As of the
Smash Up Goblins expansion, there are 83 factions, which can combine to form 3,403 unique pairs of factions.
Each player shuffles two factions together to form their deck of 40 cards. Every faction typically has 20 cards with some combination of minion cards and action cards. Factions have a typical structure, although there are many exceptions. The typical structure of a faction's cards is the following:
Ninjas have a typical faction structure
10x Minions (total power 30, average power 3):
1x Power 5 - the "Boss Minion"
2x Power 4
3x Power 3
4x Power 2 10x Actions:
2x Some Action
2x Some Action
1x Some Action
1x Some Action
1x Some Action
1x Some Action
1x Some Action
1x Some Action
Factions with a different minions' power distribution (while still retaining the regular 1x, 2x, 3x, 4x structure of minions) include:
Aliens, Dinosaurs, Wizards, Zombies, Bear Cavalry, Ghosts, Killer Plants, Elder Things, Shapeshifters, Giant Ants, Elves, Halflings, Mages, Orcs, Thieves, Changerbots, Teddy Bears, Sheep, Mounties, Sumo Wrestlers, Polynesian Voyagers.
Factions with a different structure of minions and actions ratio include:
Robots, Innsmouth, Minions of Cthulhu, Geeks, Princesses, Mythic Greeks, Superheroes, Astroknights, Star Roamers, Rock Stars, Smash Up All Stars, Itty Critters, Kaiju, Magical Girls, Mega Troopers, Disco Dancers, Vigilantes, Luchadors, Musketeers, Penguins, Anansi Tales, Grimms’ Fairy Tales, Russian Fairy Tales, Avengers, Hydra, Sinister Six, Knights of the Round Table.
Each faction has special gameplay mechanics common among the faction's minions and actions that connect with their theme. For example,
Zombies come back from the discard pile, Mad Scientists generate and spend +1 power counters, and Ghosts gain bonuses when having only a few cards in their hand.
Each faction releases alongside two
bases associated with their theme (except Polynesian Voyagers who have three). Depending on how you build the base deck, bases associated with factions that weren't chosen to play may still appear, and bases associated with chosen factions may appear more or less often. Bases typically favor the gameplay of their associated faction, though there are many examples where this is debatable or in theme only: Tar Pits (the Dinosaurs have no more advantage than others who can't revive minions), Cave of Shinies (the Tricksters are better at destroying other players' minions than their own, and their minions already punish those who destroy them), The Dread Gazebo (the Ghosts get no advantage from it and they even have a play-on-base action), neither of Elder Things' bases favor them, Q Point (symbolizes a point of conflict for the Magical Girls but only sometimes favors them), etc.
List of Factions
Return minions in play to their owners' hands, gain a bonus for returning your own, and manipulate bases.
Play high-powered minions, boost your minions' power, and destroy weaker minions.
Destroy minions and actions, switch your minions in play with those in your hand, and sneak onto scoring bases at the last second.
Move around from base to base, especially during base scoring, and destroy weak minions, usually several at a time.
Play extra minions, including a whole lot of weak ones that support each other.
Irritate your opponents and make bases undesirable to play on with actions that penalize them and minions that are difficult to destroy.
Draw and play a lot of cards each turn, especially actions.
Discard cards from your deck and get cards in your discard pile into play.
Their minions move other players' minions on their base to other bases, and also destroy minions that move to their base.
Gain benefits for discarding a lot of cards and having very few cards left in your hand.
Play extra minions frequently straight from your deck, and play cards with delayed effects that usually benefit you further as turns go by.
Their play-on-base actions synergize with their minions, both gaining power, mobility, and rescue from your discard pile.
Terrorize other players into Madness with minions that are difficult to play, and actions that ensure they are penalized for drawing Madness cards.
Keep playing and refilling your hand with the same power-2 minions and gain benefits for having several minions with the same name on bases.
Minions of Cthulhu
Play many powerful actions that penalize you with Madness cards, and recover cards from the discard pile, often at the cost of destroying your own minions.
Draw and discard Madness cards to gain powerful effects, and play cards that relieve you of them afterward.
Power up your minions with powerful play-on-minion actions.
Copy other players' power and abilities, boost your minions' power, and destroy and replace your minions with other minions, especially from your deck.
Sort your deck, take a peek and manipulate the top of each player's deck, force your opponents to discard cards, and play specials while bases are scoring.
Repeat the abilities of your minions in play, retrieve cards from your discard pile, especially actions, and manipulate bases.
See The Bigger Geekier Box.
Generate a lot of +1 power counters and flexibly transfer them among your minions.
Generate a lot of +1 power counters, especially when one of your minions is destroyed, and remove them to gain benefits.
Destroy weak minions and generate +1 power counters, especially from the destruction of minions.
Gain temporary power boosts at very specific times, gain benefits from minions with the highest-power, and destroy weaker minions.
Play cards with a choice between two effects and mess with other players' non-standard actions, especially play-on-minion actions.
Weaken other players' minions, temporarily take control of weak minions, and destroy your own minions for effects, whether minions you played or minions you took control of.
Gain benefits for playing or simply having minions on the same base as another one of your minions.
Play with a reduced number of minions in your deck, but with a cast of six power-5 minions with useful abilities, and support your deck with movement, card draw and minion retrieval.
Retrieve your discarded cards, usually random cards, and move your minions away after their bases score.
Draw treasures cards, usually from the treasure discard pile, and gain power boost from play-on-minion treasures.
Help other players with card draw and power boosts, while helping yourself in exchange.
Draw and retrieve a lot of minions and play them as extras on bases where you're lagging behind other players.
Discard cards for benefits, such as power gain, minion destruction, extra cards, and monster manipulation.
Make your minions insensitive to actions and gain benefits for having more power or more minions than other players.
Draw treasures, gain benefits for having treasures in hand, usually discarding them for the benefits, and steal things from other players, such as cards or VPs.
Play and destroy monsters on bases to manipulate their breakpoints and gain treasures, and gain power boosts from the presence or the destruction of monsters.
Play minions and play-on-base actions that manipulate their bases to make them unattractive for other players.
Get power boosts each time you play an action.
Move around and destroy weaker minions to get +1 power counters and extra minion plays.
Protect your minions from destruction and morph your weak minions into power-5-or-more minions.
Move all minions, move your own minions, move other players' minions, even during base scoring.
Play with a cast of ten unique minions that focus on drawing and playing actions that directly increase minion power.
Play play-on-minion actions, use talents to switch your minions between a powerful form and a weaker form with a useful ability, and move your minions around.
Give control of your minions to other players for benefits, and take back control of them when the time is right.
Return your minions to hand for benefits, and manipulate how your minions are affected, like moving them instead of returning them or having your power-2 minions be affected instead of others.
Take a peek and choose which base will come next, play extra minions on new bases to take early leads, and move minions all over the place.
Manipulate your deck, draw/play actions from the top of your deck and draw/play minions from the bottom of your deck.
Collect Groupies, gain advantages from bases with high breakpoints, play and move many minions at once to break bases.
Play low-power minions as extras, gain benefits from the presence of other players' minions on their bases, and play actions that neutralize strong opposing minions.
See The Bigger Geekier Box.
Summon small minions directly from your deck just for their effects and return them to the bottom of your deck at the end of the turn.
Play with fewer minions than normal, but gain power through your play-on-base actions, destroy other players' cards, manipulate bases and summon a giant freaking titan.
Use abilities that get better the more minions you have on the same base.
Wait until a base scores to use all kinds of strong Special abilities.
Move your minions around, especially after another minion moves, gain benefits for moving your minions and repeat other players' actions.
Duplicate the effects caused by standard actions on minions, thus increasing the number of affected minions.
Kung Fu Fighters
Generate +1 power counters, drain them from any minions, even other players', and destroy weaker minions.
Transfer play-on-base actions around in order to move your minions, and mess with other players' play-on-base actions, either by transferring them elsewhere or taking control of them.
Play with a reduced number of minions in your deck, but with a team of seven power-4 minions with powerful and oppressive abilities, including hard removal, power boost and retaliation.
Use your knowledge of the game to disrupt other players' plans. (Previously found in
The Big Geeky Box)
Smash Up All Stars
Draw and retrieve cards from your deck and discard pile to get your best cards out as soon as possible and keep them around for as long as possible. (Previously found in the
All Stars Event Kit)
Bury cards for use in the future and gain benefits from burying and uncovering cards.
Start duels with other players' minions to get rid of them, and greatly boost your own power to win duels.
Get various benefits whenever your minions go to the discard pile from play.
Steal other players' cards and gain power at the cost of placing cards from your hand on the top of your deck.
Search for and play actions on other players' minions, especially Set-Up actions, as a requirement to activate or play cards with much greater effects.
Move to bases where there are other players' minions and buff your minions on bases where other players' minions are present.
Chain a lot of extra actions that can directly affect your own minions and gain even more power, card draw and extra action as a benefit.
Discard cards to gain power, move other players' minions away from bases where you have minions and draw a lot of cards.
Play random extra minions directly out of your deck and trigger abilities each time you play a minion that way.
Give cards to other players for benefit, gain benefits when they play or discard them, and give away actions that are continuously passed between players.
Draw, play and replay play-on-base actions that activate abilities that trigger each time you play a play-on-base action, especially on the same base.
Grimms’ Fairy Tales
Play with a team of several pairs of minions who can only work when they are together with their partner.
Move to bases where you don't already have a minion, gain power and +1 power counters from play-on-minion actions, and put additional bases into play.
Russian Fairy Tales
Replace any minions in play with other ones, usually random ones played off the top of their owner's deck.
Play with a reduced number of characters in your deck, but with a cast of six power-5 characters with useful abilities, and each associated with a unique action that has two abilities, a regular one and a stronger one when the right character is in play.
Destroy your characters to play a bunch of low-power characters and gain various other benefits.
Play extra actions, draw actions and gain great power from playing several actions on the same turn.
Masters of Evil
Fulfill the varied objectives of your cards to gain victory points outside base scoring and get benefits from having a lot of victory points.
Play extra characters on the same base and get power boosts for having/playing characters on the same base.
Play base modifiers, reduce the breakpoint of bases and gain advantages from bases with low breakpoints.
Play with cards that can be played either normally, or as Specials during base scoring but with weaker effects.
Move your characters around, trigger abilities that activate on movement and converge your characters to the same base to gain great power.
Flip coins to determine what benefits you can get.
Spoiler warning! The following contains details about an upcoming set.
Knights of the Round Table
Play with a reduced number of minions in your deck, but with a team of seven strong minions, move them around, and have them end their movement on a base with your play-on-base actions to trigger various benefits.
↑ to count the possible combinations of 2 items from a set of n items, use
n choose 2 = n(n-1)/2.