For Christmas, among other things, we gave my sister’s kids a copy of Munchkin Adventure Time–without really knowing what it was other than “Adventure Time.” Because we left NC for OH on Tuesday, we had them open and play the game on Sunday. No one in the house knew what the hell it was, and the 8- and 9-year-olds quickly dropped away from boredom. The 13-year-old was really into it, but his enthusiasm seemed to only drive the other two away faster.
To prevent this gift from being a bust, I stayed up late into the night watching youtube videos, rereading the rules, and playing it by myself to figure out how the game worked. And once I’d done that, I stayed up even later figuring out how to introduce it to the kids in a way that would excite the 8-year-old and teach the three of them to work together to solve difficult problems.
But that’s not how things worked out when my wife and I sat down with the three kids Monday night to try the game again. Sure, they started to understand it a little better, but everything was still rather arcane and esoteric.
I started to get desperate, and in my desperation, I really dug into the rules and my cards to show how everything can be played, how everything fit together, how there was an internal logic that was starting to make itself obvious to me. I wanted to show them how teamwork worked, and how they could benefit from teamwork, so I outfitted myself with the Hero class and started collecting treasure each time I jumped into battle. I inadvertently began to dominate the game, amassing all the treasure and sweet gear, crushing monsters, and going up levels much faster than everyone else.
The 8-year-old started farting loudly to keep herself entertained.
And then my wife showed the way. She learned how to use her cards to double-cross me and sabotage a battle. I knew the cards and rules well enough by that point to defeat the monster and all the curses she threw at me, but it cost me greatly. And it was that, the smell of blood in the water, that finally made the game click for the kids.
But the lesson they learned about the game wasn’t “How can I best use my cards to help me win or my siblings succeed in battle?” but rather “How might I best bone over my uncle at this game? Oh, why don’t I use this one-time shot card that only works against Heroes to steal one of his levels, add three points to his enemy, make the enemy undead (which neutralizes all of his character bonuses), and then seal his soul in the 37th Dead Dimension while I jack his really sweet Amor of Zeldron.” All this in the span of one turn. The little shits.
Next year I’m going to stick to giving them clothes for Christmas.