Board game analysis

Hello everyone. This week in advanced game design, we have been tasked with analyzing a board game that we got to choose ourselves in each group. Our group chose the card game Munchkin: Pathfinder.

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Core system

The game is made for playing with up to six people, where the goal is to gather loot, kill monsters and race to level 10 to win. In the game, there is no kind of game board to place units, characters etc. There are only the different cards that are given out at the start of the game, and those that you get to pick up at the start of every round. The different cards that exists are the treasure and door cards. The door cards can have everything from monsters, loot, faction, classes or curses on them, while the treasures can contain enhancements or level up bonuses and more, more on the cards later in the analysis. there are a total of 167 + 15 cards and a six sided dice in the version we were playing. These cards are what the game revolves around, and socializing of course, but picking cards serve as a tool for the player to move forward in the game.

Most interesting system

I think that the class/faction system is the most interesting one in this game, since it opens so many ways to change tactics and play it your own way. It is a good way to spice things up and makes for some interesting combinations and plays.

The good

This game is not complicated, easy to learn and does not need a lot of space to be played.  The greatest thing about the game is how it can make bring out the wackiest and mean sides to people when they play it. One second they all help each other trying to survive, the other they will all skillfully plot how to prevent the leading player to get to level 10 and win. This is not seen in a lot of games, and is very refreshing not needing to have strict rules and complicated systems.

The fact that the humongous imbalance in this game becomes the balance in itself since no one really has an advantage over the other. Creates a really fun and varied game session each time you play.

The bad

The game has quite some flaws when it comes to rules. While this is one of the aspects that make the game, it can sometimes become a hindrance, for instance when 5 different players decide to stop the leading player from winning and pooling all their cards into the play field. There is only chaos when this happens and often becomes very tedious and annoying to keep track of every card that gets thrown into play, how much damage one thing has, and how much damage that takes away etc. This also creates a lot of chances for cheating, while allowed if no one actually sees you doing it. It is still not as fun when resorting to cheating.

For a first timer, the game can be a little overwhelming with all the different cards that make sense for only the initiated players. This causes the game when having new players very slow and painstakingly boring at times, because one is needed to explain every card there is and how they work in what situation. Because of this, it is always good to have someone that played and know munchkin well enough to give them a crash course on how it works.

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The cards

There are a a lot of different cards in the game, which can give the player buffs, debuffs, etc. These are the different card types:

Door

The door card is the core card along with the treasure card, while not doing anything  specific in itself. It is the card that every player has to pick on their turn, this is called “Kicking in the door” These cards contain monsters and other pleasant, or less so, items.

Treasure

Whenever a player manages to slay a monster, they will get to grab all the loot that the monster had in their room. This is simulated by taking the x amounts of treasure cards equivalent of how many treasures the monster left behind.

Weapon

These cards increase the players damage and will be their main source of damage, weapon damage is put on top of the player level.

Monster

The monsters are the only hazards in the game that can actually kill the player. These beasts have different levels and will try to kill or just give the player “bad stuff” which is what happens when a player loses to a monster, and death is one of these bad things that may happen.

Level up

These cards do exactly what it says on the tin, it gives the player a level and then disappears.

Curses

These cards will put different debuffs on the player that stumbles upon these cards, curses can only be cured by specific items or by filling certain conditions of the curse.

Class/Faction

Faction/Class cards give the player a permanent boost or skill, for instance a pathfinder. They can sneak a peek on the two top lying door cards before kicking in the door, and then pick whichever he/she wants to open.

Other

There are general buff or debuff cards, these all range from tossing a monster to another player, forcing someone to change class or just making the dice land in whatever position you want and so on.

A general playthrough

A normal game of munchkin can take up to 40 minutes or even 20 if things go fast.

A round always starts with every participating player taking four treasure and door cards to their hands. From here, people start to kick in doors to hopefully get good door cards or maybe even fight a monster to get treasure. At this point of the game, everyone will most likely offer their help to anyone fighting a powerful monster, hoping to get  a slice of the loot for themselves. This usually goes on until one or more player has managed to acquire good enough gear to fight most monsters, this way the player can get levels easier than before. This is when players start to plot against each other, since making it to level 10 first is the goal of the game. Curses will be thrown and they will try to buff the monsters that the winning player is facing, Throwing in everything they have been saving the whole game. Most of the times the player will be forced to retreat, not getting any levels or loot. This gives a new player an opening to win the game, since the one in the lead now has to wait for his/her turn again. This is how it goes around and around, most likely until everyone has run out of curses and monster buffs to throw at the opposition. It is madness at its best in my opinion.

Target audience.

Munchkin being a very humorous and social game, I think that the target audience for this game are the people that like to play boardgames in general, and like to socialize and have a good time. And even though the box recommends this for kids age 10 and above, I would say that it would be more fitting for a bit older kids. I say this because one can get the full experience of munchkin if you get all the hidden references and weird humour, which just adds to the whole experience. While still playable by 10 year olds no doubt, I still don’t think they would get all the jokes, which in my opinion, is one of the best parts of the game.

Summary

To summarize this, munchkin is a great casual card game, fit for people that are not too used to the genre and to those who are. It might even serve as a good stepping stone to get into role playing games, since it has the social elements of one. As mentioned, the game is very dependent on its social aspects, where the player make the game. The cards and dice, are just tools for you to make your own wacky adventure through dungeons with your munchkins, and without these social aspects, the game would be pretty bland. The rules of this game are very blurry, and sometimes nonexistent, where once again the social aspect kicks in, where the players get to talk and get to some kind of mutual agreement on how it works. This can get really tedious at times, where players have to stop their game flow, to sometimes discuss really small things, that almost do not matter. Thanks to the social aspect once again, the game will keep being interesting, even after playing it several times. This is thanks to the wide variety of cards including armors, weapons and even monsters, this will make sure you never get the same things all the time, and makes up for interesting combinations, tactics and even some depth. And considering how simple the game is in itself, that is pretty impressive design in my opinion.

The balance of this game is not good at all, there are right out broken things in the game, but this is just another aspect of the game, since the major imbalance of everything kind of balances itself out, because if everyone has access to the same thing, everyone will be just as broken as everyone else.

Munchkin is a very unique game that i recommend to everyone if they have not already played it. It is a total blast and fun to play. So gather up some friends, play the game, and betray all of them! All for the sake of loot and victory.

Until next time!

Cheers.

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “Board game analysis

  1. Hi,

    well this is an interesting and informative post about munchkin – pathfinder edition.
    I had a few things I would love to go over with you if you do not mind.

    “The game is made for playing with up to six people, where the goal is to gather loot, kill monsters and race to level 10 to win.”

    very good description of the game. you follow it with:

    “In the game, there is no kind of game board to place units, characters etc.”

    which would have been better suited in its on headline named “The boardgame” rather than “Core System”.

    So we leave that and jump to the end of this paragraph and you say:

    “but picking cards serve as a tool for the player to move forward in the game.”

    This is more relevant, you explained before the two different cards that exist and the single die.
    The rest are some rules of engagement and the rest is decided within the group. Munchkin is in my opinion
    designed to be very balanced if you did follow the rules.

    “Most interesting system”

    I agree about the class/faction system. in some editions you have races which is almost the same thing. You
    cannot stop being a race unless you change it with another, same with factions. Both systems gives the player
    different bonuses and are allowed to be doubled if the player aquire a super munchkin or double life card.
    These cards allow either a class/faction with none of the downsides or two different factions/classes.
    The posibilities are so many favorites between the players will differ and so will their playstyles.
    It squeezes more dynamics into the game. I like the sentence:

    “It is a good way to spice things up and makes for some interesting combinations and plays.”

    “The good”

    “This game is not complicated, easy to learn and does not need a lot of space to be played.”

    This game is very complicated, not easy to learn and does needs space. The players need their
    information spread enough for all the munchkins(other players) to see and you want more space
    to ensure a better view during a battle. you don’t want 5 different curse cards and enchanting cards stacked
    it slows down the game so more space!
    The game itself offers many different ways to play and ensures you learn them after about two hours.
    That is a bit above average making yourself sure that you can play munchkin with other moderate players ensures
    a summer or work. So I would rather say

    -A complex game with many easy to learn, hard to master systems, make sure you have space.

    But I did not write this, you did.

    The conclusion of everything being imba and the game is balanced because of the inbalance is a good point.
    As a munchkin there are so many extremely powerful cards such as tripple you attack damage, curse a fellow
    munchkin with a bad stuff(what happens if you fail to escape a monster) from a monster in the discard pile
    that reads

    “You are dead.”

  2. The game offers all these different cards and put restrictions with cheating tips in the manual.
    You are suppose to bribe your friends into killing this monster for you, you need to trade cards in order to
    win and not just item cards in play which is the only one possible. The game almost tricks the goody two shoes
    munchkins to make sure the one that sells their soul to the devil wins. I usually enjoy that
    and I believe it is the best system in munchkin.

    “The game has quite some flaws when it comes to rules.
    While this is one of the aspects that make the game,
    it can sometimes become a hindrance,
    for instance when 5 different players decide to stop
    the leading player from winning and pooling all their cards into the play field.
    There is only chaos when this happens and often becomes very tedious and annoying
    to keep track of every card that gets thrown into play,
    how much damage one thing has,
    and how much damage that takes away etc.
    This also creates a lot of chances for cheating,
    while allowed if no one actually sees you doing it.
    It is still not as fun when resorting to cheating.”

    I disagree. The rules of the game are so few they rival other card games like poker!
    The main difference with those card games are that the cards bend the rules. They allow different actions to
    be played, all accordingly unless nobody sees you. This is what is so fantastic with the game, you change
    the outcome by enforcing the rules unto other munchkins and when nobody is looking using 2x two handed weapons.

  3. “For a first timer, the game can be a little overwhelming with all the different cards that make sense
    for only the initiated players.
    This causes the game when having new players very slow and painstakingly boring at times,
    because one is needed to explain every card there is and how they work in what situation.
    Because of this, it is always good to have someone that played and know munchkin well enough to
    give them a crash course on how it works.”

    I agree that the learning courve needs to be ammended but the social aspect you require to be playing munchkin
    is brutal. I recommend people playing only with people that tolerate you better than most. It is not a game
    for everyone and for the love of god only play with people you love(or hate throroughly).

    A small mention about Door cards being items. There is a distinct difference between a door card and an item card.
    An item card very often have a value(or a non-value) with golden background and are always a treasure card.

    “Weapon

    These cards increase the players damage and will be their main source of damage,
    weapon damage is put on top of the player level.”

    Equipment would have been better suited and it adds to your attack power which is your level and equipment.
    it can be reinforced with potions and other enchantments.

    I agree on the conclusion for the target audience. The game itself offers wide range of jokes and satiric messages
    like the stoner golem or the corporate goblin. It creates situations that likes the wacky.

    A very well written analysis. You mention the core mechanics, give your experience through your sessions,
    understand the social requirement of the game and mention it in your analysis several times. Just because
    You did write it I’ll quote you:

    “Munchkin is a very unique game that i recommend to everyone if they have not already played it.
    It is a total blast and fun to play. So gather up some friends, play the game, and betray all of them!
    All for the sake of loot and victory.”

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