Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Board-gaming retrospect: The Munchkin Debacle

We've all been there. Those moments that induce gut-wrenching blank stares, quizzical mania and even sympathetic grimaces, as if you're the person in the room next booked into nutty-geek recovery or nerd rehab. Some pretend to be in the know, they're usually the crazy fools nodding their heads in absurd bemusement, but,for most, it's almost always that 'WTF' look.

That was not the look I imagined when I called the boys over for a night of board-gaming. In fact, the invitations were fairly well received, with a level of hype and anticipation that matched even the stereotypical boys-night party. Except, this was not that type of party. The only chance of any scantily clad business was going to be a level 8 buxom Amazon or a dwarf warrior in leather armour. As for anything related to dancing around poles, the closest was an eleven foot +1 bonus pole equipped with a +3 for Elves 'Horny Helmet'.

Yes, we were about to play Munchkin.

Needless to say, I got the 'what-the-fuzz' look soon as I explained the rules. It was like dropping the microphone on your leather-sandled toes or trying to logically explain your way out of an own goal at soccer. Daunting, somewhat impossible. Like I said, we've all been there. And if you've not been there, well, eggs on you. The next time you kick open a door may you be cursed with a chicken on your head. But I digress...

Games night.
Boardgame - check, snacks, chips and drinks - check, ample seating - check. Rightyo...

The boys were noobs to the whole boardgaming ethos. For them, poker, monopoly, thirty seconds, dominoes and even a good old bout of scrabble was what constituted board-gaming per-se and the though of a 'role-playing' element had them scratching the heads and beards in utter confusion.

"Munchkin is a board game where the board is actually irrelevant," I expressed in my most colloquial of explanations, "It's a game where you kick down doors, monsters and generally back-stab your friends"

No blank stares yet. Let's hand out some character tokens. Somebody opts for being a girl. I just go with it.

"The objective is quite simple. You start at level 1 and you need to get to level 10. To get to level 10 you have to traverse the dungeon (I gesture to the board). To go through the dungeons and advance a level you will need to  be somebody kick-ass. To be somebody kick ass, you will need some of these cards (gesture to the door deck) and some of these cards (treasure deck). You will preferably need a race: Elf, Dwarf or Halfling..or Human as we all are now but who wants to be Human when you can have pointy ears right? *Snort*Snigger*"

Blank stares. The WTF moment just arrived.

I continue. "So, apart from race,you will also need a class.Think of this as your profession - like a doctor or programmer but instead of that,you get to somebody cool like a warrior, thief or wizard. Now you don't always get a class card on your first draw, so if you don't have one, then you have no class! *Snigger*"

Blink. Someone clears throat. (Come on, the class joke pun always gets to me).
"What's the dice for?" someone intones.

"Uhm, we'll get to that shortly, *panic*, then we have items and we have monsters and you kick down the door..."

"Do we kick down the door with these?" (dangles boots card in front of me), "No wait, these says boots of butt kicking...probably not for doors"
"Maybe a magic missile, that looks all Taliban-level insane"
"When do we roll the dice?"
"Do you guys find that Woolies bananas don't last as long as other places?"

Whimper. So this is what anarchy feels like.

"So how do we declare our race? Can we declare it now? Or do we need a Commissioner of Oaths?"
"Two days. Two days tops and those bananas are vrot. I guarantee you bro."
"What is the dice for!"

Okay. Time out. Smoke break, drink break, whatever. New strategy: Stuff the explaining. Just go with it.

So our first round was essentially a practice round up until level 5 for most of us and after that, most of everyone had gotten into the swing of the game. By the second round, we had two very powerful Elves at the table, one who managed to back-stab me from level 9 all the way back down to level 1. We had a clever halfling, who went into Indian shopkeeper mode and managed to buy his way up 3 levels, play some level-up cards and hit level 9 in 2 clever turns. We had the hapless Sam, with his cards all exposed, not quite understanding but strategically picking off anyone climbing too quickly with his vast array of curses and monsters. Then,of course, me - the mentor, tutoring the rest through the dungeon and offering moral support when those Wight Brothers got levelled up and duplicated to a level 42 monster.

Then of course there was that pestering Insurance Salesman and Level 6 Lawyer that kept floating from hand to hand but 30 minutes into our second game, after much debate on the longevity of bananas, a few more snacks and a round of coffee and hot chocolate and the enthusiasm levels were back on par. Sure we all back-stabbed each other with hammers and magic potions but it was all in the spirit of brotherhood and 'munchkiness'. We're now running a monthly regular, next games night is at Sams. Anyone bringing bananas?

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