SmashUp

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SmashUp is a fun, clever card game suitable for ages 12 and up. It consists of themed factions, such as Wizards, Robots, and Pirates, all with charming artwork. Players choose two factions, shuffle the cards together, then compete against each other to score points. I love SmashUp because the mechanics of each faction are very well thought out, and suit the nature of the faction. For example, Dinosaurs are really ‘big’ cards, but can be slow and cumbersome to play. Zombies ‘come back to life’ by being played from your discard pile, and Martians often ‘beam up’ cards from the table into players’ hands. Part strategy, part luck, you must use your two factions’ unique abilities together to beat your opponent. SmashUp has a lot of replay value because there are so many different combination of factions possible. Each expansion increases this variety exponentially. The expansions are complete, playable games in themselves– although the expansions only contain enough factions for two players, so you get more ‘play’ for your buck when you buy the base game. The game contains cards and cardboard Victory Points. This is not a party game per se, but is a fun, addicting game that affords hours of enjoyment!

-Natalie

Hanabi

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Hanabi is a Spiel de Jahres winner for good reason; it requires strategy, teamwork, and trust– all while players have a limited knowledge pool. The game is difficult but rewarding and has great flavor for such a simple concept. The players are setting up a fireworks display which has to be assembled on the spot. The object of the game is that you must place cards in each of 5 colors (or 6 if you want a more challenging game) in front of you in 1-5 in order. Points are determined by the size of each display when the fireworks go off.

Hanabi is for 2-5 players but after a few games I found that the more players you have, the easier the game becomes. Each player cannot see their own hand of cards but can see that of other players, and more players means more information, which means better clues and more opportunities for teamwork.

Overall, this game is pretty impressive, just don’t make the mistake of starting out with two players like I did!

-Kiara

Trains

Does your gaming group like Dominion?  Do they also like Ticket to Ride? Well Trains could be the next game for you. Trains combines the classic deck-building elements that Dominion offers but also lets you build rails and stations on a two-sided map of Osaka and Tokyo Japan. Gain as many points possible to defeat your opponents and become Train Manager Champion! If you’re looking for something new for your next game night, look no further! Trains is your game.

-Andrew