Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Board game review: Munchkin Demented Dungeons

What is it?

Munchkin 6 Demented Dungeons is an add-on expansion set for the popular card game Munchkin, first published in 2001 by Steve Jackson Games and featuring superb cartoon artwork by John Kovalic.

Munchkin has a bold claim of an RPG game without all the tedious RPG stuff and it's a fun, family-orientated card game.  The rules are relatively easy, the humor never ceases to amuse and games always have some laugh out loud moments.  Stabbing your buddies in the back while nicking their treasure has never been so much fun.

The Munchkin base game is played by drawing a card from a stack and reacting to this card as appropriate; fighting monsters, using items, being cursed etc.  The card drawn is referred to as a door card and is an oblique simile of a door being opened into a dungeon.  This Munchkin 6 Demented Dungeons expansion pack takes the simile one step further by providing a vague description of an actual dungeon for players to occupy. 

How to play

The Demented Dungeon expansion pack contains 20 over-sized dungeon cards representing the various dungeons that players of the game will find themselves trawling through and 16 regular-sized portal cards that are to be shuffled into the original deck of door cards.  The instructions are on a double-sided page of A4 paper.  A dungeon card is placed face up to represent the current dungeon and this contains extra rules that apply to *all* members of the game, not just the current player. 

These dungeons are quite an eclectic mix and you will find such humorous places as the Dungeon of Mandatory Murder (level-upping can only be achieved by combat, Go Up A Level cards don't work), Dungeon of Foul Filthy Flypaper Floors (everyone gets a penalty for running away) or the Dungeon of Feeble Foes (monsters are all much weaker than normal).  It's worth noting that, unlike Munchkin Quest where the dungeon tiles are designed to be fitted together like a jigsaw to provide an ever-changing dungeon, here they are simply placed on the table and stacked on top of one another.  They are *not* a map, just a description.

Portal cards are used as a mechanism of moving between dungeons and while the descriptions differ between the cards, they all amount to the same thing of changing the dungeon.  When a portal card is played (either face up from the deck or from a players hand), another dungeon card is drawn and this then becomes the current dungeon in play.  In total deference to the laws of physics, players can appear in more than one dungeon at a time making for a slightly more complicated playing experience (but also quite fun)

Bad bits

It's hard to say anything bad about Munchkin 6 Demented Dungeons.  There are only 36 extra cards for the same price as say, Munchkin 7 More Good Cards which has 56 but then, 20 of the cards here are over-sized.  Also, if the portal cards aren't shuffled well into the main deck, it can be very confusing when a load of portal cards all turn up at once.  You can find yourself in more dungeons than a nun looking for soap.

In play, the extra dungeon rules are fun to follow but they do add an extra layer of complication.  We often found ourselves forgetting about the dungeon completely but that's perhaps due to our high level of experience with the base game.  Even so, Munchkin is not really that complicated to begin with so is not too much of a hardship.   It does extend the playing time and expect to add at least another half hour onto a game that normally lasts for about an hour.


If you like the original game then there is no reason why you wouldn't enjoy this and at around 10 pounds for the set, it is very good value.  It has all the hallmarks of a Steve Jackson game with humour and delightfully wicked illustrations by long-time collaborater John Kovalic and that, coupled with a simple mechanic extending an already easy game means it's another winner by SJ Games.

Don't forget, you need the original game to play these extra cards.

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