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Now who are these five?
Come, come, all children who love fairy tales.
I've rarely played Munchkin the card game. It's happened twice, I think. The first time, I found it being "yeah, cool" when I read the cards and then a bit "blah" because from themed games like this, I want more visualization than just cards, and the second time I felt the game went on forever. I think we played for two and a half hours, and… well, that's too long for a game like Munchkin card game. At least for me.
But I did like the silly humorous theme, I did. And so, I was thrilled at the prospect of a board game verison, as I felt a board game could amend for at least the visualization part. I was a bit wary about the playing time, though, but I knew I had more time patience if I got to move around pawns and standees and stuff.
I would find out my judgement was correct. In fact, I had judged myself far better than I thought.
Munchkin Quest comes with STUFF. I mean, lots of stuff. Lots of card board room tiles, links between rooms, move tokens, health tokens, monster cardboard standees, plastic minis for the players, dice, money tokens. Shortly, a lot of stuff. I was pleasantly surprised there were cardboard standees for each monster in the game, but now I realise the game would have been unplayable without them. Still, it's solid. Plastic minis for the monsters I don't need for a game like this. Shortly, the components are great.
Brief game overview
Munchkin Quest is a role playing game parody board game. Virtually all cards are silly, and based on stupid jokes of words. And the monsters are ridiculous. You start out as a level 1 noob in the starting room. Each turn, you can move your pawn to explore new rooms, fight monsters to raise your level, play cards (you'll get a lot of those and I mean a LOT) to play on yourself to enhance your character or play on other players to make life miserable for them. As you enter combat with monsters, sometimes you'll have to call for help to defeat them. Sometimes another player will help you, because he'll get to share the loot. At other times, the other players will play cards on you or the monster to make it harder, or impossible, for you to win the fight, in which case you might get hurt and lose more of your stuff. The rooms you'll get into vary from The Mush Room (in which all mushrooms get a bonus) to The Fan Club (a room full of fans, all flying creatures and players get a penalty). You'll meet monsters like Potted Plant and Indescribable Censored Horror. And you'll wield items such as the Gentleman's Club and Arm-y helmet (a helmet with an extra arm).
The goal of the game is to reach level 10, and then go back to the entrance where you'll meet the End of Game Boss. If you defeat this boss monster, you've won the game.
Short rules summary
Although the basic idea of the game is very simple (go to room, draw room, draw monster card, combat monster, get loot), there is a lot of stuff going on in Munchkin Quest, mainly cards being played, so I won't explain in detail, but some short summary is what I believe should be in all reviews.
All players start on the Entrance chamber room tile. On each player's turn, the player uses his movement points (3 moves to begin with) to walk around in the dungeon. If the player enters an unexplored room, (s)he draws a new room tile at random and adds it to the map, also adding (at random) the exits from the new room (exits might be passageways, doors, locked doors, hidden doors or a stone wall - meaning not an exit at all).
If a player enters a new room, there will be a monster in it; the player draws the top monster card, rolls a die to see what player colour that monster will have, and then tries to defeat the monster. The combat system is dead simple: Each monster has a level and a number of dice to roll. The player also has a level, and most probably some sort of weapon or armour (all represented by cards that the player can play on himself) that grant bonuses, and also rolls dice (none or one or two, depending on if the room is good or bad for the players class or race, or other factors). If the players level + bonuses + die roll is higher than the monster's level + die roll, the monster is defeated, player gains a level (or two if the monster was strong) and some loot (player draws a number of treasure cards). If not, the player loses a life token (all players start with 4 lives) and has to flee from the monster. In order to not suffer further consequences from the monster, the player then has to successfully roll an "escape roll" (which is 5 or 6 on a standard die, but that can be adjusted by cards or equipment). If the escape roll fails, the monster does Bad Stuff to the player, explained on the monster card (usually destroys some equipment or has the player lose a level or something).
Prior to rolling the dice in combat, the active player can ask for help from any other player in an adjacent room, bribing this other player with treasure or other stuff like stupid promises. If the active player gets a helper, the helper's level, bonuses and die roll are added to the active player's total combat score.
Also, any player (not just in adjacent rooms) can play monster enhancing cards on the monster, granting it more dice or raising its level, or adding a new monster and so on. If there are two monsters in the fight, like with two players, the levels and die rolls just add up. So, this combat sequence is the main part of the game, where people sometimes cooperate, sometimes mess up for each other.
If, after this new room, the player still has movement points left (s)he can continue walking, exploring new rooms and so. Hidden or locked doors take more movement steps to walk through, and the player can also use movement points to either Search rooms for treasure (rolling a die or two on the Search table and gain gold tokens and/or items) or use the room's special function that's printed on the room tile. In some room, you can cheaply buy some weapons from the discard pile, in some others you can heal your damage for money and so on.
When the player has used all his/her movement points, if there are any monsters alive on the board, the player rolls the colour die for Monster Movement, which is a nice little thing. All rooms have coloured arrows on them, and if, for example, the player rolls purple, all monsters on the board will follow the purple arrows from room to room until they have to stop (i.e. until the room they enter has no purple arrow, or the purple arrow points to a wall, or it points to a room they've already been in during this monster turn). So, any monsters that are alive will wander through the dungeon, although many of them has some sort of "but", like some monsters can move through hidden doors whereas others can't, some monsters take the first step in the opposite direction, and so on. This is to prevent monsters from gathering together in a huge undefeatable monster mob.
Cards, both treasure cards and the so called "Deus ex Munchkin" cards (curses, class cards, race cards, special whatever, basically anything that isn't an "item") can, shortly spoken, be played virtually at any time. There are some restrictions; some cards that cannot be played while a combat is taking place for example, but generally, cards are played a lot. And often.
All item cards (treasures) have a value in gold printed on them, and the active player can always discard items and/or gold worth 1000 gold in order to gain a level, with the only exception that the 10th level must be reached by killing a monster.
If a player ever loses all his/her life tokens, the character is reverted back to the Entrance and has to start anew.
When a player who has reached the maximum level of 10 enters the Entrance tile, a monster card is drawn and whatever monster is turned up counts as level 20. Combat takes place as normal, except that the combat can't be evaded by any means, and if the player manages to win the combat, (s)he wins the game.
Short comparison with the card game
As I said, I haven't played the card game much, but I noted several major differences, most of them a real improvement to game play. Fans of the card game can correct me if I'm wrong, but here they are.
First of all, we have the "roll die in combat" rule. In the card game there was no die roll. You just compared monster level to player level + player bonuses. The die roll might seem superfluous, but I liked it; it adds a small but still a possibility to defeat a monster that's just 1 or 2 levels above you.
Second, and perhaps the biggest difference, is the introduction of hit points. In the card game, you just lost a level when you lost a fight. That, especially combined with the fact that there was no die, could make the game a never-ender. You had finally reached level 2 or 3 and you met a level 6 monster. Bam, your level decreased. Then a level 4 monster and you were back on level 1. Thanks. Here, you have 4 "hits" before your character dies, which maked losing a fight not at all as horrible. Sure, you can't run away from the monster prior to battling it, but I still got the inescapable feeling that I was out of the "level 1 forever" marsh much quicker in the board game version.
Third, we have the board game nature itself, with "rooms to walk in" and movement points, and added "room effects", not only rooms that reward/penalize certain classes/races but also special stuff you can do in each room, which really adds a "mappy" feeling to the game, and in my eyes, really enhances not only the visualization of the adventure, but also the gameplay. The possibility to search the rooms for a movement point is good and much better than the card game variant of drawing a treasure card. Again, not so much a game mechanical difference, as a better visualization of the concept.
Fourth, we have the interesting "monsters belong to a certain player" idea. I guess this is to prevent the map from being flooded with monsters, but we were never close to that happening. I think it's more an incentive for the "owner" to get his monster defeated, as he gets to draw a card then.
There are also some minor differences like having gold coin tokens and so on, but I believe these four things were what I felt changed the gameplay the most. What I felt was the most important thing was that due to the hit points, it was easier to get the first few levels and stay alive, which speeded up the game considerably.
Munchkin Quest kept all the promises I had expected and more. It gives a beter picture of the dungeon delving than the card game does and has, in my eyes, better gameplay, and more possibilities.
That said, this game is probably of the most fiddly board game I ever saw, meaning "a helluva lot stuff going on that you have to keep track of". Not only that you have to randomly draw a room and separately draw all exits at random, sticking them to each room, but you have to keep track of when you can play certain cards, count all your equipment bonuses that might vary depending on class or race, see to that you got your extra health token if you're a dwarf and/or warrior, do you have just one Big item or more, hey, I have this ring that makes me roll an extra die against green monsters, etcetera etcetera. You also have to keep track of the room's special functions; a lot of rooms have a penalty or bonus for certain classes, marked by a green or red icon.
Add to this a lot of card drawing (each time your turn begins, each time you enter a new room, each time a monster your colour is defeated), and the fact that each player can move 3 rooms each turn, and you've got an alarm sounding. In the game start this can be spelled disaster. If the three first players go and newly explore 3 new rooms each, player 4 will see a good half hour go before he can even move his character and that's bad.
Because of all this, I was very surprised when our very first 4-player game took less than 2 hours (1:50 I think). Our second game took precisely 2 hours. True, yes, I speeded everything up by doing the rooms and exits and keeping track of the card draw, lobbing cards to each and everyone when they should have some. Frankly, the biggest time consumer was actually the card discarding phase as people were so bogged down with cards they didn't know which ones to throw away.
I actually got the feeling that "What? Over already?" when someone had won, but quickly realised that it was a healthy sign - had the game prolonged, it would easily have outstayed its welcome, but it didn't. It ended right when it should. I did, however, quickly decide that the first turn, players had only 1 movement point, to speed the first round up a bit.
As the players parted ways in the dungeon, it was harder and harder to get help, but it was also needed less and less, as each time you explored a new room you got cards, and during all plays thus far there has been scarcingly few monsters wandering around in the dungeon (with the lovely exception of the Humongous Fearsome Armoured Tentacled Beast with Eyes In the Back of Its Head, Squidzilla, that was level 38 and had 3 dice). Thanks to the hitpoints, that could be pretty easily healed, there was no "I can't get to level 10 because each time I try the players play so many enhancers on the monster that it turns into level gadzillion and I go down to level 8 or 7 again" that was a bit too common in the card game. In the board game, the levels raced on, and it felt more like a race, but an adventurous one.
Not being very fond of the card game, this board game version of Munchkin is a huge success with me. It's not the perfect game, but it's the perfect Munchkin game. It's precisely the type of humourous adventure game that I want, and it's beautifully presented. Unless you take heed, though, this game can be a real time sink. My advice would be to be sure of all the rules before you even think of playing. There is much to keep track of, and this game will probably stink if it stays longer than 2 hours. But once you have learned to keep track of, this is a real nice humouristic dungeon adventure where everyone who wants to be able to stab the neighbour in the back can actually do so.
I'm curious what you thought of some of the things I've seen others complain or nag about: the number of DxM cards that get drawn, monster movement, and drawn out turns.
Good to hear you are enjoying the game though. I think they did a great job putting it together.
Now who are these five?
Come, come, all children who love fairy tales.
The number of DxM cards wasn't hard, except that it was a hard thing to know which cards to discard.
Monster movement wasn't an issue, as we rarely hade more than 1 monster on the board. They all got killed all the time.
The drawn out turns we managed to do something about. Like one of the first reviews here on BGG, a buy played this for 3.5 hours. I would have hated to play this for that long. 2 hours was just fine, and that's doable if you just do the standard whatever - keep track of your stuff, decide how to play cards when it's not your turn, etcetera.
My advice would be to be sure of all the rules before you even think of playing.
That's the most importatn line in the entire review. The game really is pretty simple once you know what you're doing.
Thanks for the review. We're glad you liked it.
The 1-2-3 Rule
I recommend the 1-2-3 rule:
1st turn, everybody gets 1 move.
2nd turn, everybody gets 2 moves.
3rd turn, everybody gets 3 moves.
Normal movement after that. It helps the game spool up properly and keeps that 4th player (if there is one) in the action while everybody remembers all of the moving pieces they need to keep track of in their turn.
Now who are these five?
Come, come, all children who love fairy tales.
Yep, that's how we play too.