Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fistful of Munchkins

The Chinese version. Cause I can.
Munchkin is perhaps one of the most polarizing games in the boardgaming world. Some people love it and will gladly buy all of the 5,000* box sets and expansion backs. Then there are others that would rather run screaming off a pier into a piranha infested lake. I'm in the middle.

I picked up the game years ago when I first started getting into the hobby. I had heard a lot about it and wanted to check it out for myself. Luckily I got it pretty cheap with a coupon at Barnes & Noble as I'm not I would have ever paid full price.

The basic premise of the game is that its a spoof on the traditional RPG/Fantasy dungeon crawl. Each player is an adventurer who takes turns kicking down doors, facing monsters and collecting treasure. Do this enough and you'll slowly go up in level, until one player reaches level 10 and is crowned the victor.

The criticism comes from the heavy and over-powered player interaction. Players can play cards from their hands to either help or seriously hinder their opponents (usually the latter). They can makes monsters stronger, steal treasure, or even knock them back down to level 1. As a result the game can either take 30 minutes or 3 hours, depending on the luck of the cards and just how back-stabby the players are feeling.

The cards have a certain charm and I'm of the fan of the illustrations by John Kovalic (who also does a great webcomic, Dork Tower). There's also a decent, if not shallow, sense of humor on the cards, which mocks the standard fantasy tropes. Some people will love it and some will start groaning after the first couple plays.

If this seems pseudo-interesting, but am not a fan of fantasy settings, then you're in luck. Munchkin comes in all sorts of flavors. There's the sci-fi Star Munchkin, the vampire based Munchkin Bites!, the lovecraftian Munchkin Cthulhu, the action packed Munchkin Impossible, the badly dubbed Munchkin Fu, the heroic Super Muchkin, the adventurous Munchkin Booty, the outlawish The Good, The Bad, and the Munchkin and finally the undead Munchkin Zombies. Or if you're a huge nut, you can buy everything and mix all the sets together.

Munchkin is definitely not for everyone. Its not even something I want to pull out all the time. But if you're with a group of friends and can resist from taking a game too seriously and don't mind getting a duck on your head, you can have a good time.

*Only a slight exaggeration.

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