a spiffy rules variant for munchkin

I'm making myself a little crazy trying to write a column about gaming, gamers, gaming conventions, and why they all add up to mean so much to me. It's not that I can't find the words but – well, maybe it is that I can't find the words. Or, more accurately, I can't find enough words, because I can sum it all up like this: "When I'm gaming, I feel like I am with my tribe."

Hurm. Maybe that's a good launching point, and I can get a little more in-depth from there. (Related: Damn you, Twitter, for making me able to say just about everything I want to say in just 140 characters.)

So speaking of gaming, when I was at RinCon last weekend, I played a couple of memorable games of Munchkin. One of them was an official event called Czar Munchkin that, as the name implies, featured a table of us gamers versus the official Munchkin Czar, who happens to be my friend (and editor of all my books) Andrew. Through some exceptionally munchkin-y behavior, I ended up winning the game, making my Munchkin Convention Play record a perfect 2-0. w00t. Go me.

That game was a lot of fun, and Andrew ran it as a Child's Play fundraiser (what a great idea, Andrew! Great minds think alike!) so we raised even more shiny gold rocks while we played.

The other game I played happened in the lobby of our hotel, where we tried out some variant rules that Andrew wanted to playtest with me and some of our other friends. I can't disclose all the different rules we tried, but one of the ones I really liked was announced in today's Daily Illuminator at SJ Games:

Rules Variant – Listening at the Door

We've been trying out this variant Munchkin rule and figured we'd throw it out for y'all to play around with.

At the start of your turn, draw a face-down Door card ("Listening at the Door"). You may now rearrange your items, do trades, or whatever. Then you Kick Down a Door (starting combat if there's a monster) and your turn proceeds normally . . . except that if you Loot The Room, you draw a face-down Treasure instead of a Door.

I had a great time playing with this variant, because it meant we burned through a lot of cards in a short amount of time (using the original classic set only, we shuffled each deck at least once, and I think we did treasures twice.) I have several expansions, and while it's fun to add new cards to the game, it's also a drag to end up with so many cards, you don't get to see them all. Playing with this rule means you get to see more cards, and it increases the chances of serious mayhem by some number you'd get if you rolled percentile dice.

If you're still reading, you probably play the game, so I think you'll appreciate this: Andrew was at level 9, and seemed poised to win the game, so the rest of us teamed up to defeat him. As it turned out, though, we were just delaying the inevitable.

Andrew was a Cleric, and went after me. On my turn, I looked for trouble, and fought (and defeated) the Floating Nose to get myself to level 9. Andrew resurrected the Floating Nose on his turn, and announced that he was fighting it for the win. We did the usual things with whatever cards we had left, and when it appeared that we were going to hold him off for at least another round, he played the Potion of Halitosis to beat the Floating Nose and win the game. It was delightfully silly and Munchkiny, too, because he could have just played the cards together, but he made us all go through our hands and gave us just a little bit of hope, before he dashed it all to hell.

Munchkin seems to be one of those games that really divides gamers into seriously polarized camps. I know it's not for everyone, but I just love it, because it's just so silly.

52 thoughts on “a spiffy rules variant for munchkin”

  1. Seriously Munchkinly indeed. Once upon a time, back when our Munchkin Set of Doom ™ only had about eight decks (instead of the current 13 or 14 — I can’t keep track) we took it to Louisiana where I was competing in GumboFest. We stayed with my brother the (then) Brother (now Father). Upon introducing the good gent to the game he promptly set about to soundly thrash us. Four of the five of us were at level 9 and playing hard fought to win. I was playing a Cleric and turned over Divine Intervention. My good Brother promptly thwacked me with something that snatched a level (out of the brand-shiny Clerical Errata set) and then proceeded to claim victory on the basis of *being* a Cleric, not just playing one. After some discussion we agreed that being a cleric does in fact trump playing one and granted him the house rule victory. He only gets the advantage when wearing his habit, however. :-)

  2. Wonderful story. I sent it to my friend Andrew, who is the official Munchkin Czar at SJ Games. I think he and the rest of the crew there will get a kick out of it.

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