Munchkin a gateway drug to RPGs

With the Dungeons and Dragons essentials line on the horizon I expect to be introducing lots of new people to the game. D&D essentials is being marketed as a new starting point for people interested in trying out the game; the new D&D red box is the best example of this. All that being said, it’s not exactly the way I’m introducing people to the game; I’m actually taking a longer but still very enjoyable route to introducing my friends and many of my girlfriend’s friends to Dungeons and Dragons and role playing games in general.

Munchkin! The super awesome non-RPG card game by Steve Jackson games. It’s been around for a while now, since 2001 I think, and is a staple in many gamers stack O’ games. Munchkin is easy to learn, fast to play, and really fun even for non-gamers. This makes it the perfect way to introduce new non gamers to the ideas of levels, items, monsters, turns, classes, races and on and on. It’s because of this that I use it to introduce people into the vast world of RPGs.

It all started when my girlfriend (Stephanie) and I invited one of her friends over for dinner. Before our dinner guest arrived we had some free time to kill so I innocently asked “Would you be interested in learning how to play Munchkin?”  I really didn’t expect her to say yes, I have asked so many times in the past and have always received apathetic responses.  This time was different though; this time she said yes and actually sounded interested instead of the usual “If you really want me to” affair.

So we sat down and I did a terrible job of explaining the rules. Often I wouldn’t tell her about things until they occurred in play (this really didn’t make her happy) and sometimes I forgot to explain things until way after the fact. She did, however, end up beating me in our first game. After our first game was over I assumed that she was done and wanted to get ready for dinner.

Oh how wrong I was! Minutes after the game was over, Stephanie began reading the rules out loud. She wanted to learn the real rules and know things with out me telling her what was going on. She wanted to know the rules so she could play better and beat me again. While reading the rules out loud she often commented on how I wasn’t playing the game correctly and she would go on to actually teach me the “proper” way to play munchkin. As it turns out I really wasn’t playing it by all the rules. So having now learned the real rules for the game, we sat down again for round two. I walked away with a win.

The purpose of having a dinner guest over had now changed. We needed a third to actually play the game in it’s proper setting and Steph’s unsuspecting friend was going to be that third, she just didn’t know it. When our guest arrived we chatted a bit and played with her new puppy. I really want a puppy but that is neither here nor there. After a while the conversation turned to playing some board games and that is when Stephanie broke it to her that she was going to have to play some Munchkin tonight. Now I thought I we were going to meet some resistance but what we got was excitement.  She was actually really interested in learning how to play, I even warned her that it might be a gateway drug to D&D. “How cool would it be if I played D&D?” was not the response I was expecting, but it’s the one I got.

After a quick introduction to the game, Steph explained the rules because she didn’t want me to mess them up again and then we were off on an almost three hour stint of Munchkin. I must remember to set my expectations higher; I was really only expecting them to play one or two rounds before we moved on to another game. We spent the whole night eating dinner and playing Munchkin. By the end of the night the girls were planning on getting together to play again so they could get better and beat me. I would say that was a successful introduction to Munchkin and a much larger world of Role Playing Games.

In a month or so when the D&D Essentials Red Box comes out I will be inviting Steph’s friend and a few other friends of ours over for a Dungeons and Dinner night. I’ll make dinner, perhaps braised leg of lamb or veal osso buco with some red wine or meed. Then we will play a very introductory game of Dungeons and Dragons using the new red box. Steph’s friend who played Munchkin with us should already have a firm grasp on what a player’s class and race is, some spells like Magic Missile and how equipment works and gives bonuses. She won’t be a pro right from the start but I think she will be far less lost than if I just put the red box in front of her as a starter set.

Perhaps I’ll invite a few more people over for a game or two of Munchkin– I might even buy a few sets and give them to people whom I plan to introduce to Dungeons and Dragons. We shall see what the future holds, but for now  Jason Vickery a.k.a @mercutio531 was right “Munchkin is a gateway drug to Dungeons and Dragons.”


Part idiot. Part old man. All geek. Thadeous can't think of anything interesting about him self right now. Know this though if he could it would be creative and funny as well as thought provoking.

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About Thadeousc

Thadeous can't think of anything interesting about him self right now. Know this though if he could it would be creative and funny as well as thought provoking.
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