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Save the world from the treacherous Bucket Man and Bimborella! Repel the notorious Literary Lass back to the evil lair from whence she came. While it can be a full morning’s work, crime-fighting isn’t all ZOP!, POW!, and BANG! Boots that Shoot, Body of Real Hard Stuff, and Sidekick: Monkey with Costume Like Yours are just a few of the cards representing such spectacular perks of being a superhero in the Munchkin as defined by established game designer Steve Jackson. In reality, there is nothing heroic about this, but once again, that’s pretty much right up my alley.
Published by Steve Jackson Games
Ages 12 and up
If you have experience with ANY of the Munchkin card games, then you already know the ropes. There really isn’t anything new here. For the rest of you, hopefully this will bring you up to speed on the franchise and its basic principles of play. First, a little history…
The original Munchkin card game was created by Steve Jackson in 2001, when it also won an Origins Award for Best Traditional Card Game. The humor is typical Jackson, very much tongue-in-cheek, but the rest is a high-speed playing card version of a dungeon crawler game ala Dungeons and Dragons. The only extras you need are some sort of counter that will reach the number ten, and a traditional six-sided die. Since the creation of the original Munchkin, at least one new themed version of the game has come out every year since, with multiple expansions for several. In a stroke of marketing brilliance, Jackson designed each successive version and all expansions in a manner that allows every single one of them to be mixed and played together, for a crazy huge variety of possibilities. Talk about replay value.
This is important to keep in mind, in so much as this game uses the original term “monster” to refer to what some might expect to be “villains” given that this game is themed around super heroes. No worries, they all function the same. The term “monster” was kept to preserve a sense of consistency throughout the series and to aid in the integration of different Munchkin sets, if the players should so choose. If it makes you feel that much better, go ahead and substitute the word “monster” with “villain.” I won’t tell.
Without question, one of the most endearing qualities of these series are the whimsical and satirical approach Jackson takes to the creation of his characters and the worlds in which they exist. Many of the cards are beyond ridiculous, however, if you have a soft spot in your heart for super hero comics, movies, books, television, etc. then Super Munchkin will provide you with a brilliant and generally hilarious take on one of your favorite distractions.
But let’s get on to the game.
Most important point first: all Munchkin games are playable with as few as two people, but you really won’t have much fun unless you have a minimum of three. That extra variable makes all the difference.
The goal of the game is to get your super munchkin, represented by you, to level ten. Everyone starts at level one. You can always go up or down a level, but you can never go below level one, which is good if you happen to really suck at card games. There are several ways to go up a level, but the general idea is “beat a monster, go up a level.” Or if you have a card that instantly boosts you up, well good for you, freeloader.
The game consists of two piles of cards totaling 168. Not that it matters at all, just thought you might like know how many cards you could potentially lose. There is a Door pile (94 cards) and a Treasure pile (64 cards). Can you guess which is which?
Each player gets two cards from each deck… and the game is on. During a player’s turn, there are a total of four different phases. They are:
1) Open A Door – That means the player turns over the top card of the door pile. If it’s a Monster, it must be fought immediately, unless the player has a card in his hand that may free him from such an obligation. Only a pussy would do such a thing. If the card is a Trap, it applies immediately and is discarded. Any other card may be either taken into the player’s hand or played immediately.
2) Look For Trouble – If the player did NOT find a monster behind the door, that player may play one from his hand (if he has one) and fight it accordingly. Probably not a great idea to voluntarily fight a monster you can’t beat.
3) Loot The Room – If you defeated a monster, then you get to take the number of Treasures shown on the Monster card. If you met a monster, but ran away, of course you can’t have any treasure. If you met a monster that was friendly to you, or you met no one, you get no treasures, however, you do get to draw one card from the Door pile.
4) Charity – At the end of your turn, if you have more than five cards in your hand, you must give the extras away to the player with the lowest level. If two players are tied for awful, then try to divide them between the two, or just throw the pile on the floor and watch the miserable scavengers fight over the scraps. It’s up to you.
Each round continues in this fashion until one player reaches level ten. The only stipulation to attaining the final level is that it must be done by defeating a monster, not by an auto-level up card. Beyond that, the various types of cards essentially all work to the same end: add power to your super munchkin to try and trump whatever horrible monster may be lurking behind the next door.
Below are a few cards types. Shown are a Class card (Techno… there are three others), an Origin card (allows for the addition of Powers), and a Power card. These can be compounded, but they can also be lost, and not all powers apply to all classes. You’ll need to watch your cards carefully to make sure you have the right kind for your munchkin.
Shown here are couple of monsters. You’ll notice Literary Lass, the librarian is a paltry level six, but well-endowed. Meanwhile, her contemporary, Goopflinger, is a more average level ten. The monsters become quite powerful, which is why you’ll want to save those Origin and Power cards shown above.
Similar to Monster cards, in that they must be addressed immediately, Trap cards can make for a quick shift of fortune. Additionally, there are a few cards that can throw a total wrench in the game, like Plot Device. Generally, these cards operate with total disregard to whatever just happened, essentially wiping the latest transactions from the game. The best part is that the card essentially has those very words printed on it. Frustrating, hilarious, and perfect for the munchkin vibe.
Some powers are even based on gender, which is determined by YOUR gender. Imagine Hilden’s surprise when I played a card that CHANGED his gender. Permanently. It was awesome, and his wife thought it was cute. That was hot. Check out these cards:
Below are a few additional cards. The first is a Go Up A Level card, pretty self-explanatory, I should hope. The second is a Sidekick card, which you will see has a bonus to your strength. Doctor Deathbreath is an especially powerful, and mean-spirited monster. Some cards can even double the power of a monster, so you’ll really want to stock up on as many extras as you can find. And finally, the Utility Girdle is an Item card, of which you can carry and equip several, adding even more bulk to your total strength number. That number, by the way, is your current level plus the sum of all your extra powers, items, sidekicks, etc.
Like most of the other Munchkin games, Super Munchkin also has an accompanying expansion set called Super Munchkin 2: The Narrow S Cape…. *wink, wink*
Super Munchkin 2: The Narrow S Cape
(this is an expansion, not a stand-alone game)
Here are a few samples of the kind of cards you will find in The Narrow S Cape. Notice the red, narrow, ‘s’ cape on the bottom of the card. This is both helpful, when sorting the expansion cards from the original, and clever, like your great-aunt Flo. She’s a sharp one, that Flo.
The first go around may take a little while to learn, perhaps double the time, but stick with it. Once you understand the rules and flow of the game, it starts to play itself relatively quickly. Due to the large quantity, and wide variety of card types, no two games will ever be alike. Full of relatively clean humor and a bit of satire for those who know its source, Super Munchkin and all its Munchkin cousins are a highly recommended purchase that will last you as long as you can keep the cards in one piece.
For those interested, listed below are all the Munchkin games and their expansions:
Munchkin – original game
Unnatural Axe – expansion to Munchkin
Clerical Errors – 2nd expansion to Munchkin
The Need for Steed – 3rd expansion to Munchkin
De-Ranged – 4th expansion to Munchkin
Demented Dungeons – 5th expansion to Munchkin
Star Munchkin – 2nd themed stand-alone game (Star Wars/Star Trek)
The Clown Wars – expansion to Star Munchkin
Munchkin Fu – 3rd stand-alone themed game (martial arts)
Monky Business – expansion to Munchkin Fu
Munchkin Bites – 4th stand-alone themed game (horror)
Pants Macabre – expansion to Munchkin Bites
Super Munchkin – 5th stand-alone themed game (super heroes)
The Narrow S Cape – expansion to Super Munchkin
Munchkin Impossible – 6th stand-alone themed game (secret agent)
Munchkin Cthulhu – 7th stand-alone themed game (Lovecraft’s/Mythos)
Call of Cowthulhu – expansion to Munchkin Cthulhu
The Unspeakable Vault – 2nd expansion to Munchkin Cthulhu
The Good, The Bad, And The Munchkin – 8th stand-alone themed game (western)
Munchkin Booty – 9th stand-alone themed game (pirates)
Munchkin Blender – general expansion to the game