How to play Munchkin – the Easy Dad Rules Way

Munchkin is a humorous role-playing card game where you go adventuring with your friends to try to kill monsters and take their loot. You can also get your friends killed and steal their loot too. It’s a lot of fun, but it can be a bit intimidating at first.

I’m going to break it down in a way that makes it super easy to play, even with young kids. I call it “Dad Rules.” I’m all about having fun with the game, even if it means breaking a rule here and there.

First, you’ll need a deck of Munchkin cards. You can buy them from amazon here:

Or you can go to your local comic book store, gaming store, or even Barnes & Noble to pick up a set. Go do that, then come back here. We’ll wait.

Basic Rules
Read the instructions that come with the game or read them online here:

That will give you a great overview, although it might be overwhelming at first. I’m here to tell you, it only looks that way. It all essentially boils down to this on your turn:

1. Kick open a door (turn over a door card)
a. If the card is a monster, you have to fight it. If you beat it, you get the treasures. If you don’t beat it, you have the “Bad Stuff” on the card happen to you. If you know you won’t be able to beat the monster, you can ask for help from another player, but you’ll probably have to give them a treasure or two in exchange for their help.
b. If it’s a curse, it affects you immediately.
c. If it’s anything else, you put it in your hand or play it immediately.

2. Look for Trouble/Loot the Room
If you did not get a monster in Step 1, then you can either play a monster from your hand, meaning you choose to fight a monster, or you can simply pick up another Door card and put it in your hand.

3. Charity
If you have more than five cards in your hand, give the overage to the player with the lowest level; if the lowest level player has too many, they have to discard the excess .

Tracking your Level, Items, and Bonuses
Your hero can get footgear, headgear, chest armor, all sorts of one- and two-handed weapons, and more. All these bonuses affect your hero’s combat strength, which is the number you use to fight monsters. If your combat strength is higher than the monster’s combat strength, you win.

The problem — it’s difficult to keep up with all that, especially for a 7 year old.

The solution — it’s a 2 parter:

1. Download and print a character sheet for all the players. I recommend this one:

Put a coin on the level of your hero on the character sheet. Move the coin when your level increases or decreases. Then use the armor/weapon slots as labeled, and we put bonuses next to the character sheet. It makes it very nice and organized.

2. Download a level/kill counter app. I recommend the free Kill Meter app from us here at Downcast Systems (available for iOS and Android):

When someone is in combat with a monster, use the Kill Meter app to add up the current player’s level + bonuses + any other spells or curses affecting the player. To do that, open the app and tap the giant number next to the hero. Then do the same for the monster. Easy peasy.


“Dad Rules” variations:
If you are playing in a tournament, then obviously you need to follow the rules properly, but if you’re a Dad playing with your kids, you might want to follow my rules instead.

Looting the Room
Normally when looting the room, you’d take a door card. Consider letting them choose whether they want a Door card or a Treasure card. (But once you do this, they will pick a Treasure card every time.) You could also institute a rule that you can only do this if you’re level 5 or under.

When can you put down an item (like armor or a bonus item)?
With Dad Rules, you can play those at any time, even in combat. Why? Because half the time the 7 year old didn’t even realize she had armor she could wear.

What do you do when a card is very complicated or doesn’t make a lot of sense?
Discard it and get another one. It’s no fun having a confusing card.

What do you do when you think you understand a card, but aren’t quite sure if you’re interpreting it correctly?
Just go with whatever you think it means. You’re the dad, after all!

What if you realize late in the game that the younger child has been using chest armor designed for an Orc, but she’s currently a Dwarf?
Fix the mistake when you notice it, but don’t worry about the past too much. She probably wasn’t cheating on purpose…

What do you do when there’s a conflict involving both of your kids and helping one will hurt the other?
Good luck, Other Dad. You’re on your own…

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