Thursday, January 21, 2010
The Good, the Bad, the the Munchkin -- Door deck
Continuing my ruminations on The Good, the Bad, and the Munchkin.
In Munchkin-series games treasure cards are important, but it's Door cards that you interact with very turn. The very first thing a character does is open a door and, if no monster is present and none brought out of the hand to fight, a second door card is drawn while "looting the room."
Monsters -- 37 cards with nominal levels ranging from 1 to 20 broken down as follows: Five each Level 1 & 2; Four each Level 4,6 & 8; three each Level 10, 12, 14 & 16; Two Level 18 and one Level 20. I say "nominal" because 50 of them have bonuses and/or penalties depending upon the class, gender or other characteristics of the player character fighting them.
Discussion – Calling them “monsters” seems a wee bit odd for a Old West setting, but is consistent with the terminology used elsewhere in the Munchkin series. The names are mildly amusing, although quite a few of them rely on bad puns for their amusement value. Fully seven of the monsters are "undead" which has no effect in this game but may be important in a blended game.
Class -- 16 cards. Four each of Cowboy, Dude. Indian and Outlaw. Every Munchkin game includes class cards, if for no other reason than the opportunity to use the line "Everyone starts as a Level 1 character with no loyalty and no class. (heh heh)." Each class provides a couple of bonuses. A player can belong to only one class unless having a card that allows otherwise such as Super Munchkin.
Discussion -- The class attribute plays a larger role in this game than the typical Munchkin game because there are no secondary kinds of characteristics such as Loyalty, Style or Races. All four classes have useful advantages, although I think the Cowboy advantage of being able to win by reaching Level 9 might catch players used to the other games in the series by surprise if they’re not watching .
Trap! -- 12 cards. Eight of them may cause you to lose cards from your hand or on the table, one costs a level and one changes your sex. One has a similar combat penalty to changing your sex, while the last one allows players to gang up on you to play traps.
Discussion -- If encountered while opening doors, these can be annoying, but usually aren't too debilitating. With 12 in the deck they'll come up pretty often and there’s very little anti-trap capability in the game. But if collected while looting the room these may be useful to stop an opponent’s bid for victory.
Monster enhancers -- 6 cards. Two are +10 to the monster's level, three are +5 and one is a -5 penalty.
Discussion --There are just a half dozen of these, so their rarity makes them valuable. They are one of the few ways to foil a strong opponent’s bid for victory
Steed -- 6 cards. Previously seen in Munchkin’s The Need For Steed expansion these provide level bonuses and often some other benefit. You need one to use the Civil War Cannon, for example. A character can usually have one steed.
Discussion – Always useful, with six in the deck there’s a good chance to get one.
Munchkins --4 cards. While not a formal category under the rules, these all operate in much the same way, allowing the player to "break" the rules by allowing additional classes (Super Munchkin), items (Cheat) or class restrictions (Cheating Varmint).
Discussion -- One of the core concepts underlying the design of the series, Munchkin-style cards are pretty rare in this set.
Sidekick --4 cards. The “hireling” class in this game, also seen in Super Munchkin. Three provide a modest level bonus and another benefit while the Greenhorn can help you win a combat by sacrifiing himself.
Discussion – Useful, but playing a smaller role in this game than many others in the series.
Miscellaneous -- 9 cards. These provide a hodge-podge of benefits. All are one-use only.
Discussion -- Using these cards is situational, but most provide an unsubtle benefit like Medicine Show which allows you to cancel a card. Most of the cards are played during combat and help add a needed degree of uncertainty. Perhaps the most useful one is Mexican Standoff, which makes the sides even no matter what cards had been played before. This is a way to trump a bid for victory.
Wandering Monster -- 4 cards. These allow a player to add another monster to a combat.
Discussion -- Most useful when trying to stop another player's bid for victory, it's also useful for jacking up the potential treasure haul by adding a second weak monster to a monster you can easily defeat. With four of these available adding a monster is a common tactic for affecting combats.
The Good, the Bad, and the Munchkin is a mediocre entry in the Munchkin line. Like several of the later games in the series it shows some strain for trying to apply the Dungeon Crawl to an ill-fitting genre.
The game is a bit more dramatic and Munchkinly than .its expansionless stablemate Munchkin Impossible, with more scope for shaking things up with Wandering Monsters and other cards that can affect combat. In Munchkin Impossible players have relatively few options to stop a leader, leading to a less-than-Munchkinly end game. In The Good, The Bad, and The Munchkin it’s a lot harder to ensure that your winning bid will work – and that’s how it ought to be.