OSGR; Munchkin Bites!
Here we are with another October Spooky Game Review! Today we are looking at another one of my long time favorite Tabletop games, Munchkin! To keep it in the proper theme, we are going with the standalone variant Munchkin Bites!, created and produced by Steve Jackson Games the Munchkin line has something for everyone. There are many options beyond even what is pictured here!
My first encounter with Munchkin came before most of these versions existed. It was the straight up original Munchkin. The basic premise is that you are all entering a dungeon in order to gain power, get loot and become the first Munchkin to reach level 10. Think D&D/Fantasy parody in a card game form.
I must admit that the rules can be a little complex if nobody at the table has played and you are just reading them. After I purchased the original version years ago I tried teaching my wife and mother-in-law how to play. I hadn't played in years and neither of them had any idea. They were more Classic Board Game players, like Monopoly, Scrabble, etc.
I had been explaining the rules as best I could (with many interruptions and questions) before deciding to just start playing and show them how it was played. Not even a full round later I decided it was best to put the game away and try it another day. I was being accused of cheating by making up the rules as we went along in order to win. On a happier note, I was able to play it a couple years later with the same group at the table adding a bit of help from another player who also had played before! My wife loved it and now we own almost every version as well as most of the expansions.
Playing the Game
On your turn you "boot down the door" before you do anything. Once the door has been properly bashed from its hinges by flipping over a card from the door deck (pictured) you are now either staring at a monster who is upset you broke the door to their home and is about to express that feeling in a violent way, or you are trying to handle the trap you set off by kicking in the door. Should you be lucky enough to have avoided either of those potentially life ending situations on your card flip, you may now either start making a bunch of noise in order to draw a monster to you ("looking for trouble" play a monster card in front of you from your hand) or you are just going to dig through random stuff hoping to find something good in here ("looting the room" draw a card from the door deck into your hand). This would be how you get monsters into your hand so you can go looking for trouble, find a trap and throw it at another Munchkin, or grab one-use cards that have some fun effects in a fight. You would also find Race and Class cards in here, but we will cover those in a minute.
Defeating a monster will give you at least one level and usually some loot from their pockets as well. In the bottom right hand corner of the Monster card you will see how much loot you get ...if you win the battle. Loot helps you gain power, which helps you defeat monsters, which levels you up and gives you more loot, to defeat more monsters... you get the idea, right? The Loot deck (pictured) is separate from the door deck as it does not contain any monsters or traps. It has one-use items, weapons, armor, and even some "Go Up a Level" cards. The more frequent you dip into this pile, the more likely it is you will be able to defeat the bigger baddies and win the game.
Munchkin Bites! pokes fun at the world of Horror. Vampires, Werewolves, Changelings, Mummies, you know, all that Spooky Halloween type stuff. Lucky for me, that just happens to be some of my favorite content! I have always been a fan of Vampires. NO. Not the Twilight books, those are not Vampires. They are Glitter Fairies. I am talking about the whole Interview with a Vampire, Underworld, Dracula type stuff that can keep you awake at night. There is only one expansion (plus a couple of booster pack cards) for Munchkin Bites!. It is called Munchkin Bites! 2: Pants Macabre.
After you have set up the game and are ready to play there is what we call a "Character Building Phase". Before the game begins, not a single door splintered as of yet, you are dealt a hand that may contain cards you can play. If you have any Race, Class or Item cards that you can legally place in front of you, go ahead and do it! Some cards have qualifiers like "Can only be used by a Female Munchkin". The cards never tell you your gender. You start the game as the gender you are. That can change! There are curses and traps that could alter your gender giving you penalties to your next battle. Hey, it takes a minute to get used to fighting with ...these in the way.
Technically you go around the table laying down your cards in order of play. In my house we all just kinda do it at once. I have not found that it has too much of an effect on the game, it just speeds up the setup/start a hint. There are Classes and Races. You may only have one of each unless you have a card that reads otherwise like the "Half-breed" card that allows a second race.
Something to note is the "Power Rank". You can have powers! You will notice that each Power card in the bottom right corner reads "Power Rank" with a number following it. Simply put, your current level is your Power Rank. So at level one during Character Creation you could only have a power if the rank was 1 like "Celeritousness" in the picture. As you gain levels you can either add more powers up to a total of your level, or swap out low level powers for more formidable options.
Items are limited in a sense as well. The anatomy of the Munchkin body is exactly like your own. You have two hands, so you can only carry two hands worth of items, you only have one torso, so you can only wear one set of armor at a time, and so on. You do have a "Backpack" that allows you to carry other items outside of your hand. Again, a house rule that we have is that you can only carry five "slots" worth of stuff in your backpack. An item that needs two hands to use would take up two slots, while a suit of armor only covers the torso and fills up a single slot. It just made more sense to us that your backpack has a capacity limit.
Winning the Game
As mentioned before, the way to win is to be the first to reach level 10. There is slight catch to that. In order to win the game, you must reach level 10 by defeating a monster! You may not sell items or use level up cards in order to reach level 10. So if you happen to have a solid power base, an arsenal to fear, are at level 9 and boot the door to find a tiny level 1 monster looking at you, your chances of winning just went up a lot! I haven't gone over some of the intricacies of the game such as the inevitable knife in your back from a fellow Munchkin! There are cards that other players can play to interfere with your battles. You could also ask another Munchkin to help you beat a monster with a bribe ...although I doubt anyone will help you beat the monster that would give you the win.
The Wrap Up
Without going into too much detail as there is a lot to read already, there is your basic overview of the game. I love the Munchkin-verse! My personal favorite of the bunch would be Super Munchkin, but Munchkin Bites! is very high on that list as well. Great humor, fun artwork and a game mechanic that breeds diversity in every play, the Munchkin line is definitely something for you to check out if you haven't already! Overall I love the game. Even with rules that might confuse some players of lesser experience, I give Munchkin Bites! a solid four stars!
Thank you for reading! Have you played Munchkin before? What is your favorite version?
Until next time... Game On!