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    Review: Munchkin

    April 9, 2015

    Steve Jackson’s Munchkin is a semi-cooperative fantasy card game in which players compete to become the most powerful adventurer at the table through combat, negotiation, and the use of magical treasures. And if you have to stab your fellow adventurers in the back on your quest for unbridled power, then all the better. Set in a light-hearted fantasy environment featuring silly arcane items and ridiculous monsters, Munchkin is filled to the brim with clever puns and hilarious references that gently but lovingly mock the world of fantasy role-playing.

    The winner of Munchkin is the first player to raise his or her character to Level 10. Levels are gained by defeating monsters, selling treasure, and through the use of powerful cards which allow characters to immediately level-up. But be careful not to gain power too quickly, or your fellow adventurers might send a mighty Plutonium Dragon after you…

    The game is a snap to learn. Players start their turns with kicking open the door of a dungeon by flipping over the top card of the Door deck, and encountering what’s underneath. It may be a Monster to fight, a Curse upon the player, or a new Race or Class to help advance the character in experience. If a Monster doesn’t rear its head, the active player may then go Look For Trouble by playing a Monster card from his hand. This mechanic gives players a chance to gain treasure and experience (with adequate risk) even if the luck of the Door deck isn’t conforming to their needs. If players did not fight any Monsters, they may Loot The Room and draw an additional Door card without revealing it to the other players. Finally, players must perform an act of Charity, giving any cards in excess of the hand limit of five to the player whose character is the lowest level.

    When fighting Monsters, players compare their character’s strength with the strength of the Monster they’re fighting. Item cards can help with this, like the Hammer of Kneecapping or Boots of Running Really Fast. But watch out – the other players may decide that the Monster is actually an Ancient or much more powerful Enraged version of itself by using Monster Enhancer cards to affect its abilities. Fear not, though! If a Monster becomes too tough to defeat, there are two options: characters can either run away or offer some of their treasure to other players who might then leap into action – for the right price. In addition to knowing when to fight and when to run, then, having good diplomacy skills can get you far in Munchkin. And luck will always play a part in the game, as the draw of the cards is different every time you play.

    Munchkin is a light and lively game of clever subterfuge that is quick, easy, and extremely accessible to new players. It encourages everyone to get ahead by working together, and occasionally get farther ahead by NOT working together. The basic box is great for 3-6 players of ages around 10 and up. But that’s just the very beginning – there’s a veritable Munchkin empire available with over a dozen stand-alone versions of the game, all parodying different genres. Whether you prefer zombies or science-fiction, Cthulhu or Conan, Munchkin has you covered. There are also multiple expansions to each of these versions, leading to a massive host of options when playing. Does the fun ever end? Not likely anytime soon!

    So don your Slimy Armor and stock up on potions of Electric Radioactive Acid, while saving your very distracting Pretty Balloons for when they are most needed, concurrently negotiating useful trades with other players while simultaneously fighting off Drooling Slimes and the dreaded Tongue Demon! That’s Munchkin in a nutshell.

    Our Gotta-Play series is a weekly spotlight on particular games that we think are exceptionally fun and that we believe everybody should try, whether brand new or old classic. On every Saturday afternoon we’ll have a game laid out on one of our front tables, and we’ll be offering free demos and a chance for you to give it a shot. If you try it and find that you simply must have a copy, we’ll be offering a 10% discount on that title through the demo period. So it’s great way to build up your library of the very best games we have in the store – while saving a few bucks along the way! We’ll be demoing Munchkin this Saturday, April 11th 1-4pm.


    If you like: Dungeon Raiders, Talisman, Red Dragon Inn
    You’d definitely enjoy: Munchkin
    MRP: $24.95
    Designer: Steve Jackson
    Produced by: Steve Jackson Games