The Munchkin Mishap began, as Munchkin mishaps tend to do, years and years and years ago.
If you are not familiar with Munchkin, here’s a small breakdown: It’s a card game making fun of how a sub-group of players tends to enjoy D&D. I’m sure you’ve seen the type: those who engage in min-maxing every little thing rather than roleplay. Well, in the card game, everybody starts at level 1, kicks in dungeon doors, fights monsters, gets loot, the loot improves the stats of the player, the player goes on to fight bigger monsters, repeat until someone hits level 10. There are a bunch of cards that can help you. Cards that make you go up a level. Cards that give you better weapons or armor. Cards that give you better skills. What makes it interesting is that it’s possible to have cards that improve (or degrade) the chances of your (or a co-player’s) ability to fight monsters. You can throw a potion on yourself and get a +5 bonus… or you can throw it on the monster and make the monster get a +5 bonus… so, at the end of the game when many are level 8 or 9, someone who tries to reach level 10 will find themselves fighting a monster and then everyone starts throwing their buffs on the monster so that the game doesn’t end.
“But, Jaybird… if you have cards that make you go up a level, why not just hit level 9 and play one of those cards?”
“That’s a good question. It’s because you *CAN’T* hit level 10 that way. You can hit level 9 that way, but the game is set up so that the only way you can hit level 10 is by killing a monster.”
One last thing: on top of the gobs of expansions, there are also different *FLAVORS* of the game. Zombie Munchkin, Cthulhu Munchkin, Marvel Superheroes Munchkin, Steampunk Munchkin but our story begins with Conan Munchkin.
Conan Munchkin includes a card that says “Conan Helps Out“. This card says the following:
Play during any combat. The monster(s) are discarded. The player goes up a single level, but gets no treasure (Conan took it). Usable once only.
Now here comes the fight: can you use this card to win the game?
Some argued that the mechanics of the game are set up in such a way that they are trying to avoid the “play unblockable card/win game” mechanic. Some argued “READ THE CARD IT SAYS GOES UP A SINGLE LEVEL”. This argument continued for weeks after the game ended. Finally, the argument went, as arguments do, to the internet.
This post is on the Official Steve Jackson forums and it is written by an Official Steve Jackson guy.
This had the effect of ending the argument without really resolving the argument. In its purest form, one can appreciate the “you can’t just play a card and win the game without giving your co-players an opportunity to prevent you from winning!” dynamic. It’s about the purity of the game.
And when an Official Game Guy who doesn’t even appreciate the purity of the game comes in to mess everything up, he’s *NOT* helping.
Especially when the guy who played this dang card had, to this point, won *EVERY* freaking game of Munchkin and, finally, he was going to *NOT* win one but he played this game-breaking card.
So this argument festered.
And, well, at the gaming night, this boil under the surface of the skin finally popped when the guy who, to this point, won *EVERY* freaking game of Munchkin was playing with a group of people who, effectively, took his side on this argument and ended up winning the evening’s game of Steampunk Munchkin when, seriously, if it wasn’t for this argument things would have played out completely differently.
So… we’ve agreed to never play Munchkin again.
So… what are you playing?
(Picture is HG Wells playing a war game from Illustrated London News (25 January 1913))