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Card Game Review: ‘Munchkin Apocalypse’

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The classic game Munchkin from Steve Jackson Games has tackled a wide number of genre angles from secret agents to sci-fi to kung fu to Cthulhu to zombies and beyond. Now, the wild twists and jokes take on the end of the world with Munchkin Apocalypse. Bloggers, Militia, and Kids face disasters and awful puns such as the many-headed dog monster Tiamutt.

munchkinapocalypseApocalypse, as a genre, has taken off in the last few years with everyone having their zombie outbreak plan and reality shows depicting bunker-people. Munchkin Apocalypse lampoons all the hoopla with its time-tested formula and a new twist that gives a new level to the game that has always carried the line “Kill monsters, steal the treasure, and stab your buddy.”

Much of Munchkin Apocalypse follows the basic gameplay. Cards are organized into a Door deck and a Treasure deck in the middle of the table with each player gaining a starting hand that helps define their “character.” These characters start out as “Level 1,” from the original Munchkin making fun of fantasy-adventure dungeon-crawl role-playing games. Players gather gear and kill monsters, racing to be the first to Level 10 and win the game.

Players take a series of actions during their turn: first “kicking open the door” by drawing from the Door deck and playing the card face-up on the table. If it is a Monster like a Level 8 Toxic Mold, the player must fight it or run away, which may face negative consequences if the player fails at either, such as losing their armor to moldiness. If the card is a Disaster (similar to the Curses or Traps of previous Munchkins), the player suffers whatever may befall them, such as losing their fire-based items in a Tidal Wave. Other cards may be taken into one’s hand and played at will.

What separates Munchkin from other adventure card games is its hilarious tone, which spills into gameplay as players interact. Players may help one another battle monsters in return for treasure, which is a great way to overcome powerful monsters and gain levels. On the other hand, opponents may add to the monsters’ power, making things worse. Backstabbing is highly, and hilariously, endorsed in the rules. After all, the first person to Level 10 wins, no one else.

New to the Munchkin line is the Seal deck. Some cards or actions will require a Seal to be Opened, making punning reference to those in Revelations while also featuring a picture of a water creature. Cards have lasting effects such as reductions in combat, bonuses or negatives for certain classes, and advantages or disadvantages based on level rank. When the seventh Seal card is drawn, the game is immediately over, creating a sense of urgency that is well suited to the End of the World.

Munchkin Apocalypse is a solid addition to a deservedly famous line. It is a game for three to six players aged 10 and up, though two can duke it out in a pinch. The rules suggest one to two hours for the game, but it is often much faster in small groups. Munchkin Apocalypse can also able to be combined with other Munchkin games, making for customizable games of apocalyptic adventure, wasteland horrors, or superheroes in a world gone mad.

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About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.