Munchkin CCG-Steve Jackson Games-Review

"Though this is another CCG, this is M-U-N-C-H-K-I-N... You’re a hero totally buffed up and overloaded with loot to destroy monsters and take out your opponent. ‘Nuff said."

Theme and What is it?

This is Munchkin — you kill stuff and take their things. Well in this version of Munchkin, it’s just kill stuff, pick your hero, build a deck of monsters, weapons, and locations and then take out your opponent.

Gameplay Mechanics

Goal

The goal of this game is to out Munchkin your opponent by reducing his hero to 0 HP, force your opponent to deplete their draw deck, or force him to concede.

Setup

As with any competitive CCG, you build a deck from your available cards. When setting up for a game, remove the hero card from your deck and shuffle the deck.  Using the rule-book, arrange space that allows for the different areas for placing cards. Place counter tokens and level counter dial in the space indicated.  Determine who will be the first player and give him 1 gold and the second player starts with 2 gold.

Here are the decks that we played with:

Heroes

Centaur Warrior                                  Dwarf Cleric

Allies

Barbarian the Librarian x2               Barbarian the Librarian x2

BOD-E Guard x2                                  BOD-E Guard x2

Hunting Guide                                   Dr. Meow Practice

Red Tunic

Locations

Inhumane Society                             Land x2

Land

Lodge of Complaints

Loot

Angry Catana                                     Book of Axe

Chainsaw of Bloody Dismemberment Chainsaw of Bloody Dismemberment x2

Discount Cudgel                               Eleven-Foot Pole x2

Eleven-Foot Pole                               Hammer Time x2

Hammer Time                                   Holier Symbol

Pwn Pole

Shiny Manipulator x2

Uber-blade

Whacka-Maul

Mischief

Stomp, Stomp, Stomp                     Alms for the Poor

Thwack!                                             Healing Salvo

Nun Slap!

Plea Bargain

Monsters

3,872 Orcs                                         3,872 Orcs

Blandy McBlanderson                     Blandy McBlanderson x2

Budget Sasquatch                           Budget Sasquatch

Card Shark                                        Building Inspectre

Crusty Disgusty                               Card Shark

Dragomancer                                   Crusty Disgusty

Drop Bear                                          Drop Bear

Explodia’s Ring Finger                     False Prophet

Ferrous Oxide Monster                   Ferrous Oxide Monster

Field Armorer                                    Gazebo

Gazebo                                               Gold Finch

Honey Badger                                   Hairy Tick

Inflatable Dragon                             Lame Goblin

Lame Goblin                                      Pied Piper

Potato Bug                                        Pygmy Suckophant

Punchy McFacey                             RNGesus

RNGesus                                           The 1 Percent

Vanillamental                                   Vanillamental

Walking Dreads x2                           Walking Dreads

Turns

There are three major phases per turn for a player: Warm-up, Munchkining, and Cool-down.

The Warm-up Phase resets the cards and tokens and preparing a Munchkin to do his thing.

The Munchkining Phase is where a Munchkin plays Loot, Weapons, Locations, and other cards to facilitate kicking butt and taking names.

The Cool-down Phase is when a Munchkin is rewarded for his efforts, increasing his level and acquiring gold as necessary.

Additional Info

There are abilities, Mischief cards, and other effects that allow for a player to interrupt another to cause, well, mischief.  These effects are resolved immediately before normal operations continue. And yes, interrupt effects can be interrupted themselves.

Initial Impressions

I’ve played Munchkin quite a bit over the years, both the card game and Munchkin Quest board game. Transitioning to a CCG version of the Munchkin concept was certainly different as your perspective as a player changes. Instead of the known but random nature of the other games, you purposefully craft a deck to do all those dastardly deeds while having to try to counteract other decks.

Game Build Quality

The game components include deck of cards, point tokens, Run Away/Limp Away tokens, Level Counter, and a 6-sided die. The cards are standard card stock used for these types of games. The Run Away/Limp Away tokens and Level Counter are made of thick cardboard, very sturdy. The point tokens aren’t as thick as the other cardboard components but will last with multiple plays. The die is the usual d6 with rounded corners.

Artistic Direction

This is Munchkin, so we know it’s full of John Kovalic goodness. Bonus for us though, Steve Jackson Games sought out more talent in the form of Katie Cook, Lar DeSouza, Mike Luckas, Ian McGinty, Tom Siddell, and Shane White. Part of the collectible nature of the game is you can collect different versions of art for a variety of cards so you get to see all these artists in action.

Fun Factor

Though this is another CCG, this is M-U-N-C-H-K-I-N. You know what you’re getting into. You’re a hero totally buffed up and overloaded with loot to destroy monsters and take out your opponent. ‘Nuff said.

Age Range & Weight

Age range listed is 10+. Given that this is a CCG and Munchkin is known for its tongue-in-cheek humor, this sounds right. As for weight, again it’s a CCG — the rules are fairly straightforward but constant referencing of the phase descriptions was necessary. Rules and strategy will become more complex over time as expansions are generated and especially if it becomes competitive with tournaments like other games. To be competitive, one also has to be familiar with all the cards and how they interact with each other and the heroes.

Conclusions

I thought this was a decent representation of Munchkin in a CCG format. The introductory set comes with a standard set of cards plus four booster packs to help get you started. A lot of CCGs can create themes within them but are usually hidden until the player drafts and plays cards. In the case of Munchkin CCG, pick your hero and then select cards that complement it and its strengths, covering for its weaknesses.


What I found as the gotcha for me (surprise, surprise), was the rules. They are very detailed, which can be good, but there is still a LOT going on in each phase that we had to constantly reference back to the phase outline description to make sure we were doing all the bits. I think the game would benefit from a quick reference player aid card. The rules sheet identifies as “Quick-Start” and references back to the game’s website for the full set of rules… why wouldn’t you just print them all in a booklet and provide in the box? The box is certainly big enough to hold it and from what I’ve seen of the rules, they aren’t more lengthy than other CCGs I played in the past, which came in the starter boxes the size of an average deck of cards.

What is good is that the game already has a support website and expansions ready to go with the first set (one of the booster packs is from the Desolation of Blarg expansion) so the publisher has confidence in the longevity of the game.

Even though the style of card game has been transitioning more to deckbuilding with optional expansion format, it’s nice to see that there are still CCGs/TCGs being added to the market.