In Smash Up the wording on the cards is often critical to how they play. Unfortunately the rules are very light on certain situations and I haven't been able to find an answer online to a situation that arose at a game last night.

My friend was using Dinosaurs and Pirates, and was attempting to take the Tsar's Palace base. The bases ability is:

Minions of power 2 or less cannot be played here.

He then played the Howl card from his hand. This states:

Each of your minions gains +1 power until the end of your turn.

Next he then tried to play a First Mate (Power 2) from his hand onto the Tsar's Palace, under the assumption that it is now Power 3 because of the Howl card.

My interpretation is that the Howl card, and all action cards, will only affect minions already in play on the table, and not minions in his hand. Therefore the First Mate is still Power 2 until it is played and therefore cannot be played on the Tsar's Palace.

Which of us was right? Do action cards that affect every minion on the table also affect minions in your hand?

3 Answers 3


Playing Howl, will not allow First Mate to be played on the Tsar's Palace base.

In this thread on BGG, Mark Wootton, who appears to be AEG's Director of Company Development said:

Q: What about the Homeworld base ability and the War Raptor? The Homeworld states that when you play a minion on it you can play another minion of Power 2 or less. Is the Raptor a valid play, since before it's added to a base it's Power 2?

A: The order of effects is:

1) To play an extra minion check its power is correct. War Raptor = 2 Power

2) Any abilities on that minion trigger. War Raptor becomes 3 (or more) Power

3) Trigger any ongoing effects in play e.g Leprechaun or Flame Trap

So if, for example you had an action played on the base that said "All your minions here gain +2 Power" you could still play a 2 power minion there. Because it is 2 power when it is played.

The base checks first if First Mate is the correct power, before Howl is applied.

(Note: I disagree with Mark Wootton's last example, although it is immaterial to the correct answer here. I contend that an Action worded as he suggests would only affect Minions currently "here" at the base. For the Action to affect Minions played later that turn, it would have to be an Ongoing effect (that might be what he meant, as there are Actions that are played on a base with similar effects).

  • I'm sorry, but how is that relevant? Whether ongoing or not they still don't affect cards in the hand. Also, if they do affect cards in the hand, then when the action is played, all the cards in his hand are increased by 1 for that turn. Your point is irrelevant.
    – Styphon
    Aug 27, 2013 at 17:12
  • 1
    @Styphon, it would be relevant if base effects weren't checked first. An AEG representative has clarified the rules, saying that base effects are checked first. My Ongoing clarification would also have been sufficient to prove that Howl wouldn't have pumped First Mates power in the first place, though.
    – user1873
    Aug 28, 2013 at 3:06

I found a similar question on the Aldreac forums. The question was about targets of actions and minion abilities. The answer given was to treat each location of the game (your hand, the deck, the discard pile and in play) as separate dimensions. Cards can only affect the in play dimension unless they specifically state otherwise.

Whilst there are is no actual rule in the rule book to state this, the meaning of this is clear if you examine two things. First, the wording on the cards. No card states that it only affects cards in play. They do however state when they target cards out of play, such as in your hand or in the discard pile. From that you can take that unless a card states otherwise, it only affects in play.

Secondly, the game would break if you didn't take that to be the case. Take the Microbot Alpha. It's ability is to make all of your minions Microbots, and it gains +1 for all other Microbots. Now if this affected all cards, those in all other dimensions, then you would instantly pop any base, and could instantly win the game by taking the Factory (+1 VP for every 5 power) when combined with the Microbot Fixer and a couple of other minions.

When taking both into consideration, the only logical conclusion is the game must have been written with actions only affecting minions in play.

  • You've got the right of it - just like in every other card based game, in-play cards that affect other cards (unless they specifically mention your deck or hands) only affect cards that are in play. There is a discrete moment when the card is in play before it is affected by other cards in play.
    – Jeff
    Aug 27, 2013 at 13:12
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    See, I would disagree with War Raptor. I would say the +1 power doesn't allow the raptor to be played, because it doesn't get the +1 until after it's in play.
    – Styphon
    Aug 27, 2013 at 15:13

War Raptor gains its bonuses after it is played. Not before. Minion abilities trigger upon hitting the ground as it were. So its a 2 when it lands and THEN becomes a 3 right away. So it can be played on the Homeworld under the conditions of that base. (For that same reason it couldn't be played on the Tzars palace.) As for OP's question about the Tzars palace - it's very simple. If you play a general bonus like Howl it is in effect until the end of your turn. Your minions during that period gains the ability. Hence when you play a minion whose printed power is 2 during that time it should be considered a 3 until the Howl card is no longer in effect. So it can land safely on the Tzars palace.

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