Dispatches from GenCon #3: Munchkin Panic (and other panic) Impressions

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Munchkin Panic is one flavor out of  the many "Panic" monikered games from Fireside Games. The Munchkin version was the game I got my hands on at GenCon to try out but Fireside has also published a zombie themed version called Dead Panic, a sci-fi Star Trek Panic, and of course there is the original Castle Panic. I can't say for sure how different aside from theming any of these versions might be from Munchkin Panic, but the version that I played was a very casual system.

The board is broken down into four concentric rings centered around the players' castle. The first circle by the castle is labeled swordsman, then knight, archer, and finally the forest ring. New monsters enter play from the forest ring, moving inwards through each ring until they manage to hit the castle itself. The circles themselves are further divided like a pie creating three different colored sections of the ring (red, green, or blue).

Player's primary means of fighting the incoming hordes of monsters is playing attack cards which have a unit and color, corresponding to the rings on the board. For example, in the image above, a green knight would be able to strike the Pit Bull monster token. Some attacks affect multiple rings or colors, but by and large cards only effect one. In the munchkin version of the game, you are also assigned a character card such as dwarf or wizard which grants you a unique ability.

With that basic layout explained, let me just wear my bias on my sleeve for the rest of this post: I didn't like the game very much. While the premise of the game is a fun idea (defending a central castle from incoming monsters) the actual mechanical execution of the way monsters come in and the way players attack didn't sit well with me. Creatures move inward on the ring at the end of every players turn, sometimes they get shuffled around between sections as the result of cards being played. There is very little value in thinking ahead several turns and your options are extremely limited by the color and type of the card. I have to agree with the sentiments of one of my friends on this game, "It felt like a glorified candy land." If I don't feel like I have a strong handle on how the game is going to play out based on my decisions, it's hard for me to recommend.

That said however, I do think this would be a more fun game to play with kids than candyland. The rules are simple enough that kids could easily be taught the game and it's short enough that it will hold their interest for the duration. For strategy gamers? Give this a pass. Something to play with the family, kids, or casual game reluctant players? Then this one might do the trick.