Munchkin [GAME REVIEW]

Munchkin BoxDeveloper: Steve Jackson Games
Distributor: Steve Jackson Games
Genre: Fantasy
Unique Elements: Group Play, Quirky sense of humor.
Form: Card-Based RPG
Release Date: 2001
Size/Length: 94 Door Cards/74 Treasure Cards.
MSRP: $24.95
Discount Link: Click Here
Website: Click Here
Trailer/Video: Click Here
Purchase Site: Click Here
Reviewed by: Stu Ruckus
Final Score: 4 out of 5 Moons
Score: Four Moons Munchkin, a game of chance, teamwork, and backstabbing. It may seem a little too pun filled for some (unless you love Piers Anthony, Douglas Adams, or Terry Pratchett like I do) but it’s strong mechanics and the fun you can have playing it outweigh how many feel regardless of their stance on puns. All you need to play are three to six friends, the game itself, and a willingness to have a good time. Beer never hurts either. Though, don’t drink if you’re under age, unless of course, you’re a vampire and then I think age loses all significance.


Munchkin comes out of the box with 94 door cards, 74 treasure cards, one six-sided di, and a rules sheet. To touch on the gameplay mechanic for a moment, the door cards are how you interact with “rooms” in the dungeon; you encounter either monsters, curses, or get the opportunity to “loot the room”. The treasure cards are only received after defeating a monster card by using the combined might of your level, item cards, and any other bonuses you may have. You can purchase expansion decks to add to the games variety, and Steve Jackson Games has been releasing other stand alone Munchkin games, such as Munchkin: C’thulu, or Munchkin: Zombies that you can play alone or as expansions.

Munchkin Cards

These are the original cards, they are twelve years old, and show the infancy of an amazing game.

Everything coming in one box makes it an easy game to play on the fly, and with the addition of the expansion packs, the possibilities are pretty wide open. Involving a lot of silly puns, standard RPG cliches, and a wide variety of features; Munchkin makes for a great card game.


With the door and treasure cards shuffled well, a table to play on, your six sided di, and any ten “tokens” (poker chips, pennies, peanuts, or anything else to help you represent your level) you are ready to begin your Munchkin adventure. The cards themselves determine things such as class, race, gender, and your equipment. The randomness of the draw effects game play pretty heavily, but doesn’t detract from the fun. Everyone starts at the first level and attempts to make it to the tenth level in order to win. With the amount amount of randomness that is inherent in this game you’ll be sure to have a different experience almost every time. Curse, instant level up, and special item cards keep the flow and feel of the game evolving.

Munchkin Cards

The newest incarnation of the cards in full, glorious color.

Depending on the temperament of the other players, a heavy amount of strategy can be involved, trying to make sure the other players don’t reach the tenth level before you, if you’re more the roguish type. However, if you prefer the Paladin approach, you can always use teamwork to succeed, and just race to finish. (Of course, you might want to make sure you have a handy curse in case one of your “helpers” gets any foolish ideas about outracing you in the last leg!) The games can take anywhere from half an hour to a couple of hours to complete. Trying to strategize your card plays, while pursuing the elusive tenth level adds just enough tension to make it competitive, while not making it so much so that it can end friendships.


I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m assuming that if you like games that require a bit of strategy mixed with a very well done play mechanic, then you’ll enjoy this game. From the pun laden and oftentimes tongue in cheek sarcasm of the card descriptions, to the self-awareness of the rule sheets. For example:

“Decide who goes first by rolling the dice and arguing about the results and the meaning of this sentence and whether the fact that a word seems to be missing any effect.” – Munchkin, turn order rules.

This game is full of fun, and wit, paying homage to Lovecraft, Tolkien, and Baum, as well as many other writers in the fantasy, horror, and other genres of literature. Catching the references always adds a little bit of a special something while playing. If you find yourself thinking you’d enjoy this game if it had more werewolves and vampires, don’t worry. There is a version called “Munchkin Bites”, that contains all the lycanthropy and vampirism you could ask for, and if you mix it with “Munchkin Zombies”; you’ll get all the undead action.

Closing Thoughts

I truly enjoyed this game. As a member of the elite-okay maybe not elite!-and often misunderstood table-top game culture, I can appreciate some of the more direct references that are made. At the same time, those not familiar with the genre will find the puns and fantasy related comedy to be refreshing in a world of games that just take themselves too seriously. If you can scrounge together the $25 and grab this game, do it. In all honesty, it will provide plenty of distraction from the machinations of everyday life-and probably add a little joy to your tabletop gaming experience. Next time you’re trying to think of a good party game, keep Steve Jackson’s Munchkin in mind. You won’t regret it, and if you do, I’m sure I could use the informative e-mails.

Presentation: 5.0 out of 5.0 moons
Gameplay: 4.5 out of 5.0 moons
Gothic Fit: 4.0 out of 5.0 moons
Final Score (not an average): 4.0 out of 5.0 moons

Score: Four Moons

Author: Stu Ruckus

Stu Ruckus was born in Louisville, KY, gaining an education in gaming through Dungeons and Dragons, Magic the Gathering, Myst, Zelda, and any other game he could get his hands on. Studying at the University of Louisville, he left to roam the wilds of North America (southern California, New Orleans, Kansas and wherever else he could find work and friends). A self styled poet, musician, and writer; he now resides in Lexington, KY with his wonderful wife, and douche-bag cat.

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