Friday, June 27, 2008

Fluxx vs. Munchkin, where's the love?

It occurred to me recently that Fluxx and Munchkin have quite a few similarities, but one notable difference.

The similarities is that both are silly-themed light card games based on a simple concept that have proved to be quite popular and served as the basis for a seemingly endless series of expansions.

The notable difference between them is that Munchkin has a vocal legion of critics as well as fans, wile few people seem to give Fluxx much thought at all, except to play it.

This strikes me as rather odd, because the similarities between the games are such that most of the standard criticisms of Munchkin seem just as valid for Fluxx, yet Fluxx gets a pass.

None of this is meant, in any way, to suggest that Fluxx deserves more criticism, but rather that Munchkin seems over-criticized.

Both games are highly luck dependent. While there's certainly room to influence your chances in both games, in neither game is skillful or clever play consistently rewarded with victory. Yet Munchkin seems the one to catch the most flak for being a game of luck.

Both games might, at first blush, seem a little pricey for what you get. Fluxx, for example, gives you 84 cards, a small rule sheet and a flimsy box for $12.95. Munchkin series base games run about $24.95 but for that price you get a box, a four-page large rules set, a die and about twice as many cards -- bigger and all with original artwork. Yet it's Munchkin that gets roundly criticized for its price.

The expansions come in for even more criticism on price. But, while a typical Munchkin expansion gives you 112 new cards for $17.95, or about 16 cents per card, a Fluxx expansion gives you just 7 cards for $2, or almost 29 cents per card.

Both games are sometimes criticized for being rather stereotyped and repetitive in play, but this seems to be a bigger sin for Munchkin than Fluxx.

One wonders if the critics of Munchkin are really sniping at the publisher, Steve Jackson Games, rather than the product. Looney Labs, the publisher of Fluxx has been around for much less time and is pretty much a one-trick pony game company, whereas Steve Jackson Games is one of the oldest continuously operating game companies in adventure gaming and has had more time to accumulate more disgruntled barnacles along the way.

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