Spreading the love of board games one meeple at a time
I thought I would continue with the theme of affordable games that would be easy additions to your game shelf.
I could tell early on that Munchkins was going to be an enjoyable game when I read the rules and it instructed me to “decide who goes first by rolling the dice and arguing about the results” and that, “8.4 out of 9.7 Munchkin players just can’t get enough of the game.” Well, I’m definitely one of those 8.4. Even reading the rules, a task which is often the most tedious part of playing a new game, is a lot of fun. Munchkins doesn’t take itself too seriously, and the game has a little bit of freedom to it allowing players to change, make up, and have fun with how they want to play the game. In other words, House Rules are in effect, which works great for me and my family because, as anyone who happens to know us is aware, we like to make up rules as we go along, typically to our own advantage. That being said, this is not a cheating game. There are rules and structure to Munchkins, but having a casual attitude to how the game plays means that when there are questions in gameplay, or a discrepancy between how different players have played Munchkins in the past, there’s no need to go through the rules with a fine tooth comb, or check out forums online to find out the “proper” way to play. Players get to make a consecutive decision and keep playing, which is way more fun than spending half an hour trying to solve a rule dispute.
Munchkins brings in the fantasy elements of an RPG while making fun of the whole experience at the same time. Players fight monsters, gain equipment, loot treasure and try to level up to win the game.
Munchkins is a card based game where players start as a level 1 human with “no class.” Characters change and gain strength throughout the game as players draw cards and level up by defeating monsters. On each players turn a card is flipped over from the Door deck. If a monster is revealed, the player “fights” the monster and wins or loses based on the strength of the monster, and the player’s own character strength. Character strength is determined by the combined total of all equipment and character levels. If a player can’t beat the monster he or she can ask for help from any of their fellow adventures. Other players might be willing to team up to take on monsters but usually some form of coercion or bribery is involved. This element of the games means that it can be played a bit more cooperatively, alliances can be formed, and so can rivalries. If the monster is defeated players get Treasure but if the monster wins the fight, players have to run away or “Bad Stuff” happens.
If a player flips over a card from the Door deck and no monster is revealed, they can Look for Trouble (play their own monster), or Loot the Room (pick up cards for their hand). The winner of the game is the first person to get their character to level 10 by defeating monsters.
One of the things that I like about card based games in general, and Munchkins in specific, is that once players understand the actions that they can take on a turn, most of the rest of gameplay can be figured out as players draw and play their cards. The fist time I played Munchkins, we didn’t even read the rules. We sort of glanced at them to know how many cards to have in our hands, and how to win the game and then just started playing. The first round was a little bit confusing, but by the second round, we understood how to play.
For me, half the fun of Munchkins is messing with your friends and knocking them back levels. You can do this by getting curse cards and monster enhancements to beef up the monsters your opponents are facing. I also really enjoy the cards and humour in the game itself. The rules are entertaining to read, and the cards are often just bizarre (see: Cheese Grater of Peace).
The version of Munchkins that I own is the original, or base, game. Munchkins has many other themed expansions including space, zombie, pirates, and ninjas, all of which can be combined to create one ridiculous multi-themed game.
While I’m not sure I would recommend Munchkins as the first game to introduce a non-gamer, it could definitely be the second or third game to play. Munchkins shows a more whimsical, less intense side of playing games. It is a great game to play if you’ve ever played a card based game and enjoyed it, or if you just want to spend a silly afternoon with your friends.