PAX PRIME: Munchkin Apocalypse

Have you ever played Dungeons and Dragons? If you have, it can be a lot of fun. Granted, you have to do some homework, familiarizing yourself with some complicated rules. Don’t get me wrong, it does give you a TON of options…almost too many and to me, it seems overly elaborate and needs a lot of study to barely understand the basics. The idea of dabbling with AD&D scares the dickens out of me.

What if you could play a game with the essence of the fantasy dungeon experience celebrating its simplest form? Where each round, you bash down the door, fight whatever is inside, and move on to the next room.

Munchkin is THIS!

I wouldn’t call it is a “spoof” of RPG’s…it’s more of a sarcastic love letter. The cards are funny, very creative and at times make amusing references to traditional dungeon crawlers. The rules are very well designed and easy to follow. Not much harder than Monopoly. Warning! It is highly addictive and entertaining. Fun for everyone, fantasy geeks alike as well as people who claim ‘I’m not into that kind of stuff’.

I was able to catch up with Andrew Hackard of Steve Jackson Games earlier this summer at PAX PRIME in Seattle, and got to ask him some questions…Here’s the skinny.

BSR: For the people out there that don’t know about Munchkin, can you give us a brief overview?

AH: Absolutely, My name is Andrew Hackard. I am the Munchkin Czar at Steve Jackson Games. Munchkin is dungeon fantasy roleplaying without the roleplaying. It is a card game where you build your character with class, race, equipment, etc. You want to be the first player to level ten by killing monsters and taking their stuff.

BSR: You have different sets as well and expansion packs, right?

AH: We have Star Munchkin that is science fiction. We’ve got Munchkin Zombies where you are the zombies eating the normal people. The newest one to come out is, Munchkin Conan, based on Robert E. Howard’s fantasy novels. We are going to have Munchkin Apocalypse coming out in November, which is the end of the world.

BSR: Perfect timing.

AH: Exactly. Now, most of the sets also do have expansion sets. Like there is Munchkin 2 and 3 and so on.

BSR: Are all of the different types of sets ‘family friendly’?

AH: We recommend it for ages ten and up. Some of the cards are text heavy, the little kids might have some trouble with it. There are a few of what we call ‘PG-13’ jokes but most of the little kids won’t understand them. We encourage parents, if you are going to play this with your kids go through it first see if there is anything you think is over the line and pull that card out. Now, Castellan, a castle building game, is great because there is no text on the cards. It is designed as a two player game and takes about twenty minutes. You draw cards that give you walls and towers and you try and enclose areas and claim those areas. This is a good kids game, as long as they don’t actually gnaw on the pieces.

BSR: Can you tell us more about ‘Munchkin Apocalypse’?

AH: Absolutely. It’s the end of the world! The classes in that set are bloggers, scientists, militia and kids. If you look at any apocalyptic movie, that is basically the characters that you have. There is a new mechanic in “Munchkin Apocalypse’ which is a third deck of cards called ‘Seals’. And as the ‘Seals’ are opened, they affect the rules of the game. If the seventh seal opens, if you get seven seals out on the table, the game ends immediately. So, at that point your level doesn’t matter anymore. It’s the character that dies with the most toys who wins.

BSR: What else do you guys have coming down the pipeline?

AH: The big thing that is coming is Ogre. Steve’s very first board game design. It’s a two player war game. One player controls an army of hover tanks, infantry and howitzers. The other player has one unit, it’s the Ogre. It’s a giant cybertank. The goal is one player tries to stop the Ogre and the Ogre tries to capture or destroy the command post. It was designed first in 1977; it’s been around awhile. There have been a lot of expansions. And this spring, we did a Kickstarter project. Mostly to gain interest in the new edition and we raised over nine hundred thousand dollars.

BSR: Wow, just a little bit of interest…

AH: Yeah, our original plan was to print three thousand. That was it. We had almost twice that many preordered during the Kickstarter. Our distributors are now saying they want twice that many for stores. It was a successful project all around. We are hoping to get the Kickstarter copies out by Christmas and it will be next year for the other copies.

BSR: What is the size of this board game, it sounds huge.

AH: The box is enormous. It’s two feet by a foot and a half by about nine inches deep. And it weighs, 27lbs the last time I checked. Over a thousand counters in the game. It comes with five map boards. One of those map boards is the original board, the other four are designed to mesh together. You can put all of them on the table, if you have a really big table.

Munchkin Apocalypse will release this fall, with a price tag of $24.99