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Subject: Munchkin Quest - all the fun of Munchkin in twice the time rss

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John Mellby
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Munchkin Quest
Steve Jackson Games
2-4 Players, out in Summer of 2008
Playtime approximately infinite minutes (at least it seemed that way)

Several of Steve Jackson's people came up to demonstrate games and I got a chance to preview the upcoming Munchkin Quest boardgame. They were very good teaching the games, and we enjoyed having them.

Obviously this is only my view from a single play of the game.
Contrary to rumor I did not, during the game, pour a glass of single-malt scotch over my head and light it on fire, shouting "Second degree burns and the emergency room are less painful than this game!' No I did not. Sadly, there was no single-malt available at this game venue.

Summary: all the fun of Munchkin crammed into twice the playtime.
We had four players and three of them seemed to like the game.
I disagreed and I'll tell you why.

They have done a good job of making this into a boardgame. The art is marvelous. The dungeon pieces are excellent. They show rooms of the dungeon with icons and text (far too small a font). The rooms connect with door pieces that interlock like puzzles so the constructed dungeon stays together very well.

You have three card decks for Monsters, Treasure, and other Dungeon Effects. (I don't remember what this deck was called).

The treasure is the basic Armor, Weapons, Potions, etc. The Effects deck lets you break rules - effecting combat, movement, etc. These can be played to help or hinder the current player.

Monsters show their level, abilities, and identity. For instance, the Scaly huge undead violet slothful bug-eyed German pufferfish. And the demo master said "You can ignore the 'bug-eyed' part. That isn't used until we put out the second expansion."

The humor is the same as all the munchkin games. If you like this kind of thing you will love Munchkin Quest. Now I love puns, but I find the first Munchkin card is funny: The Arm-y Helmet (gives you a third arm to carry another weapon). Usually the second card is not so funny, and thereafter it’s just annoying.

So who likes this kind of humor? I expect people who think Will Farrell is funny can appreciate this humor. I also hear soldiers in the military enjoy this, but I suspect the threat of imminent death probably adds to your ability to appreciate this humor.

The game does shine when cards combine to create unexpected reactions. For instance: Tim Kelly played a card on me turning me into a female. Everyone around the table got a good laugh out of this. "Oh look – John is now a girrrl!" Then I played the "Pointy Tits Armor" card, only usable by a female and giving +3 points. This was even funnier. Sadly this was one incident in 3.5 hours.

Game Play
This is Munchkin with a Dungeon Map and increased randomness. You move around exploring, killing monsters to gain levels and treasure, and the first person to get to level 10 and beat the boss monster (level 20) wins.

When you move through an unexplored door you take a new dungeon tile and place it either side down. Then you draw connecting door pieces for any empty edges. (Doors can be simple doors, secret passages, or locked doors.) Then you get an Effects card (for exploring) and draw a monster card.

To fight a monster you compare:
Player: Level + Armor/weapons + Effects cards + 1d6
Monster: Level + 1d6 (and maybe some powers)
If you win you gain a level, and the monster's treasures (usually 1-3 treasure cards).

But we have two complexities. First, if the monster is tough, you may ask one player to assist you. Maybe "I'll give you the first pick from the treasures to help". Then you get the assisting players Level + Armor/weapons +1d6 to beat the monster.

Second, other players can add Effects cards to help the player or monster. This is the key effect that can let you mess with other players. For instance, on my first move, I was Level 1 with a weak dagger +1, and encountered a level 9 Undead Shiny Fog. I asked someone to assist me, and because I didn't choose Tim Kelly, he decided to "help" the monster.
Tim: "I'm cloning the monster so there are now two of them (Level 18 +2d6). I'm also rusting your dagger, inflicting you with athlete's foot, and calling your sister a dirty name". For a lot of players this would have been a very vicious play, but for Tim it was just another day at work.

We lost, and this pair of monsters roamed around the dungeon almost the whole game before someone killed them.

While this sounds good, in practice it appears that 95% of your moves are the same.

If there is a nearby monster you can beat, you move, kill it, and gain a level. (You can also sell treasures to gain 1 level for each 1000 GP worth of treasure.) Otherwise you move to the nearest unexplored door to find a new monster to fight.

So while players might assist you in the early game, usually they start helping the monsters to keep other players from getting too close to level 10 and winning.

This leads to what we call the classic "4th Player Wins" game. This comes from a game ages ago, I forget what game, when players could very easier mess with other players. After awhile all five of us were close to winning, and I was in the lead. When my turn came you had Mark yelling "stop the leader! Stop the leader!" Everyone jumped on me and I couldn't win. Now Mark was next and his cry of "Stop the leader" trailed off as he realized he was the leader. He got stopped. And the Third player also got stopped. Now we got to the Fourth player, Roy. We discovered that we had all expended all our cards, and had nothing left to fight Roy, who won. Afterwards Roy asserted that his plan, the whole game, had been to be in Fourth place because he expected the first three people to try to win would get stopped. While this seemed to be a stupid strategy we couldn't deny that Roy won. Any game where you need to place yourself in fourth place to win isn't really a good game.

In Munchkin Quest's case not only is this true, but once people get to 8th or 9th level you are in a state where everyone else is going to beat you down to keep you from winning. In effect this last part of the game can last a very, very, very, very long time.

So where else did Munchkin Quest go wrong? Adding a random die roll to the combat was a big mistake for what should be essentially a light humorous (sic) game. Next, this has become too complex and long. Instead of the simple Munchkin game, that was already too long, players have to look at all their cards, the dungeon near them, other player’s levels, etc. before they move. The demo master assured us that once you got used to the game it moved faster. On the other hand, the other three players in my game had all played Munchkin lots more than I had and they all too a LOT longer on their turns.

Game Session
To start it took almost 50 minutes before the first player (me) got to roll a die against the first monster. This is partly because the demo master was so enthusiastic about the game that he kept explaining pieces in too much detail. He explain not only a game mechanic, but how the artwork got there, the history, and how it played. I really appreciated his efforts but I can't help thinking it could have been quicker.

By the time I fought the first monster I had already had enough of the game. It took 90 minutes before the first round was finished. If I had drawn a card giving me to crew my own leg off the leave the game, I would have leapt at that option.

Another hour found several of us at level 9 and poised to win. I was the first to try to get to level 10. Instead at the end of my turn I was at level 4. (I was only opposed by other players in my first fight. After that I just got bad die rolls.)

It took another hour before one player finished. I suppose I could have played cards to assist other players and end this earlier, but that seemed to be not in the spirit of the game.

Finally
Despite very nice production values on the Dungeon pieces, excellent artwork, and a consistent theme Munchkin Quest is too long and complex, with extremely weak humor, and extremely painfully long endgame. I hate being so negative when the people from Steve Jackson Games were so nice and professional but this is one of the lowest rankings I've ever given a game on BGG. Also, remember that the other three players seemed to enjoy the game, and it seems to sell well.

I heard Steve Jackson himself speak at a convention a couple of years back and asked him about the difference between his games and 'Eurogames'. He said (I'll paraphrase) that Eurogames had good game play, high production values and very weak themes while his games had powerful themes. (He forgot to mention that his games have poor production values and aren't fun to play.)

2008
John Mellby
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Quote:
Contrary to rumor I did not, during the game, pour a glass of single-malt scotch over my head and light it on fire, shouting "Second degree burns and the emergency room are less painful than this game!' No I did not. Sadly, there was no single-malt available at this game venue.


If you come to BGG.con I suspect there are people who will buy you a drink for writing such an entertaining review.
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Captain Ordinary
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jmellby wrote:
This leads to what we call the classic "4th Player Wins" game. This comes from a game ages ago, I forget what game, when players could very easier mess with other players.

I think I remember the game you're talking about. It's called Munchkin.
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John Mellby
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Aetheros wrote:
jmellby wrote:
This leads to what we call the classic "4th Player Wins" game. This comes from a game ages ago, I forget what game, when players could very easier mess with other players.

I think I remember the game you're talking about. It's called Munchkin.


Actually the game is called Drakon.
Drakon (third edition)
And it has some interesting scheming and strategies, it just
suffers from an end-game problem.

JRM
 
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Mike Holyoak
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jmellby wrote:

This is Munchkin with… increased randomness.


Is that even possible?

That sounds like the kind of event that could waken cthulhu or shatter the 7th seal or at least destroy gaming as we know it.
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The funny thing about Munchkin is that back when I played it the first time, I was very intoxicated, surrounded by good friends, laughing most of the time and having fun, and STILL I knew that the game had little to go for it apart from its novelty value...

So what I really want to say is: Dear Cthulhu, please keep this away from me O_o
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Scott Everts
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You know Order of the Stick Adventure Game: The Dungeon of Dorukan has exactly the same problem of overstaying its welcome. I love the Order of the Stick comic and have read them all. I so wanted to love that game but it just never ended. Even with speed up rules it was still too long. A game like this should play in 1 hour tops. If I'm going to play a game like this then I want more serious fare like Runebound (Second Edition) or Prophecy.

These games should be fillers, not whole night affairs.
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Henri Huttunen
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Flamin_Jesus wrote:
The funny thing about Munchkin is that back when I played it the first time, I was very intoxicated, surrounded by good friends, laughing most of the time and having fun, and STILL I knew that the game had little to go for it apart from its novelty value...

So what I really want to say is: Dear Cthulhu, please keep this away from me O_o


I feel for you, mate! Me too!

Oh, youth and foolishness... How I poured those precious hours of my golden years in to the gaping maw of Munchkin...
 
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Alex Martinez
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Munchkin is one of those games you either get or you don't. I don't. What makes Munchkin unique for me though is that it seems to be a great indicator of whether or not I would want to play with a particular gamer. I can honestly say that I have never met a Munchkin fan who I enjoyed playing any game with. Period. I can't explain it, but it's true. It's not as if Munchkin is a terrible game, just not my cup of tea. But for some reason, if I meet a Munchkin fan, I never can play games with them. It's the closest I can think of to a religious difference for me at this point.

I only find it odd since I think there are many worst games than Munchkin, and yet, those games aren't foolproof indicators. I don't care for Puerto Rico or Cosmic Encounters in the slightest, but fans of those games don't automatically equal a bad playing experience. It's just weird but inevitable that this is true with Munchkin.

Anyway, good review. Very well written. Although I will say that while I enjoy Will Ferrell, I don't care for Munchkin one little bit. But putting that aside, still a solid review.
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Tiago Nunes
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I can remember a Munchkin game that went for 7 hours. Damn I was sick of it. I must have cheated some 10 wandering monsters before people started wondering if I was cheating.
 
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Mark crane
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Was this at a convention? I would be freaked if I blew 3.5 hours of precious convention time on a game this tedious.
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John Mellby
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craniac wrote:
Was this at a convention? I would be freaked if I blew 3.5 hours of precious convention time on a game this tedious.

Dallas has weekly meetings on Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday and a
monthly "Dallas Gaming Marathon" (Friday night - Sunday).
This occured when SJG came up to a recent marathon to demo
games.

They were very nice, and as I said the other 3 players seemed
to like the game. I was less happy spending 3.5 hours on this.

JRM
 
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Mark W
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Powerful themes? I like powerful themes. War of the Ring has a powerful theme.

Not a powerful theme: Playing bunches of random joke cards to power up the monsters (also joke cards) battling the other characters (also joke cards) because you want to beat them in "levels" for some reason while arguing over rules because the rules say you should argue over them.
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Joshua OConnor
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Wow, the people who hate Munchkin can't get over how much they hate it. Recent reunion holiday, we played two games of this, enjoyed it, I think one friend took it a bit too seriously and got upset, and after two goes no one wanted to play it again, but I am sure we'll pull it out next holiday.

I think it serves a purpose. Not sure if the board game would serve the same purpose. Question: what purpose does the Munchkin RPG serve?
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Björn Fink
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KingCroc wrote:
Munchkin is one of those games you either get or you don't. I don't. What makes Munchkin unique for me though is that it seems to be a great indicator of whether or not I would want to play with a particular gamer. I can honestly say that I have never met a Munchkin fan who I enjoyed playing any game with. Period. I can't explain it, but it's true. It's not as if Munchkin is a terrible game, just not my cup of tea. But for some reason, if I meet a Munchkin fan, I never can play games with them. It's the closest I can think of to a religious difference for me at this point.

I only find it odd since I think there are many worst games than Munchkin, and yet, those games aren't foolproof indicators. I don't care for Puerto Rico or Cosmic Encounters in the slightest, but fans of those games don't automatically equal a bad playing experience. It's just weird but inevitable that this is true with Munchkin.

Anyway, good review. Very well written. Although I will say that while I enjoy Will Ferrell, I don't care for Munchkin one little bit. But putting that aside, still a solid review.



Mmmh...in my case its the complete opposite...with people who don't like munchkin i don't want to play any other game because i have the fear they take games wayyyy to serious...it's about fun and not competition.

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Richard Brooks
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The only real way to play Munchkin is with someone who gets easily upset if all the players gang up on them to stop them winning. It really is worth the hours of gameplay to see someone storming off swearing never to play the stupid game again.

Unfortunatly our go to girl in this respect has been banned from ever playing Munchkin again by her husband. I guess it is him who has to put up with the aftereffects but we haven't played Munchkin since.
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jmellby wrote:
So where else did Munchkin Quest go wrong? Adding a random die roll to the combat was a big mistake for what should be essentially a light humorous (sic) game. Next, this has become too complex and long. Instead of the simple Munchkin game, that was already too long, players have to look at all their cards, the dungeon near them, other player’s levels, etc. before they move. The demo master assured us that once you got used to the game it moved faster. On the other hand, the other three players in my game had all played Munchkin lots more than I had and they all too a LOT longer on their turns.
Informative review. I haven't had a chance to play (but I look forward to doing so), so bear with me. I don't think the portion I've quoted is a fair point. From what I've seen, Munchkin Quest doesn't claim to be Munchkin the Card Game in Board Game form. Rather it is a Board Game that is Munchkin-themed and stands on its own. I expect the same type of humor, but I wouldn't expect knowing the card game to be of much use in playing the Board Game.

As for the length, if your demo person really took so long to explain things then I think it is unfair to evaluate the game based on that total length. I would expect that his point about the game going faster once you know the rules better is true, considering that's true of many complicated games.

Overall, thanks for the insight into how the games works. I've been curious about it since it was announced.
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Alex Martinez
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xbjoernx wrote:
[q="KingCroc"]Munchkin is one of those games you either get or you don't. I don't. What makes Munchkin unique for me though is that it seems to be a great indicator of whether or not I would want to play with a particular gamer. I can honestly say that I have never met a Munchkin fan who I enjoyed playing any game with. Period. I can't explain it, but it's true. It's not as if Munchkin is a terrible game, just not my cup of tea. But for some reason, if I meet a Munchkin fan, I never can play games with them. It's the closest I can think of to a religious difference for me at this point./q]


Mmmh...in my case its the complete opposite...with people who don't like munchkin i don't want to play any other game because i have the fear they take games wayyyy to serious...it's about fun and not competition.



Well, my problem with Munchkin is that I just don't find the humor very . . . humorous. And while I agree that some players are too competative, I find that Munchkin players are too interested in being clever and not at all interested in actually playing a game. Wanting to win is not automatically too competative in my world, but without it, a game seems mostly a time-killing experience. If I'm just playing a friendly game, I'd much rather play Uno.

I don't want to sound like I'm attacking Munchkin. I really have nothing against the game. But every Munchkin fan I've played with has been . . . I don't know. I can't define it easily. I guess the closest approximation would be "fanboy-ish".

As a comic book fan, there are some fans I can't talk to. There is just something about them that irritates and annoys me, an attitude that says "Aren't I clever?" They take something that is fun and somehow, even though they're playing for fun, drain the life out of it. So far, my experience with Munchkin players is much the same. This doesn't have to mean that all Munchkin fans are like this. Just the one's I've encountered up to this point.

Ultimately, I think it's the combo of long gameplay and humor that draws a very specific gaming fan to Munchkin. I'm all for fun games. I have dozens of card games that I own simply because they're fun games with colorful art and humorous themes. But none of these games overstay their welcome like Munchkin. This is a game that just goes on and on and on. If it played in half-an-hour, it'd be a fine game. But, for a funny game, it's just too damn long. Most fun game players will find it boring. And most competative game players will find it too one-dimensional.

Munchkin is almost a genre in itself. It appeals mostly to Munchkin fans. What draws them to not only buy Munchkin, but every other more-of-the-same expansion for the game, is something I just don't get. Though I certainly can't argue with success.
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Björn Fink
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I get you're point...but i'am not playing so much with special "boardgamepeople"...i've only played munchkin with people who are new to munchkin...and we all had much fun...but when i read how you define the comic book fans and munchkin fans you dislike, i would say you're talking about...well...Geeks?
 
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Carl Parsons
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jmellby wrote:
Sadly, there was no single-malt available at this game venue.



Hmm. That's a good idea, John. I'm always looking for ways to improve the event.
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I've never had any problems with Munchkin players, RPG Players, wargamers, etc. I did have some arguments with arrogant gamers - either because they are too fanboys or because they think they are above some kind of games and /or people.
I like Munchkin, but I just play until the deck (with one expansion)runs out (whoever has the highest level wins), so the game is always quick and entertaining enough. The humor is pretty juvenile, so you have to be in the right mood for it - but I think it is fun.
I don't see the appeal of recreating the same experience in a board game though. But I guess plenty of teenagers will, hence the success of the Munchkin line of games.
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Alex Martinez
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I agree with you, zinho. Any game can be fun when played with the right people. And any game can stink when played with the wrong players. So it depends a lot on the players. That said, my personal experience with Munchkin and its fans has been universally negative. On the other hand, one good play with the right crowd would probably remove my sour disposition toward the game.
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Philip Reed
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jmellby wrote:
They were very good teaching the games, and we enjoyed having them.


Thank you for having us. It's unfortunate that the game wasn't your style, but we appreciate both giving us a place to run a few demos and you taking the time to write this review.

We hope to make it back again, if you guys will have our crew.

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Aaron Silverman
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I think this review contains more entertainment value than all the games of Munchkin ever played put together.
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Carl Parsons
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PhilReed wrote:
jmellby wrote:
They were very good teaching the games, and we enjoyed having them.


Thank you for having us. It's unfortunate that the game wasn't your style, but we appreciate both giving us a place to run a few demos and you taking the time to write this review.

We hope to make it back again, if you guys will have our crew.



You're always welcome, Phil. I will second John in saying that we enjoyed having you.

We're having a barbeque on Saturday at the next event: July 18-20th. That would be a good time to make it back. It's the one year anniversary of our event.

And then Scotch shooters.
 
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