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Subject: First Rule About Munchkin...You Do Not Talk About Munchkin rss

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Mike
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The word Munchkin instantly draws a lot of negative reaction around these parts. I can understand the hate. It’s fairly popular, it’s beyond chaotic, and when a game goes bad it can last an eternity. In the end Munchkin the card game is little more than a parody of D&D and the people that play it. So was it worth it for Steve Jackson Games to take the silly premise and reconstruct it as a full blown board game?



Components

Let’s be honest, Steve Jackson Games isn’t known for their lavish components. Hell, most of the time they don’t even include a D6 for games that require one to play. However, I’m glad to report that Munchkin Quest tremendously breaks that mold. The people who made this took their time and made sure it was properly tricked out. You get thick cardboard dungeon tiles, plastic minis, tons of dice, plastic standees, 3 decks of cards, tons of double sided cardboard chits, and much more. This game was built to last and it feels like a Fantasy Flight production. The only thing I wish it had was a nice plastic insert to keep everything neat inside the box. Other than that SJG did one hell of job with there dungeon crawler.



Theme

Munchkin…It’s a parody of all things Dungeons & Dragons. Say what you will, but a lot of the stuff in this game is painfully true. Ironically though, the theme takes a backseat to the actual game design (so is it now parodying itself?). The theme is well represented thanks to the beautiful components, John Kovalic’s wonderful art and funny cards. It’s awesome to see the actual different sized enemies too. An itsty bitsy spider is completely small and non-threating, while a Gazebo towers over your Munchkin mini. The modular board is filled with hilarious rooms, which will incite smirks from those at the table. In the end it really does feel like you are exploring a dungeon for loot and being attacked by weird fantasy-ish creatures.



Rules

MQ comes with a fairly large 20 page rulebook. It’s printed in color on some fine glossy paper. While it’s not organized that greatly (you need to jump around quite a bit at times) it does a decent job explaining everything. Be sure to read it a few times before your first play to really get a grasp on things. If you’ve already played the card game some of it will be easier to pick up on. With a little more thought on the organization of the rulebook, it could have made learning the game that much easier. I can see new players getting easily frustrated.

Gameplay

Forget the fact that this game has Munchkin slapped on the box. Let’s just pretend that this is another dungeon crawler.

Has all of the hate left your system? Good, let’s continue.

The goal of the game is to reach level 10 and escape the dungeon before your buddies do. To level up you will need to kill monsters and gain treasures. You start out with 3 treasures and 3 Deus Ex Munchkin (DxM) cards (class cards, race cards, curses etc…). This gives you some good stuff to start with and hopefully you’ve managed to bring some sort of weapon with you. Everyone starts on the sunny entrance…you are all friends, looking for adventure. You will leave bitter rivals that want the others dead (must be something in the musky dungeon air…). One of you bravely steps into the darkness and with that the first dungeon tile is randomly placed. Each room brings uncertain doom into the dungeon. At first your group will need to stick close together and request help from one another. Eventually players will begin to get some good loot and will venture off on their own. However, each monster that the players discover and don’t kill randomly roams the dungeon looking for tasty snacks. So as things expand so does the level of treachery. Eventually, one person will reach level 10 and attempt to escape. Upon reaching the entrance tile again a boss will appear to give you one final challenge. If the person can oust the level 20 behemoth they win.

So is it any fun to play? Yes…yes it is. In fact MQ is pretty solid dungeon crawler. I like it because instead of needing one person to play as Dungeon Master, everything is handled through the board. Monsters appear and move on their own and DxM cards that players acquire fill in random crap that a DM might throw at a group of would be adventurers. Yes the theme is silly, but so what? Who says dungeon crawlers have to be deadly serious? When a girl is setting at the table and she plays some Naughty Armor (which can’t be used by Clerics) the look on her face is priceless. The card features a stereotypical warrior gal in the typical bikini armor. It’s funny, its silly and it actually makes sense from a high fantasy point of view.

I’m a big fan of the roaming monsters and the cardboard chits used to represent them. Tiny enemies are much smaller than your mini, while Dragons and other large creatures menacingly tower over you. It feels right. Another brilliant design choice was the “links” used to connect each dungeon tile. These represent different things, from locked doors to walls. It adds to the replay value and perfectly fits in with the theme. SJG went the extra mile to provide players with lots of cards for a base game. You will have to play many games just to see them all, which gives the base vanilla set some much added value. Unlike the card game where it feels like you need to expand almost immediately, because of the numbing sameness that occurs after a handful of plays.

Lots of strides were made to make it feel like a dungeon crawler. Instead of rolling to move, you are allotted 3 movement points (they even gave us chits for this). There are a lot of tiny rules and each turn is an amalgamation of different phases. However if you have ever played a Fantasy Flight Games boardgame you will have no trouble learning this stuff. In fact, I think a big problem for this game is that fans of the card game aren’t ready for such a leap. Munchkin the card game is simple practically to a fault. MQ has phases and actual choices to make. The difference is rather substantial. I for one think it was the right move. You actually feel like you can make an impact on the outcome of things based on the choices you make.

While I don’t care for the down time between turns (anywhere from 2-4 minutes per player), you have plenty of time to plot out your next moves. First time plays and familiarizing yourself with certain cards can bog the game down. As everything becomes second nature things will naturally move faster. However, I’ve never had a game last longer than 30 minutes per player. For a dungeon crawler that’s a pretty reasonable time. So with the full 4 you are probably looking at around 2 hours to finish. If things are taking longer than that, put a time limit on people’s turns. Its meant to be fun, not a taxing display of brain power.

MQ is not Munchkin the card game. I simply cannot stress that enough. Besides using the same aesthetics the comparisons stop there. While it still has some chaotic elements its much more of an actual game. You have choices to make every turn besides flipping over the top card of a deck. In most games I’ve noticed most people level up around at about the same pace. Things start of cordial in the beginning, but towards the end it gets ruthless. Luckily, you have to be in the same or adjacent rooms to use some nasty items…so it’s a little harder to gang up on the leader. All in all MQ retains the flavor of the card game’s parody, while being its own separate entity.



Verdict

Forget that this game is related to the Munchkin card games. Go into it thinking you are playing a light hearted dungeon crawler and you will have a good time. Steve Jackson Games has done a commendable job transforming their cash cow card game into a legitimate boardgame. It’s funny because Munchkin Quest comes very close to becoming the very thing that that the card games parodied. That is perhaps the biggest compliment I can give the game. It walks the line (clumsily at times, yet cleverly at others) between being a joke and an actual game. It succeeds far more than the card game and it’s something I actually find myself wanting to play. Don’t get sucked into the hate surrounding this franchise. Give it an honest shot, before pronouncing it DOA. You might just be surprised to find a game you actually enjoy. Descent: Journey into the Dark this is not…then again, nor is it trying to be.

Images courtesy of BBG and Steve Jackson Games
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Philip Reed
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Thanks for the review. We put a lot of time and energy into the game and it's always nice to see reviews.
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"Hank Scorpio"
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Great review and spot on!

I think its the perfect mix of humour and gameplay which makes it suitable for just about everyone. Laughter and a great evening is guaranteed. :thumbsup:

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Mike
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PhilReed wrote:
Thanks for the review. We put a lot of time and energy into the game and it's always nice to see reviews.


Thank you for the game! You guys should be very proud of the product you put out there. I'm certainly happy to have it in my collection.


There is a negative stigma about all things Munchkin on this site and I hope it doesn't prevent people from trying out Munchkin Quest. Everything has been improved and the experience has been really fleshed out. Hopefully I was able to stess that enough in my review. I find MQ is perfect for casual players who have no interest in dungeon crawlers as well as geeks who get all the references.


Thanks to everybody that gave the thumbs and the tips...I certainly appreciate it.
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Nevin Ball
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Excellent review. It is "spot on," well-organized, and I like the lavish use of pictures. I also like how you speak to your readers and work to sandbag potential objections up front.
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Graham Smallwood
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I admit I never even thought twice about this game because of the Munchkin tie in. This is now on my wishlist.

Here's a thought: Munchkin evokes a severely negative response from longtime gamers. This game could be too complex for people who play Munchkin and Zombies. Would this game be more successful without the license?
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Mike
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Dorque wrote:
I admit I never even thought twice about this game because of the Munchkin tie in. This is now on my wishlist.

Here's a thought: Munchkin evokes a severely negative response from longtime gamers. This game could be too complex for people who play Munchkin and Zombies. Would this game be more successful without the license?


I'm glad my review was able to help you out.

Your thought on the theme is rather interesting. Clearly the boardgame was designed to appeal to more than just fans of the cardgame. However, using the Munchkin theme was a great way to boost initial sales. This is a double edged sword though, since fans of the card game seem to dislike the boardgame (at least that seems to be the impression here on the geek).

Steve Jackson Games created a good dungeon crawler with a unique system that certainly doesn't rely on its Munchkin theme. It would have been interesting had they decided to release as a brand new franchise. I wonder what the reaction would have been? I'm willing to bet it would have done pretty well.

On the flipside I think the Munchkin theme draws in the casual player. Sure it might be more complicated than Zombies or the Munchkin card games, but its much less intimidating than your typical dungeon crawler. I think as a family friendly affair it works rather well.
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Joe Czarnecki
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Good review. I was feeling neutral about this game, but this gives me a more positive feeling so I'll investigate further.

And no, I'm not a Munchkin-hater, quite the opposite. I think anyone wasting an iota of energy "hating" Munchkin (in either form, card or board) needs a sense of humor transplant or something better to do with their time. You play Munchkin when you want some silly fun, not to prove that you've got bigger ba--er, "dice"--than the next gamer.
 
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