If I keep on getting and reviewing Smash Up expansions, I’m going to have to come up with some creative openings that don’t all sound the same. Maybe make up some meta joke that will carry throughout the reviews? Not sure on that one.
I’ll get back to you.
Hot on the heels of the Science Fiction Double Feature expansion review, let’s talk about an even better one.
Cease and Desist is probably one of the funniest expansions I have seen for this game (I’ve seen them all, just not in action). It comes this close to being copyright infringement, but in such a hilarious way that I’m sure the executives at HBO/CBS/Lucasfilm/Hasbro are laughing their asses off rather than trying to fight through the parody laws.
Cease and Desist is once again designed by Paul Peterson, this time with art by Gong Studios, Alberto Tavira, and Francisco Rico Torres. It’s published by the king of
getting me blog hits weird and interesting card games, Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG).
As with the previous expansion review, I’m not going to go into the whole spiel of how to play Smash Up. If you don’t know how to play already, please check out the review of the base game.
Cease and Desist includes four more interesting factions that you can combine and have tons of frivolity with along with back-stabbing, robotic goodness, traveling around the stars and fighting the evil Empire (is that a trademark? I hope it’s not a trademark). (Editor: Lucasfilm is on Line 1).
Each faction once again comes with a mix of actions and minions that you will be playing on bases to help them score! With some factions, though, maybe you’re not actually trying to win the base…
Look at those traitorous Ignoble bastards! Moving to the front of the line.
The Ignobles are the funniest faction of the lot, so I guess it’s good that they’re first.
Look at those cards in the picture. Aunt of Drakes? Foot of the King? Red Birthday Party? The other cards are similarly humorous.
The faction itself is very interesting because it operates under the (inevitable) betrayal and skulduggery that Game of Thrones is known for.
Just look at the cards above. “Give control of one of your minions to another player” from Aunt of Drakes. Then Foot of the King lets you take that control back. If you have the Foot and the Aunt in play, then you can just give control of a minion to another player, draw your card and play your extra action, and then take it back at the end of your turn.
Look at Inevitable Betrayal. You play it right before a base scores. So why not give control of one of your minions to an opponent at that base. Let it sit there, percolating, and then BOOM! Play this card and take it back right before the base scores, giving you the victory there.
The Ignoble faction is an intricate one, as there is a lot of dancing involved. It’s probably one of the more advanced ones I’ve seen (yes, I still only have two expansions). It’s by far the neatest one I’ve seen. This one is almost worth the price of the expansion alone.
The Astroknights are pretty funny in themselves, though they’re not that complicated. They concentrate on adding power to minions and some conditional actions as well.
It’s a Trap lets you play it right before a base scores, letting you reveal cards until you get an action. And then you get to decide whether that action will help you win the base or not. If it doesn’t, you can just draw it into your hand. This simulates the thrilling heroics in the Star Wars movies.
Ghost Knight is pretty handy because while he has no power himself, he buffs all of your other minions, and he can’t be destroyed (unfortunately, not even by you, though he can be sent back your hand and moved).
The Walking Carpet (not pictured) minion works similarly to It’s a Trap, because it has a special talent when a base scores. If you are not winning the base, you can play an Action from your hand that will buff him. That may not help, so it may not be worth it, but it’s a nice surprise if it does win you the base.
Definitely a fun faction, with some really fun card names.
Cyberchangers are the Transformers parody, and they work pretty well too, though they’re probably my least favourite of the bunch.
This faction concentrates on moving minions and giving them talents that let them do things. Some minions already have talents, but you can then add more!
Bruiser can’t be destroyed, but if you need to add +2 to his strength, you can lose that ability (and anything else that affects him) temporarily to buff him for the rest of your turn, which may be the key to scoring the base. This would apply to all actions that are affecting Bruiser, however, so make sure you don’t use an action to buff him up!
(Edit 5/3/19: See the comment below, where it’s pointed out I’m slightly wrong about this one)
Passengers is one of the many actions that will give a Talent to the minion it’s played on. And once again, it’s a talent that applies to moving minions from one base to another. (These Transf…Changerbots are quite mobile)
If you want flexibility in your play, then Changerbots are for you! Change Up and Roll On lets you swarm a base that’s about to score with your other minions if you need help there. You just have to make sure you have minions on other bases and that they’re strong enough to lose a power point and still put you over the top (and thus this isn’t the greatest ability in a 2-player game).
Finally, the Star Roamers (do I really need to tell you what they are parodying?)
This is a rather generic faction, with some special abilities that are taken directly from the TV show.
Ensign, for example, takes the hit for any of your other minions on the same base. The Ship’s Captain lets find another minion in your deck, and if it’s sufficiently low in strength, you can actually play it along with the Captain at the same base.
“Come with me, Ensign. Get ready to die.”
I do like some of the subtle things you can do with this faction, though.
Teleport Overflow lets you return a minion to your hand (it says “its owner’s hand,” but I’m not sure why you would want to return another player’s minion that you control to their hand. Maybe a strategy I’m missing). Then, you get to play that minion and any other minions of the same name as extra minions. It’s nice if you have more than one copy of that minion available, a nice extra play. It also allows you to move that minion even if you don’t have another copy, and “playing” it rather than “moving” it means that you get to use that minion’s ability again.
Still, this seems to be the dullest of the factions in regards to theme. The Star Trek theme is awesome, and the cards fit that to a T, but I can’t really say what the Smash Up theme is for this faction. The Ignobles have a lot of switching around of minion control, the Changerbots concentrate on adding Talents and moving minions, and the Astroknights emphasize minion-buffing and last-minute heroics.
What do the Star Roamers do? Each individual card is interesting and funny and useful, but the faction as a whole is kind of aimless.
So how are the bases?
Once again, they are quite thematic with their factions.
Wintersquashed is my favourite, though. First, notice the scoring. Second place actually gets more points.
The base ability of playing a minion there and then giving control of it to another player lets any faction do it. But playing Ignoble minions here works wonderfully. All the control granting and taking back makes this a great base for them. You can play a ton of minions there and then make sure that you get second place.
It’s a win-win!
The Hive of Scum and Villainy is also quite good, and it works well with the buffing done by many Astroknights cards. It can make your hand quite card-heavy, though, forcing you to discard down to 10 many times, especially if you’ve also played the Action that lets you draw a card at the beginning of each turn.
Overall, Cease and Desist is a fantastic Smash Up expansion. The factions are interesting (even the Star Roamers, as themeless as they are in game terms, still have some great cards that reflect their faction well).
While most factions in Smash Up are pretty funny, Cease and Desist ups the humour level to 11.
The artwork is fantastic in this one. Each faction has a unique look but the style is hilarious, just the right bit of cartooniness (Editor: There he goes making up words again) yet still recognizable as far as what it’s depicting.
All of the card titles just make me laugh every time I see them.
The expansion also comes with some more victory point markers so you don’t have to keep score on paper, which is really helpful.
The card quality is the same as the others, pretty good. I’m not bothering to sleeve them, at least not right now. In this day and age where so many expansions have cards with different shades or sizes of cards than the base game, AEG is doing a really great job keeping things consistent.
Overall, I rate this expansion very highly, even higher than Science Fiction Double Feature. I can see playing with these factions for a long time.
This review written after three plays with these factions
Other Smash Up Reviews: