At its heart, Steve Jackson’s Munchkin is a simple game. Players assume the role of adventurers hacking, slashing, and looting their way through a dungeon, fighting monsters (and often each other) on a quest to reach level 10.
These power-hungry munchkins can play all manner of cards to help them, including weapons, armor and other magic items, as well as special species and class cards. It’s simple … but often devilishly hard to track. The Munchkin Level Counter app ($4.99, Steve Jackson Games) adds to the complexity, but also brings some new tools for managing it.
True Munchkins — those who crave only power and are content to let their friends do the math – will salivate over the app’s new “boon” mechanic, which allows players to gain a special one-time bonus during the game. Bookkeepers will appreciate the app’s level tracking ability, but the best tool is its Kill-O-Meter, which allows players to easily add up character and monster bonuses. Rounding out the app are a dice roller (useful when running away) and a handful of counters for other Steve Jackson products. It’s a worthwhile purchase for anyone who’s ever spent 5 minutes calculating combat bonues while playing a massive cross-genre mashup of Munchkin games.
The Level Counter’s boon mechanic is simple. As you play the game, you add any levels you gain to the app’s level counter. At each level, you have the opportunity to take a boon. The longer you wait, the better the in-game effect, but you need to time it just right – you can only get one boon per game.
There are nearly 150 boons, and they come in one of two flavors: combat and non-combat. Some combat boons are one-shot items, similar to potions or grenades, that give a temporary bonus in a fight. For example “Head Butt” triples the bonus from you headgear, while “Friendly Cleric” grants a single +3 bonus. There are other possibilities as well: “Banished” dismisses the current monster without a fight, leaving behind a single treasur while “Elf Confidence” grants a munchkin a level for assisting someone in combat.
The non-combat boons are quick hit boosts you can use outside of a fight. The “Get Classy” boon lets a Munchkin search through the Door discards and take a class card; if they don’t find one, they can try again later. “Ye Olde Zap” causes another player to lose a level, while “Cardnapper Delux” forces someone to show you their hand and then lets you steal one of the cards.
Where the app really pays for itself is with the Kill-O-Meter. This tool contains two number dials that you rotate to keep track of bonuses during a fight, and ideally you need two of them, one for the muchkin player, the other for the monster he or she is fighting. They retail for $6.99 a piece, but you can get both as part of the app for $4.99. After seeing the usefulness of the counters at a convention, buying the app was a no-brainer.
The app supports both conventional Munchkin (levels 1-10) and Epic Munchkin (levels 11-20). It also provides boons for Munchkin Quest, counters (but no special bonuses) for Chez Geek and Space Pirate Ninja Catgirls and a custom counter that lets you specify your own start and end levels. The die roller lets you toss a virtual six-sided die, which could be useful if you don’t have any dice handy.
None of this is essential to playing the game, but then again, that’s not the point. Munchkin is a game of extremes and creative backstabbing; if you can wear a shirt to get a bonus, if you can roll a die that gives bonuses against fighting an undead, why not have an app that grants you dozens of different advantages?
- Munchkin Level Counter
- Game Design: Steve Jackson
- Art: John Kovalic
- Steve Jackson Games
- MSRP: $4.99
- Buy it from the iTunes App Store
- This review originally appeared on GameCryer.com and is reprinted with permission