As its name suggests, Munchkin Warhammer 40k brings the 'Grim Darkness of the Far Future' to the classic Steve Jackson card game. However, the grim nature usually associated with Warhammer 40k is exchanged for the self aware, tongue-in-cheek humour that anyone who has played any of the many different previous editions of Munchkin will be familiar with.
What's in the Box?
Inside the Munchkin Warhammer 40K box you will find:
- Two decks of cards (the Door deck and the Treasure deck).
- One game board.
- Six pairs of coloured player markers.
- One six-sided dice.
Set-up time is minimal. Simply lay out the board, deal out each player's starting cards and place the relevant number of player markers on the level one space.
Older editions of Munchkin didn't include a board and its addition does not change the game in any way. It simply gives you allocated spaces to place the two decks of cards, their discard piles, and allows you to keep track of player levels as they move up the board.
How does it Play?
Munchkin Warhammer 40K (designed by Andrew Hackard) doesn't do much to change the classic Munchkin formula. Players take turns to 'kick down the door', drawing a card from the 'door' pile. This can lead to you fighting a monster, being cursed or finding a handy item. By defeating monsters you gain a level, with the first player to reach level 10 being the winner. To successfully defeat the stronger monsters in the deck you will need to gather powerful weapons and armour to improve your combat score.
The difference from other editions tends to simply come in the form of terminology. Traps are replaced with curses, classes are replaced with armies and tanks have been added as an additional form of war gear, but function in the same way as other weapon cards.
Engagement & Player Interaction
Munchkin isn't the most engaging game I've played. Players take turns and there isn't necessarily much for other players to do when it's not their turn, especially in the early game. Any game of Munchkin Warhammer 40k I have played has followed a similar pattern.
Players allow their opponents to do as they please in the early rounds and are willing to help out if a high-level monster makes an early appearance. The real game begins when a player reaches level nine and is on the cusp of victory. That's when the real battles begin as players throw everything they have at each other to try to shift the result of the fight in their favour. These battles can sometimes become difficult to keep track of as the number of modifiers builds up and you'll find yourself going back and recounting several times to be sure of the result.
The most important part of Munchkin Warhammer 40k is the cards, and they do not disappoint. Anyone who is familiar with the Warhammer 40k background will be able to take pleasure in seeing familiar weapons, armours, unit types and characters presented in the comedic Munchkin art style. I personally loved finding Roboute Guilliman, Primarch of the Ultramarines and Lord Commander of the Imperium of Man portrayed as a stern faced, yet cross-eyed, monster in oversized armour.
The rules for each card similarly include nods to their actual Warhammer 40k equivalents or in many cases, funny in-jokes that show that the game's creators had more than a passing knowledge of their source material.
Munchkin Warhammer 40K has plenty of scope to be replayed again and again. The random nature of the cards means that no two games will play out in exactly the same way. Though the cards may not fall for you in one game and leave you struggling to defeat even lower level monsters, the next game may see you armed to the teeth from turn one and blazing a trail through the toughest enemies the game can throw at you.
Different 'Army' cards can give you access to pieces of equipment you may not have had before and lead you to different strategies to come out victorious.
Final Thoughts on Munchkin Warhammer 40K
Munchkin Warhammer 40k has something to enjoy for fans of the Munchkin system or fans of Warhammer 40k, but preferably both. While it can be enjoyed for the well-designed card game it is, the real joy of the game is seeing how the familiar elements of the Warhammer 40k game and background translate to the Munchkin style. With no prior knowledge of Warhammer 40k much of this may be lost.
As Munchkin Warhammer 40k does not do anything to greatly change the gaming experience from other editions I can't help feeling that players without an existing interest in Warhammer 40k may find more enjoyment from a different version of the game.