“It brings laughter and smiles! That’s what I want during time with my family and friends. If you want a game to make memories with, Smash City is going to hit the spot.”
Designer: Stephen Avery
Artist: Matt Frank and Edgar Vega
Game Type: Dexterity, variable player powers, dice
Initial Year of Release: 2019
Age Range: 14 +
Expected Playtime: 30 minutes
Number of Players: 2-4
Theme and What is it?
Smash City is a game about being a gargantuan monster crashing through a city. There are cars to fling, other monsters to fight, and an army to defeat.
Release your inner beast and chunk massive dice at skyscrapers to see them tumble down. I’m not exaggerating, this game is a model of a city complete with skyscrapers and your job is to make a mess.
Playing this game requires a mix of talents. For one, you need to be a good strategist. What actions will you take to gain the most power-up tokens? Do you need more cards? How can you earn them?
On the other hand, you need skills throwing a chunky die. There is both strategy and luck involved.
The primary focus in Smash City is the HUGE beefy dice and tall buildings to smash. Once you look past the mayhem you begin to see the finer subtleties of the game. There are cards, powers, army bonuses, and car tiles which give you options.
The game starts with the first player rolling their monster die underhanded. It can be aimed at the city from any side. The trick is to roll it hard enough to knock over buildings but not so hard as to have it roll off the map.
Your turn ends immediately if your die leaves the city. You get no rewards for any damage you have done and you must place your die in the center of the map. If you stayed in bounds and knocked over one or more buildings you get a Smash card. These cards can be used at any time and allow you to take different actions.
The city takes its turn next. If a building fell on a monster, they take 2 damage. The army attacks if the player’s die lands in the same city square. Each army tile causes 1 damage.
If the die is touching a building, the monster may place an energy token of its kind on top. In the future, other monsters touching this building will receive one damage. If a future roll lands you up against a building with your own token you get another power-up token.
Finally, the player may begin attacking. First, they must determine what is in range by using the range ruler provided by the game.
If in range, the player may go after another monster or army. Alternatively, attacking with the die may be forgone in order to throw a car.
When attacking a monster or army, the roll on the die determines hit points. The player may use the special power associated with that side of the die by referencing the monster board and accomplishing actions. Damage done to another monster by the roll of the die will give the player a power up token.
If the associated power is enacted and it causes damage to the same or another monster or army, the player will receive an additional power up token. When attacking an army, the attack value is compared to the defense value listed on the bottom of the army tile. If the value meets or exceeds the defense, the actions listed on the tile are carried out and the army removed.
It is hard to pass up using the roll of the die and associated power as an attack, but another option is throwing a car. If the car is in range the player will pick up the chosen car and read the back of the tile.
If they do not want to do what the car says they can instead throw it at another monster. Every monster it comes in contact with takes 1 damage and a power-up token is received. At the end of a players turn a new army is set out in the city.
The end of the game happens immediately when one or more players reach 10 damage on their monster board. The remaining players compare how many power-up tokens they have. The winner is the one with the most.
This game has table presence to boot. I saw it and wanted to play! Simple as that. Who wouldn’t want to chuck a huge die at skyscrapers and knock them over?
The colors and excitement about the game are infectious. I love dice and I love the idea of using them both for luck and skill. It was also intriguing how the cards, tanks, cars, and powers were going to change the luck and dexterity aspects of the game.
Game Build Quality
The dice are hefty but soft. Good thing, or they might end up as murder weapons in the game of Clue. The cardboard pieces are sturdy and can withstand some throwing punishment. There are extra stickers for the dice in case the stickers decide to peel off from overzealous tosses.
The only fragile thing in the box is the fold-out city grid. It is a made of paper which might get ripped by young impatient monsters trying to get the game set up too fast.
There is also a printing error between the die stickers for Toxiguana and its monster board. I decided to go with the number listed on the die but the power that matched the picture. Neither issue was by any means a deal breaker.
Finally, the rule book was straight forward to read but not detailed enough to answer all my questions. I had to come up with a lot of rules for unclarified items. For instance, when a die leaves the city because of a roll and it knocked over buildings, should the buildings be reset? Also, at the end of each turn, the player must add another army tile anywhere on the map.
Does that mean the army gets recycled when they have been eliminated, or are they out of the game permanently? What happens when a die is stuck sideways on a downed building after a roll? Lots of little this-n-that’s in the game needed house rules to move past.
The art and colors are very appealing. Everything about the bits and pieces in the game makes you want to play. I like that there were so many different cars to give variety to the city. I love the way the city looks when it is set up. The whole game is eye candy!
Knocking over buildings was the most fun. It was just so satisfying to knock stuff down that I forgot I needed to do other things in order to win the game. You have to have the most power tokens if you are going to succeed. Simply smashing around won’t get you there.
It was really hard not to be destructive in this game. Well, after all, with a name like Smash City what do you expect? After knocking down buildings and beating up on monsters I realized there was some strategy that needed to be applied.
The army gave more power-ups and cards could block damage or heal you. Cars had their own benefits as well. Oh, but it was so hard not to go all ‘Hulk-ish’ in the city! HULK SMASH!!
Age Range & Weight
The game is rated for 14 and up. I have to say that number is a tad high. This game can be played by younger kids with the help of an adult. It is great to watch the expression and excitement on kids faces.
There are some more complicated aspects that can appeal to adults but I think this game shines when played with children. My 13-year-old girl and her 8 year-old-sister enjoyed the game. My 6-year-old boy really got into the theme of the game. His little imagination lit up with joy.
Smash City is a unique and fun game. I love the big city laid out on the table and enjoy smashing things with dice. For a veteran gamer, this would be a nice filler. It plays quickly depending on how strategic your group is.
On the other hand, this is an awesome family game night experience. It brings laughter and smiles! That’s what I want during time with my family and friends. If you want a game to make memories with, Smash City is going to hit the spot.