Timewaster Tuesday: Munchkin, the Original

As you may have gathered from some of our other posts, we here at Girls Are Geeks like to have parties. At many of these parties, we like to play games, and one particular game has sparked an interest, and some serious competition, in my group of party going buddies: Munchkin. Keep on reading to find out why this game is so great, and how you can get your friends into it!

Basic Gameplay

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?

14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. NakedHobo
    Jul 20, 2010 @ 11:33:08

    Munchkin is a game that is great with the right folks. Thankfully my friends are all about the spite and the backstabbing.

    I do think that the base game, while fun, is a bit lacking. I think that the addition of at least one expansion is necessary for it to really work. You just need more monsters of lower levels or the game can take too long to get started.


    • GirlsAreGeeks
      Jul 20, 2010 @ 11:39:44

      Yeah, my friends and family work well in backstabbing land, although my husband still takes that kind of thing a little too personally (even after 9 years of it!). I still like the base game for starting out, or Star because I like space and it’s pretty simple. We tried Fu on a newcomer and that was a bit complex.



  2. GeekishlyApropos
    Jul 20, 2010 @ 13:55:01

    My boyfriend bought Munchkin a couple years ago. I think we only ever played once. I’m a really good strategist so I tend to win and he gets frustrated so we’ve never played RPGs that much together. Maybe I should have him find it. I kinda wanna play now.

    Have you ever played Ninja Burger? That’s my favorite. Granted I haven’t done many RPGs, but it’s a ton of fun. Especially with my boyfriend because he comes up with such elaborate game-play stories. We used to get huge groups together in college and we could play anywhere from a couple games in a few minutes to one really long game for hours.
    We’ve also played Bleach and Xiaolin Showdown (which is super easy, but still fun).


    • GirlsAreGeeks
      Jul 20, 2010 @ 14:17:39

      If you tried to play with just the two of you, you really need a group of 4-5 people. That’s exactly the right number. Actually, Dawn says 4.5, so someone has to be a halfling. I don’t know Ninja Burger, but I should look for it. We have a game night with my friends this weekend, and I’m certain there will be Munchkin play!



  3. Ruth
    Jul 20, 2010 @ 15:26:04

    We need a third person for Munchkin Cthulhu. We’ve got the cards and the interest, just not the third!


    • GirlsAreGeeks
      Jul 20, 2010 @ 20:47:10

      I suggest trekking out to VA to @puppyshine’s place. She’d like Munchkin. Otherwise, do what we do, throw a party, invite everyone, make baked goods.



      • Ruth
        Jul 21, 2010 @ 11:17:28

        Hmm, puppyshine indeed… 🙂 There are other DC tweets I need to meet up with, maybe Munchkin would be a good excuse.

  4. GeekishlyApropos
    Jul 20, 2010 @ 15:44:02

    Yeah…now that we’re both out of college and doing the work thing we haven’t found any new geek friends to play with. Other than my sister, but she doesn’t do RPGs.


    • GirlsAreGeeks
      Jul 20, 2010 @ 20:50:00

      Munchkin is like, the first baby step to an RPG, so it might be a good place for your sister. I got a bunch of nerdy, but non-geeky, scientists obsessed with the game. I also just started inviting everyone I worked with, and the people that stuck now come all the time.



  5. jaclyngfc
    Jul 21, 2010 @ 12:25:38

    We love Munchkin at my house but usually don’t have enough to play. Reading this has made me want to get a game night going again with my geeky friends.

    Ninja Burger is lots of fun and so is Zombie Dice. Zombie Dice is super easy and a quick way to waste some time.


  6. Andrew Hackard
    Jul 23, 2010 @ 12:29:58

    Glad to hear you like Munchkin! In our own games at the office, we’ve pretty much decided that five players is the “sweet spot” for a typical Munchkin game: just enough people so there’s plenty of interaction (our fancypants word for “screwing each other”), but not enough so that the game goes on forever.

    If you haven’t checked out the revised rules (www.worldofmunchkin.com/rules/), you might want to; we made the old “Faster Play” starting hand the standard, and added a variant rule that really speeds up the game.

    And if you REALLY want to have some fun, grab Munchkin 6 – Demented Dungeons (you don’t need 2 through 5 to use this one). The Dungeons change the rules, and you can change the Dungeons to flip the game on its head. End of marketing pitch.

    Wait, not QUITE the end. If $13 for Zombie Dice is too much, and you have an iPhone, I’ll mention that our $5 iPhone ZD app should be live by the end of next week. NOW I’m done.


    • GirlsAreGeeks
      Jul 23, 2010 @ 12:36:31

      Awesome, we’re always looking for new rules to play with, there’s almost certainly going to be a game of Munchkin at a party we are throwing tomorrow! Will also keep an eye out for the Zombie Dice app. Thanks for stopping by!



  7. Trackback: Timewaster Tuesday: Zombie Edition « Girls Are Geeks

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July 2010
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