Within the joyful depths of tabletop board gaming lies a genre known as ‘take-that’ style card games. They revolve around people pulling out cards that suddenly give them extra power or abilities, with counterplays almost entirely dependent on whether you happen to draw the right card in response. Munchkin is the king of these, at least in terms of popularity, having sent millions of players all over the world into dungeons where they competitively slay goofy horrors.
I cannot stand it, but it is now on Steam in early access, and statistically speaking a lot of people will be very happy about that.
Munchkin is simple but fiddly. You spend your turn either fighting monsters or gathering treasure that helps you fight monsters, gaining levels every time you kill one. First player to hit level 10 wins. The complications, and so the fiddliness, comes from keeping track of all cards you and other players can gather that affect whether your power total exceeds that of the monster you’re battling.
I see take-that games as something of a shallow side-pool, fit for a paddle and a chuckle when you’re too drunk for anything else. Munchkin doesn’t work for that, though, because of all the fiddly counting and tracking of different effects, which are often compounded by muddy priority orders. It pretends to be breezy while dragging on forever.
This new digital version might help a lot with that, to be fair. Having everything highlighted and mathsed out for you could speed up play dramatically, with the computer dictating what gets to happen before what.
Developers Dire Wolf Games (who also digified the Game Of Thrones board game) say they plan to spend 1-3 months in early access, over which time they’ll extend support for different languages and add cross-platform play. They’ll also “expand player negotiations and counter-offers, improve the tutorial and onboarding,” and “smooth out combat”.
It’s mainly meant for playing with pals, but there are “solo challenges with special rules”. The price won’t change after launch.
You can buy it onSteam for £11.40/$15/€12.50.