Thursday, May 10, 2012

Munchkin Zombies

Note: This is the rough draft of a review I wrote for Please go ahead and see the final draft over there. It's a great website and resource for zombie news.

The Munchkin franchise by Steve Jackson Games is one of the most venerable in gaming today. It doesn't have the lengthy history of D&D or even Magic: the Gathering, but it wouldn't exist without them. The whole point of the game is that you are a munchkin... That is, you are a role-player who doesn't view RPGs as fun games and an exercise in improvisational acting, but rather as fun games where you kill monsters and take their stuff by maximizing your stats and dice rolls. There are quite a few versions of the game. The most well-known version is the original fantasy version, but there are versions for science fiction, kung-fu movies, the Cthulhu mythos, the Axe Cop webcomic, and more. However in all of those sets you play as the "heroes" killing monsters. Munchkin Zombies is a more recent set where instead of playing as a human survivor in the zombie apocalypse, you play as the zombies, hunting down humans so you can eat their brains.

If you've ever played Munchkin, you will already have an idea of what to expect. If you've never played Munchkin, here are some of the things you can expect:

Ridiculous, overpowered, and ridiculously overpowered weapons to give you an advantage.
More horrible puns & pop culture references than you can shake a stick at.
A little bit of cooperation.
A lot of backstabbing.... lots and lots of backstabbing. (Don't worry, though, unlike other games where backstabbing is encouraged, I've almost never seen people get upset at the backstabbing in this game.)

The game plays rather simply. There are two piles of cards: doors and treasures. You start with four cards from each pile in your hand and can immediately play any cards that will give you a bonus.  At the start of your turn you break down a door (to get at the humans inside) by drawing the top card of the doors pile and showing it to everyone. If it's a "monster" (i.e. a human or any other enemy. Zombies uses the same terminology as the other Munchkin games for rules consistency, but really you're mostly attacking innocent humans), you have to fight it. You do this by comparing your level and any bonuses you have to the enemy's level and any bonuses it has. There are also plenty of one-shot cards that can increase or decrease either your fighting level or the monster's fighting level. If you can't beat it on your own then you can ask one other player for help and they will add their level and bonuses, though you might have to bribe them into helping. This is where cooperation and backstabbing comes into play. You see, each monster you kill makes go up one level, and the first person to level 10 wins, and only the person who actually kills the monster (or in this case, eats the human's brains) gets to go up a level in combat. So maybe someone else playing doesn't mind you going up a level, but they'll ask for something from you in return, like some treasures or items. But if someone else does mind, they might play curses other cards to sabotage your chances of winning. Don't worry too much though, most people don't start sabotaging you until you're around level 7 or so. If after everything happens, your level plus bonuses beats the level plus bonuses of what you faced off against, you go up a level and draw as many treasures as it tells you to. If there aren't any monsters inside then you can "loot the room" and draw another door card into your hand without showing it to anyone. Once you've drawn cards, you can play any that will help you out, and then discard down to five cards in your hand, if you have more.

And that's about it. The rules are pretty simple, once you get down to it. You'll definitely want to take a look at the rulebook first, though, since they can be confusing the first time you play, but you'll catch on quickly and feel like a pro after a short while. And while the game, by itself, is actually a lot of fun, the best part are the jokes and pop culture references. Word of warning, though: do not play any version of Munchkin if you are allergic to puns. For instance, there are cards that will let you go up a level without having to fight a monster. One such is called "Hot Meal", and it shows a zombie running after a busty redhead in skimpy clothing. Or the "Healthy Snack", which shows a zombie chasing a man in jogging gear. The funniest part is probably the fact that when people groan while playing, you're never sure if it's because they figured out a joke, or if they're just getting into character. You'll also recognize such copyright-friendly cards as "Small Town Sheriff" and the "Motorcycle Gang" among others.

The game is meant for 2 - 6 players, and I've found that the closer to 6 you can get, the better. A large part of the game is the interaction between players, and the more players you have, the more options there end up being.

Bottom Line: Munchkin Zombies is a fun and funny game that's a hoot to play with larger groups. If you like zombies, bad puns, and quirky games, you can't go wrong with Munchkin Zombies.

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE Munchkins, but haven't played this pack yet. Looking forward to it!