Saturday, August 21, 2010


Feeling a little bored today and looking around for something to do, I rediscovered my 'Munchkin' cards. There's a lot to be said for a card game that can entertain you for half an hour, without actually playing the game, just by sitting and reading the cards.

The only thing I don't really like about Munchkin is that you really need three or more players for an interesting game. It's playable, but not much fun with two.

If you've never played Munchkin, it's a simple card game that's a parody of Dungeons and Dragons. As the box says, the point is to: "Kill the Monsters, Steal the Treasure, Stab your Buddy'. It's a game of backstabbing, screwing over other players, making allies and then turning on them just as quickly. The fun comes from the dynamic at the table…you can't get that with two people.

It's really amazing how such a simple game can be so much fun. As I was reading the card (and laughing at the 'Chicken on your Head' curse card.) I remember when my parents came to visit and I got to introduce both of them and Sunny to the game

Introducing someone new to Munchkin always involves three distinct steps: First, the skepticism as they start to learn. Second, the open mouthed look of astonished betrayal the first time you really screw them over (Oh, that Level 2 'Mr. Bones' skeleton you can easily defeat? He's now Humongous (put down card), Ancient (put down card) and there's now two of them (put down card and cackle like a mad man))…and finally, the part where they really get the game.

That's when the fun starts. When the new players finally get that the point of the game isn't to defeat monsters, get treasures and increase your level…but to completely screw over the other players in the most devious and sadistic manner possible.

My favorite moment when everyone finally got it was when my Mum, who'd just been playing to humor me up until this point, said:

"Ok, these Flying Frogs are level two, I'm level four, so I beat them." She reached for a treasure.

"Not so fast." I said, as a put down a card. "I try to help and 'accidentally' hit you with this Electric Radioactive Acid Potion which gives the frogs +5 against you, meaning they're now level seven and can beat you."

She had nothing else to help in her hand and no one else offered any help.

"What?" Said Mum, looking from her cards to me and back in confusion. "Why are you doing that?"

"To screw you over." I said. "If you win the fight you'd have got a treasure and gone up a level. Now, unless you can run away (get a roll of 5 or higher on a six-sided die), you lose two levels."

"You little bastard." Said my Mum.

At this point, Sunny leaned over and said, in a concerned whisper: "Wait…It's my turn next. Are you going to do me the same way?"

"Damn skippy." I said.

"You mean you'd screw ME over as well… ME? Your wife?"

"Absolutely." I said.

"Right." Said Sunny, her face suddenly all business. "We'll see about that."

What followed was a simply epic game of Munchkin. Alliances were formed and broken. Bribes were offered. Backs were stabbed. There were more double-crosses, plots and intrigue than a bad Dan Brown novel. I particularly liked the part when my Mum threatened my Dad with 'real world sanctions' when he went to play a card that would screw her over.

In fact, the game ended the way a good game of Munchkin should, with my Mum winning, despite the fact Sunny had it in her power to stop her… because in Sunny's own words, making me lose was more important than trying to win herself.

They got it. The first rule of Munchkin is it's not to be taken seriously…at all.

If you've never played Munchkin, I can highly recommend it. It's an absolute riot.

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