There are card games, there are good card games, and then there is Munchkin by Steve Jackson. Think of it as an RPG card game without the R. You get to level up your player and destroy the monsters without any need for that pesky roleplaying.
The cards in Munchkin are of the highest quality and have survived multiple attempts from young children to bend and destroy them. The entire game is played without a board, unless you have the deluxe edition or print out the free image available. A board is not needed to play really, its just a nice way to keep score. Munckin has one other piece apart from cards, the “Runaway” dice which is well made with a little Munchkin as the 1. Very cute.
The term Munchkin comes from pen and paper roleplaying games like D&D. It is a player that only cares about making his character the most powerful in the game while not caring too much about the characters back story or roleplaying in general.
The idea of the card game focuses on that aspect by giving you only three real jobs in the game, fight monsters, collect treasure, and get to level 10. Oh and stopping anyone else getting to level 10 is also important, after all you are the most powerful player right?
The game has two basic decks, the Door Cards and the Treasure cards. Each turn of play you “kick down” a door and deal with what the card shows, sometimes a monster, which you have to fight or run away from, sometimes a curse, which affects you straight away, or if you are lucky a modifier card that you can keep. If you fight a monster and win you go up a level and take its treasure, if you lose then the “bad stuff” on the monster card happens unless you can roll high enough on the dice. This simple gameplay idea makes Munchkin easy to learn but allows for such complexity it can be incredibly satisfying.
Treasures allow you to modify your characters level to make them better at fighting, if you are normally level 4 and you face a level 6 Pukachu you are going to need some help. Help comes in three forms, treasure cards, other players and “one Shot” cards. The main treasure you receive is equipment cards, these help give you a higher level for combat as well as looking really cool. A fan favourite from the original pack is the “Bow with Ribbons” a card that is better for Elves as Elves like pretty things. You can have different races and classes as well as equipment which also gives bonuses. “One Shots” are also treasure cards but can only be used once in combat before being discarded. The cards are so varied this review cannot hope to tell you about all of them but suffice to say they keep the game interesting.
Getting help from other players is the strangest mechanic in the game. Early on you really can’t hope to defeat monsters without some help but as the game progresses you tend to look for ways to hinder rather than help players. The advantage to helping others is negotiating for a cut of the profits and, in some rare cases, even leveling up yourself! One of the best parts of the game is the arguments that occur when you try to get help but don’t want to give too much away.
Time scale and players
Munckin is best played with 3-6 players but can be played as a head to head 2 player game. The length of the game is really dependant on the amount of expansions you have. The base game will be between 1 and 2 hours, a game with all the expansions and 6 players could potentially be enormous. Of course if someone gets very lucky it can be all over very quickly, but that’s unlikely.
The expansions for Munchkin are many and varied and this review cannot hope to tell you of all them. The box we play has six expansions and one mini pack. A mini pack is around nine cards that you can buy for a couple of dollars that are normally themed, we have a Conan the Barbarian pack as well as pack for The Guild webshow. The expansions are much larger, 25-45 cards normally, and can add all new mechanics to the game. I would recommend getting the Demented Dungeons expansion when you buy the game as it really adds a whole extra level of fun.
When I first started watching Wil Wheaton on Tabletop Munchkin was the first game I saw them play. Coming from a D&D background made this instantly appealing and sparked my now obsessive love for the genre.
Munchkin is a legendary game from Steve Jackson and belongs in every home. It’s pace and gameplay create a party like atmosphere and allow people to have a genuinely fun time while keeping a real competitive edge. I love it and you should too.
You can get the Munchkin Starter Pack from Amazon.com for only $20 but you should really buy Demented Dungeons too so all together $27. Honestly guys, this may be the best fun you can have for under 30 bucks.
As always on my Tabletop game reviews, here is Wil Wheaton playing the game I review. Why? Because its awesome to watch, that’s why.
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