Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Kickin' doors and taking loot (Munchkin)

You wander into the dungeon, chainsaw in hand, allies by your side.  You check your equipment, flasks at the ready, as you approach the next room.  Who knows what you will encounter next?  It could be a fearsome dragon, or an evil sentient gazebo.  Maybe all that's in there is a curse.  Maybe you will have to ask for help from your 'friends', or have the chance to stab them in the back.  In order to find out, you raise your foot, kick down the door, and enter the world of Munchkin.

GAME DESCRIPTION:  Munchkin is a card game created by Steve Jackson, (loosely) based on D&D, and the concept of the "Munchkin", or the player who will bend, break, and subvert the spirit and rules of the game in order to win. A lot of the rules are deliberately vague to play up the idea of discussion and drama in the game.  Each player takes the role of an adventurer, travelling through a dungeon.  Each player begins at level 1, and their own gender.  You win when you advance to level 10.  Turn order is decided by, to quote the rule booklet "rolling the dice and arguing about the results."

TYPES OF CARDS:  Before we go too much into gameplay, it's important to note the types of cards:

  • Curses- These generally have a negative effect, like losing an item or a class.
  • Monsters- By fighting one of these, you will increase your level and gain treasure cards.  This is the only way (save some special cards) to advance from level 9 to 10.  
  • Treasure-Cards with the treasure chest on the back are "treasure" cards (who knew?), and can have various effects.  Some will allow you to go up a level.  Some allow you to increase your power level by gaining equipment, or a quick buff for one turn.  Note that all equipment must be played logically (1 head, 2 hands, 1 body, 2 feet, and limited to one big item.)
  • Class/Race-These cards allow you to become a specific class (wizard, thief, etc) or race (halfling, dwarf, etc.) with their own special effects.  You are generally only allowed 1 class and race per player.  Some other cards are also limited to certain classes/races, whereas some cards prevent certain classes/races from playing them.

You are allowed to play any card during your turn, provided it's both legal to do so, and it is outside of combat.

TURN PHASE:  Once the first player has been decided, that player begins by "kicking down the door."  This means that the player draws a door card (it's easy, the one with a door on the back) face-up.  If it's a curse, it is resolved immediately.  If you draw a creature, combat begins.  Otherwise, place the card into your hand, and the second phase begins.  In this phase, you are allowed to "look for trouble" by playing a monster from your hand and fighting them.  If you can't, or don't want to, then you "loot the room" by drawing another door card, this time face-down so the other players don't see it, and it goes straight into your hand.

COMBAT:  When you kick down the door and see a creature, or look for trouble, combat begins. Each monster has a level, and can only be defeated by having your level plus your items enhancement (also called combat power) beat that creatures level.  Once all equipment and levels have been determined, each player is allowed to play one-shot items or curses, to help or hinder the player.  If the player cannot defeat the monster, he is allowed to ask for help from any other player, but only one (the rooms are kinda small, apparently).  Any player can offer for help for any service (bound by honor), item/equipment, or any amount of treasure.  They can NOT, however, offer an increase of level.  Any level gained is, unless stated otherwise, specifically for the player  If help is accepted, the helping player's fighting's combat power is added to the original players combat power.  If the total number is higher, and no more cards are played, you take or divvy up (if you had help) the treasure cards accordingly, and gain 1 level (or 2, if the monster says to).

BAD STUFF:  If you cannot defeat the monster, you are defeated and must roll (this apply's to both players if being helped).  If you roll a 5 or 6, you run away, and nothing happens.  However, if you do not, you must apply the Bad Stuff effect from the monster card.  If you Die, however, you lose all equipment.  Your level, race, and class cards, as well as any curses still in effect, stay.  Your hand is then revealed, and the highest level character (roll to determine ties), takes one card, then the second highest, until all players obtain one card.  Any left are discarded.  Dead characters cannot gain levels, cards, or win the game.  Once the next player begins their turn, you are allowed to help (think of it as a new character with the previous level, class, and race) and receive new cards.  On your next turn, you draw four door and four treasure cards, and play resumes.

SELLING, TRADING, CHARITY:  You can sell your treasure cards (each has a value).  If you sell a total of 1000 gold, you are allowed to go up a level (this cannot be the winning level).  During your turn, you can also trade any of your treasure with any other players treasure.  Each player is limited to five cards in their hand at the end of their turn.  If you have more that you cannot or don't play, give the excess cards to the player with the lowest Level. If players are tied for lowest, divide the cards as evenly as possible.  However, If you are the lowest or are tied for lowest, they are just discarded.

SPECIAL RULES:  This is where the game gets crazy;

  • Cheat: This card allows you to play any equipment regardless of any other equipment or restriction (that's right, three weapon wielding is possible)
  • Half-breed/Super Munchkin: The half breed allows you to either ignore any negatives against your race (any creatures that get bonuses or weapon restriction from your race), or give you a second race.  The same effect applies for Super Munchkin to classes
  • Product rules:  Some of Steve Jackson's products give you an additional effect, such as the Munchkin Bobblehead allows you to re-roll one dice roll if it's in the room.  The game manual itself has links to more rules, go check them out!

CONCLUSION:  Hoo boy, this post took up almost as much time as one of these games.  Seriously, though, the games can last anywhere from 15 minutes to 2+ hours (and yes, there's a card out there which allows you to end the game if that's the case).  The big thing about this game is that it's very house rules enforced.  There's even a rule that says to argue about the rules, and the owner has the last say.  The cards themselves are crazy (when was the last time you saw a dwarf with an eleven foot pole fighting a giant bunny).  If you're in the mood for a tabletop RPG, but don't have the time or energy to host it, try this game out.  Simple, regardless of the wall of text seems to say.  Not to mention there's about a few hundred versions to try out.  My favorites are C'thulhu Munchkin and Adventure Time Munchkin.

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