Munchkin is a Steve Jackson game. It is very, very loosely based on Dungeons and Dragons, but, as the Munchkin website says, it’s all “about dungeon adventure . . . with none of that stupid roleplaying stuff.” The essential gameplay is that you are all characters in some kind of dungeon. Each of you takes turns kicking down doors, fighting the monsters that are behind them, and looting for treasures. Learning the basic gameplay is pretty easy, but understanding the strategy can take a few more rounds.
The game is for three or more people. I once played it with about ten people all at once. That was interesting. My opinion is to stick with four or five people per game maximum. That way, everyone is involved most of the time and the game moves quickly enough. It is a great party game though, because a group of people can play while others do something else. Also, with multiple Munchkin packs, you can have your own tournament!
Things to Know
Levels: You start at one. You win at ten. That’s the important part.
Class/Race: You can find class/race cards while roaming the dungeon which can help your character in various ways by giving them useful characteristics. These also give your character a little more definition and can be altered throughout the game.
Monsters: These come in various levels and you need to be a level above them to defeat them, or have items and friends that make you a level above them. Watch out though, if you cannot defeat a monster Bad Stuff may happen!
Items: Items are useful for increasing your level to defeat monsters. You can also sell items to buy yourself a level.
Curses/Traps: These are bad news. If you get one, something bad typically happens to you. However, if you come across these quietly, they can be used against your neighbors.
Rules: They supposedly exist. You can even read them. However, there is a lot of leeway and the rule book clearly says that you can do anything you can get away with. Also, if you get into Munchkin, there are rule changes and daily/monthly rules to be found at the website.
Friends or Foes
Munchkin is both cooperative and competitive. The players can help each other fight monsters, and there are even character classes where this is beneficial. You can bribe your friends with treasure to help you defeat monsters, or your so-called friends can double the level of the monster you are fighting. I find that munchkin works best when you spend the first half of the game helping each other level up to about level 8, and then keeping each other from reaching level 10. A very competitive group, which mine often is, can keep the game going for quite a while this way.
There are lots of interesting expansions, however the base game of Munchkin (the one with the chainsaw on the front) is really the best place to start. Although the game basics remain the same, the use of classes and races and curses changes dramatically with the different versions. Read each set of rules carefully. However, all Munchkin games can be combined into one to make gameplay more interesting!
Overall, I love Munchkin. It’s easy to learn, fun to play, and really gets people talking, or shouting, or punching … anyway, fun! As a very competitive person, the tagline really spoke to me and still remains one of the best I’ve ever seen: Kill the Monsters. Steal the Treasure. Stab Your Buddy. I mean, who wouldn’t want to play this game?