As part of a partnership with The OP, Alderac Entertainment Group is releasing three different Smash Up core sets with IP that the OP has (is that too much EP?).
The first, of course, was Smash Up: Marvel, which was a pretty good expansion even with the IP stuff and terminology changes.
The second one has just now been released, and it’s Disney!
Smash Up: Disney Edition is a new 8-faction core set that follows the same path as the Marvel set.
Thankfully, it follows the path in all the right ways, as once again we have 8 factions that do some new and interesting things rather than being a retread of previous Smash Up factions with the IP stuff added on.
The 8 factions, of course, are based on Disney movies.
It was also designed by Sean Fletcher and Paul Peterson and was released in 2022 (like, less than a month ago as I write this).
Once again, long-time Smash Up fans will have to remember the terminology changes in the game, mainly in the fact that “Minions” are now “Characters” and actions that you can play on minions/characters are now called “Character Modifiers.”
That becomes even more important because at least one of the factions included really likes Character Modifiers!
The Marvel set was pretty good.
Is the Disney set?
Let’s take a look.
I detailed how to play Smash Up in my review of it, so I won’t go into that here.
The first thing I have to say about this core box, and apparently some of this stuff (if not all of it) will be in the upcoming 10th Anniversary Smash Up set, is that it includes base mats and actual power counters!
Yes, base mats where you can track both the break point and current power level of the base are a godsend after years of constantly doing math in your head and then also trying to make sure you remembered that one of the current Base Actions actually reduces the breakpoint of the base.
Secondly, the counters that are in this box actually are double-sided, with both victory points and power tokens.
This is imperative for factions (like a few in this expansion, but also the Werewolves faction in Monster Smash) that gain benefits from actual power tokens.
We usually used the VP tokens to denote power increases, but with the Werewolves (and perhaps others), it was sometimes hard to make sure whether these were just increases in power (this minion gains +2 power until the end of the turn) or whether they were power tokens (add a +1 power token to this minion).
Now you can do both! Or, with the base trackers and if you’re diligent about changing the power level on them, you don’t even need the “+2 power until the end of the turn” markers. (we still use them, but that’s just us).
It’s really nice to be able to differentiate at a glance.
Just like the Marvel expansion, the dividers also give a description of the faction and how easy/hard they are to play, which is nice for new players which I assume this set is designed to attract.
The artwork on all the factions is pretty good, though the Nightmare Before Christmas faction stands out as great artwork. I’m not as big of a fan of the Wreck-It Ralph artwork, though I think it probably reflects the movie pretty well? I haven’t seen the movie.
How are the factions?
There are 8 of them, so take a deep breath!
Th Aladdin faction is based a lot on these four cards, though some of the other cards work well together too (the Palace Guards, for example, let you add power tokens to each Palace Guard on the same base by discarding an Action).
These cards are the meat of the faction, though.
Playing Aladdin helps you get the Lamp. The Lamp helps you get the Genie. The Genie gets you the Wish.
The Wish can be incredibly powerful (or it could fizzle, but it’s unlikely).
When does the problem come?
When you’ve played the Genie, somebody destroys him immediately, and you never see Aladdin because he was near the bottom of your deck (like my first play).
However, I’ve seen this faction played two other times to great effect.
The Lamp going to the bottom of your deck rather than your discard pile makes it so this combination won’t happen all of the time.
Which is good for your opponents.
The other aspects of Aladdin deal with Actions and getting more power. Sometimes you discard an Action to get more power, or sometimes you discard an Action to play an extra Action.
One of my favourites for this is Jafar (which is actually not a Character but an Action, which is kind of weird, isn’t it?)
Anyway, Jafar has each other player reveal an Action from their hand and discard it. You can choose to play one of these Actions as an extra action.
This was used in one of our games to actually
cheat keep me from winning!
The Aladdin faction is a fun one and has done very well in all three of our plays.
Beauty and the Beast
I love this faction but it can almost be overpowered, at least in our three games. The only reason I didn’t win our last game where I had B&B (along with Mulan, which I’ll mention below) was because I got to play so many cards that I ran out of cards right before the end of the game. I couldn’t play enough to get myself over the hump.
I looked later and that was because all of my B&B cards that let me draw cards were buried in the bottom of the deck.
The Beauty and the Beast faction is really powered by discarding cards that let you play themselves when they are discarded.
There are quite a few cards like the Enchanted Objects above, where if they are discarded from your hand (for any reason, even if it’s because you have more than 10 cards and need to discard down), you can then play them as an extra Character/Action).
Cogsworth lets you discard a card to play an extra Action. If you discard Break the Curse, Discover the Library or Ever a Surprise, their Special ability lets you play them if you discard them. So not only do you get to play an extra Action, but you also get to play the Action (or Character, like an Enchanted Object) you just discarded!
Hence, you will be draining your hand of cards, between discarding them and playing them.
Thankfully cards like Belle and the Beast (especially if they are together) let you draw cards.
If you get them into play.
Which I didn’t.
This is a really powerful faction, though. It won our first game (paired with The Lion King, which may have been one of the issues, but I’ll talk about that below) and it almost won me the second game (it was left out of the third game we played).
And it’s a hell of a lot of fun, if you can get it going.
Big Hero 6
The Big Hero 6 faction loves +1 Power Counters.
It really loves them.
Just looking at the descriptions on all four cards in the picture above (above the lovely Sandra Bullock, I mean), you’ll see how prominent +1 counters are.
Control the Swarm looks amazing if you have a lot of Characters out.
Yokai has a wonderful ability as a Base Modifier that I haven’t really seen before.
Any characters without at least one Power Counter on it actually get -1 power.
As with the Marvel set, I love how the designers make sure that the factions in these sets are compatible with the other Smash Up sets. Microbot Swarm, the rulebook actually says it counts as a Microbot for the Robots faction in the base game.
That attention to detail is admirable.
The faction is not Character-heavy, at least not in power (it still has 10 Characters but only 26 total power) but that’s more than made up for with the +1 Power Counters flying around everywere.
This is an interesting faction. I like it but I don’t love it, and I’m not really sure why. It’s nice to be able to spread power around like there’s no tomorrow.
The faction could be the basis of some nice chains, depending on who you pair it with.
Holy crap, but Frozen is powerful.
Frozen has some nice Characters and its cards are looking to get them out as fast as possible.
There are a string of Characters that can come out over multiple turns.
Elsa can search for Olaf or a Snowgie in your hand or discard pile (but not your deck, don’t forget).
Anna can search for Elsa or Kristoff, and that can be in your deck. Reindeers Are Better Than People lets you search for any Character. If it’s a lower-power character, you can play it. Otherwise, you can discard it.
Which isn’t that bad if you search for Olaf, because Elsa can then play him from the discard pile where you had just put him.
Frozen Port is an amazing Base Modifier and can win you a base single-handedly if your opponents don’t have a way to destroy it. Not allowing other players to play their first Character at that base is quite powerful. It doesn’t help as much if the other players have factions that allow a lot of extra Character play, or Move play.
But we used Frozen twice in our three games and it was on the winning team both times.
It’s not unbeatable, depending on which faction it’s paired with. It doesn’t necessarily go well with a faction (like Nightmare Before Christmas, coming up!) that relies a lot on Character Modifiers, since it doesn’t have any.
But it’s very versatile and could win you the game without even involving the other faction.
I haven’t had a chance to play it yet (it was played by my two opponents in our games), but I look forward to the chance.
We’ll see if I can break the winning streak.
Another faction that likes +1 Power Counters, though this time the Power Counters also serve to do other things, like draw cards or play an extra Action.
Mulan herself, along with some of the other Characters, allow you to draw a card if you placed a +1 Power Counter on that Character. So it’s a good thing you have Actions and other Characters (like Li Shang or Group Training) to put +1 Power Counters out.
I can’t even imagine this one paired with Big Hero 6!
Mulan also has a few cards that let you outright destroy other Characters, which is nice and not that prominent in the Disney set (I guess because Disney is more touchy-feely?).
Following the theme of a number of the Disney factions, there is one Action (Avalanche) that lets you discard a card to do something. In this case, it is to shuffle all characters at a base with 3 power or less back into their owner’s deck. That’s a way to get rid of them!
Mulan is a pretty decent faction and more fun to play than Big Hero 6 even though they both like the +1 Power Counters.
In hindsight, as I’m writing this, I’m thinking that my pairing of Beauty and the Beast and Mulan should not have run me out of cards like it did. Both of them have some draw cards ability, but for some reason I couldn’t implement it.
Maybe because I had discarded so much I didn’t have much left to play and couldn’t get those cards out.
I think they would normally go together pretty well, though.
I’d like to try them again.
The Lion King
Holy crap is the Lion King faction powerful, especially when paired with Beauty and the Beast (are you sensing a theme here?). The rulebook does not recommend the pairing in either entry (it has entries for each faction with suggested pairings), but maybe that’s because they thought it would be too powerful?
It destroyed us in our first game.
It’s really centered around Mustafa (of course), which is a 6-power Character just by himself!
It also has a lot of replacing Characters with stronger Characters when the originals go to the discard pile after a base scores.
But holy crap, Mustafa!
First, when he goes to the discard pile from play, you can put up to four +1 Power Counters out!
Then there are other cards that rely on him being in the discard pile, so much so that you may only want to play him once!
Hyena’s Den and Simba, to show two examples, have even greater abilities if Mustafa is in your discard pile. Simba gets +2 power and also allows you to shuffle him into your deck rather than discard him when the base scores.
Hyena’s Den lets you give a Character +2 power until the end of the turn, but then can move to another base after it scores if Mustafa is in your discard pile.
Circle of Life showcases the other ability this faction has. It’s a Character Modifier that lets you play another character of power 3 or less from your hand or discard pile when that Character it’s attached to goes to the discard pile after its base scores.
The Lion Cub (not pictured) lets you search your deck (not your discard pile) for a 4-power Character or less and draw it.
Nice replacement, since the Lion Cub is only a 2-power Character!
I have also not had a chance to play this faction. It has won one game (paired with Beauty and the Beast) and come close to winning its second game (paired with Nightmare Before Christmas).
I really want to play with it. It looks so cool!
And can also be quite powerful.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Speaking of, this is a fun faction.
It concentrates on Character Modifiers, with Jack Skellington letting you take a Character Modifier from your discard pile and Lock; Shock and Barrel letting you play a Character Modifier on a Character as an extra Action before a Base scores.
Oogie Boogie is an amazing Character Modifier that you will be placing on other Characters, but you have to make sure nobody is too powerful at that Base.
I was going to use it to cancel out a really powerful ability but then my opponent moved another 5-power Character to that Base, which made playing Oogie Boogie pointless (it’s destroyed if another Character there has 5 or more power, including your own it looks like!).
Many of their Character Modifiers (like Monster Garland) have beneficial abilities if you play them on yourself but detrimental abilities on Characters who aren’t yours. Monster Garland gives your Character +3 power while another player’s Character -2 power.
Zero is a really interesting Character as it has 0 power, but if you control a Character Modifier at its base, it suddenly becomes a 3-power Character. Not only that, but when the Base scores, it returns to your hand and you can immediately play it on another Base (not the new one coming out) as an extra Character.
I really like the interchange of Character Modifiers and especially how you can play them on either yourself or others and get beneficial (to you) effects regardless. Sometimes it depends on the situation.
If you play Zombie Duck Toy on yourself, you will get one more VP when the base scores. If you play it on another player’s Character, they will get -1 VP. That might be the difference between the game ending and it not ending!
I really enjoyed this faction and it’s one of my favourites in the set, mainly because it doesn’t hit you in the face with how powerful it is.
Finally we get to Ralph and his cronies, which sadly is probably my least favourite faction in the set.
This faction relies heavily on Base Modifiers, and that part can be a little fun.
Some of its card draw (like Kart Bakery) could help the Beauty and the Beast deck.
The I’m Gonna Wreck It! Base Modifier can be effective at reducing large-breakpoint Bases and it could be nice to cancel the Base’s abilities until the start of your next turn.
Of course, you use that Talent after you have used the ability on your turn, a nice way to make it exclusive.
Ralph himself lets you play further Base Modifiers and Sergeant Calhoun gives your Characters power (temporarily) if there are Base Modifiers.
Most of the other cards are along the same lines.
I’m a huge fan of the Truckers faction (from That 70s Expansion), which also relies on Base Modifiers (sorry, Base Actions in the original game), so I’m not sure why Wreck-It Ralph just doesn’t do much for me.
I think I’d have to play it again to see how well it works.
Of course, speaking of the Truckers, these two combined would just be going crazy.
It’s my least favourite, but that doesn’t mean I would hate playing it again.
How are the Bases?
As is typical, the Bases for each faction give a flavour of what the faction is known for, letting all players get a taste of it.
For example, SFIT Robotics Lab (Big Hero 6) lets everybody in on the Power Counter bonanza! Agrabah Bazaar (Aladdin) lets everybody discard an Action to place Power Counters.
The Dump is actually a fun base if you like Base Modifiers, because it becomes a clearing house for them if players are concentrating on other Bases. I kind of like that.
Gaston’s Tavern lets players get in on Beauty and the Beast’s discarding fun, allowing extra Character play if you discard a card.
Forbidden City (Mulan) is actually really cool because each time you play a Character there, you can play an extra Action!
So pretty standard stuff. There’s also a wide range of break points, from 19 to 26.
Wow, that was lengthy, but I hope it gives you a good idea of how all of the factions work.
Overall, the Smash Up: Disney core set and expansion is really good with just a few minor niggles. I’m wondering about two of the factions and how powerful they are, but I would need more plays before coming to a conclusion about that.
Once again they did a great job of making new and unique factions to go along with the Disney IP, rather than just reskinning existing sets to fit the Disney theme.
That makes me very happy.
Apparently there is one more collaboration between the OP and AEG that will be using an IP. My guess, considering we already have Disney and Marvel (which is owned by Disney) is that it will be a Star Wars one.
However, I’m not sure how you could get 8 factions out of Star Wars.
If that’s what it is, I have faith in Peterson and Fletcher to make it work!
I am anxious to get back to the regular Smash Up faction types, though.
What do you think of this one?
Let me know in the comments.
(This review was written after 3 plays with various faction combinations)
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