By Lex "Gaz the Dungeonmaster" Ansems on January 21, 2015
Don't you just hate the fact that whenever you play a game you can't help the monsters kill your opponents? Or that whenever you help your fellow adventurers, you get absolutely nothing for it?
Well, in Munchkin this all changes! Munchkin is a card game where monsters can be supported by players and backstabbing is basically written into the rules. If you play a specific version of this game, even cheating is allowed as long as you don't get caught. So let's stuff cards up our sleeves, sharpen our knives and have a look at this simple, nut extremely fun card game. Let's play Munchkin+...
The basic premise of any Munchkin game is pretty straightforward; You traverse a 10-room dungeon, kicking in the doors, fighting monsters, getting cursed, and somewhere along the way finding out that you are a wizard or a rogue. If you encounter a monster, you fight them (of course. what else are you gonna do, buy them a drink?). You add up all your points and compare them to the total number of point the monster has. The highest number wins, it couldn't be simpler! After you have valiantly vanquished the voracious vermin, you then move on to the collecting of the treasure. When you have stuffed your pockets with absolutely everything even remotely shiny, you then enter the next room. However, seeing as how all the other players want to win as well, this might be a little bit more tricky than I might have made it sound. Your opponents have the choice to either help you defeat a monster in exchange for a freely negotiable portion of the treasure, or help the monster defeat you by playing cards that support the monster in question, in which case you don't get the treasure, you get smashed into a pulp by a slightly annoyed looking duck, and be the laughing stock of all your friends for at least an entire game round.
From the games treasure deck players can draw cards, ranging from weapons, classes, race potions and a whole lot of other cards. The door deck, on the other hand, contains monster cards, curses and class or race cards. Munchkin really has more cards than you can shake a stick at! Now I can hear some of you think "that sounds boring! Where's the fun in that?!". If you have never seen the Munchkin cards, we'll forgive you for thinking things like that, because the single best thing about the game is its use of humor. More to the point, Munchkin is powered by its use of humor and puns, making fun of all the popular card games, table top games. Its expansions even parody movies, videogames or TV shows. I mean, what's not to love about a game that has weapons like the Cheese Grater of Peace, the Chainsaw of Bloody Dismemberment or the Boots of Running Really Fast? When you create a game with these traits, you are bound to get all the nerds laughing their slightly old fashioned spectacles off.
Monsters like the Shrieking Geek, the Internet Troll and the Evil Gazebo will make you wish more games had the good sense of using their imagination instead of being all serious and grumpy. I mean, come on, the Sex Change Curse is one of the best curses out there! And let's not forget one of my personal favorites, THE DUCK OF DOOOOOOOOOOOOOM (Queue the tun tun tuuuuuuuuuuuuuun and rolling thunder)
Alas, where there's a good, there's bound to be a bad. So let's (very briefly) talk about the 'bad' side of the game. If you are not a nerd, geek or gamer you won't always understand the references and puns used within the game. And even when you do get the joke, you might not think they are even remotely funny. Take those things away, and Munchkin is just a game of adding numbers, and really little else. And although it is basically a simple game based on luck when drawing cards, the sheer amount of cards mean that the experienced player can make far better combos and do stuff you never thought of, giving him or her a unfair advantage. But then again, if you play with the right people, this really shouldn't be an issue.
Munchkin is a great card game, filled with humor and geek references. However, keep in mind that the people you're playing with can definitely make or break the game. The boat-load of expansion sets can add a lot to a game, but also make playing Munchkin more chaotic than strictly necessary. Having said all that, if you have a game group that consists of nerds, geeks and gamers; buy it! If you are looking for a casual game than the best traits of the game are probably lost on you and Munchkin loses a lot of its appeal. So you'd better make sure you are thoroughly in touch with your inner nerd before attempting to conquer this dungeon!
Steve Jackson Games
Designer: Steve Jackson
Players: 3 - 6 players, ages 14 & up
Playtime: approx. 90 minutes