Munchkin is published by Steve Jackson games in which you will collect cards to fight monsters, steal treasure and stab other players in the back. It’s a cutthroat game designed to test friendships and infuriate players.
The game is pretty simple, there are basically two types of cards – Treasure cards and Door cards. Some of these will be monsters you have to fight, which will allow you to move up a level (and reach the goal of Level 10 – first one there wins). Other cards include different races and classes that all have special abilities (like a Wizard, Thief, Warrior, Elf etc). Other cards are equipment that you can use to give a bonus to your basic strength (which is equal to your level), so you may want arm yourself with a sword, on in combat you may use a potion on yourself to give yourself a boost. Alternatively you could use the potion on a monster so it will defeat a rival…
This game promotes backstabbing and is not advised for people with a short temper. There’s no real strategy here as people will naturally go after the leader, although people can team up when they’re fighting monsters, always after negotiating the share of the treasure of course. It’s quite a fun game although it can be incredibly frustrating, one game due to some unlucky card draws I ended the game on level 1. That wasn’t fun. It is dependent on luck because someone could draw some really good equipment and be ready to take on powerful monsters while other players could be left with nothing but useless cards. The game ebbs and flows though and the lead can shift easily.
I think it’s a fun filler game but it can get a bit tiresome. I played it once with 6/7 players and that was slightly too much I think. It’s very chaotic in those circumstances and I didn’t really enjoy that game that much. It meant there was a fair bit of downtime and it was very hard to decide whether to help people or hinder them if they were sitting across the table since it was hard to keep track of what equipment they had and which level they were on.
That’s another problem, the game doesn’t come with a way to track your levels. This is one of my bugbears with board games. I hate it when you need something to play a game but they don’t include it in the box. I ended up making a rudimentary board out of cardboard and a Sharpie, but it’s VERY rudimentary, and I have to use things for my own counters as well. In the 6/7 player game I played we used dice, and that’s all well and good but again it was very hard to see what level someone was on when they were sitting on the other side of the table. It also makes it easier for people to cheat (which, to be fair the game allows, it specifically says in the rulebook that cheating is acceptable as long as you get away with it).
But when the game is 3/4 players I do enjoy it (it’s pretty pointless to play it as two players because one of the joys is when you help someone and then immediately stab them in the back). I think that’s the sweet spot because you can easily keep track of everything and it lends itself to ever-changing alliances. It’s definitely not for those who like planning out strategies because everything can change when it comes back around to your turn but it’s fun for people who want a light game that will provide a few laughs. The artwork is cute as well, and most of the card text is very tongue-in-cheek.
Obviously this version is for people who are fans of fantasy, but there are a multitude of other themes like Super Munchkin, Star Munchkin and LOADS more. Pirates, the Wild West just…it’s crazy how much there are. There are also loads of expansions for them as well. I got the first expansion and I think that’s enough for me because I don’t play it that often. I think if you play it a lot then the expansions are worth getting, and maybe one or two of the other versions. I believe most of them add a few different rules to the game, but they’re all compatible so you can mix-and-match sets to make a nice amalgamation of cards. It could be a real money-sink if you let it, but if it sounds like something you’d enjoy I’d recommend getting the initial set. There are plenty of cards to keep you entertained, and then if you want a little more variety you can get an expansion.
So again, this is a game that you really just have to sit down and play. If you want something light and fun where you get to annoy your friends then this would probably be a good fit.