+1 power counters were introduced in the Monster Smash set. The tokens provided in most sets are used as both Victory Points tokens and +1 power counters. When a player gains VPs, they are given to them as "Victory Points tokens". On the other hand, when a token is placed on a card, it is called a "+1 power counter". When placed on a minion, they increase that minion's power as long as they are on it.
Players shouldn't confuse both uses of the tokens:
- If a player needs to place +1 power counters on a card, the tokens are taken from the common pool, not among that player's VP tokens.
- If a +1 power counter is removed from a card, it goes to the common pool; it is not given to the card's controller and therefore not converted into 1 VP!
- And if a player gains VPs, the tokens are taken from the common pool, not from their cards in play.
Players shouldn't confuse the difference between "+1 power counters" and "+1 (or +N) power". +1 power counters are only placed, removed or transferred when a card tells you to do so. Other than that, if a card gives a minion +1 or more power without specifying that it's a counter (e.g. Howler, The Central Brain, Augmentation, Laser Sword, Dragon Lands), the minion's power is increased by that amount without the use of +1 power counters. Players are free to use any means to help them remember these bonuses, except +1 power counters. Using +1 power counters to represent these power bonuses could lead to confusion as to which actually represent +1 power counters and which only represent a "simple" +1 power. This is important for cards that interact with +1 power counters. (e.g. Soldier, We Will Rock You, Blitzed, Mad Monster Party, Purge the Demon)
Factions using +1 power counters:
- Monster Smash set: Giant Ants, Mad Scientists, Vampires
- Smash Up: Munchkin set: Elves, Thieves, Warriors
- It’s Your Fault! set: Mythic Greeks, Sharks
- Cease and Desist set: Astroknights
- What Were We Thinking? set: Explorers, Teddy Bears
- Big in Japan set: Itty Critters, Kaiju
- That ’70s Expansion set: Disco Dancers, Kung Fu Fighters, Vigilantes
- With the TITANS Event Kit, previous factions now have a way to use +1 power counters through their titans: Tricksters, Bear Cavalry, Minions of Cthulhu, Super Spies, Ignobles
- The Bigger Geekier Box (previously, All Stars Event Kit): Smash Up All Stars
- Oops, You Did It Again set: Cowboys, Samurai
- World Tour: International Incident set: Mounties, Sumo Wrestlers
- Smash Up Penguins: Penguins
- World Tour: Culture Shock: Anansi Tales, Ancient Incas, Polynesian Voyagers, Russian Fairy Tales
- Smash Up Goblins: Goblins
- Smash Up Knights of the Round Table: Knights of the Round Table
- Main article: Rules
Cards with +1 Power Counters
Any card in play can get +1 power counters. There are two ways in which a card can get them: either you place the counters on it, or you transfer the counters from one card to another.
Time Box is a rare case of a card not in play that can get +1 power counters. Although, those counters are used for literal counting and don't give any +1 power bonus.
Depending on the type of card, the counters have a different purpose while it is on it:
- If the card is a minion, each +1 power counter adds 1 power to that minion's power for as long it is on it.
- If the card is an action (e.g. Summon Wolves), the ability of the card will tell you what the +1 power counters do. If it doesn't, the +1 power counters do nothing.
- If the card is a titan, each +1 power counter adds 1 power to the total power of that titan's controller for as long as it is on it.
- If the card is a base, the +1 power counters do nothing.
- If the card is a buried card, the +1 power counters do nothing.
In the case of a buried card, when it is uncovered, the +1 power counters on it are discarded; they are not placed on the card once it's face-up. Likewise, if a card in play is buried (e.g. Mummies), any +1 power counter on it is discarded.
Placing +1 Power Counters
Placing a +1 power counter on a minion is considered as directly increasing that minion's power for the purpose of certain cards (e.g. Alien Guru, Walking Carpet) and therefore as directly affecting that minion.
Removing +1 Power Counters
Removing a +1 power counter from a minion is considered as directly decreasing that minion's power and therefore as directly affecting that minion.
Transferring +1 Power Counters
When a card tells you to transfer one or more +1 power counters from a card to another (e.g. Soldier, A Kind of Magic), take that many tokens from the former card and place them on the latter. The card choices must be legal choices though. If a card tells you to transfer a +1 power counter from a minion to another minion, you cannot choose a +1 power counter on an action or a titan, and you cannot transfer the +1 power counter to an action or a titan either.
UPDATE. From the That ’70s Expansion rulebook, it seems that transferring a +1 power counter between two minions is considered as directly affecting both of them. Therefore, transferring a +1 power counter to a minion is considered as directly increasing that minion's power for the purpose of certain cards (e.g. Alien Guru, Walking Carpet), and transferring a +1 power counter away from a minion is considered as directly decreasing that minion's power.
When a Card with +1 Power Counters Moves
When a card with +1 power counters is moved (or transferred in the case of actions), the +1 power counters remain on it.
When a Card with +1 Power Counters Leaves Play
When a card with +1 power counters leaves play, either because it's discarded, returned to its owner's hand, put into a deck, etc. any +1 power counters on it are removed from it and placed back into the common pool.
A: No, cards that give +N power and cards that place +1 power counters aren't the same. There are cards that are able to manipulate +1 power counters (e.g. Cricket, A Kind of Magic). Those cards can only manipulate +1 power counters, which are strictly placed when stated on the card. If the card that gives power to a minion doesn't state that it's through placing +1 power counters, then you can't place +1 power counters. If you want to do it to help keep track of temporary power bonuses, you should use a different method than +1 power counters and if your method is putting some sort of marker on the minions, keep in mind that those aren't considered as +1 power counters from the game's perspective.
Q: I play a card with the ability to give -N power to one or more minions. If it had +1 power counters on it, we could just remove them, right? We'd just put them back if the -N power stops applying.
A: No, only cards that tell you to remove +1 power counters can remove them. If it doesn't say that, leave them on the card. This is important because other cards can still interact with the +1 power counters while they are still in play.