Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Munchkin Quest

A bit of a break from computer game reviews, and showing that there is more to my life than computers (but not much lol).

A few friends and I played Munchkin Quest a couple weeks ago.  I meant to get something up right then since it was still fresh on my memory, but I forgot.  First off, I'll answer the typical first question to answer in any given review: What exactly is Munchkin Quest?

Munchkin Quest expands upon the formula that's worked for years: a satirical card-based tabletop game where you race your fellow players to level 10 by defeating monsters, collecting treasure, and screwing your friends over right as they're about to defeat monsters or win the game.  It expands upon this by defining the dungeon that you've been kicking doors down in all this time.  You have dungeon tiles, door connectors, and a wide array of extra materials including player figures and level counters.

I'd been thinking that something of this formula would be really neat for a while, and then it happened.  The key would be making it work without being too complex, because Munchkin's greatest virtue has been its ease of play.

To be expected, it's more complex.  That's going to be a given.  You and your friends can expect to spend the entire first game with your faces buried in the rulebook.  Each class and/or race now has a d10 ability: where you have to roll the included ten-sided die and have to roll under your level to successfully use the ability.  Each monster in the game now has a card that represents it within the dungeon.  You roll a colored die to determine who owns the monster, it gets that colored base.  The colored die is also used for monster movement between turns, and has six sides.  Being that the game is four players only, what do you do when you roll one of the other two colors for determining monster ownership?

You get to decide.  You can throw the tough stuff at your friends if you want.  Fully in the spirit of Munchkin.

However, you may want to take it for yourself, as there are certain benefits to defeating a monster you own.

You have health tokens as well, that represent your life.  When you lose a battle, you lose one (and flip it over to the side that shows it empty).  When you lose all of them, you die.  There are ways of recovering health as well.

There are three card types this time around: Monster, Treasure, and Deus Ex Munchkin.  Deus Ex Munchkin cards can be races, classes, and extra cards like potions and Super Munchkin, for example.

Winning the game has a new twist.  Just like before, you still have to get to level 10.  But now, once that happens, you have to get back to the dungeon entrance and successfully defeat a boss monster to win.  In a way that makes sense, what kind of a dungeon-crawling experience doesn't end with a boss fight?  Plus, it fits right in with the cooperative-competitive nature of Munchkin: Your friends can still try and screw you over as you're making your way back to the entrance or while trying to fight the boss itself.

I feel it's important to mention that the cards are not compatible with other Munchkin games.  So no Space Munchkin Quest or Munchkin Cthulu Quest yet.  The cards in the game seem to be based primarily off of the original Munchkin, but with changes and updates for the rules brought in by Munchkin Quest.

I don't want to delve too deeply into the game's mechanics in a review of it, but some of the new stuff did warrant some explanation.  There's far more I haven't even mentioned.

What we noticed while playing:
  • The level of complexity was startling for a group of first-time players.
  • Monster movement can and will result in a clusterfuck that moves together after a while.  We had a group of four or five monsters that everyone avoided because you have to fight all of them at once...
  • The dungeon crawling element did have some advantages: different rooms affect you or your combat in different ways.  The dungeon definitely felt like a typical role-playing game dungeon; full of rewards, but with plenty of hazards between you and those rewards.
  • A "reasonable amount of time" is still defined in the rules as "about 2.6 seconds".
  • You'll need a big table to play the game, since the board expands as you play.
I don't want to judge the game solely on our less than favorable first time experience, because it seems like it's pretty well thought-out.  It's just that the level of complexity really did startle us and make us want the game to end more and more as we were playing.  I could imagine really getting into it if our group had the time to read and fully understand the rules.

Overall, I'm going to say that it's fairly complex, but if you can get into it, it looks like it'd still be incredibly fun, and that it would give some definition to the gameplay style you've enjoyed in previous Munchkin games.

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