Sunday, October 24, 2010

Guest Review from Icons' Dan Houser - Munchkin Cthulhu

You know, Steve Jackson Games has been a fine purveyor of humorous and engaging tabletop products for years. My own gaming group in Orlando whiled away the hours playing classics like Hacker, Illuminati the Trading Card Game, and of course GURPS on occasion.

When Munchkin came out, I was only a passing fan of Dork Tower, but liked the gaming humor, and especially the illustrations. I understood the game to be about min-maxers, bad roleplayers, hack-n-slashers.

I was not wrong.

When you play Munchkin, you should know that your other tendencies, the ones you play up to when delving into a Byzantine plot for a DM in the world’s most popular tabletop game, are of no use. Nobody cares about your involving backstory, your character journal, or the history of your character’s strange patois of Elvish and Lower Halfling. What they do care about is what loot you have, how strong you are, and how quickly they can stab you and take your stuff.

They, in this instance are the people you considered your friends just minutes before opening the box containing the Munchkin game.

There are LOTS of flavors of Munchkin, the classic flavor, which spawned 6 sequels and add-ons, is fantasy. But oh, there’s so much more! Star Munchkin, Super Munchkin, Munchkin Booty, Munchkin Fu, Munchkin Impossible, Munchkin Bites, and The Good, The Bad, and The Munchkin – the western themed Munchkin Game.

But of them all, I was happiest to receive Munchkin Cthulhu. For several reasons: 1 – I got it at the Steve Jackson Games booth at GenCon, home of the original ‘Exact Change Dance’, and I got meself a nice little jig for purchasing Munchkin. 2 – This card based game is as close to playing the Roleplaying version of Call of Cthulhu as you can get.

As you may know, Call of Cthulhu is based in the Lovecraft Mythos of weird horror. The roleplaying game is a stultifying experience in terror versus survival, and holding yourself together in the face of sanity shattering creatures.

Munchkin Cthulhu makes a lot of puns based on the original game, and the challenges are MUCH steeper than in the other Munchkin flavors. Also, there are other winning conditions other than just reaching level 10, such as turning the rest of the players into drooling Great Old One worshipers.

The game play is much the same as the predecessors, players can look for trouble, kick down doors and fight monsters, but WOW, some of the monsters are too challenging to fight alone, I found myself allying with the other Munchkins at the table, even though there were clear advantages to working alone. Also, in this version, allies are more apt to betray one another, it seems because the ability to drop –Goth creatures (any creature ending in ‘Goth’, much like the ‘Shark’ in Munchkin Booty and others) becomes a need the moment one player pulls ahead.

This game is fun, and a Halloween treat for kids of all ages, I highly recommend it. Also, if you play it there’s a chance you could accidentally summon an inside out dog that leaps out at you from 45 degree angles!

Ftagn, y’all!

Dan ‘Alienmastermind’ Houser

Dan House is the artist and writer extroardinare behind Dipswitch Comics. You like Penny Arcade? You'll probably dig Dipswitch. You can follow Dan on twitter at Dipswitchdan. Oh, did I forget? He's also the artist for all of Adamant Entertainment's official Icons releases. Like the animated style of the book? You have him to thank.

Interested in writing a guest post for The Hopeless Gamer? Shoot an email over to and pitch us your post!

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