MunchkinGather ’round munchkins …

Once upon a time there was a little games company called Steve Jackson Games, and it was founded way back in the dim distant past (1980, to be exact). This little company from Austin, Texas, USA, made little games that were very popular, thankyou very much, including classics like Ogre, Car Wars, Illuminati, and a roleplaying system called GURPS.

Then in 2001, Steve Jackson Games released another little game called Munchkin. Munchkin was a humorous take on role-playing games, which had a bit of a laugh at ‘immature’ role-playing gamers who played to ‘win’ (clearly a very silly way to enjoy role-playing games, in which there is no winning) whom they called ‘munchkins’.

And then, things went crazy! Munchkins proved to be so popular (it won the Origins award for Best Traditional Card Game of 2001) that spin-off after spin-off, sequel after sequel, expansion after expansion begin to issue forth from the factories of Steve Jackson Games. In fact, just a few years ago, Munchkin games were available in 12 different languages, and their sales accounted for 70% of the company’s revenue!

Curse cardSo what is Munchkin anyway? Well, you have a character, and the goal is to reach level 10 (or level 20 in an ‘Epic’ game) by killing monsters, selling equipment, and doing other stuff. There’s lots of different equipment you can find as you move through the dungeon and fight monsters, and you can play cards that enhance the abilities of monsters when they’re fighting other players. And just so we’re on the same page, Munchkin doesn’t take itself very seriously. There are lots of role-playing game and genre-specific in-jokes, silly rules, bad puns, crazy parody and funny cards. So it’s really best not to come to Munchkin expecting a serious strategic gaming session. This is Munchkin—it’s supposed to be silly! No gaming genre or subject is safe—pirates, spies, superheroes, Cthulhu mythos, Westerns, Christmas, Zombies, fairies—you name, it, it’s been Munchkinized!

Let’s check a few out …

This the mega-hit card game that started it all, the one 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…

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. Fast-playing and silly, Munchkin can reduce any roleplaying group to hysteria. And, while they’re laughing, you can steal their stuff.

Expansions? They’re almost too numerous to count!

Munchkin Booty
Sail the Seven Seas. Plunder the treasure. Make your crew walk the plank. Munchkin Booty brings the greatest gold-grabbers in history—pirates—to the world of Munchkin. Use your Silver Long Johns to beat the Lobster Mobster, drink your Demon Rum to fight off the Viking Kittens (Viking Kittens—I love that!), and defend yourself with the Cutlass (or Cutlad, for the gents) against the Prince of Whales. But watch out for Sharks!

Plunder the seven seas as a Pirate, Naval Officer, or Merchant. Taunt your foes with your horrible Accent—British, Spanish, Dutch, or French. Equip your Half-Galleon with a Crow’s Nest and Figurehead. But above all… level up!

And the pirate shenanigans can continue with the expansion Jump the Shark.

Munchkin Zombies
Kill the Living! Eat their Brains! Braaiiinns! It’s the sickest, silliest Munchkin yet! You are zombies, kicking down doors and eating brains. The ‘monsters’ you’re attacking are people, some helpless and some hazardous, with a few rogue zombies thrown in. The armor is whatever you’ve blundered across during your lurching search for brains. So bravely you’ll go forth, with mousetraps on your feet and a bowling trophy protecting your poor rotting head… to level up, or to die. Again.

Star MunchkinStar Munchkin
The Munchkins are back—in space! Now they’re Mutants, Cyborgs, and Cat People… grabbing Lasers, Vibroswords, and Nova Grenades… fighting Fanged Fuzzballs, Bionic Bimbos, and the Brain In A Jar.

Of course there’s a sequel (or should that be a prequel?): The Clown Wars.

Munchkin Bites
It’s the World of Dorkness! The Munchkins are now vampires… and werewolves… and changelings. Bash through the haunted house and slay the monsters. The other monsters. You can’t slay your fellow munchkins, but you can curse them, send foes at them, and take their stuff, of course…

So bring along your Coffin (+3!) and wield The Sword Of Beheading People Just Like In That Movie. Face foes like the Banshee, the Heck Hounds, and the dreaded Were-Muskrat. Smite them all, and be the first to Level 10…

And even the undead can’t stop the horror (and laughter): there’s an expansion, Pants Macabre.

Munchkin Cthulhu
Munchkins face their greatest challenge—Cthulhu! Will they survive? Will they retain their sanity? Will they… level up?

Munchkin Cthuhlu lampoons Lovecraft’s Mythos and the horror gaming that surrounds it. This set features four new Classes—including the Cultist—a lot of classic monsters from outside reality. And they all have Stuff you can take from their twitching bodies.

There’s just a few expansions lurking in the shadows too: Call Of Cowthulhu, The Unspeakable Vault (featuring the fantastic Cthulhu comic art of Goomi), and Crazed Caverns.

Super MunchkinSuper Munchkin
Fly through the city. Smash the villains. Backstab your teammates and grab their gadgets. Be a Mutant, an Exotic, a Mystic, or a Techno. The higher your Level, the more Powers you can have. Battle dastardly masterminds, devastating monsters, and invading aliens from the next dimension—from the wimpy Bucketman all the way up to Big Ol’ Planet Eater Guy himself—and take their stuff! With the Electro-Mento-Hat, the Telezapinator, and the (jet-powered) Pogo Stick, no foe can stand before you! Mwahahaha!

And you can enhance your super-Munchkin powers with The Narrow S Cape expansion.

Of course if you prefer something a little more substantial than a cardgame, then the Munchkin Quest: Munchkin Boardgame is just thing for you! You’ll build your dungeon, a room at a time, from 24 heavy, double-sided tiles, each of which shows a different room… some are good for certain characters, some are bad. Populate it with monster standies and let your munchkins run amok!

Cooperate with the whole group, adventure with a partner, or strike out on your own. You don’t know what’s behind a door until you open it… then another room is added to the dungeon. Battle monsters for power and treasure, or send them after your friends. Reach Level 10, and then get out alive… if you can…

Munchkin Quest comes with 200 cards, 4 plastic Munchkins, 25 Room tiles, and heaps and heaps of tokens, counters, stand-ups and dice—of course!

This is just a little taste of all the Munchkin craziness out there. So next time you need a break from ‘serious’ gaming, get your friends together for a Munchkin session or three. And remember the golden rule, whatever flavour of Munchkin you prefer: kill the monster, grab the treasure, stab your buddy … make your buddy walk the plank … stab your buddy and go mad … bite your buddy … stab your buddy in space .. stab your super-buddy … etc … etc … etc …