A couple years ago I had a sleepover at my house for our youth group’s guys, during which I introduced them to the awesomely dorky card game Munchkin. If you’ve never played it, Munchkin’s kind of a satirical blend of D&D and other fantasy RPGs, where you try to level from 1 to 10 before anyone else. There’s monsters to fight, treasure to accumulate, gear to wear, sex changes to be had, and many cards you can throw at opponents to cripple their progress while advancing your own. The general atmosphere in a Munchkin session tends to start out friendly and cooperative (you can help other players fight monsters if you want) then moves to antagonistic and brutal backstabbing toward the end game. It’s a riot.
Anyway, the game was a hit at the sleepover — we had about 12 people playing it at once, forming alliances and whatnot — and for one of the teens, it became his new favorite game. So he went out, bought the starter pack, and introduced his family and friends to it. Unbeknownst to me until recently, they’ve had a regular Munchkin night going on and were more than eager to come over to our house last night for a few hours of dungeon-crawling madness.
Marriage pro-tip: Playing games together strengthens your relationship while providing things to do and talk about. My wife and I often bring games like Boggle and Mille Bornes to restaurants to play before and after the meal, and it just helps give us something to do together that’s both fun and communal.
One of the aspects of Munchkin I was thinking about is how the game incorporates PvP without it being an overt “I’m attacking you with a fireball!” sort of affair. It’s completely optional as well — you can all play the game peacefully and cooperatively if you like, but there usually comes a point where personal advancement dictates that you trip up the other players so you have a shot at winning. PvP is more of a metagame, winning or losing the whole deal, instead of smaller battles. You can curse other players, throw additional monsters their way, refuse to help them, or play cards to wreck their gear and advantages.
Unfortunately, Munchkin requires at least 3 people (4-6 is preferred) to work, so we can’t duo it at home. We’re looking for a rematch later in July, and hopefully get our own regular group going with it after that.