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Subject: Why is Munchkin so poorly rated? rss

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Tiago Soares
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Munchkin was one of the first games I ever bought. I have the deluxe version.
It’s still one of my favorites and my also families’. It’s one of the games I used to get my family into board gaming. My 11 year old daughter just loves it and we always have a lot of fun playing it, especially because of the backstabbing component of the game.

One thing that riddles me is how low this game is ranked in BGG and, among more experienced users it’s not a very popular game and I see a lot of people mocking it. It's curious because it is a very popular game. Well, in a way so Monopoly is...

What’s the reason for this?
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Chris Laudermilk
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It's become a parody of itself. The game started out poking fun at certain role-players. Then the spinoffs started. Add to that the game isn't all that deep, and really is primarily take-that over & over.

I got the game way back when it first came out. I got the joke & appreciated the point. Now it's kind of outlived it's welcome for many--myself included. I'll play, but only if there are no other options now. I'm pretty much done with the game.
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Eric Matthews
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"Real" gamers seem to actually resent how popular it is;I think it's actually similar to how much hate Monopoly gets on BGG.

Munchkin is not a great game, but it it's certainly better than all the hate it gets here. Personally I think it has only one true problem and that's the length and how it actually becomes a LOT longer quickly when players get better at the game.

SJG have made a few tweaks to improve the issue with length in some versions with alternate end game triggers (Munchkin Cthulhu and Munchkin Apocalypse), which I think is the right direction. They should do more. A new version/ shorter variant with multiple paths to victory would do wonders for the IP.

I would definately play Munchkin again if it was a 30 minute game. I'm cautiously optimistic about Eric Langs new version when it comes out.

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Wally Jones
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Because it is a bad game.

Those that know better, experienced gamers, rate it low because they have much better games to compare it to.

Those that don't know better, new gamers, have no such comparison and so think the game is actually good.
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Tiago Soares
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Well, that's a very dogmatic view but I accept it.

IMO, it's very subjective and a bit unfair to classify a game like that as it all goes down to personal preferences. Someone who likes heavy strategy/complexity games might find other type of games bad as opposed to whoever likes less complex games.

But some games are bad regardless of your preferences! I'll give you that!
 
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Eric Matthews
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Rygel wrote:
Because it is a bad game.

Those that know better, experienced gamers, rate it low because they have much better games to compare it to.

Those that don't know better, new gamers, have no such comparison and so think the game is actually good.


It's not bad, just not very good and longer than it needs to be...

and every few years some new game comes out that's pretty much the same game but BGG people go bananas anyway about how it's so much better ... and then it's forgotten.

Example: Gauntlet of Fools, 2012 got great reviews for some bizzare reason, but essentially it's just shorter Munchkin with a more boring, generic theme. It is shorter, but people were raving about how much better it is... it isn't.

BGG users and just hate the Munchkin IP so much that anyone who actually likes it or even considers it mediocre is often ridiculed and at best called inexperienced (even if you have been gaming for 30 years).

Shrugs.
Write it up as groupthink; it's not like the groupthink is actually writing off a fantastic game, and SJG isn't exactly hurting. BGG "experienced gamers" is not SJG's target audience.

E

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Andrew Walters
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The BGG community is pretty sophisticated, and unfortunately sophisticated communities tend to nourish a social dynamic in which you demonstrate your savior faire by disparaging some things as much as by expressing insight about others. It's good and fine for an operatic society to talk about how much they like Verdi, but unfortunately they're also going to spend some time bashing pop music.

Essentially, a game is a thing people play to have fun. A *lot* of people have a *lot* of fun playing Munchkin. And by "a *lot* of people" we're talking millions - more people than will ever hear Ewe Rosenberg's name. And by "a *lot* of fun" I mean they play it every week, some people more than once a week.

I have volunteered for SJ Games in several capacities, disclaimer blah blah, but a lot of people have told me their Munchkin stories. There are people who play with their co-workers at lunch every day. There are people who take their time, read every card out loud, and take two and a half hours to play one game. There are people who take a few cards from this set and that set and try to capture their favorite book or movie in Munchkin form. People are enjoying this game frequently, richly, and deeply. If a game is a thing for people to have fun with, Munchkin is awesome.

If you want to compare Munchkin to Castles of Burgundy on the basis of strategic depth, CoB is going to win. If you want to compare them based on energetic interactivity, Munchkin wins. Taking that last mine that you now your opponent needed is a strategic victory and gives satisfaction, but it doesn't compare with slapping a "And Its Mate" card on the Turbonium Dragon and blocking your opponent's win after they slapped down all their one-shot cards to get within reach. It would be silly to judge Puerto Rico a terrible game because there are few laughs during the game. Laughs are not the kind of fun Puerto Rico is trying to produce.

Condemning something for failing to be something it's not trying to be is not the sign of insightful thinking. Appreciating something for what it accomplishes even if not something that you particularly like is open-mindedness.

Opera is, apparently, a great art form. I can't get into it. I have genuinely tried. Does that mean I'm defective? I like Shakespeare and Mozart. But then I like Arrested Development. I can discuss Aristotle and Beowulf, but then I like Jacki Chan movies. So am I a connoisseur or a mouth-breathing troglodyte?

There is some visual art that some people say is great art, but that no one would want in their homes. There is some music that experts say is great music, but that no one would want to listen to outside of an intellectual exercise. I suspect that at some point we'll find a game that everyone agrees is a truly great game, that none of us want to play beyond the first session or two getting to know it. But when we decide that it's a great game that no one wants to play we will have reached a point where the idea of a game has changed, it's not just something people play to have fun, but an arrangement of circumstances and options and evaluations that achieves some kind of balance and "elegance" and "depth" disconnected from producing any enjoyment for the players. That will be an interesting day.

As for the idea that people playing Munchkin have never played any other games so they don't know better, I deny this on the face of it. I and a lot of people who have played and enjoy games the BGG community approves of like Munchkin. I see it played at every game convention, where presumably the attendees are aware of other games, since they're literally surrounded by them. Some people have played Agricola and Seven Wonders, but when they get a chance to play they play Munchkin.

As for the unending parade of new flavors, they're self-validating. SJ Games is publishing them because people want to buy them. It's not a novelty at this point, people know what they're getting. If the creators want to make them and the gamers want to buy them you're on unsteady ground when you criticize a transaction you're not involved in.

And while we're at it, I really like El Grande, Race for the Galaxy, and Caylus but I also really have fun playing The Awful Green Things From Outer Space. It's unbalanced (oh, is it unbalanced), has a huge luck factor, and can't be said to offer more than one strategic option. But I have fun. So am I a "real" gamer or an unlettered, slack-jawed philistine? Honestly, at this point I'm not sure I understand that question.

I did a bunch of Munchkin Marvel demos in May and June, though, and had quite a bit of fun.
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Matt Lee
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From my POV, I enjoy a game now and then, but wouldn't choose to play it if other options are available because I simply have played it a fair amount over the last 15 years and I enjoy variety.

The hatred it gets is often much higher and obvious here since the people here enjoy having more control over their fates - so the take-that elements and the high amount of randomness for what you get is above the threshold for many people here.

I will also say that, as Andrew noted, recent gameplay changes have helped take the game to a much more reasonable hour-hour and a half range, even with larger numbers of players. It usually is no longer fun if everyone is slogging through the turns trying to end the game after an hour with everyone at level 9, and one bad experience like that can color your perceptions (and by extension, rating of the game).

Case in point, I couldn't stand to play Catan for about 6 years and after trying ti again, I ended up enjoying the game. The reason was I last played two back to back 6 player games where it took forever and I had nearly no resources for much of both games and little ability to interact with the other players. That next time was a normal 4 player game. Munchkin with 4-5 players is far different than an 8 player game, particularly if it's your first experience with the game.

Ultimately, I'd say that if it brings you both much enjoyment, then keep playing with your daughter. To me, that is the most important reason to play.
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Nick Matt
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i think that the game is rated that way because of elitists and people that take board games too seriously

munchkin is loads of fun

you dont have to buy all the expansions, most of them are rethemes, but you can choose and buy what will make the experience the best for you

the group you play munchkin with is what matters the most

the game is really fun and backstabby, i remember loads of events happening in the game having people ragequitting ,hilarious

"serious gamers" that cant have fun with little things probably can't have fun with munchkin, they will rate it for the mechanics and deepness and whatever

"omg munchkin has no strategy it's all random, who wins is completely random" so they are put off, while the game can be random, it also can be played smart, so luck isnt always the path to victory

munchkin is a parody, fun, game it's not a masterpiece, but it's definately not crap
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Seth Owen
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There have been a lot of good comments made here and I'll just chime in an say that Munchkin is the kind of game that 'serious' gamers don't like because of the chaos and shallowness of the strategic choices. I think Fluxx ands its ilk suffer from the same opinions. It's just not that kind of game. It's meant to be highly interactive, is best played with a lot of trash talk and shoud never be taken too seriously. Like Fluxx, Munchkin can drag on a bit at points, which prevents it from being a truly great game system but most sessions won't be like that.

The themes are funny and, in my mind, Munchkin is a lot like Monopolythat way. The basic game structure is simple enough that almost any theme can be pasted on and it doesn't matter. It doesn't hurt the game at all, freshens it up a bit and keeps the company in business. That beautiful deluxe Ogrewas subsidized by Munchkin, for example.

We all have our games that don't float our boat for whatever reason. I can't stand Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot, for example, although I'd be hard pressed to explain how it's all that different from Munchkin or Fluxx.

Much to the chagrin of certain BGG denizens, there's no sign that Munchkin, any more than Monopoly, is going away. Even Catan is now too popular with the great unwashed to get much love on BGG. If everyone plays something it's not 'elite' to like it.
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David Stahler Jr.
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I pulled it off the shelf this summer and started playing it with the wife and kids (ages 9 and 14). We played it a half dozen times and had a blast. Ended up grabbing the first two expansions, which added some nice variety.

A good family game.
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Douglas Naaden
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I don't think it's fair to characterize Munchkin-hate/dislike as elitist, or groupthink, or that ppl take board games too seriously.

One look at the box and you can see it's meant to be silly fun and I think people take that at face value. The darn game just endlessly drags on and on. For a fun, silly game, 2+ hours is too much! It's a pretty straightforward criticism and it's easy to understand that once the joke gets old an hour into the game, sitting for another hour is pretty cringe-inducing.

I'm just really glad to hear they released some changes to shorten game length. That actually entices me to play it again, if the play-time is ~30 minutes.

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