It is said that 70% of the profits made by SJG come from the sales of Munchkin related products and of all the games I’ve review thus far it is the only one you can buy in a non-specialist game shop, which I guess makes it the most “mainstream” game in my collection.
It is easy to see why Munchkin is sooooo popular but it is also easy to see why some people detest it. Lets take a look at the concept…
It’s a Role-Com-Card Game
Munchkin takes the most popular Role Playing Game ever (Dungeons and Dragons) and ridicules its many foibles and it does so with four pages of rules and two decks of cards, a Door Deck and Treasure Deck.
In Munchkin you start play as a level 1 Human, as play progresses you can add or remove race cards and class cards in the pursuit of what matters most to a Munchkin, Power and Gold! Like in a Role Playing Game you go up levels by killing monsters. You gain treasures by killing monsters too and those in turn help you defeat harder monsters. When you reach level 10 you win.
It’s that simple.
Munchkin is basically a card game about numbers. You are represented by a number, your level. You have cards that give you bonuses to your number. If your number is higher than the number the monster has you win.
Boring as that sounds, that is the core of Munchkin. What makes the game more interesting (or possible more detestable for some players) is the fact that other players can chip in on your turn, making beefing up your monster, adding a new monster to the mix, cursing you, backstabbing you or helping you out in exchange for all the monster’s treasure.
On your turn you kick down a door, if it is a monster you fight it and either take treasure or face the consequences of losing. If it is anything else you either resolve it, in the case of a curse, or put it in your hand. If you didn’t fight a monster you may either “look for trouble” or “search the room”. If you look for trouble you play a monster from your hand and fight it. If you search the room you take a card from the Door deck face down and place it in your hand. If at the end of your turn you have more than 5 cards in your hand you must give the excess to the losing player.
Play proceeds in this way until one player reaches level 10.
I Hate Maths!
If the above statement is true, you probably wont like this game. You will constantly have to add numbers up or take them away as new items and abilities come into effect throughout the game.
I Hate Dungeons and Dragons…
Although a common statement, it is one that is generally made by the uninitiated, who have watched a few too many derogatory episodes of the Simpsons. Whatever the case, even if you are not an avid Roleplayer, Munchkin is still a fun game and a hell of a lot lighter than D&D. However to really get a lot out of the game you probably need to have played it’s older, more serious brother and to get all the jokes in their entirety you probably should have been playing D&D since the first paper pamphlets were printed way back when.
It’s Only a Bit of Fun
Serious Roleplayers who cannot take a joke will spoil this game for you. As will players who don’t like spiteful or vengeful tactics. Players who suffer from analysis paralysis or who treat every game like it is Chess will ruin this for you too. What I am trying to say is… While anyone CAN play this game, that doesn't necessarily mean they should. However, Munchkin is best with a larger group, but beware some people who “love” Munchkin, don’t necessarily make good people to play with, if you know what I mean.
So what do you get: 1 x 6 Sided Die 1 x Rulebook 168 Cards
Yes there really is that little in the box. SJG don’t even include a level counter (some 10 sided dice, or tokens or anything). The cards are good quality and the artwork is great, but nearly £20? Really? Good news is you can pick it up on ebay cheaper but I shouldn’t really encourage that… Also, once you buy two expansions the game no longer fits in the box so be prepared to find extra storage.
Munchkin is expanded with 6 additional decks of cards, although Demented Dungeons is a different type of expansion and More Good Cards really only duplicates some of the cards that get diluted by the addition of expansions, such as wandering monsters and wish rings.I would definitely recommend getting at least a few of the expansions…
However all Munchkin games have the same mechanic which means they can all be combined. I have no intention of buying any of the other Munchkin lines to do this but the option is there if you want space aliens or pirates roaming the halls of your dungeon.
Waste of Money or Game of the Century?
Neither, especially if you pick it up cheaply enough. Yes there are quite a few people who either won't like the game or will make it dull and tedious for everyone involved, BUT… and this is the most important point of all… BUT if you find that perfect mix of friends, this game is electric. It’s fast, it’s furious, its fun, it’s funny, I’m running out of words beginning with F. Play it as a family game or play it on a break between D&D sessions and just enjoy it for what it is… Maths with a dungeon crawl theme.