Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Miscellany: Munchkin


"Munchkin" is a card game that hilariously celebrates and parodies the munchkin, that player in a role-playing group that invariably sets out to accrue the most loot, wield the best weapons, and kill the most indigenous creatures. Designed by Steve Jackson and illustrated by John Kovalic of "Dork Tower" fame, "Munchkin" has spawned numerous expansions and semi-sequels, as well as a relentless legion of fans.

The tagline of the game is "Kill the monsters. Steal the treasure. Stab your buddy." and it's accurate for the most part; players take turns revealing new monsters and curses from the dungeon, all the while "helping" or hurting each other in an effort to reach Level 10. While in the early going you may not get much interference from your fellow players, as you edge closer to winning the game every single combat will eventually have people dropping in stuff like "Friendship Potions," wandering monsters, and even Ducks of Doom in a wild melee.

It's a bit random (okay, it's a lot random), but there's some strategy here, as well as the opportunity for conniving and trading. The winner in a three way contest, for example, tends to be the player who emerges, beaten and bloody, from the best efforts of the other two to sabotage his or her last combat. If there's one knock against the game it's that it requires a six-sided dice to play, as well as a lot of arithmetic, which diminishes the user-friendliness of the design somewhat. Still though, if you're looking for a light card game with lots of D&D-parody flavor, Munchkin is a solid choice.

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