I just had an awesome time playing Munchkin, a card game that humorously pokes fun at Dungeons and Dragons. There are cards for races, classes, gear, buffs, curses, and, of course, monsters. Players race to be the first to get to level 10 by defeating monsters with your cards or selling gear to buy levels. Players can gang up to fight monsters they wouldn’t normally be able to defeat, which can lead to much shrewd negotiation. The flip side is that since the first player(s) to hit 10 win – thus ending the game – there is a lot of incentive to gang up on the strongest players to keep them from winning. Alliances are made and broken from turn to turn. In this respect, I hear it’s great for those who love Survivor.
We had 5 players and the game lasted about 4 hours; this included learning the rules. It starts out deceptively slow (partly due to so many new players), but as the game progresses you get more cards in play, accelerating your leveling. As a counter balance, the playing field is leveled whenever someone gets ahead, as everyone teams up to knock him down a few pegs. I have to say this is one of the most balanced games out there. I got to level 9 twice and was knocked down each time. Another player was wiped out a few times, but at the end was one of a few players tied at 9.
I highly recommend it, even if you’re not a regular player of D&D.1 A lot of the humor is based on generic fantasy settings,2 so if you liked Lord of the Rings – or better yet, Monty Python and the Holy Grail – you’ll have fun. If you don’t like the setting at all, there are pirate, gothic horror, space opera/sci-fi, espionage/007/MI, spaghetti western, martial arts, superhero, and even Cthulu themes! The themes can be combined for you genre-benders out there. Remember those westerns where, for some ridiculous reason, a samurai shows up? You can do that!
One caveat: some of the humor is adult-oriented. It sounds perfect for spirited family competition until you need to explain the jokes about altar boys and knee pads and hey kids! let’s see what the excitement is about those German board games!
The game and expansion packs (I think we used 1-4) at Amazon:
- If you do play D&D, there is a d20 RPG setting for it, although it seems overpriced.
- D&D is pretty much taken directly from Lord of the Rings.