Munchkin (card game)

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Game Cover
Old box cover
Setup time1-2 minutes
Playing time1-2 hours
Random chanceHigh
Skill(s) requiredStrategy

Munchkin is a dedicated deck card game by Steve Jackson Games, written by Steve Jackson and illustrated by John Kovalic. It is a humorous take on role-playing games, based on the concept of munchkins (immature role-players, playing only to "win" by having the most powerful character possible).

Munchkin won the 2001 Origins Award for Best Traditional Card Game,[1] and is itself a spin-off of The Munchkin's Guide to Powergaming, a gaming humor book which also won an Origins Award in 2000.[2]

After the success of the original Munchkin game several expansion packs and sequels were published.[3] Now available in 15 different languages, Munchkin accounted for more than 70% of the 2007 sales for Steve Jackson Games.[4]


In Munchkin, all players start at level 1, with the goal of reaching level 10 (or level 20 in Epic Level games). Players primarily progress by killing monsters, and level up every time they kill a monster. However, players can freely use cards against monsters and other players during play, allowing them to either assist or to sabotage others during their turn. Each person's turn begins when they "kick down the door" by drawing a Door Card face-up. A Door Card can be one of the following types: a Monster Card, which the player must engage by fighting or fleeing; a Curse Card, which applies an effect; or an Item Card, Race Card, or Class Card, which the player adds to their hand. If the card drawn is not a Monster Card, the player can either "loot the room" by drawing a face-down door card and adding it to their hand, or "look for trouble" by playing a Monster Card from their hand to fight it.

When fighting a monster, the total level of the player (and any supporting players) is weighed against the total level of the monster(s) to determine the victor. A successful player draws the listed amount of treasure cards and levels up either 1 or 2 levels, but an unsuccessful character must roll the dice to try and flee; players who fail to roll a five or six suffer the monster's negative effects ("Bad Stuff") or die. Should a player die, their turn immediately ends and they discard their hand, retaining their player level but drawing a new hand for equipment.

Due to the highly competitive nature of the game and the presence of rule-breaking cards, players are encouraged to use unfair tactics against others, to act mercenary to further themselves at the expense of others, or to use cheat cards to affect outcomes (such as fixing the roll of the die). Throughout a player's turn, others are free to intervene: they can passively buff or debuff the player or monsters to alter the outcome; play monster cards of matching types to make the battle more difficult; or offer to assist the player, typically in exchange for treasure cards.

A game of Munchkin being played, with coins being used to denote levels.

Other cards that can enter play include Items, which can be used in combat, Treasure Cards, which act as sellable loot and equipment, and Curse Cards, which apply effects. Additionally, players can equip certain cards (such as armor and weapons) to raise their total level and kill stronger monsters, and can use Class Cards and Race Cards to grant extra abilities or advantages at the cost of a balanced weakness; for example, the elf race can level when helping others kill monsters, but will take additional damage from disgusting enemies.

Standard games typically last around an hour, with the game ending once a player reaches the target level and wins the match. Aside from defeating monsters, players can progress though indirect means such as selling cards (with every 1000 Gold on the sum total granting a level) or by playing special leveling cards. Most games disallow victory through indirect methods, meaning only fighting a monster can win the game. There are a few exceptions, however, such as when a player uses cards which specifically state they override rules.

Variants, Expansions & Accessories[edit]


These are themed "box set" editions of MUNCHKIN that have been released. (The overall theme parodied by each set is after the title.) Each is a stand-alone version that can be played separately or combined with any other version for a more expansive game. Some of these have been released in Deluxe versions (which include a gameboard and movers to keep track of levels) and/or Guest Artist Editions (drawn with new art by artists other than those who originally drew them). Certain versions have been co-produced with USAopoly and feature "character cards" that grant starting powers and keep track of levels. These games are denoted by a "(U)" after the description.

  • The Good, the Bad and the Munchkin (Western films & "Wild West" History)
  • Moop's Monster Mashup (a mad wizard combines animals into new creatures)
  • Munchkin Adventure Time (based on the Cartoon Network animated series)
  • Munchkin Apocalypse ("End of the World")
  • Munchkin Axe Cop (based on the web comic)
  • Munchkin Bites! (Horror & "Monster" Movies)
  • Munchkin Booty (Pirate & "High Seas" Adventure)
  • Munchkin Christmas Lite (a smaller introductory set themed to the December holiday)
  • Munchkin Conan (based on the literary action hero)
  • Munchkin Cthulhu (the works of H.P. Lovecraft)
  • Munchkin Fu (Martial Arts & Asian Cinema)
  • Munchkin Grimm Tidings (a smaller introductory set themed to the characters from the stories of the Brothers Grimm)
  • Munchkin Harry Potter Deluxe (based on J.K. Rowling's Novels / Movies Harry Potter)
  • Munchkin Impossible (Spy & Intrigue Movies)
  • Munchkin Legends (Classic legendary heroes & monsters)
  • Munchkin Lite (a smaller introductory set based on the original Munchkin)
  • Munchkin Magical Mess (a "sequel" to Moop's Monster Mashup)
  • Munchkin Marvel (the heroes & villains of the Marvel Comic Universe) (U)
  • Munchkin The Nightmare Before Christmas (based on the Tim Burton stop-motion animation film) (U)
  • Munchkin Oz (based on L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and its sequels)
  • Munchkin Pathfinder (based on the role-playing game series)
  • Munchkin Rick and Morty (based on the Adult Swim animated series) (U)
  • Munchkin Shakespeare (based on the characters created by "the Bard")
  • Munchkin Spell Skool (a smaller introductory set themed to the students of a fictional school of magic)
  • Munchkin Steampunk (19th-Century Technomages)
  • Munchkin X-Men (a smaller introductory set themed to Professor X and his teams of mutant pupils) (U)
  • Star Munchkin (Science Fiction theme)
  • Super Munchkin (Superheroes & Super-villains)
  • Munchkin Zombies (Undead fight the living)


These are "add-on" sets not meant to be played separately, but in conjunction with the base sets of cards. These include fully boxed expansions (usually of 50+ cards) and "booster packs" (less than 50 cards). Some are set-specific, where others can be added to any set or may help combine game sets for an expanded gaming experience.

Set-Specific Expansions[edit]

  • The Good, the Bad, and the Munchkin 2 – Beating a Dead Horse
  • Munchkin 2 - Unnatural Axe
  • Munchkin 3 - Clerical Errors
  • Munchkin 4 - Need for Steed
  • Munchkin 5 - DeRanged
  • Munchkin 6 – Demented Dungeons
  • Munchkin 6.5 - Terrible Tombs
  • Munchkin 7 - Cheat With Both Hands
  • Munchkin 8 - Half Horse, Will Travel
  • Munchkin 9 - Jurassic Snark
  • Munchkin Rigged Demo
  • Munchkin Adventure Time 2 - It’s a Dungeon Crawl!
  • Munchkin Apocalypse 2 – Sheep Impact
  • Munchkin Apocalypse: Judge Dredd
  • Munchkin Apocalypse: Mars Attacks!
  • Munchkin Bites! 2 - Pants Macabre
  • Munchkin Booty 2 – Jump the Shark
  • Munchkin Booty: Fish & Ships
  • Munchkin Cthulhu 2 - Call of Cowthulhu
  • Munchkin Cthulhu 3 – The Unspeakable Vault
  • Munchkin Cthulhu 4 – Crazed Caverns
  • Munchkin Cthulhu Cursed Demo
  • Munchkin Deadpool: Just Deadpool (MARVEL-themed Booster Pack)
  • Munchkin Marvel 2 - Mystic Mayhem
  • Munchkin Marvel 3 - Cosmic Chaos
  • Munchkin Fu 2 - Monky Business
  • Munchkin Oz 2 – Yellow Brick Raid
  • Munchkin Pathfinder 2 – Guns and Razzes
  • Munchkin Pathfinder: Gobsmacked!
  • Munchkin Pathfinder: Truly Gobnoxious
  • Munchkin Legends 2 – Faun and Games
  • Munchkin Legends 3 – Myth Prints
  • Munchkin Shakespeare Staged Demo
  • Munchkin Zombies 2 – Armed and Dangerous
  • Munchkin Zombies 3 – Hideous Hideouts
  • Munchkin Zombies 4 – Spare Parts
  • Munchkin Zombies: The Walking Dead
  • Star Munchkin 2 - The Clown Wars
  • Star Munchkin 3 - Diplomatic Impunity
  • Star Munchkin: Space Ships
  • Star Munchkin: Cosmic Demo
  • Super Munchkin 2 - The Narrow S Cape

Non-Set-Specific Expansions[edit]

Generic Expansions[edit]
  • Munchkin Blender
  • Munchkin Clowns
  • Munchkin Conan the Barbarian ("Booster Pack" released prior to the CONAN Base Set)
  • Munchkin Curses
  • Munchkin Dragons
  • Munchkin Fairy Dust
  • Munchkin Game Changers
  • Munchkin Gets Promoted
  • Munchkin Gets Promoted 2
  • Munchkin Go Up a Level
  • Munchkin Hipsters
  • Munchkin Kittens
  • Munchkin Knights
  • Munchkin Marked For Death
  • Munchkin Puppies
  • Munchkin Undead
  • Munchkin Red Dragon Inn
Holiday-Themed Expansions[edit]
  • Munchkin Easter Eggs
  • Munchkin Holidazed
  • Munchkin Naughty & Nice
  • Munchkin Reindeer Games
  • Munchkin Santa's Revenge
  • Munchkin Tricky Treats
  • Munchkin Valentines
  • Munchkin Waiting for Santa

(more to be added) In addition, many Promo Cards have been released for the various sets. These are individual cards usually included with orders from the online store (Warehouse 23), available with special offers or given away at events by company & fan representatives (aka "Men In Black").


These are items that are Munchkin-themed, but not necessarily used in the main gameplay. Items so themed may include exclusive cards for certain games, and may also have in-game effects when kept near the play area. These include:

  • Munchkin Boxes Of Holding & Monster Boxes (storage boxes for cards)
  • Munchkin Kill-O-Meters (dial cards for keeping track of combat strengths)
  • Munchkin Game Boards (used for keeping track of levels)
  • Munchkin Pawns (used in conjunction with the Game Boards)
  • Munchkin Playmats (soft mousepad-like versions of the game boards)
  • Munchkin Dice Sets (both generalized and set-specific D6 and D10s)
  • Munchkin Apparel (t-shirts, polo shirts, cloisonne pins, etc.)
  • Munchkin Plushes (soft figurines of creatures & characters from the game)
  • Munchkin Card Sleeves, Coloring Books, Bookmarks and other such items

A full listing of such accessories can be found on the WORLD OF MUNCHKIN web page.

Munchkin Themed Games[edit]

These are games related to the Munchkin universe, but they do not follow the exact rules and goals of the traditional Munchkin card game. Some are card games and others are board games.

  • Munchkin Wonderland
  • Munchkin Treasure Hunt
  • Munchkin Quest
  • Munchkin Panic
  • Munchkin Loot Letter
  • Munchkin Gloom
  • Munchkin Smash Up

Munchkin Treasure Hunt and Munchkin Wonderland are aimed at children ages 6 and up, allowing families with young children to be able to enjoy Munchkin games,[5] while the other Munchkin-themed games are for ages 10 and up like all other Munchkin games.


An early review on RPGnet regards Munchkin as not a very serious game;[6] the rules make this clear with phrases like "Decide who goes first by rolling the dice and arguing about the results and the meaning of this sentence and whether the fact that a word seems to be missing any effect," and "Any disputes in the rules should be settled by loud arguments with the owner of the game having the last word." There are many cards which interact with or are affected by a single other card, despite the rarity of the two cards entering play together (such as the interaction between Fowl Fiend and Chicken on Your Head or Sword of Slaying Everything Except Squid and Squidzilla).

On BoardGameGeek the average user rating is 6/10.[7] Tom Vasel of The Dice Tower was critical of the game Munchkin feeling it was overpriced, had limited re-playability, and a poor and occasionally tedious gaming experience.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Origins Award Winners (2001)". Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design. Archived from the original on 2008-02-02. Retrieved 2007-10-15.
  2. ^ "Origins Award Winners (2000)". Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design. Archived from the original on 2008-04-15. Retrieved 2007-10-15.
  3. ^ "Munchkin home page". Steve Jackson Games. Retrieved 2007-12-23.
  4. ^ "2008 Report to the Stakeholders". Steve Jackson Games. Retrieved 2008-03-01.
  5. ^ Hackard, Andrew (2017-01-03). "Making a Munchkin Game—for Actual Munchkins". Andrew Hackard. Retrieved 2018-09-02.
  6. ^ Appelcline, Shannon (January 2002). "Munchkin (Capsule Review)". RPGnet. Retrieved 2007-10-15.
  7. ^ "Munchkin". BoardGameGeek. Retrieved 27 November 2018.

External links[edit]