1.5 book would be redone first and we'd get the rules on the first of June.

Well they folks at Wyrd came up good. Malifaux 2.0 looks like a solid beta, there's a few rules I'd like to test but I'll come to those in later articles as I begin to test. Allow me first to tell you a tale.

I was becoming  little disillusioned with Malifaux due to having to teach so many games and not being able to use my master (Colette) in those games as people got confused. I was on the verge of ditching the system entirely then came the UK games expo. I was scheduled to run a tournament and at the 11th hour had a  player pull out. This forced me to bring a crew to fill in the gap I grabbed the first models I could find which were small Kaeris and Rasputina crews. I went to the expo details here, and had a blast at the tourney. I fell back in love with Malifaux and began a new romance with an ice queen.

Colette is still my favourite master in both play style and look, but Rasputina has a certain power and glass cannon effect that was really fun, meaning I had to play defencive yet still go for kills until my usual crew. This got me thinking about 2.0 and how silly I was for liking a new master before the new edition was out. Fortunately for me unlike Colette Rasputina is included in the new beta rules. Over the next few weeks and month I'm going to be looking at Raspy's current rules, how she plays now and how 2.0 is changing this.

They'll be cameos from some of the guys over at the Hobbynomicon as well as a few other local bloggers as I'd like to be able to cover more masters.

We'll start next week with a look at Raspy's strengths and hopefully a look at Malifaux 2.0 with A.D.