“I kick down the door!”. A seemingly innocent line used by thousands of impatient party members shortly before dooming their entire adventuring company in games of Munchkin throughout the world.
Munchkin is a card game unlike any other. The premise is simple; fight monsters to level up and get loot, and the first player to level 10 wins. The execution of it though is so much better, with a great sense of humor (it doesn’t take itself seriously at all) and fast game play creating one of the most enjoyable experiences you’ll find in a card game.
The Aim? Level 10 – How hard can that be?
Very as it turns out. Each of the other players is out for themselves and they’re not above adding monsters to fights, throwing a kitchen sink at you or just dropping a cow from the heavens to steal your kill (all of these are possible I kid you not).
More interesting is the option to offer help to another munchkin for an agreed stake in his (or her!) winnings, because that’s when players start bidding to help and often it turns nasty when someone thinks they’re being fleeced out of treasure.
Losing to a monster isn’t always *that* bad however, most of them don’t outright kill you they just make you lose a level or give away some treasure. You might even lose the ability to ever wear shoes again…. Speaking of shoes…
Munchkin has a very MMO feel when it comes to equipment, you can have an item in each of your hand slots plus one piece of armor, footgear and headgear. Where it differs is that there are many ways to get around these limits.
A character can be “Created using Cinematic rules” and as such wield an extra hands worth of equipment, or “Cheat!” to use a piece of equipment their class couldn’t normally. The purpose of all of these is to increase your Munchkins power in combat, which is simply his level + his equipment + anything else.
The monsters themselves range from level 1 to 20. Most have some kind of effect on them (such as -2 against males or doubling the effect of items used in the fight), with varying effects on how your battle will play out.
They often have funny “Bad stuff”. The “Puppies of Tindalos”, for example, chew up a players shoes causing footgear to be lost. Serves you right for losing to puppies to be honest.
The game allows players to Enhance monsters and Weaken them but it makes the choice to go further than just say +3 or -5. Each of the Enhancing cards have a humorous one or two word prefix or suffix and they meld together beautifully. Last time I played I was accosted by a
“Rugose Itsy Bitsy Made in Hong Kong Batrachian Great Cthulhu In a Thousand Year Slumber, Plus it’s Spawn”. Not quite a Puppy.
There are other ways of getting one up on the other greedy munchkins, trading favors, cursing them, driving them mad or causing the ground to open up and swallow all the treasure they would’ve found on that big nasty.
Munchkin is a big game. There are currently 10 complete stand alone games each with a different theme ranging from the classic RPG version to the parody of HP Lovecraft’s Call of Cthulhu books to Star Munchkin and many more beside.
There are also more than 20 expansions to the sets adding more cards and more ways to break the rules legally. The single greatest thing about this is that all the cards are compatible; you can mix and match any sets of Munchkin to play your own Pirates and Cowboys version of the game if it takes your fancy.
If you’ve never played Munchkin before the decks are very reasonable and well worth your time. If you have then you know that a game of Munchkin with friends is a great way to spend an evening. Head over to www.worldofmunchkin.com to see everything they have to offer.
Mike enjoys many nerdy pass-times including watching Sci-fi series, winning at shooting games and playing D&D as well as more socially acceptable ones like bike riding and racquet sports.