Smash Up! Free Sheep and Big in Japan expansions
The game designers at AEG keep on shaking the Smash Up bottle and awesome sauce continues to spill out. Further cementing its fan base, AEG threw in a marketing masterstroke and provided us with a (very tongue in cheek) free Sheep faction if we agreed to follow their efforts to corral both new and old fans alike. Their most recent Big in Japan expansion also gives fans new wrinkles to the proven formula. Let’s have a look at these two newest additions to the Smash Up faction family.
In exchange for your e-mail address AEG shipped out a free Sheep faction expansion, complete with colourful index card so it can be stored in the Big Geeky Box. Free of having to skirt around copyright infringements of the many factions that are barely disguised send-ups of major movie and TV show franchises, the Sheep deliver with the most amusing card text yet.
Even a cursory glance at the minion’s card text leaves me grinning. They are designed to follow each other all over the table. When one moves – and they’ll move often – they all go! The game play elements are as amusing as the text.
AEG hasn’t held anything back on this freebie. It’s as well-rounded and thought out a faction as you’ll find in any expansion. And, it must be said, is a lot better off foregoing lawyer-approved references to copyrighted pop culture that may not resonate with everyone. Sometimes, simple is best.
Big in Japan Expansion
The four new factions in Big in Japan are as convoluted in theme as Sheep are simple. Even though I lived in Japan for over three years and do get most of the references sprinkled throughout the cards, Big in Japan seems like it’s trying too hard to be clever. Unless you’re really into Pokemon, Power Rangers, Japanese teen girl pop culture, and Kaiju you’re not going to get your money’s worth out of this one. The overall play style of each of the factions aren’t particularly memorable for me personally. I’d rather play with the Sheep!
One bright spot is the genuinely innovative addition of the Titans which dovetail perfectly with three of the four new factions. On the back of each of the faction index cards is a Titan that can be played as you would a minion. They are very powerful and, for the most part, thematic. For me, they are the saving grace of this expansion and take Smash Up in a new direction while the rest of this expansion stumbles. I’m looking forward to seeing if Titans become a regular feature. Perhaps, in future expansions instead of Titans they might go with locations (like a saloon for the upcoming Cowboys) or heroic characters or leaders (Shogun for the Samurai). Lots of potential here!
If you’re a completionist (guilty as charged) or are really into Japanese pop culture, Pokemon, Manga, and Power Rangers then buy this one straight away. If you can’t see why a Walking Castle would be the Titan figure for a bunch of Japanese school girls then maybe pick up a different expansion instead with a theme that better alligns with your interests.