Munchkin: The Hilarious and Entertaining Role-Playing Card Game

Munchkin- the card game where you can “Kill the monsters, Steal the treasure, Stab your buddy.” It is a hilarious and addictive card game from Steve Jackson Games designed for people who like the idea of playing an RPG with their friends, but don’t particularly like the more tedious aspects of playing tabletop games (such as Dungeons and Dragons); things like drawing up character sheets, actively role playing, or rolling dice to see whether or not your attack was a “hit”. The Munchkin card game practically creates your character for you, and eliminates all of the tediousness of paper character sheets and multiple dice sets. It’s also great for people that just want to sit down with their family and have a good time. The wonderfully nice people at Steve Jackson Games were kind enough to send me a set of the original full-color deck of Munchkin to try out with my friends and family so I could review it. I strongly recommend picking up this game for anyone, young or old, that you have yet to find that perfect gift for this holiday season! It is a seriously rollicking good time replete with ample opportunities for hearty laughter.

I have been playing Munchkin for about six or seven months now, but never had the opportunity to play the true “original” Munchkin set. You see, there are a variety of different starter sets available, like Munchkin Zombies, Munchkin Cthulu and Super Munchkin just to name a (very) few. A while ago I tried Space Munchkin at my local game store and immediately fell in love with the fast-paced gameplay. I decided to purchase the board game version of Munchkin, called Munchkin Quest, and proceeded to take it to friends’ houses whenever a big group of us were getting together. In Munchkin Quest, like in Munchkin the card game, you start as a level 1 human with no class. Heh-heh. (This joke is now required by law in all Munchkin games.) As you gather “treasure” cards and “door” cards, you will collect bonus items like weapons and armor to add to your strength, and hopefully a new class like a warrior or cleric, or a new race such as an elf or a dwarf. The turns are based on the premise that you and your fellow adventurers are progressing through a dungeon, which is why at the beginning of every turn you are “kicking down the door”.

In the card game, the first thing you do at the beginning of your turn is draw the top card from the door card pile. This is what is referred to as “kicking down the door” and usually, on the other side of that door is a monster you immediately enter into combat against. You add up your level and all of your bonus items and stack it against the monster’s level. If you tie, or are weaker than the monster, you must roll a d6 to determine whether or not you can run away, or ask other more burly players for help. If all else fails, you must suffer the “bad stuff” listed at the bottom of the card (which in the case of the Level One Potted Plant is nothing. Escape is automatic!) If your bonuses and your level exceed the monster’s, you smack him down and proceed, collecting a level and treasures on your merry way. Treasures that equal one thousand gold in value can be sold for an extra level, and various entertaining “Go Up A Level” cards are strewn throughout the deck, such as “Invoke obscure rules. Go up a level.” All of the cards are illustrated and titled in hilarious ways, with a few adult jokes that will fly right over kids’ heads to add to the fun for those older in body but younger at heart. Certain booster packs change the dynamic of play; the Fairy Dust booster pack comes with one “door card” that you shuffle into the regular deck, and then the rest become their own mini-deck which you can earn cards from by doing favors for other players or by encountering the Sparkly Good Fairy and defeating her.

Munchkin is appropriate for ages ten and up and any “adult” jokes are well-concealed in double entendre. Younger kids will enjoy it for the adventure while older kids will like it for the humor. I relished the opportunity to play the original set that started the Munchkin phenomenon with my family and friends this holiday break. There are a multitude of add-on packs available, no matter what starter style of Munchkin you choose to buy, so the play will never grow old. All styles of Munchkin are compatible with one another. For instance, you could have a Munchkin Bites Booty Cthulu (vampire, pirate, and, well.. Cthulu) night. There are smaller booster packs available as well. In each starter box of Munchkin there are 168 cards illustrated by John Kovalic and one Munchkin six-sided die which is unique to that set, for instance, regular Munchkin comes with an ivory colored d6 while Cthulu comes with a green one and a Munchkin silhouette is on every d6 as the number 1. With only one starter pack the game is ideally played with 3-6 players and can be over in as little as half an hour or as long as a couple of hours depending on your style of play. When you buy additional packs, you can play with a larger group and/or for longer periods of time. The game is over when a player reaches level 10. They are the winner and temporary “King of the Munchkins” for a day. Just don’t tell the level 20 Plutonium Dragon that.

You can try Munchkin for yourself by playing the Munchkin Rigged Demo here. Or, for those of our readers who happen to live near Battle Creek, you can try Munchkin out for free at Titan’s Entertainment Cafe on Capital avenue every Thursday night during Family Board Game time. It is with the help of Titan’s staff that my Munchkin addiction started. Warning: Once you start, you won’t want to stop! Now, thankfully including the original Munchkin starter set, I have three Munchkin sets of my own, as well as Munchkin Quest and the Fairy Dust booster pack. Once you have played every few nights for a month, a booster pack is the perfect thing to spice up the game and bring new laughs, and they are never in short supply! I give this product 5 out of 5 gears because the only way I could possibly think to improve it would be for the company to keep making more, and they do, so I’m happy! Order a starter set for your loved one for Christmas or stop in at Titan’s to play it today! You won’t regret it.

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Serra Wallerius
Serra Wallerius is an avid gamer, technology enthusiast and professional photographer. She attended Maine College of Art in Portland, Maine to receive her Bachelor's in Fine Arts with a focus in photography and has a studio located in Battle Creek, MI.