Munchkin is a role-playing card game from Steve Jackson Games that takes a few dozen stabs at just about every RPG known to man. It takes spoof to a whole new level, resulting in a game that can be either hilariously funny or horribly cheesy.
There are two types of cards in a typical Munchkin deck: door cards and treasure cards. Door cards consist of races, classes, monsters, and traps. Treasure cards are items to equip that give you bonuses or extra levels. At the beginning of their turn, players can choose to go looking for trouble (play a monster card from their hand) or kick open a door (reveal the top card of the door deck). If it is a race or a class card, they can play it and become that race or class, or keep it in their hand. If a trap card, they suffer whatever consequences are on it. If it is a monster card, they can either fight, or run away. Defeating a monster wins you stuff, primarily treasure cards and a level up. Losing will see you deal with the "Bad Stuff" - often a loss of bonus items, levels, or even character death. The first player to reach level 10 is the winner.
Fighting monsters is fairly simple: you add up all the bonus points on your equipped items with your level. If that number is larger than the monster's level, you win. If the same or less, you lose. It helps to have as many bonus items as you can carry, though some can only be used by particular races or classes. For example, the Dagger of Treachery, which gives a +3 bonus, is only usable by the "Thief" class.
What makes this game more interesting is how other players can interfere with your turn. If you find yourself too low to defeat a monster, you can ask for another player's help, and their level and bonus points are added to yours - but they can demand something in return for their help. Likewise, they can play cards which make the monster more difficult to defeat, or that force you to run away from a monster rather than fight. Players can also play traps on each other, or trade cards which each other if they wish. The downside to this is when a player reaches level 9, and suddenly finds all the other players joining ranks to prevent him defeating that last monster he needs to win.
The main problem with this game is exactly that. The more players there are, the harder it becomes to actually finish in a timely manner. It can be incredibly frustrating to finally draw the low-level monster that will draw the game to a close, only to find it has suddenly ballooned into a level 40 horror that is going to squish you without a thought.
The other issue people may have with this game is the twisted sense of humour prevalent throughout. Many of the cards prove to be hysterical the first, second, or third time you play, such as "Boots of Butt-Kicking", "Cheese Grater of Peace", and "Cleavage Stun" (Super Munchkin). However, once you've played a particular deck a handful of times, the blatant jokes start to lose their charm and make the game seem even longer.
The only solution to this is, naturally, to get a booster card pack, such as Fairy Dust, Munchkinomicon or the upcoming Munchkin The Guild. Or you could get a whole new deck, such as Star Munchkin, Munchkin Zombies or the forthcoming Munchkin Apocalypse! Many of these unique decks also have their own expansion packs, adding yet more cards to an already sizable deck. And, if choosing from the 15 booster and expansion packs and 14 different decks isn't enough for you, the cards from all the decks can be mixed up in any way you please.
If you're looking for a game to play frequently, this probably isn't the way to go. However, if you want something for a rainy day or a friendly games evening, Munchkin is definitely worth a try.
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