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Knowing the Core: Smash Up's Original 8 Factions Explained (Part 1)

Today, I'd like to talk about the Smash Up's Core set's eight factions. There are eight unique groups to select from in the Core set, each with their own gifts and talents. The key to understanding Smash Up is considering what factions would work well together as a team, and I hope that this primer will help. Note that I am far from a tournament player, but I have put in several hours playing the game, so I am not necessarily inexperienced, either. I'll cover four factions this week, and tackle the remaining four the next.

DINOSAURS (with lasers!)

Focus - Power Boosts, Destroying Minions

The 'Saurs are the Core set's heavy group, with a mighty Power 7 King Rex and a plethora of cards that focus on boosting your team's power or destroying your rivals' cards. There's not a ton of nuance to the Dinosaurs; they are pretty much all about dominance.

Key Cards

The 4 War Raptor minions start at a low Power 2, but can gain +1 power per War Raptor in play at one base, making them one of the better common minions in the Core set. Minion King Rex can really shake up your rival player's game plan thanks to its exceptionally high Power 7. Howl and Augmentation actions can quickly boost your overall Power status on a base until the end of a turn.

And lastly, Dinosaurs have two action cards that restrict your opponents from messing with you: Tooth and Claw...and Guns prevents a minion's ability from affecting a designated minion, while Wildlife Preserve grants you immunity from other players' actions on a base. These are useful due to the overwhelming focus on eliminating other player's minions and to boost up your power; you don't want a alien, pirate, or ninja player to mess up your plans!

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Super Bowl Ads - Feminism Made a Difference

The marketing industry understands human nature better than any other and uses that knowledge to make a lot of money. The level of power marketing wields is both perverse and awe inspiring. There is really nothing that marketing cannot convince you of because of their mastery of demographics and the human ego.

The day where marketing’s most elite can show off is Super Bowl Sunday.

During this year’s Super Bowl, retailers were willing to pay as much as 4.5 million dollars for 30 seconds1 of air time and, to be honest, it’s a deal. There is positively no other situation where retailers know they will have the full attention of over 100 million people. In fact, this year set a record for Super Bowl viewers at around 114.8 million.2 That’s a little less than 4 cents per person.3 Four cents!

How marketing chooses to wield their power in our culture is a love-hate relationship for me. They shape our ideals, establish our stereotypes, define what’s cool, and reflect the country's feelings. Their understanding of human nature includes our weaknesses as well as our strengths. Since their job is to sell a product, they’ll use whichever will get us to buy. Even when they appear to be sincere I’m sure there’s a stack of reports somewhere that told them they should be sincere.

So during the Super Bowl, the biggest marketing day of the year in America, what did retailers try to sell us? Besides great humor, I was pleased that not only were the ads promoting positive attitudes, but they also showed an obvious feminist influence.

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Smash Up - A Beginner's Primer

Sometime in 2012, my sister-in-law introduced my wife and I to a new card game. Now, we had never been all that into card-based games before, but she insisted that this one was awesome. She brought it over one night and my wife and I tried it out...and it turns out that she was right. This game was awesome, and I'd like to share that discovery with our Game on Girl readership in a series of articles discussing Alderac Entertainment Group's excellent Smash Up.

Smash Up is the brainchild of Paul Peterson, and utilizes three types of cards in the Core set: Minions, Actions, and Bases. Minions and Actions are the cards the player gets to utilize as they play, and Bases are the cards the player tries to win. The core game has 8 factions (with several expansions adding to the mix, but I'll discuss those in later posts). Each player gets to smash together two factions in order to win the game.

But first, let me break down each type of card in more detail:

MINIONS - Minions are essentially the soldiers in your army. They are the ones which get played on bases in order to score them. Minions have power rankings printed on each card; for example, the header image features three types of minions from three factions, and each has its own number of power. The higher the number, the stronger (and rarer in your deck) it is. Minions also have abilities that can be used when played, and these vary by faction. One minion is played per turn (unless you play a card that lets you play more than one!).

ACTIONS - Actions can also be played once per turn, barring cards that let you do more, and these are oftentimes cards that either boost your team's effectiveness or cripple an opponent's. These too vary by faction.

BASES - Base cards are shuffled and laid out on the table before play begins, and the goal of the game is to score these for Victory Points (VP). Each base has a breaking point, which the cumulative total of the minion cards played there must reach or exceed to score. Bases also have abilities that tend to favor the faction it is derived from. Bases have three tiers of VP that can be rewarded based on each player's total: first place typically gets the most VP, but there are exceptions. Three bases are in play for two players, with the addition of one base per extra player. (Personally, when we play with my sister-in-law, we keep it at three.)

So, the ultimate goal is to combine two factions together that will carry your team over the others, and earn VP scoring bases as effectively as possible. Once a player reaches or surpasses 15 VP, they are the winner!

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Why The Legend of Korra Finale Mattered

This is a bit embarrassing to admit... but when I saw the final scene of Legend of Korra, I cried. 

I cried not because the series was over, or because characters died, but because I never, in a million years, thought the series would end the way it did.

I'll do my best to not spoil the series plot, but there are some spoilers ahead.

I never thought one of my favorite all-ages cartoon series — especially one on Nickelodeon, a children's channel — would end by making a romantic relationship between two women canon— not even one of the side character, but the protagonist. The protagonist, who not only is also a female character of color, but possibly the most powerful character in the entire show.

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"Selfie," Intertainment, and the Resurgence Curve

On a couple of occasions I’ve mentioned my disappointment with ABC for cancelling Selfie so quickly out of the gate. But Selfie is gaining a resurgent fan base, coincidentally, using social media. Twitter, blogs, petitions, and even charity fund raisers are being used to get the attention of anyone who will listen. This resurgence of interest can be credited to a suite I’ll call Intertainment: social media, streaming, mobile devices, and binge watching. The influence of these parameters on main-stream television is growing at such a rate that the networks need to pay attention.

Social media is a huge aspect of network television marketing, but mostly in the short term. It’s also used to promote a show’s characters and actors as bonus content outside of the scheduled programming. Unless it’s rerun season, though, networks don’t spend a lot of social media time on old episodes.

With Twitter, more than any social media before it, fans feel closer than ever to their celebrities. Fans receive real time messages and pictures from their idols the exact same way they do their closest friends and family. Twitter started a line-up of social media tools that provide you the latest information within seconds of it happening.

Streaming has been around for a while now. Internet services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon caught on to the Intertainment shift much quicker than the networks. HBO and Nickelodeon are launching their own streaming channels. It makes sense. Networks need eyeballs and streaming is convenient, customizable, and mobile. Recent statistics show that millennials (18 – 35 years of age) stream more television (67%)1 than watch it live. Live TV watching in this group dropped 19% in Q3 2014 from the year before.2 People don’t ask, “What’s on TV tonight?” anymore, they ask, “What are you streaming?”

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