Munchkin Shakespeare: An Act in Five Plays
Some of you reading this are new to Munchkin, probably lured here by our highly successful Munchkin Shakespeare Kickstarter (ongoing as of this writing; click here to pledge!). Welcome! Others of you are long-time Munchkin fans; welcome back! I hope all of you find something useful in this article.
Verily, It Doth Blend
One of the appeals of all the Munchkin games is that they can be shuffled together to form a “blender” or “mashup” game. Want to play a space cowboys game? Shuffle Star Munchkin with The Good, the Bad, and the Munchkin. Far East spy intrigue? Munchkin Fu and Munchkin Impossible. End of the world, a la Lovecraft? Munchkin Cthulhu and Munchkin Apocalypse. You get the idea.
Munchkin Shakespeare is no different. Want some zombies in your Hamlet? (Who doesn’t?) How about superheroes on Prospero’s island? Pirates of the Scottish highlands? All of these are possible with the right mix of games.
Having said that, Munchkin Shakespeare is based on the original Munchkin game, so it will blend particularly well with other fantasy-themed games that share the same card design. In this article, we’ll look at four possible mashups and talk about how they could work. Hopefully, they will spark your own ideas for blending Shakespeare with other Munchkin games; leave us some comments with your best ideas!
What Light Through Yonder Dungeon Breaks?: Munchkin Shakespeare + Munchkin
The original Munchkin game became a classic because of its spot-on parody of the way certain gamers approached fantasy roleplaying. Its classes and races distill sword and sorcery archetypes down to the bare essence: how well they can kill monsters, take their stuff, and stab their friends in the back in the process.
It turns out that dropping these archetypes into the works of Shakespeare leads to an awesomely silly game. And because Munchkin and Munchkin Shakespeare share the same classes and races (with the addition of the Bard class in Shakespeare), mixing these sets is as easy as shuffling the decks together. The Bard will be more rare than the other classes, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing (or a bard thing); after all, not everyone can be Shakespeare.
And when you encounter Lady Macbeth and 3,872 Orcs, you know you’re in for a fight!
Story Time: Munchkin Shakespeare + Munchkin Grimm Tidings
For sheer brutality and dubious moral lessons, the fairy tales collected by the Brothers Grimm are a great match to Shakespeare’s plays. Cinderella’s stepsisters would be right at home in the background of King Lear, and nothing could be more appropriate than Hamlet reciting a soliloquy under the light of the Cannibal Moon. (Unless it was Titus Androgynous.)
The new classes in Munchkin Grimm Tidings are a great complement to those in Munchkin Shakespeare, and both sets have Thieves, which will lead to a delirium of backstabbing and petty larceny, activities that enliven any game of Munchkin. Because the Grimm Tidings monsters derive from the same folklore that Shakespeare mined for his classic plays, this mashup set feels very cohesive.
And deadly. So, so deadly.
Interlude: Munchkin Shakespeare + Moop’s Monster Mashup
This would be incredibly silly. No one should ever do it.
When you do it, please send pictures of the crazy results.
The Bard, the Myth, the Legend: Munchkin Shakespeare + Munchkin Legends
If dungeon-delving isn’t your thing, you can have the classic Munchkin experience out in the wilderness of ancient Greece, Middle Ages Europe, or the dark places of the Internet with Munchkin Legends. As with Grimm Tidings, these legends also find a home in Shakespeare’s plays, so this is another mashup that works very well.
Because Legends uses the original Munchkin classes and races, this blended game is seamless. Just imagine what the Bard could have said about Slender Man, or Candy and Cola, or Puck. Well, um, well . . . that one was already from Shakespeare. Now you have two different takes on that mischievous fairy!
Very, very different takes.
I Don’t Think We’re in Scotland Anymore: Munchkin Shakespeare + Munchkin Oz
Combining the children-focused Oz novels with the very adult-oriented plays of Shakespeare may seem to be an odd mix. This is Munchkin, however; “odd” isn’t a dealbreaker — rather the opposite. Mixing these two games together will be a whimsical experience like none other, in which Ozma or the Scarecrow rubs shoulders with Iago and Shylock.
Munchkin Oz includes Ally cards, which give the munchkins some much-needed help as they fight the combined forces of the Land of Oz and the rotten state of Denmark.
Extra Credit: Coming Full Circle to the Dungeon
Many of the people backing the Munchkin Shakespeare Kickstarter are going to receive the exclusive expansion set, which includes (at this writing) 17 double-sized Dungeon cards. These cards change the rules of the game and you can move from one Dungeon to another at any moment . . . so this is perfect for people who like a little more chaos in their game.
If you also shuffle in Munchkin 6 — Demented Dungeons and Munchkin 6.5 — Terrible Tombs, you’ll have all the chaos you can handle. Both of those expansions are for the original Munchkin game and should work perfectly well with Munchkin Shakespeare.
We are very excited about how Munchkin Shakespeare is growing as the Kickstarter continues and we cannot wait to share all the Shakespeare loot with our backers and our loyal Munchkin fans. If you can, please back our Kickstarter; if you can’t, please tell your Friendly Local Game Store to preorder a copy for you!
Andrew Hackard is the Munchkin Line Editor for Steve Jackson Games. He has read more Shakespeare in the last two months than in almost two decades of formal schooling. Don’t tell his English teachers.