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Munchkin is a card game by Steve Jackson Games, written by Steve Jackson and illustrated by John Kovalic, that has a humorous take on role-playing games, based on the concept of munchkins (immature role-players, playing "to win"). Munchkin won the 2001 Origins Award for Best Traditional Card Game[1], and is itself a spin-off from The Munchkin's Guide to Powergaming, a gaming humor book that 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 12 different languages, Munchkin accounted for more than 70% of the 2007 sales for Steve Jackson Games.[4]


A Munchkin game typically runs about an hour, depending on how many people are playing. At the beginning of the game, "Everyone starts as a Level 1 Human with no class." and attempts to "reach the 10th level".

Each person's turn begins with the player opening a room (kicking down the door) by drawing a Door card face-up and looking for trouble. If there is a monster in the room, the player fights the monster. If the player's level plus bonuses from the player's equipment (such as Sneaky Bastard Sword or Really Impressive Title) is higher than the monster's level plus any bonuses the monster might have (such as Enraged or Buffed), then the player wins the fight, moves up one level (though some monsters grant more levels), and takes the monster's stuff. If there is no trouble in the room, then the player can choose to either draw another Door card face down (looting the room) or fight a monster from his hand (looking for trouble). To prevent opponents from achieving the winning level (9, 10, 11, 20, or 22 depending on pre-game selections and card play), players can give enhancing cards to whatever monsters are fighting the other players so that the monsters will win and cause "Bad Stuff" to happen to the player, or throw curses on each other (or have them happen randomly), such as New Edition Rules (causing all players to lose a level). Players can also use items against each other such as Itching Powder (making the player throw away any clothing or armor). Munchkin rules do not include a stack, which means that every card played resolves instantaneously, with few exceptions (which include the use of the card Wishing Ring to cancel curses). All cards may be played at any time, unless specified otherwise.

Munchkin is not a very serious game;[5] 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).

  • ¤at least until the last couple of rounds or so, where over half a dozen cards may be played as players try to stop each other from gaining/getting to the final level, and the countering of that.

Card types[]

Munchkin has 2 basic card types, doors and treasures:

  • Door: These are the basic cards turned over every turn and include:
    • Monster: Monsters in Munchkin range in level from 1 (e.g. Potted Plant, Lame Goblin or Goldfish) to 20 (e.g. Plutonium Dragon, Kali or Great Cthulhu) and when a player defeats them they go up one or more levels and draw a certain amount of treasures, both depending on the particular monster and bonus effects. A player can fight a monster either by encountering it when kicking down a door, or by Looking for Trouble by fighting a monster card in their hand if they did not encounter one when kicking down a door this turn. In combat, first bonus cards may be used on both sides to affect the levels of the combatants and/or affect the combat itself (e.g. by adding monsters with Dogpile or playing Monsters are Busy to end the combat). Players can also ask for help, allowing one player to help them in combat. Helping players do not automatically gain anything from helping unless they're Elves, but usually players will ask for something for the help. Then, if a player's level plus bonuses (plus those of his helper if there is one) are:
      • Less than the monster's, they are forced to run away from combat. Running away succeeds if the player rolls a "5" or a "6" on a six-sided die, and fails with any other number (however, cards like Boots of Running Really Fast and Foot-Mounted Mace may affect running away). If the player fails to escape, then the "Bad Stuff" specified on the monster card occurs. The "Bad Stuff" ranges from nothing (Potted Plant 's "Nothing. Escape is automatic.") to annoying (Tiny But Advanced Creatures 's "They irradiate your pedal extremities. Lose your Footgear.") to death (Plasmoid 's "It burns you to a tiny, flaky, ashen, dead crisp. Then it steps on you. Then it laughs.") or even worse (Kali's "Die, die, die, and miss your next go, too."). One must roll to run away from each monster one is facing and both parties must run away separately if there's a helper.
      • Equal to the monster's, the player(s) will count as losing unless one or more of them has the Warrior class.
      • More than the monster's, they defeat it and they will collect any levels and/or treasures specified by the monster and bonus cards.
    • Curse/Trap: Curse cards take effect immediately if drawn face-up on the player who draws them, and can be used to curse other players if drawn face down. Their effects range from Squidgilator 's "Lose one level." to Dwarven Ale 's "-4 to your next combat due to uncontrollable drunken singing. If you're a Dwarf, instead immediately go up one level." Traps can be defused in multiple ways, the easiest being to use the Wishing Ring which nullifies any curse. However, Orcs can instead lose one level and there are items of equipment which also affect traps, such as the infamous Magnificent Hat or the Sandals of Protection.
    • Monster Enhancer: These are cards which affect combat by either enhancing or subtracting from the combat skills of a monster. There are normal enhancers such as Undead ("+5 to target monster. If that monster is defeated, draw one extra treasure") and Sleeping ("-5 to target monster. If that monster is defeated, draw one less treasure card") and enhancer enhancers (from Munchkin Blender) like Amazingly ("Target monster enhancer now gives an additional +10 to the monster. If the monster is defeated, draw two extra treasures.")
    • Class: Each player may have one class card in play at a time, unless using the Super Munchkin card, where he may have two, or the Ultra Munchkin from Munchkin Blender that allows three. Each class gives the player special abilities. If a player draws a class card face up, he/she may become that class. If they already have one in play, he/she may choose to replace their current class and discard it, or choose to place the new class in their hand for later. Class cards include Thief and Cleric.
    • Race: Each player may also have one race card in play at a time, again increased to two with Half-Breed and three with 1/3-Breed from Blender, or unlimited with Chimera. Each race gives the player special abilities. Races work like classes, except that if a player has a race card in play they are no longer a human. Race cards include Gnome and Mutant.
    • Helpers: There are various types of helpers like the SideKicks found in Star Munchkin and Munchkin Cthulu which allow players who have them to sacrifice them to escape from any combat and Steeds found in Need for Steed. Additionally, they can have other abilities, like Red Shirt 's "Whenever you win a combat, roll a die. If you roll a "6", Red Shirt gets overexcited and sacrifices itself anyway." Each player may only have one of each type of helper at a time, unless they're a Trader.
    • Other: There are also a multitude of other cards, some of which affect combat (e.g. Deus Ex Machinegun and It's Dead Jim, Take Its Stuff), some of which give players in-game bonuses (e.g. Super Munchkin and Cheat with Both Hands), and a bunch which just have weird effects (e.g. Annihilation and Divine Intervention).
  • Treasure: These are drawn when a player defeats a monster or by certain door and treasure cards (like Arms Locker) and include:
    • Equipment: Equipment cards give permanent benefits to the player who equips them. They can give abilities (e.g. Freudian Slippers) or level bonuses (e.g. Singing & Dancing Sword and Two-Handed Sword - which has two hands of its own!). Each player may have two hands worth of equipment, one item of Armor, one of Footgear, and one of Headgear (unless they have the Mutant race). Additionally, there are items which require no hands but give a bonus anyway (e.g. Cute Shoulder Dragon, which gives more bonus to female players than to male players and Spiked Codpiece, which gives more bonus to male players than to female players). Some items of equipment are Race- or Class-specific, and can be used by no one else unless they have a Cheat card (e.g.Mechwalker and Blessed Mallet of St. Eeeeeeuuuuuuuuw).
    • GUAL: GUAL (or Go Up A Level) cards allow you to place them in the Treasure discard pile in order to gain a level (they cannot be used to go up to level 10 in Normal Munchkin or to go up to level 19 or 20 in Epic Munchkin). Most of these cards can be used at any time (such as Bribe the GM or Shiny Dice... Spinning... Spinning...) but some have special requirements and/or effects, like Contemplate Your Navel ("Discard your whole hand in order to use this card (minimum three cards)"), Rewrite Your Character Sheet (which lets you choose a Race or Class card from the discard pile instead of gaining a level), or the nasty Steal a Level ("Choose a player. You gain a level. They lose one.")
    • Other: There are countless other types of Munchkin treasure cards which have a huge range of effects. They can cancel curses (Wishing Ring), retrieve things from the discard pile (Pink Stamps or Valuable Coupon), buff your weapons by adding extra level bonuses (...Of Doom ["+5 bonus to any weapon. Attach this card to the weapon which is now known as the {Weapon} Of Doom."]), or do any of a huge number of wacky things, like T Ceremony ("Destroy any card in play with a T in its name.") or Monsters are Busy ("Play during any combat. Discard all monsters involved in the current combat and any munchkin(s) involved in the combat draw two treasures for each monster discarded this way.").


A number of expansions and sequels to the original Munchkin game have been made. They're listed here, by theme:

  • Munchkin, (containing 94 door cards and 74 treasure cards).
    • Unnatural Axe, the first expansion (containing 63 door cards, 44 treasure cards and 5 blanks), won the 2002 Origins Award for Best Card Game Expansion or Supplement.[6] The Orc Race is introduced in this expansion.
    • Clerical Errors, the second Munchkin expansion (containing 66 door cards and 46 treasure cards), brought the total number of cards for Munchkin up to 392. This expansion introduces the Gnome Race and the Bard Class.
      • Clerical Errata is a misprint of Clerical Errors, containing cards printed with the wrong card back (e.g. dungeon rather than treasure). By popular demand, a limited public release was made. Enough units were sold to make back the printing costs.
    • The Need for Steed, the third expansion to Munchkin (containing 78 door cards and 34 treasure cards) was released in 2006. This included a new type of card, Steeds, such as a dragon, an eagle and a turtle. Furthermore, many new kinds of Hirelings were added. Rules for these new cards are also included in this expansion.
    • De-Ranged, the fourth expansion (containing 60 door cards and 52 treasure cards), adds the Ranger Class as well as some of the monsters from the European version of the game.
    • Demented Dungeons, the fifth expansion, added 20 double-sized Dungeon cards and 16 Portal cards for movement between them.
    • More Good Cards, the sixth expansion (containing 30 door cards and 26 treasure cards), consists of reprints from Munchkin Blender with new art and a number of extra cards chosen by polling Munchkin fans. The set contains no new monsters, races, classes or rules.
    • Munchkin Fairy Dust, the first in a proposed series of 15-card mini-expansions, featuring cards that benefit players who help each other. The cards are full color (unlike the other base Munchkin cards) with pink & silver glitter ("Fairy Dust") worked into the printing. [Release set for July/August 2009]
    • Munchkin Waiting For Santa, the second 15-card mini-expansion, with a Christmas theme. Cards are in full color, like Fairy Dust above, but with red & green "shiny ornament" enhancements. Features Santa Claus and various "Santa" monsters (a new monster type for the game), as well as new Christmas-themed treasures (such as Missile Toe, Fruitcake, and a Santa Hat that gives the player an extra hand). [Release set for September 2009]
  • Star Munchkin[7] was released in 2002. It is a standalone version of Munchkin, and is not intended to be mixed with other Munchkin decks unless you are "crazy enough to try". It parodies science-fiction in general, with an emphasis on the Star Trek and Star Wars franchises. It won the 2002 Origins Award for Best Traditional Card Game.[6] Sidekicks are introduced in this game.
    • The Clown Wars is an expansion for Star Munchkin. It introduces Rooms and the Bug Race and the Space Ranger Class. 20th level Epic Munchkin rules provided.
  • Munchkin Fu, another standalone version, was released in 2003 and parodies Asian martial arts movies. It introduces a new concept, Styles, which represent different fighting styles you can use. Munchkin Fu won the 2003 Gamers' Choice Card Game Award.[8]
    • Monky Business, an expansion to Munchkin Fu, was released early in 2005.
  • Munchkin Bites is the fourth standalone version, released in 2004. It parodies horror role-playing games, such as the games set in the World of Darkness universe, and horror fiction and movies in general.
    • Pants Macabre is an expansion for Munchkin Bites, and was released in late 2005. This set added the Mummy Race.
  • Super Munchkin is the fifth standalone version, released in the summer of 2005 and is a parody on super hero comics.
    • The Narrow S Cape is an expansion for Super Munchkin, released in the summer of 2006. The Brain Class was added.
  • Munchkin Impossible, the sixth standalone version, was released in late 2006 and parodies secret agent stories such as those of Mission: Impossible and James Bond. Besides the usual Classes, each character can have one or more Loyalties during the game.
  • Munchkin Cthulhu, the seventh standalone version, released in March 2007, lampoons Lovecraft's Mythos and the horror gaming that surrounds it, summoning classic monsters from outside reality.
    • Call of Cowthulhu is an expansion for Munchkin Cthulhu released in September 2007. (56 cards)
    • The Unspeakable Vault is the second 56 card expansion for Munchkin Cthulhu, released in January 2008.
  • The Good, The Bad, And The Munchkin is the eighth standalone version, was released in November 2007, and is meant to make fun of Western and cowboy-themed movies such as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
  • Munchkin Booty, the ninth standalone game, focuses on pirates and was released in September 2008.[9]
    • Jump the Shark is an expansion for Munchkin Booty and was released in March 2009.[10]
  • Munchkin Blender is a special set released in response to players combining the different versions of Munchkin. It is an expansion sized set of cards designed to enhance this type of game, in which a player could be an elven/mutant bounty hunter/ninja or a dwarven samurai who uses a lasermaserbobaserbananafanafofaser (that's four different guns). Also provided are rules for playing to the 20th level, also known as Epic Munchkin. The Blender pack of cards is not required in order to mix two or more different standalone versions together.
  • Munchkin Dice is a supplement which contains six oversized 10-sided dice. The dice are designed for use as level counters. Also included are 14 cards for the original Munchkin (Race/Class modifiers, most notably) and rules for rolling a Munchkin die for random game benefits.
  • Epic Munchkin is a set of rules for playing up to level 20 for all the Munchkin games. Players that reach the higher levels [10-19] gain 'Epic Powers' for each race and class (these powers are lost if the player is reduced to level 9 or lower). It is free, and can be downloaded from the munchkin website.


Munchkin has also spawned a couple of games outside the card game universe.

  • There are two role-playing games, both of which use the d20 System based on the Munchkin and Star Munchkin card games.
    • The Munchkin RPG is an extended parody of Dungeons & Dragons: the latter has "cantrip" spells, the former has - among others - "can trip" (foils pursuers with preserved foodstuffs), "can't rip" (reinforces fabrics) and "Kant trip" (induces hallucinatory deontology). It consists of the Munchkin Player's Handbook, the Munchkin Master's Guide, and the Munchkin Monster Manual.
    • The Star Munchkin Role Playing Game is one book, and includes rules for spaceship design and a new class not seen in the card game, the Farce K'nigit.
  • Munchkin Quest is a board game/RPG based on the original Munchkin card game which contains several different items, monsters, and references to it. It was released in November 2008.[11]


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External links[]

Free PDF Downloads[]

Video Instructions and Demo[]

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