"When you find yourself in the company of a halfling and an ill-tempered Dragon, remember, you do not have to outrun
the Dragon ... you just have to outrun the halfling."

- Ancient Geek Proverb


This weekend, men and women like you and me will be flocking to Indianapolis to attend this year's Gen Con. They'll spend four days rescuing damsels in distress, crawling through dank dungeons, vanquishing mighty foes, and spending far too much money on twenty-sided dice. It is a celebration of the original geek culture. Not all of us are lucky enough to attend, however. Some aren't willing or able to travel to Indianapolis with the sole intention of pretending to be a gnome. But if you still want to celebrate the fine art of tabletop gaming, there's a game that will take you back to your days of minotaurs and magic missiles. That game is Munchkin.

Originally developed in 2001 by Steve Jackson, the man behind legendary RPG system GURPS, Munchkin is a card game infused with the spirit of pen and paper role-playing games. Full of inside humor and dead-on satire, the game is Jackson's love letter to the industry he helped create, packed with the kind of incessant taunting borne from a deep love of the genre. It plays fast, it's loose with the rules, and it appeals to the gamer locked deep inside us all. One night playing Munchkin will make you recall your college days spent drinking absurd amounts of Mountain Dew and scribbling stats on your character sheet. For better or for worse.

Playing Munchkin is simple. Get two to five of your friends to sit down at a table and give them markers for ten levels (poker chips work well). Players take turns drawing a card from the door pile and reacting to what they find. If it's one of the game's brilliantly designed monsters, players can either try to fight the creature or run away by rolling a die. Combat is won or lost based solely on the levels of the player and the monster. Whoever has the higher level wins. So if you encounter a Level 10 Net Troll, for example, you have to be level 11 or higher to defeat him. Once the foe is dispatched, you draw treasure cards and go up a level.


The treasures you gain can take many forms. Often they are ridiculous weapons or armor that give you bonuses to your level in combat, such as Boots of Butt-Kicking or the Cheese Grater of Peace. Sometimes they're items that are usable only once, such as Yuppie Water, an item usable only by elves, or the Magic Missile, a giant rocket that gives you a bonus in combat. If you're really lucky, you'll draw a card that gives you a free level for whining at the GM or invoking an obscure rule.

If you can't finish that Plutonium Dragon off on your own, you can ask your fellow players to help you out. Negotiation and backstabbing are the keys to getting ahead in Munchkin, and you'll often have to resort to bribery to further your cause. Of course, there's always the chance that your party will take an opportunity to screw you over by using potions or curses against you, or summoning extra monsters for your combat. Alliances shift quickly in Munchkin and rarely last. Players continue to take turns until someone reaches Level 10, at which point the game ends and the winner typically mocks his inferior party members and their heritage.


Obviously, much of the appeal of Munchkin is the humor. Each of the 168 cards in the core game has an irreverent quality to them, often found in the original illustrations by Dork Tower creator John Kovalic. It's not at all uncommon for an entire table of players to burst out in laughter at the battle conditions involved in facing, say, a Level 8 Gazebo ("You must face the Gazebo alone"). But at its core, Munchkin is fun because it reminds us of all the pros and cons inherent in tabletop gaming. Anyone who's ever rolled a rogue will spend the game awash in memories of a simpler time of karma pools and calculating THAC0. And those of us who have never purchased an overpriced set of dice might just find themselves opening a door to an entire new hobby.

So this weekend, while the masses are congregating at Gen Con, gather your own party and play a few hands of Munchkin. With its hand in your gold pouch and its tongue firmly in cheek, Munchkin captures the essence of the dungeon crawling experience without the pesky pens, paper, or role playing.

Official Site
Steve Jackson Games


The KoDT is brilliant!

I've got a couple of the munchkin games. If you want to be really crazy there are many expansions.

3 for the basic set
2 space munchkins
Vampire munchkin
kung fu munchkin
and more!

Best part is they use the same basic rules, so you can have your halfling armed with a blaster or using a teleporter, partied up with a cat lady and a ninja!

I wish there was a way to play online. My samurai dwarf-elf and his 5 mooks would burninate all.

Poppinfresh wrote:
Fedaykin98 wrote:

Knights of the Dinner Table, I think. I've never read it, tho.

I'm gonna go buy myself a cookie!


It's sort of the little strip that could... started as a one page feature to fill space in Shadis magazine, and has turned into a mini publishing empire. The art is simple, to say the least, and consists mostly of the same panels being cut and pasted each month. Still, it's the writing that makes it worthwhile-- as I said, if you've ever played D&D or any other RPG with a group of people, you will see yourself or someone you know in one of these characters. Great stuff.

Some information from the Wik:

here's some free webstrips to give you an idea of what it tastes like:

and here are some awesome flash cartoons of some of the strips:

(in fact, here is the link to the infamous "gazebo" strip brought to life through the miracle of animation: )

That looks interesting, Matt. I might give it a look next time I'm at the store.

Well, tonight is Star Munchkin night! Wish me luck!

Actually, the Gazebo is much older than KoDT (and even funnier in the original). It's a great bit of lore from the early days of rpgs, and was originally put on the net in the usenet era.
Eric and the Gazebo

I had read that one before I played munchkin the first time, so I nearly had a heart attack from laughing when I saw the card the first time. Then of course I had to tell everyone else what was so funny. Munchkin is awesome. I like many others in the thread don't own it, but I play it at least once every time I'm at a con that has gaming.

Played the basic Munchkin last night with thewalt and thewife. We had a swell time, thanks for the review.

Well, I played Star Munchkin on Friday night. 3 of us had a pretty good time, and the other two decided that their characters committed suicide. Apparently, they thought it more fun to sit around and do nothing than to actually play the game.

However, the other 3 had a fine time, though we ended up letting the hostess win (instead of modifying her combat to keep her from hitting lvl 10) so that we could move on to something else that would involve the whole group.

One of the Munchkin suicides, my fiancee, then cleaned up in an impromptu $5 buy-in No Limit Hold 'Em tournament. Daddy needs a new pair of shoes!

A 6 player Munchkin game would definitely rock.

One of the Munchkin suicides, my fiancee, then cleaned up in an impromptu $5 buy-in No Limit Hold 'Em tournament.

So, had to backspace after writing "girlfriend" or finally getting the hang of this fiancee thing?

dejanzie wrote:
One of the Munchkin suicides, my fiancee, then cleaned up in an impromptu $5 buy-in No Limit Hold 'Em tournament.

So, had to backspace after writing "girlfriend" or finally getting the hang of this fiancee thing? ;-)

Still backspacing verbally as well. She says she still says BF, and that saying "fiancee" sounds weird. Hopefully, she won't have any problem claiming me when we're married!

So... I just now bought this game. Does anyone have any advice to give?