Tag Archives: Munchkin

Chrononauts: The Card Game of Time Travel!

CHRON.Box-S_0What would YOU do with a Time Machine? Would you stop the sinking of the Titanic? Prevent the assassination of JFK? Kill Hitler before WWII? These are just a few of the possibilities in Chrononauts, the award-winning card game of time travel. To win, you must change history at key points called Linchpins, so that history transforms into the Alternate Reality your character calls home. You can also win by collecting a specific set of Artifacts, such as a live dinosaur, the Mona Lisa, and an unpublished Shakespearean play. But be careful – if you create too many paradoxes, you could destroy the entire universe!

We’re big Munchkin fans in my family — we have roughly a thousand expansion sets and we play almost every holiday when we’re all together. This past Christmas we decided to change it up a little with something new to us — Chrononauts, an award-winning card game from Looney Labs, first released in 2000. It’s basically a simpler Munchkin for history and time-travel nerds. Like Doctor Who? You’ll love this!

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Completionism and Board Game Expansions

So when looking on Amazon, and trying to finish an order (used to be for free shipping, now more from trying to round out a gift card…), I usually look back through my ever-increasing wish list of board games and card games. Good stuff – some we’ve seen on TableTop, some we’ve played, some that are recommended.

And then, just a huge amount of expansions.

Expansions to board games is a growing and exploding market. They tend to add a lot to a game – not only in terms of content and new stuff and new rules and options, but replayability. Suddenly there’s so much going on with the game – often a bunch that you haven’t experienced, or haven’t experienced in combination – that it’s always great.

Recently we realized – we don’t actually have a complete game set. Well, maybe for Miskatonic School for Girls… we got the expansion for that.

Miskatonic School for Girls - Holiday Break expansion

Though we haven’t played this expansion yet…

In other words, we have this whole game because it only has one expansion! That’s a really low amount for games anymore. So let me consider a few that we could pursue because we are close or interested – then I’d love to know what you think, or if you have any complete games, in the comments below!

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Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories as the Munchkin Video Game

I have been playing Kingdom Hearts 1.5 on Playstation 3 and recently started the game Chain of Memories which originally came out on the Gameboy Advanced. I never got to play Chain of Memories originally so it has been really interesting to play through it now. There are some aspects of the game that I am not a huge fan of, but the story is the tie-in between Kingdom Hearts 1 and Kingdom Hearts 2.

The element that is particularly intriguing (although not always well executed) are the use of cards. The cards are used to generate rooms and to make attacks. David actually points out that there are quite a few elements that are reminiscent of Munchkin and Munchkin Quest and in fact could serve as a great example of how to make a Munchkin Video Game.

Munchkin Quest in action! From this post: https://comparativegeeks.wordpress.com/2013/03/30/table-top-day-game-recommendations/

Munchkin Quest in action! From this post.

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Hellboy vs Cthulhu: A Storytelling Moment (and Stuff)

People play different games and they play for different reasons. Sometimes simply because they’re competitively-natured, sometimes it’s just to kill some time, sometimes to be entertained, and sometimes to be social. (These aren’t mutually exclusive reasons.)

Recently, my wife and I were over for dinner with friends, and we decided to play a game of Munchkin Cthulhu.

Our friends’ names are Chooch and Viv; I’m telling you this to make this anecdote flow. Allegedly.

At least one of those names is definitely a nickname. That would be Viv. Chooch might be a nickname. He looks like a Viking, so let’s just roll with this, shall we?


Everyone here knows how to play the basic set of Munchkin, right? If not, for a full introduction please check out Wil Wheaton’s YouTube episode of TableTop, where Wil plays the game with the lovely Felicia Day, the lovely Sandeep Parikh, and the legendary Steve Jackson – the creator of Munchkin.

MunchkinGame

If you don’t have 28 minutes to spare, I’ll give a super high level breakdown. It’s as if you were playing a game of Dungeons & Dragons (or the equivalent) but without a map or character sheet. Everyone starts at level 1. Each turn someone kicks down a door in a dungeon (not literally, a “door” card gets turned over and then the player might fight a monster.) Winning fights against monsters results in gaining combat levels and treasures for the player.

First person to level 10 wins. Often, everyone else in the game tries to prevent this from happening.

It’s GREAT FUN! (In this context, munchkins are not residents of Oz nor the delightful donut-holes that can be purchased at a specific donut shop, but refer to people who play non-competitive games in an aggressively competitive manner.)

We were playing the Cthulhu version of the game (Munchkin comes in many many different genre versions) so we weren’t elves or dwarves, fighters or wizards.

MunchkinCthulhu

This was Lovecraftian. (I hope I don’t have to explain Lovecraft or his literary creation, Cthulhu.) This version of the game includes 1920’s tommy guns, mystical tomes, and tentacles.

The particular gaming session with our friends was a typical Munchkin run: some easy fights, some empty rooms, some running away from Things Men Were Not Supposed To Know, some team-ups when it was mutually beneficial, and many occasions of trying to make the current player’s combats go badly.

Along the way, Viv, my wife Lisa, and I were turned into cultists (a character class.)

CultistMunchkin

We didn’t realize what effect this would have at the end. We cultists were just happy to have a +4 combat bonus.

Soon Chooch, Viv, and Lisa were all at level 9, so the game was close to being over since one of them was bound to win a fight sooner or later and hit level 10. (I was level 6 or something, so it was very unlikely that I was going to win.)

It was Chooch’s turn, and when “kicking open the door” to start his turn, he opted to play a monster from his hand to fight. This wasn’t some easy creature. This monster was Cthulhu.

CthulhuMunchkin

The issue was this: if Chooch fought Cthulhu and won, he wins the game. All of us cultists would lose. (It didn’t matter that we were cultists, we’d lose if we were professors or monster bashers or investigators.)

But if Chooch could not defeat Cthulhu, and was caught by the big bad… he’d be killed and his new character would be a cultist.

That would make everyone a cultist. Munchkin Cthulhu has a rule, if all players end up being cultists, all the players lose and the Great Old Ones (or Elder Gods, one of those) win.

Things suddenly got weird. And familiar.

I’d recently re-watched the first Hellboy movie, starring Ron Perlman as the eponymous demon with a heart of gold and a fist of stone.

Hellboy

Hello Hellboy

The movie’s been out forever, so if you’ve not seen it, I apologize for spoiling the ending where the good guys win.

The climax of Hellboy centers around the mad monk Rasputin planning on summoning something equivalent to Lovecraft’s Elder Gods (or Great Old Ones, I don’t want to split hairs.) He’s assisted by some crazed Nazis (as if there are any other kind) and has some leverage over Hellboy which serves to ensure compliance and assistance from the big red devil.

HBAndRaspWe’ll just say everyone is at level 9. Just like Chooch, Viv, and Lisa. (My level 6 movie analogue would be one of the dead critters, probably. I’m not even in this fight.)

Hellboy eventually turns the tables, the summoners are all killed, but there’s a complication. Hellboy has inadvertently caused the materialization of a huge, tentacled, rapidly-growing creature. That can’t be good.

Just like Chooch choosing to play Cthulhu in a bid to win the game or have everyone lose.

monster and hellboy

To deal with this growing threat, Hellboy allowed the nightmare to swallow him along with the belt of grenades he was carrying.

BOOM! Game over. Good guys win.

Speaking of games…

In our game, Chooch numerically could not defeat Cthulhu. Until he played this…

TNTMunchkin

BOOM! Game over (literally.) Good guys win? Well sure, since Chooch wasn’t a cultist, we’ll say he was one of the good guys. (He’s actually a great guy.)

As it turned out, none of us cultists had any cards suitable to help Cthulhu (and had we helped, we would have been risking a fate worse than losing. I think? Maybe?)

And this is why I like to play games. For all of the reasons that were outlined in the beginning, but also I like being told a story.


In ye olde dayes, my dad would eye me skeptically as I was graphing out a dungeon to be a setting for the weekend Dungeons & Dragons game with my buddies.

My dad did like games and he liked playing games with me. Provided that game was Chess.

His view of my awkward teenage chums and me rolling a lot of dice was this: random chance wasn’t interesting or worthwhile. There was nothing skillful about it.

(He also liked playing cards, but even though poker and its ilk are games of chance, they’re also games of skill. But that’s not my point.)

I didn’t have a good grasp at the time on why I enjoyed playing D & D so much and so I didn’t have a good counter-argument for my pop, but now in my wizened and enlightened adulthood, I realize that I wasn’t gaming as an exercise of skill or competition or just to waste time.

I was in it for the moments of storytelling.

Sometimes those moments came from the dungeon master and sometimes from the players. (And sometimes from the dice. I won’t be lying. We teenage DMs and players were clownish noobs when it came to narrative import.)

And even though the particular story being told to me by the events of Munchkin was a story I already I knew (i.e. the climactic plot of Hellboy) it doesn’t change the fact that my imagination was being engaged. I feel that I could have appreciated the story of Chooch, with his backpack of dynamite, fighting an eldritch horror with the fate of the world on the line, regardless of if I’d seen Hellboy or not.

hellboy1

This probably isn’t world-shattering news to anyone. I assume anyone reading this has had similar experiences where the turn of a card or the roll of a die has the emotional echo of a good book’s plot twist or a movie’s big reveal.

I’m sure we all have similar stories to tell.

This post was written by Patrick Sponaugle, who couldn’t possibly be wrong all the time. Hey, do you like Game of Thrones? Pat is my go-to Game of Thrones blogger. Hey, did you like this post? Also a great reason to check out his blog! Oh, and leave your stories to tell in the comments below!

Firefly: The Game – First Impressions

Firefly The GameWe recently got the anticipated and kick-started game, Firefly: The Game. We got a chance to play it a couple of times, and I thought I would report on some of our impressions. It seems this can be a fairly long game; we finally had to call our first game after two days of trying to finish it, over six hours. I think we were close to the end…

In terms of gameplay, someone remarked that it plays like Munchkin: you collect gear, upgrades, and helpers, to kick in the door, or do missions you have selected. Strategically, the game reminds me of Dominion. You spend the early majority of the game building up your deck – or in this case, ship, crew, and gear – and then at the end, everyone begins a race to get the victory conditions. Going too soon can lead to failure, and put you behind.

However, the thing that this game is most referential to is Firefly itself. Between all the various elements of the game, they invoke not only nostalgia for the show, but the feel of the show. The rules, the activities you undertake – they make it feel like you are doing the same thing Mal and his crew were doing, with the same difficulties. Unfortunately, this can be frustrating, as you deal with having to pay your crew while undertaking jobs, or when your engine gives out in the middle of Alliance space, with an Alliance Cruiser hot on your tail. Continue reading