Ghastly Games by Daphne Strasert: Munchkin Bites

Game Review: Munchkin Bites

Kill the Monsters. Steal the Treasure. Bite your Buddy.

Ready to fight the forces of evil? Whether you’re a vampire, werewolf, changeling, or human, you’ll need all the help you can get. Kill monsters to level up, collect treasure to boost your power, and reach level 10 before your opponents to win.

Munchkin Bites is a spinoff of the popular humor card game, Munchkins. The Munchkin games satirize role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons. This version follows the theme of monsters and horror. It is a game for 3-6 players and takes about 90 minutes to play.

Game Play Overview

The goal of Munchkin Bites is to be the first player to reach level ten. Everyone starts at level one, but players can improve their characters by assigning a race (vampire, werewolf, or changeling) and by equipping them with items. These increase the chances of defeating monsters you encounter. Munchkin Bites also include Power cards, which give your character special abilities (like forcing others to help you or letting you reroll the die).

You increase levels by defeating monsters that you encounter during the game. Each turn, you flip over a Door card to discover monsters or items behind it. If there is no monster behind the Door, you can play one from your hand to fight. If you kill a monster, you go up a level and collect treasure.

But when you step up to fight, know that the other players can (and will) get involved. They have cards and powers of their own that they can use to help the monsters kick your ass. If you want their help, you’ll have to bargain. This bargaining plays a central role in the game dynamic, forming alliances and breaking them just as easily. When the dust settles, you either kill the monster and collect your reward or suffer the consequences of defeat.

Game Experience

Early gameplay goes quickly; players level up and gain items with little resistance. But as everyone approaches level ten, things get personal. Players start all-out war to keep others from budging in the standings. Friends become enemies and people you’re close with will screw you over if it means the difference of a point.

While the arguments are real, Munchkin Bites refuses to take itself seriously. Most of the fun of the game is in the cards themselves. Each features art from John Kovalic’s Dork Tower comics with a horror twist. It’s a fun play on macabre themes. While anyone can enjoy monsters like the ‘Heck Hounds’ and ‘Were-Hamster’, Horror Addicts will get more out of this game than most (Bela Lugosi impressions, anyone?). The characters are delightfully grim and the culture references are reason enough to play on their own. After all, who wouldn’t want to kill monsters with ‘The Sword Of Beheading People Just Like In That Movie’?

Final Thoughts

Munchkin Bites is a staple of my own Game Nights. It is a fun, silly game, but isn’t for people looking for a casual game with no decisions involved (some people just want to play Sorry!. I’m not one of them, but whatever…). Gameplay is straightforward, but there are built in layers of complexity that mean players who are familiar with role-playing games will catch on more quickly. Don’t be discouraged if you’ve never played D&D! Munchkin Bites is a fun introduction to the essence of role-playing. Even when you’re familiar with gameplay, Munchkin Bites doesn’t lose its luster. The jokes never really get old and players devise new, monstrous ways to torment their opponents with each turn.

You can combine Munchkin Bites with any other core Munchkin games (they come in a lot of varieties), but Horror purists won’t see the need to muddy the cemetery with the riffraff from other versions. For more fun, consider combining it with Munchkin Bites 2: Pants Macabre.

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