Sunday, October 19, 2014

Munchkin Treasure Hunt

On Tuesday and Wednesday, my beloved Orioles played their way out of the World Series. But after those games, playing Munchkin Treasure Hunt lifted my spirits, even though I did about as well as the Orioles.

My helpers those games were my daughters. For the first game, only my youngest daughter, Sophia, played against me. Sophia is an incredibly cute 6-year-old who is truly smart though still new to reading and math. For the second game, her older sister Hannah also played. Hannah is 8, and a bit geeky as she likes both Star Wars and the Lord of the Rings, and, like her sister, is both truly smart and adorable. Their cousins, however, have spoiled anything to do with zombies for them, and both are scared by anything to do with them, even Sophie, who usually isn't scared of anything.

None of this mattered, however, since the girls had fun. Sophia beat me in the first game, though near the end, things got too easy since we missed the rule about a limit of two permanent items. Hannah won the next night. Both had a blast, though Sophie didn't take too well to losing to her sister. She isn't a great winner or loser. And Hannah, when I just asked her, liked that she got to fight the zombie, so no fear.

As for the game itself, Andrew Hackard tells the basic game play in the video. You roll a die, choose a direction, move your game piece, and do what the square on which you land tells you. If you move into a monster's lair or the entrance, your movement stops and you fight the monster in that lair, if you didn't go into the entrance. The game board has little in the way of writing, making it easy for young readers to know what to do. To fight a monster, you draw a monster card to modify the monster's level, then roll a die. If your level is the same or higher than that of the monster, you win and draw treasure cards. If you lose, you must run away. Whoever has the highest value from her treasure cards at the end of the game wins.

There are six monsters on the board. Two—the Witch and the Goblin—fight at 5 + the value on the monster card (which is always positive), and beating them gives two treasures. Two others—the Zombie and the Ogre—fight at 8 + the value on the monster card, and beating them gives three treasures. The last two monsters—the Troll and the Dragon—are the toughest, and give five treasures. The Dragon fights at 12 + the value on two monster cards, while the Troll fights at 10 + the value on a monster card + a die.

In play, I spent my time moving back and forth between the weaker monsters to build myself up. Maybe I was too wary, since my kids went for the Troll and Dragon earlier than I did, and they did beat me. However, most players will try something akin to my strategy, since going at the Troll or Dragon is suicide until you get more treasure cards.

Now, those treasure cards. Like in regular Munchkin, treasure can boost your level in a fight. Most treasure cards are one-time only cards, while a few are permanent. Like I said before, you can only have two permanent treasures in play at any one time, and if you run away, you must get rid of one of your permanent treasures, if you have one in play. Sophia says she that hates losing her permanent treasures. Almost every fight needs a treasure card to help you beat the monster.

The cards are small, and the words on them aren't big. The typeface wasn't that clear, though I had no trouble reading it, and neither did my daughters, to the best of their skill. This wasn't a problem for my 8-year-old, but Sophia, my 6-year-old, couldn't read the instructions on cards, which did hamper her when using cards like Sticky Fingers, which lets you play a one-time card and take it back.

The humor of grown-up Munchkin is there, just not adult. When you fight a monster, it is always modified due to the monster card, so you are always fighting silly combinations like a Snotty Witch or a Hairy Troll or a Boring Stinky Dragon. Kids like this better than we do, of course, but the treasure cards are just as fun. You fight a monster with the help of a Foam Bat or Something You Just Found Under Your Bed. And we all know the awesome +5 bonus that That Look from Mom gives is accurate.

Missing from the game is the cutthroat attitude of grown-up Munchkin, which makes sense, since these are kids. Any parent will know that we don't want to deal with a crying elementary school student because his sister played the Wandering Monster card with Tiamat just as he was about to kill the Lame Kobold with his Chainsaw of Bloody Dismemberment and get to level 10. There is a way to help others, though only with players whose pieces near the lair where you're fighting. I do think kids picking up full Munchkin after this will be amazed to see the viciousness, however.

In short, this is a fun game. Kids who are starting to learn reading will need a little more help, and there isn't any kind of messing with the other players, but otherwise, the game is what it says on the box: Munchkin for kids. And we know what fun Munchkin is.

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