Cards & Dice & Tabletops: Munchkin Pathfinder
With Apologies to Mr Steve Jackson:
Its dark. You wake up snug and warm but with the knowledge that as soon as you whip the covers off, it shall be bloody freezing. In one majestic movement you spring from the bed, launch down the stairs and grab a cup of coffee before plonking down in front of your PC. The PC goes to Calmdowntom.com (your favourite website) automatically where you navigate to the latest edition of Cards, Dice & Tabletops. You read aloud the heading “Cards & Dice & Tabletops: Munchkin Pathfinder”.
If you follow this up with “That’s nice but what the bloody hell is a Munchkin Poof finder” go to Paragraph 3. If you choose to respond with “A new version of Munchkin? Cool, wonder what the differences are this time?” Turn to Paragraph 6 now.
Munchkin Pathfinder is the latest themed version of the popular Munchkin series from Steve Jackson games. It is a card game for three to six players that gently pokes fun at role playing games. Each of the players becomes a character (what type depends on the cards you draw) and goes on a quest of killing monsters and stealing their treasure. You may also want to keep an eye on your buddy because there is only one hero in a quest and you best do what you can to ensure that it’s you. The game consists of two decks of cards, doors and treasures. Door cards tend to contain either details about the character you are or obstacles you will face on your quest. For example, you may have cards that explain that you are 1. An elf and 2. A mage. Both these cards will have certain benefits for you as opposed to being a human with no class (a player with no race or class cards and also a running joke from the Munchkin rule sheet). Obstacles from the door cards may consist of curses and monsters. Curses may cause you to lose equipment or worse whilst monsters need to be fought. Defeat a monster and you get to level up and steal its treasure, fail and you could lose everything you have. Treasure cards are just that. They contain equipment and valuables that can give you combat bonuses or boosts. The object of the game is to be the first player to reach level ten. You level up by defeating monsters and sometimes playing certain treasure cards that let you level up. Right now Munchkin sounds like a regular dungeon quest game. This is until two important elements are introduced; fun and backstabbing.
Munchkin Pathfinder progresses normally up until a certain point. Players will constantly level up and help each other for a share of a monster’s loot quite happily until someone reaches level eight or nine. This would mean that on their next turn a player could face, defeat a monster and gain enough levels to win the game. At this point players will quickly make use of the rule that certain cards or abilities may be used to help either another player or monsters that can join in the fight – now is when the backstabbing begins. Alliances are quickly broken and friendships shattered, as your once close friend increases the combat level of a monster to way beyond your capabilities causing you to possibly lose all your gear and maybe a level. But, turnaround is fair play as they say, and the game quickly descends into seeing who can screw the other over the worst. This element of the gameplay is one of the reasons that Munchkin will be one of the funniest games you will EVER play.
The other element of the Munchkin series that makes it a must play is the humour. The game pokes fun at fantasy games as well as the role playing games that I mentioned before but remembers that it will be role players and fantasy gamers who will be in control of the cards. You may find yourself in possession of the sneaky bastard sword or the boots of ill-gotten gain. The geeky humour is here in abundance with puns galore. In one of the dragon add on packs for example is a dragon named Smog. ‘nuff said.
Munchkin Pathfinder is slightly different from other versions in a number of ways. For a start, this is the first munchkin game that has not been designed by Steve Jackson. The reigns have been passed down to Andrew Hackard, the Munchkin brand manager. Hackard has been working with Jackson on Munchkin since 2009 so the transition is seamless. As with any themed version of the game, the race and class cards in Munchkin Pathfinder are changed to suit. The race cards have been replaced with faction cards. Now you can be a Pathfinder, Eagle Knight, Hellknight or Red Mantis Assassin. The class cards have also been tailored to the Pathfinder universe with choices here being witch, summoner, necromancer and alchemist. Without spoiling anymore of the cards, the humour in them is pun-tastic. Goblins are featured in a lot of the cards and they have gone out of their way to combine geek humour and references with Pathfinder mainstays. My favourite example of this is the Hobbes Goblin – simply brilliant. The cards also contain the regular backings which mean that they can be easily combined with the original base set of munchkin and its expansions to create pure dungeon madness. Or if you prefer to play solely with a Pathfinder twist and fancy additional cards a fifteen card expansion called Gobsmacked has just been released.
Munchkin Pathfinder is an excellent themed version of one of my favourite table top games. I cannot praise it or gush about it enough so I shall just say this instead: Buy it, you’ll love it.