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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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