I just got the game, and haven't had a chance to play yet, but I did a quick run through on the decks (I got the basic version; no expansions yet), and it seemed like some of the combinations might be actively detrimental (e.g. some decks have Actions that target Minions with a power of 1, so pairing that deck with one of the decks with power 1 Minions might make those Actions less useful).

When picking the two decks to combine, which ones should I avoid pairing? Why?

  • There are 28 possible Smash Up combinations, (7+6+5+4+3+2+1=28). There are 15 possible (5+4+3+2+1=15) opposing combinations, for 420 possible 2-Player match-ups. An additional 6 times, or 2520 possible 3/4-Player starting combinations are left with the remaining 4 unchosen factions. What are you looking for? A 2-player evaluation of the 420 matchups,, the individual 28 possible Smash-Up decks, or something else?
    – user1873
    Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 3:15
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    As a beginner, I'm just looking for "if I pick deck x first, then I'm better off avoiding decks a, b and c" for the types of reasons listed in the current answer. Trying to adjust for the opponents' choices is far more than what I'm looking for. And yes, I'm primarily interested in the basic game, not expansions, although the info from the expansions is helpful
    – Beofett
    Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 11:01
  • I have protected this thread since it appears that several answers addressed a similar but not quite equivalent question, and that in turn may have caused others to misunderstand the question. Please feel free to have protection removed as deemed sufficient :)
    – mafu
    Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 19:43

12 Answers 12


Plants/Steampunk and Ghost: Plants and Steampunk have ways to draw additional cards every single turn, but the Ghost deck is trying to discard all of its cards, and is often most powerful with an empty hand. (The Wizards get a pass here; they draw cards on demand rather than every single turn.)

Wizards and Robots: the Robot deck is light on action cards, and the Wizard deck has too many ways to allow you to play extra actions (which you won't be able to take advantage of).

Bears/Pirates/Aliens: Bear and Pirate have a lot of move-minion cards, and Alien has a lot of return-minion-to-hand cards; you're only going to find it useful to move/evict minions so many times during a game. They can still work well together, but you're more likely to have several extra move-minion cards that you can't think of a use for.

Of course, if your deck is too powerful, then your opponents are more likely to team up against you; a weak deck will keep more heat off of you. The game is powered by Rule of Cool (warning: TV Tropes) anyway, so don't sweat it too much. (Robot Bears vs. Ninja Plants!) It's much more fun to pick your deck-halves randomly than to dither over which decks to pick together.

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    I'm sorry but Wizards and Robots is about one of the most powerful combinations there are. Yes, the wizards extra actions play second fiddle, but if you play it right those extra actions are used to draw and play more robots. My friends practically banned me from playing this combination because it's so strong.
    – Styphon
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 18:54

In two players in the base game I would avoid the combination of Dinosaurs and Pirates. But truthfully in the two players game the problem isn't your deck is weak. It's that some combinations are really really strong. Such as Zombie, Aliens. With Aliens constantly throwing back your minions and the zombies more or less ensuring they never run out of Aliens it's a deadly combination.

It's resolves in the 3+ player game because it's unwise to focus all of your attacks on a single person in a 3 player game. That relief will let you get some of your stronger minions out.

In my experience the Dinosaurs while strong were so ability-less that even when you get one out there's no ability to trigger, and the Pirates abilities tend to be unhelpful against the Aliens bouncing them back to your hand.


Try avoiding combinations that seem alike. We got the expansion pack not too long ago; avoid factions that play very similarly simply because you tend to run out of options really quick, like the Bears and Pirates combo. Also, avoid playing Ghosts with any faction that's draw heavy like Steampunks/Plants and also factions that rely on returning to the hand like Ninja/Aliens. Like the others said, Wizards get a pass here. If someone is playing Ninjas, avoid factions that rely HEAVILY on actions like Steampunks/Wizards (on a side note; the Steampunk Wizards combo are a force to be reckoned with, so playing them together may be an exception to the statement about Ninjas). In the original pack, it's hard to find a faction that works well with Dinosaurs, but the expansion pack that comes with Steampunks/Bears/Plants/Ghosts give them a little more 'Oomph' but you still might want to avoid playing them with Ghosts.

In a 1-v-1 game, 'You're Pretty Much Borscht' when playing against Zombie Robots unless you're playing the sabotage game with Ninja Aliens, which altogether means your choices are also heavily influenced by your opponent's choices. In reality, the game changes with the choices your opponent makes so choose wisely.

I have yet to play a group game, so I can't make any suggestions there.

Also, note that there's actually another expansion out besides the 'Obligatory Cthulhu Expansion' called 'Science Fiction Double Feature' that comes with Secret Agents/Time Travelers/Cyber Apes/Shapeshifters. Haven't gotten it yet, but I will.

  • Welcome back, Matt. I edited the greeting out of your answer, since answers should be in the form of pure, concentrated juicy info, and salutations dilute that. (You'll see a conspicuous lack of answers starting with "Hi" for a reason!) Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 13:29

One of the biggest flaws in this game is the lack of decks with draw potential that seem like they could be good combinations. For example Bears/Steam Punk (from the expansion) seem like an excellent combination. However they have so few cards that allow you to draw additional cards from your deck that very often by the end of the game you're barely half way through your deck. This leaves a lot of the game to chance as you have to get the combinations you need at the right time and if you don't, there's little you can do about it.

Having a combination that allows you to draw more, such as the wizards or robots, and then combine them with another deck that works with your preferred strategy, or that counters your opponent. One of my favourite combinations, if I can get them, is Wizards/Plants as they synergise quite well. Wizards allow you to draw a lot of extra cards, and play lots of actions. Plants have a mix of upgradeable and draw / play extra monsters. It's a combination I've never lost with yet.


My group has only played four games (and only have the base set), but we have found the combination of Dinosaurs and Tricksters to be not very good, that combination being randomly assigned in two games, then someone refusing to believe there are any bad combos taking them by choice for the fourth game (which, admittedly, he could have won, if his deck was one turn faster).

I may still be a new player, but I like to think I am a quick leaner for things like this. It feels like to me that, at least in the base set, half of the factions are "support" factions and the other half are "offense" factions. Dinos, Ninjas, Tricksters (my group just calls them "Fae") and I want to say Pirates are the attacker factions, while Robots, Zombies, Wizards and Aliens are more support-y. Anybody else feel this?

To get back on track, while two support factions (Zombie Robots, for example) can be a killer combo, two attacker factions (re: Dino Fae) can be more of a hindrance. I'm not saying you can't win, but you are likely at a disadvantage.

  • Welcome to Board & Card Games! Have a +1 for a good answer. We aren't quite a forum; you shouldn't usually get a response to "anybody else feel this?", because your answer to the question should stand on its own without extra discussion. Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 18:47

I played the game for the first time the other day and after three rounds of it here's what I found. My first combo which I picked because I liked the sound of it was Ninja Dinosaurs. It didn't work too well, and quite frankly I found the Ninja Deck difficult to use. The second Combo I had was Pirate Leprechauns - this was a VERY powerful combination. When facing them, I also found that a good counter to them in 1v1 is Wizard Aliens, though you do need to be on the ball to pull it off well and not hold out too long playing certain cards or you might miss your chance.


I have not played the add-on yet, but when we started the basic game yesterday we played a lot of combinations (so I am not a pro at this game, just want to share my first impressions).

When we played with 2 players the Ninja/Pirate deck worked quite well because I was able to deny any creatures my opponent tried to bring out. The trickster faction was much better in 1-vs-1 than in a 4 player match I think.

Playing with 3 or 4 people I really liked the Wizard/Alien combination. You try to get your Invader as soon as possible (if you know your opponent ninja has some ace in the hole try to hold it back a bit) and play it (1VP) -> get it back to your hand -> play it again (1VP) -> get it back to your hand ->... with your aliens. With the Wizards you have a nearly endless supply of cards! Aliens are very funny to play because they can annoy anyone constantly (a nice trick against Trickster is to terraform the base the leprechaun is on out to the base that gives you 1 VP every time a creature dies.

Maybe another good combination might be Alien/Ninja or Alien/Zombie to spam your ninja effects or recycle your invader with the Zombies, but that faction was sadly taken every game so I couldn't test it well.


My wife played Wizard/Zombie last night. She didn't win (partially cause it was the first time we played and we were all learning) but with that combo there's basically no real distinction between your deck and your discard pile since you play from both so often.


I have to say I love using zombie/robot. You can cycle cards from your discard pile without to much of a sweat and can most turn play at least three minions of done right. The only issue is when you get to the last few cards in your deck but by then you should've pulled enough into the lead that it's not much of a problem. Here's the score from my last three player game (15 point win) Me: 17 Wifey: 7 Father-in-law:6

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    What about deck combinations to avoid? You aren't answering the question that was asked. Also, welcome to B&CG! Commented Jan 19, 2014 at 4:59

From the few games I have played I find that Robots seems like a very over powered deck. Robot Zombie was a winner, Robot Steampunk was a winner. Avoid Ghost Ninja. The deck doesn't work together well at all! In fact, I think Ghost doesn't work well with almost any of the other factions, but that might just be from my experience. Also, try to avoid pairing factions that seem to alike such as Bear Calvary and Pirates. You tend to have fewer options to play.


I've played a few good games and haven't won yet, but I've always like the combination of Dinosaur Robots (aka Dinobots, referring to Transformers). Using the strong power of the Dinos and using the extra plays with the 'Bots has proven effective with the base cards and Tech Centre action to draw cards. I've tried Dinos and Plants (aka A Force of Nature) but it didn't go too well, still I've only used it once so I might use it again. I like to experiment on Dinos + anything other than 'Bots and see if it's effective. The Bearmen + Aliens combo has been really annoying against me because it prevents me from dealing with them at times and sending my minions back to my hand in others.

  • Can you answer the question that was asked? What combinations should be avoided? Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 15:38

It's really hard to say, since I haven't really tried all of the factions. While there are no combinations I can tell you to avoid like the plague, I can give advice on what works. You see, my girlfriend and I play a lot and we both have our favorite combos; hers being Robots and Dinosaurs which work really well together and mine being Zombies and Aliens. Ninjas and Pirates seem to work really well together, too, and Wizards and Tricksters might be a combo worth trying. But other than that, I can't really help you, so feel free to experiment and give us your feedback.

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    The question is about which combinations to avoid, not which combinations to pick. Can you answer the question? (And welcome to Board and Card Games!) Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 17:51

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