Smash Up! Munchkin & The Big Geeky Box
Let’s continue our exploration of Smash Up by looking at the two releases that are different from the slew of regular expansions. The Big Geeky Box is a clever storage system that keeps all past and future cards in order. Smash Up: Munchkin is a stand-alone alternate starter set that features eight new factions themed around Steve Jackson’s Munchkin franchise. The Geeky Box is an automatic purchase if you like the game but Munchkin is not for everyone.
The Big Geeky Box (2014) is a highly recommended accessory. Granted, it’s only a glorified storage box but, like all Smash Up releases, is so well thought out that it’s a no-brainer to buy it. It easily stores all 55 factions from eight (and counting) expansions which allows you to take your entire collection on the road without toting multiple boxes or cards sloshing around a makeshift container. The sturdy box comes with three permanent troughs, index cards for every faction published up and until Monster Smash, and foam inserts to fill in space until you can pack every inch full of cards. People ask me,
“When are you going to stop collecting Smash Up expansions?”
When The Big Geeky Box is full of course! I figure I can get another four expansions into it so I’ll be collecting for some time to come.
There’s more to this box than just storage. It comes with a unique faction, The Geeks, who seem a bit overpowered, particularly in the hands of an experienced player. They are an excellent faction, however, to give a new player because many Geek cards are simple to understand and have an immediate and obvious impact. The bonus faction is a nice touch but it’s the sturdy and colourful faction dividers and the storage that make this a worthwhile addition to your Smash Up collection. The only downside is that fully loaded with sleeved cards the box weighs in at a full ten pounds!
The Munchkin expansion is another way beside the starter box to get into Smash Up and get enough factions for four people to play right off the bat. I’ll do a quick pros and cons list but the short version is: You have to love Munchkin and associated art work a lot to forgive the way this expansion undermines Smash Up‘s greatest strengths of brevity and constant player engagement.
What’s Good About the Munchkin Expansion?
- The sense of humor of the Munchkin franchise ports beautifully over to Smash Up‘s tongue in cheek humour.
- The full colour artwork on every card really showcases artist John Kovalic’s unique style with the same vivid imagery in keeping with the art that Smash Up is already known for.
- Munchkin fans will recognize the same feel or play style where card abilities stack up to the point you can’t keep them all straight and success and failure are both a random event away. Treasures and monsters play a central role.
- Munchkin‘s races and classes fit beautifully into the Smash Up faction system. You end up with what you’d expect: Dwarf-Warriors, Halfling-Clerics, and so on..
- This is the only way that you’ll get Dungeons and Dragons into a game of Smash Up. The straight up D&D license would be too expensive. For fans, this tongue in cheek version will have to do.
What’s Bad About the Munchkin Expansion?
Smash Up is fun because it’s fast and furious. Player turns should take 10 seconds at most except in the infrequent event where there is scoring to do. Munchkin greatly extends the amount of time per player turn and, in several different ways, creates frequent exercises in addition, subtraction, and accounting which are, mercifully, not in the original game.
- Several of the new Monster card type are added to every base and each one adds its power to the breakpoint of a base. Further, monsters often come with their own subtext. For example, Knight of the Living Dead has +1 power for each other monster on the base so the breakpoint of the base must constantly be verified.
- Treasures also have an additional complicating impact by introducing a bunch of “…until the end of the turn.” abilities. Not a deal breaker but certainly an additional deck that often adds an additional layer of calculations to do.
- Don’t even get me started about using Munchkin factions with other Smash Up expansions. At the very least, Munchkin adds two decks and a lot of ‘thinky’ downtime to a game that can already be prone to occasional bouts of “analysis paralysis” while the breakpoint of bases and power of minions are totted up.
- As an exercise for you Smash Up fans out there, time yourself and see if you can figure out the answer to the question below. Now imagine a four player game with five bases in play and two new players at the table. Now start playing a bunch of minions with “…until the end of the turn” abilities. I rest my case.
Do you own The Big Geeky Box or Smash Up: Munchkin? Which one do you think is the more essential purchase for Smash Up fans?