Tag Archives: munchkin

PAX After Action Report, Part One

PAX started for me, like it does for a lot of people, a few days early, when I was traveling to Seattle.

I took the train from Vancouver (for $38, you really can't beat it) and met a couple of other guys who were on their way to PAX. I introduced them to Zombie Dice, and we played several games, nerding out and making silly math and statistics jokes the entire time.

Upon arriving in Seattle, I spent three days with my friends Chris and Nicole, playing games like Mad Scientist University (a favorite of Nicole's daughter Kate), Wings of War, and Dragon Age RPG (which Chris designed.) Our friend Will Hindmarch joined us the day before PAX, and we had a nerd sleepover. It was awesome.

As I said last week, I made an effort to spend this PAX the way I've always wanted to: not really working, instead just playing games, hanging out with my friends, and recovering HP and Mana. Making a note here: HUGE SUCCESS.

Friday, I did my first signing in Bandland, where I was given the best Magic: The Gathering card, EVER, and then went directly to Console Freeplay for some L4D2 with my friends Mojo and Abby. We did a lot of stupid hollering and stuff while we played, which added a great deal to the experience. I also learned that Abby likes to let her health drop to below 5 before she uses a medpack, which is both hardcore and insane. After that, we visited Classic Console Freeplay, where I lost my shit upon seeing a working ZX Spectrum with my own eyes. I didn't get a picture of the small stack of cassettes with games on them, which is a bummer.

We then wandered through the Expo Hall, which was packed with gamers and exhibitors, but didn't really stop to watch demos or play anything. I was way into the booth design for Fallout New Vegas, though. Then it was time for lunch at Juice It (which has changed its name, but like Pink Godzilla, will forever be known by its former name to me). We ate our food in the Rock Band Freeplay area, and that was awesome. It was really fun and joyful to watch and listen to people playing the game, being encouraged by everyone around them whether they were succeeding or failing, and of course singing along. After eating, I saw a T-shirt that mashed up two of my favorite things: Wheaton's Law and Penny Arcade.

I spent some time in [ENFORCER]land after that, and then headed back to my hotel, where I played a playtest of Munchkin Zombies with my friend Andrew (Munchkin Czar), Logan Bonner, Keith Baker (!), @Stepto, and @thevowel, which was as munchkiny and braaaaiiiiiiins-y as you'd expect. One of my favorite moments was when Eric (that's @thevowel) played an IRS Agent Wandering Monster on Andrew, who failed to run away, which caused him to lose his most valuable item … which was called "An Arm and a Leg."

"Hey, the IRS Agent just caused Andrew to lose an Arm and a Leg," I said, "just like real life." There was much rejoicing.

When Munchkin was over, and Stepto and E went off to do X-Box-y stuff, Logan ran Gamma World for us. I never played Gamma World back in the old days, but I've always heard that it's a lot of fun, so I was super excited to give it a try. WotC is updating it, using modified 4e rules, and it was a lot of fun. Real quick, here's how WotC describes it:

Earth. After the apocalypse. Never mind the radiation—you’re gonna like it here.

The D&D Gamma World Roleplaying Game offers
hours of rollicking entertainment in a savage land of adventure, where
the survivors of some mythical future disaster must contend with
radioactive wastes, ravaged cities, and rampant lawlessness. Against a
nuclear backdrop, heroic scavengers search crumbled ruins for lost
artifacts while battling mutants and other perils.

This product is a complete, stand-alone roleplaying game that
uses the 4th Edition D&D Roleplaying Game system as its foundation.
It appeals to D&D players as well as gamers interested in fantasy
science fiction set in a bizarre, post-apocalyptic world.

You start out making random characters, rolling 2d20 to get two different backgrounds that combine into one character. I got Sentient Plant and Radioactive, then rolled truly awful stats (yeah, you get to roll 3d6 for your stats! Old school, baby!), so we decided that my character's name was Needles, and I looked just like the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree (Me: Oh, DAMMIT! Logan: I think you mean, 'Good grief.'). Andrew was an empathic giant parrot called Fluffy (he named his character before he even knew what it would be), Will was a seismic doppelganger called Dug Dug, and Keith was a Yeti mad scientist called Doctor [I forget, but it was hilarious]. None of us were particularly smart (average INT and WIS scores were 10), and we all lived in a bunker together. I won't recall the entire adventure, but some highlights were:

  • Introducing everyone to each other, sort of like this: "This is Andrew, he edits all of my work, and is the Munchkin Czar for SJ Games. This is Logan, who freelances for WotC, and made the Bard a worthwhile playable class. This is Will, who designed games for White Wolf, and does all the interior and cover designs on my books. This is Keith, who designed Gloom and Eberron. I'm, um, Wil … and I have really interesting and successful friends."
  • Keith getting a kaleidoscope, and then using minor actions the rest of the time we played to take kaleidoscope readings (Logan always gave him results, which Keith recorded in a notebook). 
  • Dancing with Danceboot '86, who had been modified to also be a guard of some sort. Logan did the best D-d-d-dancebot voice and c-c-c-chaacter voice ever. He was always r-r-r-ready to p-p-p-party!
  • Destroying the big scary Umberhulk/Manticore/Laser-beam-eyes monster fairly easily, and getting eviscerated by the little fucking Sonic The Hedgehog/rolling-needle-best thing.
  • Staying up until 230 with my friends, playing a game.

I'm sure I'm forgetting other awesome things, and hopefully the rest of the guys who played will comment here with their own memories about the experience.

My takeaway from Gamma World: I wouldn't want to play an entire campaign, because it's just a little too gonzo for me, but I think three or four
sessions (would you call that a mini-campaign?) as a break from my
regular game would be perfect. Also: Logan Bonner is a frakkin' great DM.

Upon realizing I stayed up too late, I moved my Saturday signing back a little bit, and went to sleep, marveling at how lucky I am to have such awesome friends, and so many incredible opportunities to do cool things.

Next: Saturday.

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.