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Mark Dennison

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Review 3 games and receive a total of 40 positive review ratings.
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Munchkin Quest

64 out of 71 gamers thought this was helpful

Munchkins is a magnificent game. It has the perfect mix of comedy, strategy and luck all rolled into one, and one of the best gateway games out there. There are countless strategies to use based on the cards you get, and every game is followed by great laughs. Its also very rare in that once you have played the game a few hundred times and the jokes have got old (but are still funny), you still enjoy the game because of how great its mechanics are. But how does the boardgame version compare. Is Munchkin Quest a true spiritual successor or does it bring a different bag of tricks to the table?

MQ is a game for 2-4 people and can take anything from 1 – 4 hours to play. I would recommend you only play it with 4 players though, as many of the mechanics were designed with 4 players in mind, and you feel the lack of players with any number less.

If you are familiar with Munchkins, you will automatically feel at home with MQ. Not only does the game use the same items, monsters, races and classes from the card game, but it uses the same artwork for them as well. There are still the “Boots of Running Really Fast” and “The Shrieking Geek”. The effects of these cards have changed, however, in order to carry through the mechanics this boardgame requires, but the spirit of each one has been left in tact.

The board of MQ is built as you explore it. Every time you walk to the edge of the board, a new room tile is placed down at random. Every room is different and gives the player different tasks they can perform or inforces unique conditions on the room. Each room is also joined by a doorway tile at random which ranges from solid walls which you cannot normally pass to secret doors and open passageways. At any given time, there are many many different things going on, and the information can become quite hard to keep track of, especially when learning the game.

A typical turn in MQ has the player decideing where they want to go. When they enter into a room, they encounter whatever is there. If they reveal a new room, the room is created with a monster on it. Combat works largely the same way as it does in Munchkins. The player adds any bonuses to their level and if their level is higher than the monster’s level, they are winning. The big difference here is that monsters and players then roll a D6 dice and add the result to their combat level. If there is a small difference between you and the monster, the dice roll can change the result. You can’t play normal cards that buff the player or the monster after the roll, so the player has to see how much he is willing to risk on the roll of the dice. Certain cards and rooms can increase and decrease the amount of rolls you or the monsters make. If a monster isn’t killed it stays on the board.

Between each player’s turn, the monsters then move. A dice is rolled and the monsters follow arrows on the cards according to the colour that is rolled. This causes monsters to group up in the same rooms often, becoming a giant horde that the players will learn to fear! This creates the single most fun aspect of munchkins, and really reinforces the “Stab your Buddy” theme. Throwing your oppenents into Hordes is the easiest way to keep your opponents from gaining levels and ultimately winning.

On the subject of winning, players can move, on average, 3 times in a single turn. I’ve seen players get half way up to level 10 in single turns. The game would definitely move through at a faster rate than the normal Munchkins were it not for the many DXM cards you will collect throughout the game. These are the cards that Munchkins players would recognise as “Ancient” or “Mate”. You mess with the game and your oppenents, changing the results of combat and moving monsters around with DXM cards, and you never run out of them. The game hands you one at the start of each turn, whenever you reveal a room and whenever you kill one of your own monsters. This stops what some Munchkins players will recognise as the level 9 wait. You will start messing with players from the first turn, and you will never stop.

When you get to level 10, you have to return to the entrance tile, and fight a level 20 monster to win the game. Only once you defeat this monster can you declare that you are the winner!

So is MQ as good as Munchkins? It really depends on the type of gamer you are. There is simply way too much going on in this game for Casual gamers. It is definitely a lot more complicated than it needed to be, and I find that playign the game with casual gamers who love Munchkins can often turn out to be a nightmare simply because they struggle to keep up with all the rules. On the other hand though, if you and 3 friends can grasp complicated games quickly and get the hang of it, the game flows beautifully and is a lot of fun! This is most definitely not a gateway game, and should never be used as such. With a group of experience players, however, this is 2 hours of solid fun!

In short, get this game if you enjoy great depth to your games and love the humour of Munchkins. If you enjoy light-hearted games, or only play games very rarely as a means to socialise with friends, you might want to avoid this unless you’re willing to spend 4 hours glued to the rulebook.

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37 out of 43 gamers thought this was helpful

Killing monsters, Stealing treasures, Stabbing buddies! Munchkins is a game, and probably the only game I have, that I feel safe to pull out regardless of what types of gamers I am around. It offers something for everyone, great strategy, great humour, a good theme, variety and balance. But is it worth being pulled out at every opportunity?

In Munchkins, you can gain a class and race, some armour, weapons, hats and shoes. The descriptions of all these items are cleverly written, and the artwork is simple in its design, filled with genuine humour!

A typical turn of Munchkins plays out like this: A player reveals a card faceup and must confront it. If it is a monster, the player fights it. If the card is a curse, the player is affected by it. If the card reveals something that can be of use to the player though (like a new race or class), the player gets to put the card in their hand (or become that race or class).

If the player didn’t fight a monster, they decide if they want to draw another card and put it in their hand, or they can fight a monster card from their hand. After this stage, their turn ends.

Combat is simple, and no dice rolls are used. Most items give you some sort of a combat stat (the sexy leather armour, for example, gives +2). You add all these bonuses to your level, and that determines your strength for that fight. If your strength is higher than the enemy’s, you win.

Defeating monsters gives you new treasures from the treasure pile which more often than not, will help you get stronger. Most importantly though, killing monsters give you levels. If you reach level 10, you win the game!

Munchkins creates plenty of opportunities where you will not be able to win combat. In fact, more orten than not, you will not be able to defeat the monsters on your own. When this happens, you can ask another player for help to defeat the monster. This will result in deals being cut between you and the other players as only one player can ever help in any given combat. Sometimes the players will leave you to face the monster on your own in order to stop you from gaining levels and/or have some Bad Stuff happen to you (the bad stuff that happens is written on each monster card and ranges from losing a small item to instant death).

People can also interfere in someone else’s combat by making the monsters stronger (or by simply making the dissappear).

The theme and artwork compliment each other really well. But what happens when the jokes have become old and you stop seeing the cards for the funny desctiptions or artwork but rather see cards as stats. When the Chainsaw of Bloody Dismemberment simply becomes a +4 2 handed weapon, is the game still worth playing? The answer is YES! Munchkins, when stripped down to it pure gameplay mechanics, is an extremely solid game that works, and works well! After 200+ games, I still carry Munchkins with me absolutely everwhere I go, pulling it out in restaurants and at parties regularly, and it still sees the most gametime out of all the games in my collection.

Munchkins is a must buy!

Go to the Talisman page


34 out of 37 gamers thought this was helpful

The goal of Talisman is simple: Find a Talisman and get to the Crown of Command. The beauty of Talisman is that getting this simple objective done can happen in several different ways, and you are never truly safe! Talisman is enjoyed in the adventure that it takes you on. The random things that can happen can cause great laughs. You play it to experience the game, not to win it.

Talisman works while with any combination of players of 3 – 6, but I would definitely suggest keeping it to 4-5. It is possible to play it with more, but I would not recommend it as the game can take long enough as it is. The components are very high quality, and the artwork is excellent.

I would like to put a warning here, if you are a heavy strategy gamer, and do not like it when the luck of dice will more often than not determine the winner over skill, then Talisman is NOT your cup of tea. Likewise, if you enjoy games that are over in 90 minutes max, then be warned that this game is long.

A typical round of Talisman plays as follows:
You roll a dice to determine your movement. You can always move in at least 2 directions (at certain points on the board you can branch off onto different regions), and so you will choose which of the squares that you could land on would be most beneficial to your character.

Once you land on a square, you engage it. This could range from drawing a card from the adventure deck or facing a challenge printed on the board for that square. If you land on a square with another player on, you can choose to attack the other player instead of engaging the square.

If a monster card is revealed (or there was already one on the square), you fight the monster. Combat is very simple and involves you rolling a single die (with a few exceptions) and adding your modifier to it. Another player then rolls for the monster (as a house rule, the player on your right rolls for your enemies), adds the monster’s modifier, and the higher total wins. A tie is a stand off, and then there is no winner.

If you choose to fight a player and win, you may choose to either take one of the player’s life away, or steal an item or gold piece from the player. This can become especially interesting when a powerful item is out as the item can change hands multiple times throughout the game.

There are many different cards and events that can add to your character’s strength and craft (your magic ability). One of the main ways is in killing monsters. If you kill a strength 5 monster, you keep the card as a “trophy”. Hand in trophies adding up to 7 or more, and you can gain a new strength (this works in the same way for craft and killing craft monsters).

There are also multiple ways of getting Talismans, and getting your hands on one is never hard. Once you feel you are strong enough (around 10+ strength or craft for your character is usually sufficient), you make a way for the innermost region of the board. Brave the challenges there and succeed, and you end up in the Crown of Command. Once here, you roll a dice each turn, and depending on the result, every other player loses a life. You repeat this until someone else gets to the middle and fights you directly, or everyone dies and you win.

If you roll the dice (or die), and you are unhappy with your roll, you can spend a fate token to reroll. You can do this only once per roll though, so you will have to choose wisely. This takes a lot of the luck out of the game, and keeps the more serious gamers of our group happy.

Even though there is a lot going on with Talisman at any given time, I feel that the game is very easy to learn. To teach new players how to play, I don’t explain before hand, but just start playing and let them experience everything. The cards and board clearly explains how everything works, so figuring out your options available to you at any given time is very straight forward.

A huge positive for Talisman is how game-changing character abilities and cards are. The thief for example ALWAYS succeeds in stealing from other players, and has no need to roll. The Assassin is almost unstoppable, and if he chooses to kill you, it is only a matter of time until you are dead. The wizard never stops spewing out spells (of which some have huge consequences) This causes each character to play out quite differently, adding to the replay value of the game quite nicely. Despite these great differences in characters, the game is definitely balanced. Not one character feels weak, and I think I have seen almost every character played win a game.

My biggest problem with Talisman lies in the limited number of cards available. When you start playing you might feel that the deck is large, but after 3 games, the mystery and adventure of Talisman disappears and you start predicting the next events. Because of this, I feel that Talisman looses a great deal of its replay value (I score it a 2/5 only). This is fixed, however, with the very first expansion. With “The Reaper” added, I would change the replay value to a 5/5. The game needs those extra cards.

If you are on the fence about buying Talisman, but you know you want a fun light-hearted quest game, then definitely get it. Do yourself a favour thought, and get the Reaper expansion as while as soon as you can to keep the game replay value going.

All in all, I love this game, and was very impressed with the direction Fantasy Flight took it. I love the randomness that it brings, and the different ways it plays out. I give it a 8/10.

Go to the Small World page

Small World

43 out of 50 gamers thought this was helpful

One of the best things about SW is that it comes with 4 different boards. There is a board for 2 players, for 3, for 4, and for 5. This is what makes the game fun for any of those combinations of players. The board never feels too big with few players, or too crowded with 5. Don’t get me wrong though, it does get crowded, but the right type of crowded.

In SW, there are a collection of “Adjective” or “Power” cards that get randomly grouped each game with the different armies. This makes every game unique! Some games you might have an army of Beserk Skeletons that grow in size very quickly, and the next SeaFaring Skeletons that really stay out of the way.

A simple version of the gameplay goes as follows. A player selects the army they want to use. They conquer regions on the map using their armies until they can’t conquer anymore. They get victory points for each region they now have. They move their troops around until they are happy with their positions in the regions they now occupy, and then they end their turn. A turn typically takes around 30seconds to a minute. There is no rolling dice (with a few small exceptions) to determine who wins in combat. The game just flows.

If at any point you feel your army are no longer useful to you, or have reached their prime, you can put them into decline. You essentialy lose control of the army, but still score points off them. At the start of your next turn, you can then select a new army and carry on conquering lands.

Certain armies and powers can help you gain victory points in different ways. Each player is provided with a reference page that details each army and each power. This really helps the flow of the game as players don’t need to disturb others to figure out what their armies can do. I’ve found that even 8 year olds learn this game within a single turn due to the simple nature of it and the wonderful aide the reference sheets provide.

Don’t be fooled by the simple mechanics, though, as SW is full of strategy. Deciding exactly when to go into decline as well as to which armies to choose can have huge consequences. SW rewards skill over luck every time, and I’ve found the same few people win this game every single time because of great strategy.

SW is the perfect mix of light-hearted war-gaming on a board that is easy to learn and deceivingly complicated at the same time.

I recommend SW to any family looking for a fun relaxing board game as well as any gamers out there looking for a game to get your non-gaming friends into board gaming. Pick this one up, you won’t be disappointed!

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