Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Munchkin -- Treasure Deck

In another one of my running projects on questions that suit my fancy, I'm going to look at the cards of various Munchkin series games and how they affect play of that particular edition.

Next up is The Good, the Bad and the Munchkin, the Old West-themed game. Like Munchkin Impossible, this set has no expansions as of yet, and considering that the attention of Steve Jackson Games has turned to the Munchkin Quest board game, there may never be an expansion to this one.

Like some of the later games in the Munchkin series, the whole dungeon-prowling aspect underlying the game definitely seems strained in the Old West setting.

This will be a two-part post. First I'll look at the Treasure Deck. This won't be a card-by-card look but an overview of the cards by frequency and category.

Items (permanent) -- 38 items, ranging from +1 to +6 in level bonuses, plus four cards that are provide enhancements to other cards ( +1 to +3) and one Saddle Bags card which provides no level bonus but allows a player to have one more card in hand. A full dozen of the items have restrictions on who can use them or who are prohibited from using them (i.e. female, Indian, Outlaw, etc.)

Discussion -- By Munchkin standards the items are of average power. The majority are +2 or +3. Few form combos with other cars, but there’s one interesting combo involving the Sheriff’s badge (+3) which allows the Sheriff to require anyone wearing a Deputy’s Badge (of which there are two, each a +1), to help in combat. The deputy’s in turn, can ask the Sheriff for help in combat. He doesn’t have to do so, but if he doesn’t, he gives the Deputy a card. The +6 item, Civil War Cannon, requires a steed to be used. Overall, the items in combination can allow a character to boost his/her effective level a considerable amount. The dream combo would be “My grandpappy’s steam-powered civil war cannon with unlimited ammo” which provides a +13 bonus and still leaves a hand free.

Items (one-use) – Just 7 items, with a variety of benefits. The ones that give combat bonuses are generally +2 to +4.
Discussion -- There aren't a lot of these in the deck, but they provide just enough of an edge to make a difference in a close combat. It may be just enough to block another player going for the win. Thye oddest item in this bunch is the Cow Chip, which provides just a +2 bonus, but the other players get to dice for who gets the cow chip, with the winner adding it to his hand – and perhaps getting to use it in the same combat! A tie die roll destroys the cow chip, but there’s potentially an unlimited number of times the cow chip could affect a combat, which could make for a pretty wild situation when someone is going for the win. This could be the funniest card in the game with the right group.

Level-ups -- 10 cards. Six are straight Go Up a Level. One can only be played after the death of a monster to Go Up a Level. Another can’t be played by an Indian, but any other Gets a New Indian Name which can lead to some amusing banter. The last two potentially award two levels, but only if certain conditions are met (Killing a Level 10+ monster or after someone has discarded a steed), otherwise it’s just 1 level.
Discussion -- These are always useful, but 10 seems like an awful lot of arbitrary levels for the base game.

Hirelings -- 0 cards. In this game Sidekicks are in the Door deck.
Discussion – This class of card bounces between the Door and Treasure decks, depending on the game.

Loaded Die -- 1 card. Allows you to change one die roll.
Discussion -- Another card with no real downside, except that there’s just one in this deck.

Miscellaneous -- 9 cards. A couple of Wishing Rings that cancel traps and 7 other cards with a variety of effects, mostly beneficial
Discussion – These provide some more of Old West flavor to the deck, with titles such as Code of the West, Lost Spanish Treasure and Peace Pipe. Some, such as Quick-Draw (extra hand), are similar to cards seen in other Munchkin games, others, such as Fool’s Gold (which forces all treasures drawn with it to be discarded) are unique.

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