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Munchkin Review: Munchkin 4 - The Need for Steed
New Card Type: Steeds!
This is the third expansion to the original fantasy-themed Munchkin deck. Unlike the last two expansions, this add-on adds a brand new card type: Steeds. Every munchkin is allowed to have one Steed at a time but they’re considered items (despite being Door cards) so a Cheat! card can allow you to equip one more. Also, they can be chosen to be fought as monsters instead, doubling their bonus level (that would normally be added to your combat level) and each rewards a single Level and a Treasure.
Steeds are solid cards, usually giving you a bonus of +3 or close to it, and have additional effects, usually to help Run Away. They can also be upgraded with certain Steed Enhancers that may further improve their combat level, change their attributes, or give different effects. . They're also helpful if you haven't seen a Monster in a while (something that will likely happen as your fantasy-themed Munchkin deck continues to fill up with dozens of Curses, Classes, Races and other Door cards that are unnecessary for that winning level), because you can choose to fight a Steed for 1 Level and 1 Treasure after doubling their combat level for the fight. Generally these are wonderful if you're going for the winning level as they have no attributes to gain effects against specific players or offer truly threatening consequences for losing against them (you only lose a Level if you actually get caught).
This expansion also gives a lot, and I do mean a lot, of new Hirelings which kinda operate just like Steeds, except they can carry an item respective to their title, like a Thief can hold the Boomdagger for the Munchkin, as well as giving another hand for the player to use. Now, they also have Hireling enhancers. Both Steeds and Hirelings can be given up in order to flee from one monster successfully.
Opposition and Monster(s)
This expansion is much more forgiving than the last two. The only Curse of interest is the Curse! Everything is Relative! Whoever gets hit by this card doesn’t lose a level, but everyone else does. However, other players can protect themselves with Curse-proof gear, which kinda renders the usefulness of this card moot. There’s one Level 20 monster, Katrina (yes, named after the hurricane) but it doesn’t chase those under Level 5 and it actually doesn’t kill Munchkins, only making them lose all small items in play.
Since you can also turn the Steeds into monsters, you can fight Level 2 Monster-Steed worth a +1 Level and Treasure, as well use a Wandering Monster with a Level 10 Monster-Steed worth just as much.
Things to help the player
Honestly, there aren’t any power play Treasure cards or anything particularly unique. There’s a ton of Steed and Hireling enhancers, and other cards pertaining to those two, but nothing revolutionary or uber-powerful like the Magnificent Hat or Kneepads of Allure. If you’re wanting new card types, you’ll find Steeds and Hirelings here. However, this expansion coddles the player and makes the game a little easier. Munchkins will have higher scores while monsters will be weaker. Don’t get this expansion if you don’t want the game easier.
This expansion doesn't add much but saturation, unfortunately. Steeds can be fun and provide new ways of buffing out your characters, but the monsters aren't given nearly as much of a buff. The inclusion of so many Steeds, Hirelings, and their respective enhancers shifts the game tremendously, forcing you to play aggressively and fast against waves of weaker monsters. The Steeds themselves double as easy 1 Level reward monsters. Cards meant to cripple other players become more valuable but less effective when your opponents are riding a +10 Steed with a +5 Hireling, not to mention either one may be given up to Run Away for free.
And while characters easily become more powerful in short order, none of the cards are particularly noteworthy. In the past we get powerful monsters with terrifying Bad Stuffs or prejudices against particular players, or items that change the game in short order. This expansion has none of that. Steeds add little more than adding a new slot for necklaces, pants, or even underwear to the equipment slots already present. It's a bummer when the two expansions before were able to do this.
This expansion makes the player too powerful (without the thrilling game-changing cards) and the game less challenging and more of a race, reducing all the human interaction that, I feel, is really the game's charm.
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That's it for this deck! Unfortunately, it's not much of a game change, it just kinda adds a new equipment slot and some cards focusing on this new aspect. Next time I'll discuss Munchkin 5: De-Ranged, which adds some more really powerful cards that weren't really needed.