Guardians, a new 2-player game from Plaid Hat set in a futuristic world with high-tech superheroes (possibly set in the Specter Ops universe?) is reminiscent of Smash Up in many ways. You build your deck by choosing 3 heroes and mixing their power decks together along with a few generics. Then it’s off to battle over several different locations in an explosive and somewhat literal tug-of-war.
Each location has a track between 5 and 7 spaces long. If you end your turn with the track all the way on your side, you score it. There are two ways to move that track toward you: start your turn with an active hero at that location with no active opponent. Or, knock an opponent out at that location to move the track 2x.
You get 3 actions each turn to use for cardplay, but you can also move and attack with your heroes. Be careful; attacking with your heroes “exhausts” them, leaving the location up for your opponent scoring points.
Fortunately, each hero has some powerful abilities you can use to manipulate the battlefield, forcing enemy heroes to move around, damaging them, refreshing your heroes early, and more.
Also, each hero has an Ultra ability that can be used once per game, but only when charged up fully (which happens via other played cards). Unleashing these abilities at the right time can chain powerful combos together and wipe the floor with the opposing team.
No hero is permanently killed, however. After checking for location control, every KO’d hero you control goes back into the fight at full health.
If I had more occasion for 2player games, Guardians would be very attractive. It’s fun, fast-paced, and actiony, and doesn’t require any kind of card collecting or deckbuilding mastery. Just smash (erm) your chosen decks together and start fighting. The demo we played showcased some very neat combinations between the different hero powers, and I could see a lot of fun coming out of trying different combinations of heroes. It’s also short – I didn’t time the demo, but we finished the full game pretty quickly, even with the rules explanations.