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Subject: First Impressions: Munchkin Cthulhu rss

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William Wood
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Hi. Lurker decloaking off the port bow with some first impressions of Munchkin Cthulhu.

OVERALL SITUATION

These are the circumstances under which Munchkin Cthulhu (MC) came into my life, as it were...

This is a game I have been looking forward to for a while. Unlike some here, I enjoy playing Munchkin games -- at least the ones I have thus far: original Munchkin (with expansions 2-4) and Munchkin Bites (with Pants Macabre). Having been an avid D&D player in my youth and a general horror/fantasy fan to this day, I find the gameplay light and fun, the themes entertaining, and the humour amusing.

I also like the Cthulhu Mythos (as I'm sure will everyone even remotely interested in this). I have read most if not all of Lovecraft's work over the years, along with Clark Ashton Smith and other associated stuff. I played the Call of Cthulhu RPG in my younger days. And to top it all off, I was given Arkham Horror last week by my girlfriend (how lucky am I?) and we've played it a couple times already. Thus, I'm recently reacquainted with the terminology, critters, settings, and so on -- perhaps too much so.

Anyway, I was happy when I saw that MC was finally for sale, and I snapped it up.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

As I was thumbing through the cards for the first time, my general impression was one of disappointment. Simply put, the humour seemed kind of lame. Perhaps there are many who would argue that the entire Munchkin series is founded on lame humour, but as I've said, I have enjoyed previous versions. This time around, though, the jokes seemed too easy or in questionable taste.

For example, the Mythos's "King in Yellow" is represented in MC as the "King in Pink," complete with a guy in a pink ballet costume hopping around. Hardy har.

Then there are the Classes: Cultist (yay!), Investigator (yawn), Professor (yawn), and Monster Whacker (huh?).

The decision to run with variations on "-goth" for many of the monsters is okay, I suppose (with most at least slant-rhyming with Shoggoth), but the results are mixed (Loggoth? Heh. Froggoth? Okay. Joggoth? Meh.).

Some names are worse: Aughost Derwraith? Nightie Gaunts (+3 vs. males)? Yuck.

It's not all bad; I thought H.P. Munchcraft was kinda funny (if somewhat obvious).

The Go Up a Level cards include a bunch where you "inform" authority figures (FBI, Army, President) that are depicted as being already under the Mythos's control; this is counter to my Mythos understanding, where the investigators are usually outside "normal" channels and sometimes (as in HPL's "Call of Cthulhu") actively trying to suppress the knowledge. I may be overthinking, but this kind of thing does dim the mood for me.

The potions this time 'round are all "ichors" (not necessarily a Mythos thing to my mind, but oh well); however, they all rhyme with "icker" (Quicker Ichor, Ichor Liquor, Kicker Ichor, etc.). It's simply not possible that they think ichor is pronounced "icker," is it? Are they yanking my chain? I sincerely hope so...

One last thing: cards such as "Necrotelecom" headgear (or having Dubya portrayed as the president) don't fit with a 1920s milieu!

Am I being too picky? I dunno. YMMV. The end result was that I wasn't as amused as I wanted to be, and the parody seemed a bit clunky.

FIRST GAME

(I'm going to assume you know how to play Munchkin and that I don't have to explain the mechanics.)

I played a two-player game with my girlfriend. I lost (but it was close: Level 9 vs. Level 10). All in all, it played like Munchkin usually plays, with a few exceptions.

There didn't seem to be enough monsters. We actually had to reshuffle the Door deck to finish. This is certainly a result of there being no expansion decks for MC yet; we're used to having plenty of cards. I was intrigued enough to compare MC to the bare Munchkin Bites deck, and they have exactly the same number (and levels) of monster cards. It felt, however -- and I haven't counted, so it's just my impression -- like there are more Curse/monster augmentation/"trip up the other guy" cards, which perhaps make it harder to make levels. With no Races or Powers (just Classes), I guess the extra cards have to go somewhere.

The Cultist rules (the major wrinkle introduced in MC) are designed for groups larger than two, therefore they didn't get much of a workout in our game. If everyone in a larger game becomes a Cultist, the game ends (and the highest level player is the winner). Perhaps this will add some tension to a five- or six-player game.

My girlfriend liked the Investigator's Sneak and Peak ability (get a preview of the Door card and swipe it by discarding three other cards). As I've mentioned, I found the classes conceptually bland.

All in all, gameplay was alright, but didn't feel terribly "Cthulhu-esque." goo

A FEW STRAY NIGGLES

There's a flamethrower, but only one card (Foggoth) that is affected extraordinarily by flame; this feels like a leftover concept that didn't get developed.

Also, the "Dunwich Snorer" card is supposed to get "an extra +10 instead of being doubled" if "The Stars Are Right" is played, but the TSAR card says it gives each monster +3, not double strength -- I guess it got nerfed at some point during playtesting.

I think I'll go back to Munchkin Bites and keep my eye out for an MC expansion some time in the future...

Cheers!
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Ira Taraday
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the flame thing is probaly in you combine MC with out munchkin games.

I know in the original munchkin and star munchkin, different ways to do damage (like flames) mattered in some fights (mainly star)

Its like how there are undead monster types for just the clerk class; yet demons (for bites werewolf) are only mentioned in the flavor text
 
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William Wood
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Quote:
the flame thing is probaly in you combine MC with out munchkin games.

I know in the original munchkin and star munchkin, different ways to do damage (like flames) mattered in some fights (mainly star)


Yeah, I figured the flame thing might hook into other versions of Munchkin, but it seemed kind of sad that in the end there was only one type of each card (flame weapon/flame-vulnerable monster) in the stand-alone MC game. I don't know if everyone else immediately blends all their decks, but I prefer to keep them separate (or "thematically unified," if you prefer).
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John Fiala
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I don't know, I rather liked it. I played a game last night and thought that it held together better than some of the other sets with expansions - not too many stretches of not drawing any monsters, and lots of fun cards.

I really like that the minor monster enhancers (+3) are also playable on cultists as a pernament bonus - it makes becoming a cultist an attractive gambit.
 
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Mill Master
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The bumper sticker lets you get another +1 bonus if you have a steed or a vehicle, neither of which appear in this game... at least the flamethrower got ONE reference...

As a non-munchkin player who is in love with anything mythos related, I found my first experience with the rules of the game to be a bit iffy but overall our group had fun. Our group has been playing the CoC RPG and Arkham Horror board game 1-3 times a week for years now and we found the game quite funny, and a relaxing spin off from our normal gaming. Now of course being Arkham Horror players we are all rules lawyers so much arguing over "buddy stabbing" ensued with much hilarity.
 
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TS S. Fulk
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I felt that the Munchkin Cthulhu deck was a little monster light also. Then I played again and it was the fastest Munchkin game of my life. I bought Munchkin and Munchkin 2 at the same time (and Munchkin 4 several years later), so my Munchkin experience only with more cards.

I too was a little disappointed with the Lovecraftian monsters. There were too many Goth monsters and not enought mythos monsters. However, I have enjoyed the puns, even the anachronisms.

I play Munchkin mostly with my 6-year-old son (he's well versed in the Mythos) and occassionally with my ESL students. Munchkin is supposed to be silly and children love silly things. My son now calls his baby sister, whose name is Saga, Saggoth. ;-)

All in all, MC is fun, but not as fun as the original Munchkin. Maybe blended will provide more fun.
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Jason Darrah
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I picked up MC yesterday, and I tend to agree that the humor in this set is a little predictable.

Gameplay was pretty par for the course. I played a four player game, and the Cultist rules worked pretty well, I guess. I didn't get to fight more than two monsters for some reason, though. The other three players seemed to get monsters every turn. I guess I just had a really unlucky game.

All in all I'd say that this particular expansion wasn't an earth-shattering achievement, but it's pretty good if you like Cthulhu, Munchkin, and bad puns.

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Zubbus O'Really
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MillMaster wrote:
...Our group has been playing the CoC RPG and Arkham Horror board game 1-3 times a week for years now and we found the game quite funny...
1-3 times a week!? Lucky bastard...
 
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