Steve Jackson Games has been around for a long time. I was playing classics like Car Wars and OGRE in high school in the early ’80s. Later, I played their RPG called GURPS and other games from SJG. Steve Jackson is a gaming deity to me. (I actually got to learn Cthulhu Dice directly from Steve Jackson at a game distributor convention a few years ago. I was nearly tongue tied.)
In 2001, SJG released a little card game called Munchkin. Who knew this little card game with humorous art making a bit of fun of RPG “power gamers” would explode to become as much as 70% of SJG’s revenue by 2007? (Source: Wikipedia… I know I know…) Munchkin is a phenomenon in the table top gaming world with dozens of editions and expansions based on everything from Cthulhu to Spaghetti Westerns to Conan to the Adventure Time TV show. The money earned from Munchkin has allowed SJG to take on other projects they could not otherwise afford like the massive new version of OGRE they put out a couple years ago.
On this day, CJ pulled out the copy of Munchkin Deluxe that I’ve had for a couple of years and asked to try it. (The Deluxe version is the same basic game with a cool board for scoring. He had already spent a couple of hours just looking at the cards and playing pretend games with the characters, items and monsters. The game is really meant for 3 or more players as it has a bit of a “gang up on the leader” element but I figured just for teaching it that we could try with only 2.
It’s a fun little game where you do every RPG trope there is: bash down doors, kill monsters, take magical treasure… and steal from the other players. Well, the World of Munchkin site sums it up better than I can:
Go down in the dungeon. Kill everything you meet. Backstab your friends and steal their stuff. Grab the treasure and run.
Admit it. You love it.
Munchkin is the mega-hit card game about dungeon adventure . . . with none of that stupid roleplaying stuff. You and your friends compete to kill monsters and grab magic items. And what magic items! Don the Horny Helmet and the Boots of Butt-Kicking. Wield the Staff of Napalm . . . or maybe the Chainsaw of Bloody Dismemberment. Start by slaughtering the Potted Plant and the Drooling Slime, and work your way up to the Plutonium Dragon . .
Years ago, friends turned me onto Munchkin and I didn’t like it, I admit. You see, when you encounter monsters, you can ask other players for help in defeating them monsters. But, other players can help the monsters, also. Why would they do that? Well, the winner of the game is the first to level their character up to level 10. If you’re in the lead, the other players should stop you. When I was a little younger I got crabby getting ganged up on. I like to think I’m “mellower” now. (Some would disagree, I’m sure.) Now that I’m older and have a little more life perspective (i.e. less of a selfish git) I see the game for the fun that it is: a parody of the RPGs I’ve played and many of the players I’ve played with for 30+ years.
CJ and I went through a couple of games with the last one taking a long time because we could not draw a monster card at the end. You can level up many means but level 10 has to be achieved by killing a monster. No monster card, no level 10. CJ eventually did and won.
Munchkin is a funny and fun game that isn’t hard to learn. If you’d like to learn, I offer another excellent episode of Tabletop for your viewing pleasure in which they are playing Munchkin Deluxe. This video features Steve Jackson himself! (Guess who wins…):