Munchkin – Steve Jackson Games

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Welcome to another addition of A Roll of the Dice with your reviewer of the day, Adam. This week, as promised, we will be doing a review on a game that I know any avid board gamer has heard of, Munchkin. This game is another Steve Jackson game creation (The Chez series and GURPS) so as with last review, we know that it is a game full of fun, and lasting power. Why don’t we take a look into the world of Munchkin and see if it is the type of game that would interest you.

Munchkin is best defined as a personal Role Playing Card Game. The goal is for one person to reach level ten, and cement their place as one of the Gods, and by Gods, I mean those of us who have very little going on in their lives and strive to be the greatest Role Playing Gamer of all time! Just me? Well, this is awkward… Mainly though, Munchkin is about having a really good laugh while surviving the monsters that are out to kill every part of you. Anything goes in this balls to the wall game, and if you have played it before, chances are you have laughed along with your friends while levelling your way to greatness, or laughed along with your enemies while the systematically destroyed everything you hold dear in the game.

BASIC RULES

The whole point of Munchkin is to be the first player to reach level ten. You can do this a few different ways, each of which adds to the ability to win fast or lose even faster. Let’s start by going over a standard turn in the Munchkin world.

First thing you want to do to start the game is deal out two “door” cards and two “item” cards. You are able to equip your items, including clipping potions to your belt for future use. This will prepare you for battling your first monster. Now we are ready to start our magical journey of proving your worth.

To start a players turn, the first thing you must do is kick a door down. By kicking the door in, you flip the top card in the door pile which will show you the card you are either facing, or placing in your hand. If you see a creature card you must fight. You win the battle by having your total (your level, all of you equipped items, and any potions or enhancements you have decided to use) equalling higher than the monster you are facing (their level and any enhancements your enemies may give them). Each monster has a certain amount of treasure and levels on the bottom, which you will receive as tribute for defeating them. If they manage to defeat you however, there is always “bad stuff” which can range from losing a level, to completely losing your life (starting over from scratch). If you do not draw a monster, and instead draw a buff or curse, you follow the instructions, and then take another door card face down, so the other players do not know what it is. The only way to get treasure, is to defeat monsters.

This is a standard turn in Munchkin, so enough about the rules, and let’s jump in to see what the game is really about.

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DESIGN – 8

Like most Steve Jackson games the design is what is needed for the game play. Munchkin is a very well designed game, meant to give you lots of laughs. It does just this. From the cartoony style we have come to love, to the quick witted comments on each of the cards, Steve Jackson games hits a true home run again.

What makes this game come off so well, is that it appeals to a casual gamer, and has the references that those of us who game too much are familiar with. It adds a small amount of comedy to a game that is all about the fun factor. Going into this game you should expect to see an art style that is really matched with the Chez series, and has the little quips that make it exciting.

The main design feature is the additional content that you can get your hands on though. There is so many alternate sets of cards, and expansions to add to your game play. Whether it is the Guild pack, or you want to have new dungeon quests to go on, either way it adds more depth to the game itself. There is a lot of expansions currently on the market, and each one brings something new with it, which is a good thing for players, so the game does not start to feel stale at any point. It will always feel like a brand new game each time you make a small addition, so it is worth looking into them when your group is ready to take the next step in the game.

REPLAY FACTOR – 9

The Munchkin game has made a massive name for itself mainly because its ability to be replayed so many times, all with different outcomes. The main reason behind this is because there is so many expansions, and additions which make the game amazing. Whether it is The Guild pack or Penny Arcade, you can always see familiar faces each time you play, but add a lot of items, monsters, and bonuses. Each time you play you make end up with a completely different combination of character options. Will you be a male elf wizard, or choose to be a female dwarf cleric? The choices are endless, and with every new person you add to the game, they become even more difficult to imagine.

Another huge addition to the replay would be the ability to win the game in multiple ways. The only way to truly win is to hit level ten, but to get there, you can use a few different methods. You can either defeat monsters to gain levels, you can sell items (every thousand gold) to gain a level, you can play a gain a level card, and finally you can gain a level by assisting others in battles IF you are an elf. The only way to actually hit level ten though is to kill a monster to hit level ten. Well that and by helping someone killing a monster, as a cleric, then playing Divine Intervention (gain a level for helping AND can get you to level ten). This may sound like a specific situation that will rarely come up, but I have seen players use this to win at least ten separate times.

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FUN FACTOR – 10

I will have to say, Munchkin is so popular in game circles because it is just an amazing amount of fun. It is one of the few games that does not get boring as you play, and can entertain a group of people even if you play a few times in a row. The comedy aspect, the constant betrayal and companionship, accompanied by the complete lack of respect from all parties involved.

This game is one that involves a lot of trash talking back and forth, but gives you amazing ability to help one another, while planning your inevitable betrayal. I have never seen a game played in which someone did not need to back stab another person at some point. If you are not a fan of games that involve working together, while constantly planning how to shank your friends, you may not want to play this game. If you are a fan of games in general, comedy, betrayal, friends, cards, role playing games, winning, losing, or just having a good time, then this is the game for you.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

I am a huge fan of this game. I have played it more than any other game in my collection, and have never regretted making this purchase. I won’t say it is my favourite game of all time,  but it is one of the best short games that you can pick up. If you are going to pick this game up, you need to get the edition which comes with the board and pieces. It is worth the little bit extra to be able to keep a more accurate track of your levels, and plus, who doesn’t like a good board?

This is a game that is made for the everyday player, as the rules are super simple, and very easy to pick up. You can learn the basics of the game in one turn around the table, and have never had a friend who found it difficult to learn. The strategy may take some getting used to, but it comes with just playing it a bit, all while watching how others choose to play. There is no singular winning tactic, but it is fun to find loopholes.

Thanks so much for reading this weeks review, I hope it helps you make your decision on this amazing game. Come on down to The Comic Hunter and talk to the guys about grabbing your copy. Next week we will be reviewing a board game again, and a newer addition to my collection, Smash-Up. So come on back, and remember that if there is a game you want to see me review OR recommend for me to buy, please comment below!

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