Midnight Munchkin Madness

Hello Mr./Mrs. Reader,
Game OverviewToday I will be going into a review of the board game Munchkin

  • Card game for 3-6+ players (expansion packs allow for more players)
  • Role Playing Game
  • Play time: 1hr+
  • Set up time for new players: 10 – 20 min
    • Need a large table or surface to play
    • Need a pen and paper to record level and token count or any other method (iPhone Munchkin Application, phone note taking application etc.

Game Rules

Essentially Munchkin is a dungeon crawler.  There are two decks of cards, a treasure deck and a door deck.  You play the role of a level 1 human dungeon crawler.  The point of the game is to kick open doors (draw a card from the door deck) to find out what is in that room and to be the first to reach level 10.  You will encounter one of three things when you open a door: a monster, a curse or a buff.

If you encounter a monster you can fight it and if you beat it you get a level and you get to draw from the treasure deck.  If the monster’s level is too high then you can ask for help from one person and other players can play curses and buffs to aid or backstab you.  If you can’t beat the monster then you can flee, depending on the monster you may die, loose a level or have a negative penalty of some sort.

If you encounter a curse then the player has to submit to the effect of the curse.

If you encounter a buff you can keep it or play it immediately.  Buffs can be anything from a race (elf, dwarf and halfling) to a class (thief, warrior, wizard and cleric) and other bonuses (raise a monster’s attack by 5, loose two cards etc.).

A players turn begins with the door kick, then a combat phase if they fight a monster.  Followed by the looting phase where they get the monster’s defeated loot or they draw another card from the door deck if a monster was not encountered.  The player can also summon a monster to fight from their hand to fight if they did not normally encounter one.

Munchkin Items

Likes

  1. Very entertaining once the player is able to learn the rules.  All our group members were fully immersed in the game and had a great time playing it.
  2. The balance for the player levelling system is mostly fair.  There are plenty of ways to increase your level and decrease your competition’s level.  There were many times when two players were near to winning the game and everyone ganged up to backstab the player in the lead to keep the game going.
  3. The social aspect of the game was also very fun.  Since board games are meant to be fun social experiences, Munchkin did this through the use of their class and combat system (Thief’s can back stab other players to create obstacles in their battle).  You can form alliances and bribe your friends with items that are not in the game.  At one point I formed a secret alliance with another player and it was our goal to team up annihilate the other team mates because we were both clerics and the rest of the players were thieves.
  4. The game can be as complex or as simple as you want it to be.  If the players would like to play a simple game where they would just draw cards and play free-for-all, they can do that.  Whereas, if they wanted to players can form alliances and gang up on their friends while creating obstacles for others, they can also do that.
  5. The level of simplicity is probably one of its best points.  While the game may seem complicated at first the actual gameplay is fairly simple.  A player’s turn can be finished in 10 seconds e.g. open a door, fight a monster, collect treasure.  If others were to interject, then the turns would last longer going into alliance agreements and player’s asking for help and what not.  This makes the game flow nice and quick at times while the other players are not waiting a long time for their turn to come.
  6. The art style of the game is also very enjoyable making it both graphically and aesthetically pleasing.  The names of the cards and the pictures on them are along the lines of comic-mischief making it seem like you are playing a game with the characters on your Sunday morning comic paper
Chicken on your head

Dislikes

  1. The rules were a bit tough to pick up for very new players.  The rulebook is essentially a small pamphlet that could be turned into a more graphical and easier to read book.  The pamphlet is informative and it seems like it was meant for players that were ecstatic to be playing Munchkin and familiar with these types of games.  For new players it was a bit like drinking water out of a fire hose.
  2. The coin and monetary system was very useless and didn’t serve such a good purpose.  The description for it could have been better in the rule book.  If there was something to change in a future version, this could be it.  The game does not include tokens to use for money, it simply states use whatever you want (poker chips, tokens, real money).
  3. There should be more classes and more variety.  When our group was playing, we had 3 players playing as thieves that coordinated their backstabbing ability with other players to annoy them.  This was a bit demoralizing to those players and it felt like they were losing interest in the game because of trouble advancing.  However there are expansion packs available for this game that you would have to purchase elsewhere to solve this issue.  However given that the price of the game is about $30, there should be more content considering it only comes with about 170 cards and one die.  Not the best bang for you buck.
  4. More items!  It would be nice if there were more physical items, like figurines, visual aids and some other physical devices players can have to increase immersion.
  5. The levelling reward system for killing monsters was a unfair.  If you managed to kill a level 16 monster and you are level 5, the level boost should have been greater.  I don’t think players were rewarded enough for great efforts in killing higher level monsters.
  6. The classes and in-game combat could use a bit more depth.  It felt like sometimes it was over to quick.  Since this is a Role Playing Game, it would be nice if it came with a history book or something advanced players could read to pull off more moves in combat.  For example, if you were a cleric and you were fighting a vampire or an undead monster, the history book would show that if they defeat that monster they are allowed to take a specific item from a treasure pile.  Something along those lines to give the battle and classes more depth.

What to change

If I was able to design some parts of the game differently I would choose between changing how the monetary and coin system worked, to increasing the depth of the combat system.  The combat system currently is fine for new players.  However, if you were playing with more advanced users, it would be nice if there was a history book or extended rule book that had class, race and item profiles that gave a nice twist.  This way when a character is in a pickle fighting a high level monster they could pull off some expert move and get away safely without losing items or dying.

For the coin and monetary system, I would create a shop where it holds decent items and other things the character can buy.  Also after each monster kill you would be awarded treasure and coins.  This would give the player more cash flow.  Not enough to amass for a level increase every turn, but enough to get cheap items to use.  This would give a more RPG feel to the game and give players more cash flow.  Otherwise the old way to get money is to trade items in.  However items are very valuable and are worth more in your hand then gold is.

Questions

To get some feedback on this post here are some questions that I hope you take the time to answer in the reply box below:

Those who have not played Munchkin before:

  • Do you think that board games like Munchkin offer a better social experience then an online console game (Call of Duty, Gears of War, Starcraft, League of Legends etc.) or Facebook social game?
  • Would you rather pick up Munchkin for $30 bucks or spend that money on a video game? If you pick the Video game, write down which video game and why.
  • Do you still play board games? Which one if your favourite?

Those who have played Munchkin:

  • Do you agree that Munchkin is a fairly simple game, or do you think it is really complicated?
  • How do you feel about the level system? Do you think it is balanced? Should players be offered greater rewards for killing monsters?
  • Do you agree with my idea for a small in-game store that with a few items?  What would you do differently?
  • If Munchkin came with a history book, would you read it and plan out advanced strategies to use with your favoured class or race?

Also feel free to criticise and comment on whatever else you would like, the questions are just guidelines to help formulate an answer.

Thank you for reading 😀

You have just been Moose’d

– Moose

18 thoughts on “Midnight Munchkin Madness

  1. Sounds like a really cool game. I definitely think that board games, and all games that are not digital offer a great social experience. I would often play games with my friends when we got too tired of playing Halo. Our favourites are Settlers of Catan and Risk. Munchkin definitely sounds like a game I would like to try. Although you mentioned that the game became dull due to several people playing the same role, I really like the fact that it can include many players. Settlers of Catan is strictly 4 or less people, which sucks when I am hanging out with a larger group. Munchkin sounds like a game that I would play at a friends house or something, but I do not think I would buy it. It doesn’t appeal to me as a game that I can play several times, like Risk and Settlers, but that’s just me.

    Great job on the blog! You really organized it well and said everything in a way that was easy to comprehend. I feel as if I already know how to play the game!

    1. If you would like to try out the game, we can run a board game session, your bring Settlers of Catan and I shall bring Munchkin, with our GDW groups of course.

      But I do agree that the game gets a little old after a while, but there are expansion packs that help extend the life of the game if you are really serious in investing $80 bucks in a board game.

      Thanks for the reply,

  2. I’ve got to agree on most of your points. I am all down for changing the combat system but it has to be in a way that maintains the simplicity of the game. We both know this game is really simplistic compared to most RPGs. If there are any strategies to be added, it should be in the form of easily accessible forms. The history book method you were speaking of sounds like you have to distract yourself from the game to start looking for these “hidden” methods which takes more time out of the game. If an advanced player is to be beat someone else, it should be their strategies by use of their items and cards that they have saved.

  3. I agree that it can be a very simplistic game but if you get in to more depth it can become very complicated.

    The level system in my opinion is unbalanced because at level 9 for the win you could battle against a level one and no one can really do anything about it to stop you from winning. I believe the rewards are fairly correct for the level of the monster.

    The in-game store idea would be good considering it would then add some use of money other than just levelling up.

    The history book I wouldn’t plan a system to what I would like because it is the luck of the draw for what cards you get. Though I would have a preferred class that I would like.

    1. Yeah, but being at level 9 is like being 1-kill away from getting the game winning kill cam. Everyone tries to fight for it, when we were playing that was the most intense part of the game. Everyone teams up to try and take you down.

      1. It’s a very intense moment but then again it’s also disheartening to. The amount of ways to actually mess with your opponents is actually very numerous. I both like and hate that moment of the game because its so intense but you feel like you get cheated every time someone makes you have to fight 2 monsters instead with +10 to stats, while you’re being back stabbed.

      2. But don’t forget, this is a competitive board game not everyone can be a winner. This type of gameplay makes it so that in order to be declared the winner you were the only one to be able to pass these hurdles, making you the best.

        If you are getting back stabbed and teamed up against, then that would be the fault of the player’s and not the games. One of my options was to include that “history book” to include ways to fight against stuff like this. If people keep back stabbing and playing negative buff’s on you then you can read the history book and formulate a better strategy to counter attack next time.

      3. I wouldn’t say you’re the “best” persay, since it’s actually quite a bit of luck. If there are 6 players, with almost every level nine. Say person A is about to win through fighting a monster, he plays every card he can to defeat it, and then everyone else plays all their cards, preventing him from winning. So Person A doesn’t win now Person B goes, he happens to randomly pick up a really easy to kill monster and everyone else already used all their resources to stop Person A. Person B wins. So you can see it’s still quite a bit of luck but then again I guess most table top games are like this anyways.

        Ah I think I finally understand what you mean about a history book, that makes sense then. You’re right it’s all the players fault, since some players could just be friendly and not stab each other and such.

      4. Yeah you are right about player B lucking out and winning, but then again that is all part of the strategy, you could horde cards at lvl 8 and then during your turn you manage to go up two levels in a way no one can stop you. The main point here that we were trying to say was is the levelling system fair?

        You are saying its not always fair when someone lucks out, after another guy fought his heart out trying to win and everyone ganged up on him, then the next guy easily wins. Where I am saying that it depends on the amount of players. More players = more cards to stop you with.

      5. I guess you’re right, patience is also the key. You could actually save up your cards for that moment, knowing that everyone else will target someone else about to win. I guess I can agree that overall the leveling system is still fairly balanced.

        With more players means more gang ups by the end but it also means the cards are split up I guess, so not everyone would even have “backstabbing” cards near the end. I guess it’s a matter of perspective, we could say it’s not fair but you could have tried to wait it out to see if someone else gets backstabbed before you, then make your move. Which is I guess how person B would have won.

  4. I’m too lazy to think of something fancy so I’m just going to go ahead and reply to your questions :).

    1. I definitely feel that a game like Munchkin would provide a better social experience than any online game. The most one can really do to immerse in a social experience online is using voice chat, and I’m pretty sure everyone agrees that it’s not the same as talking to a person that is physically there. I feel that that in itself is proof that a board game regardless of which one would provide an overall better social experience than any activity that occurs online.

    2. As awesome Munchkin sounds I would rather spend my money on a video game simply because I can enjoy it more. Munchkin being a 3+ player game could only be enjoyed at certain occasions and at the expense of convincing everyone to play. A video game on the other hand could be played whenever you have some free time and are up for it. That’s the main reason I would choose the video game.

    As far as which video game, as it stands right now I would probably pick up Rage. It looks like a really good time, and I’ve always been a fan of the open world games. Not to mention, if I’m not mistaken, it fits the price tag quite nicely.

    3. Other than in class last Monday? To be honest, I can’t remember the last time I played a board game. Does poker count?…I didn’t think so!

    1. I too am guilty for not playing many board games, but video games can have the potential offering a similar social experience with the kinect and eye toy for video and the headset for voice chat. They could integrate that functionality rather then having an avatar in many arcade games

  5. Hi Naeem, I’ve only played Munchkin once, (more like “tried” it) for about an hour, so instead I’ll answer your “did not play” questions:

    1. Do you think that board games like Munchkin offer a better social experience then an online console game (Call of Duty, Gears of War, Starcraft, League of Legends etc.) or Facebook social game?

    From the way you described it, I would say yes. Something about being able to fully interact with other players in person, forming alliances and gleaning others’ misery whenever you get back at them for stabbing you in the back, seems to make the game much more engaging. With an online console game, sure, you have in-game chat (or Steam chat, if you’re playing that way) but being able to go “YOUR FACE G*DDAMMIT!” ensures everyone has a good time.

    2. Would you rather pick up Munchkin for $30 bucks or spend that money on a video game? If you pick the Video game, write down which video game and why.

    I’d have to pick up a video game. Mainly because when I did try Munchkin, I had little to no clue what I was doing, and had to have my friend walk me through turns, tell me what to do in dungeons, explain the mechanics of leveling up, etc. In most video games, leveling up it much more straightforward – just fight the monsters, and if you do defeat a powerful enemy, the resultant rewards are significantly more…um…rewarding. From the way you described Munchkin, the rewards for defeating a significantly stronger enemy are a bit of a rip-off.

    As for a particular video game, I can’t think of any particular title, but I wouldn’t mind picking up a (don’t judge!) JRPG. I just think that the typical gameplay style of JRPGs are easy to pick up, and like I mentioned above, the bare basics of levelling up are simpler.

    3. Do you still play board games? Which one if your favourite?
    I actually don’t play board games regularly. The last times I did was Monopoly with my cousin (age 12) and that brief game of Munchkin that my friend (who knows this game very well) tried to teach me. 😛

    Now here’s a question for you: What does it mean to be “moosed”?

    1. Ugh, I can’t get into JRPG’s. I feel the turn-based gameplay is way to similar for many of the games. Once you put in 100’s of hours into a Final Fantasy or Pokemon game, the rest are just knock-off’s with different models and settings.

      However, the fact that you said you would rather pick a JRPG then a board game is interesting. JRPG’s and board games have similar gameplay and design elements so its cool how you picked one or the other.

      I cannot answer your question, because I personally have no idea what being moose’d means. I was just thinking of a witty way to end all my blog posts. My first one was “May Talos guide you” (Elder Scrolls Reference) but that was too nerdy, so I decided to take it down a notch to making no sense at all.

  6. Regarding your question as to whether a game like this offers a better social experience than a videogame:

    DEFINITELY YES

    However, it’s not a social experience that earns you new friends and acquaintances. Board games I find are great ways to spend some quality time with already established friends. I find that in general spending time in person will always be a more enriching experience than otherwise.

    Great post btw!

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