The theme really, really doesn't work for this one. The idea of Frodo buying Mount Doom becomes a recursive negative feedback loop arcing ever-larger bolts of purple lightning between the whirling triad of monopolistic capitalism, franchise licensing, and the realities of Tolkien's work. Oh, the pain.
I rate the base game a 7 when played:
- by the rules as written - with four adults - ending at the second bankruptcy.
Sorry, but this gets the actual rating for all Munchkin games. "Munchkin" Munchkin works because the theme and gameplay are organically intertwined in a perfectly appropriate dance of mechanic and experience. It models the fantasy RPG gone wrong brilliantly.
This reskinning of the original feels less like a blood-thirsty monk with a Six-Demon Bag and more like your recently divorced uncle with low back pain: it just doesn't work.
Not quite as much fun as fantasy Munchkin. Perhaps my nerd credentials need to be checked.
UPDATE: Munchkin, as a knobbed-up commentary on fantasy RPGs, really only works when it's holding up its funhouse mirror to the fantasy genre. I've never played a science fiction RPG the way I played Dungeons & Dragons in 8th grade... so this doesn't work for me at all.