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Exploring Munchkin: A Comprehensive Look at a Classic

The orginal Munchkin came out in 2001, The same year Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring and Harry Potter and the Philosipher's Stone came out in theaters. I very much did not realize it had been this long since Munchkin had come out. There have been nearly 240 expansions special mini expansions and booster packs that have come out since 2001. Munchkin has been a staple of gamming for a long time and now they are running a crowd funding campaign for Munchkin Big Box on Backerkit until May 16th.

Munchkin and some expansions.
Munchkin and some expansions.


For this review I am going to use Munchkin Deluxe as our example. There is a regular Munchkin game but why not do deluxe it sounds so much more, well deluxe. In the Deluxe box there is a gamboard and standees, this helps visualize every players level. I very much prefer this over tracking dice or dials. This has all the players on the board at what level they are at and it makes it very easy to determine where all players are.

Each player puts one of their two standees on the board (One is male and the other is female) onto the room marked 1. This represenst the players starting level of 1. There are two types of cards in the base game Treasure cards and Door cards. shuffle them up into two seperate piles and deal four cards from each deck to each player.

In the Deluxe box there is a gamboard and standees, this helps visualize every players level. I very much prefer this over tracking dice or dials

Players all start as level 1 humans with no class (insert joke here). Players may now take cards from their hands and place them down infornt of them. Players may choose a Race and Class card to play in to their charecters tableau. Players may also play any usable Items into their tableau. Players clas, race or gender may affect what cards are usable to them Additionally players may only have one "Big"item played in their tableau at a time.

The set of cards I got from Steve Jackson Games included Side Quests. These are a fun way to spice up the game by giving each player 3 hidden agendas that give bonuses when completed.

Game Play

To win a game of munchkin all a player has to do is be the first to level ten. Players must defeat a monster to get to level ten. There are a lot of cards that can grant a player levels but these dont work for level ten. That being said there are tons of cards in the Munchkin assemblage and some of them break the basic rules and thats cool just do what the card says.

...some of them break the basic rules and thats cool just do what the card says.
Monster Card
Monster Card

Each player turn consists of three phases Kick down the door, look for trouble/ loot the room, and charity. Kicking down the door is thr first phase and it kicks off with a player drawing the top card from the door deck. The door deck contains monsters, curses, race, and class cards. If a player draws a monster they enter combat with the monster. The player has some options at this point, fight, run, or beg for help. To defeat a monster the player adds up their level, modifiers, items and any cards they wish to play to add to their combat value. If the pler's value is higher than the monsters level then they win and defeat the monster. Ties go to the monster. If you do not think that you can beat the monster you no can chose to run or ask for help. You can use the players value in combat added to yours. This usually comes with a price. Players can negotiate their terms by splitting rewards. If you defeat the monster go up a level. Players can always interefere with other players combat by playing cards that add to the mosters level or even additional monsters (with the wandering monster card).

Ties go to the monster.

The last thing a player can attempt in monster combat is running away. Nobody wants to help them or other players choose to help the monster then they can run. The player will roll a 6 sided die and on a 5 or 6 they get away. If they rolled a 1-4 then the bad stuff happens (read it on the monster card). Players who fight a monster (even if they ran away)in this phase do not get to look for trouble or loot the room. To loot the room a player will take a door card directly into their hand. When looking for trouble thy9 will play a monster card from their hand and fight it.

The last part of the turn is discarding down to 5 or less cards. These cards do not go into the discard pile they go to the person with the lowest level. If thats the current player then they do go into the discard pile.


There is a lot going on in Munchkin. Much like Magic the gathering or any lgame with a large bredth of cards there are a lot of othelittle rules here and there. I think of Munchkin as a game system that you can customize like Dominion or Star Realms. There are tons of themed sets to get small packs that add in bigger monsters to make the game harder like Munchkin Bosses.

Colossal Munchkin Level Die
Colossal Munchkin Level Die

There is also this Colossal Munchkin Level Die that came with all the cards we got from Steve Jackson Games. This thing is massive and has its own rules. The die is a level counter and it comes with 10 cards that are revealed as the player using the die advances in level. These cards have effects that can effect everyone or just the player who showed up with the massive die. It would be a great handicapping tool.

Munching is fun and can be a little have some take that qualities to it that might not be for every player. I think that there could easialy be some house rules that make Munchkin a little less cuthrouat and no sacrifiece on the game player. For example you could make it so that player s cannot add to the monsters other players are fighting. (this might be controversial but it could work).

Elf Wizard Battling a Squidzilla
Elf Wizard Battling a Squidzilla

Munchkin is a classic game and if you are looking to get into Munchkin now is your time with the Big Box, its on Backer Kit now. Until May 16th 2024. The game is fairly simple rules wise and has a huge amount of content so you can customize your game to you likes.

Players: 3-6

Year Published: 2001

Recommended Ages: 10+

Time to Play: 60-120 minutes

A review copy of Munchkin Deluxe, Munchkin2, Munchkin 6 Munchkin3 , Munchkin Side Quests, Munchkin Sidequests 3, Munchkin Bosses, and a CollassalMunchkin Leval Die set were provided to Bert's Tabletop Games for this review by Steve Jackson Games. T



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