Munchkin-tHE Nightmare Before Christmas

Game Overview: In a long and popular line of the Munchkin card games, this was our first experience with the Munchkin world since its release in 2001. Being that I (Dad) am a big fan of Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas movie, I was very happy to find this under the Christmas Tree. The object of the game is for the players to kill monsters and move up levels until the first person to level ten, wins the game. Killing the monsters can be done individually by drawing certain cards that boost your abilities. When your abilities aren't quite high enough to defeat certain monsters, you may need the help of the other players. When this happens, you need to bring your best negotiation skills to the table. But look out, as players can play against you as you try to defeat a monster, they may play a card that boosts that monsters level even more, taking away that precious level up that you need to win the game.

Box Contents: Opening the box, any Nightmare Before Christmas fan will be happy to see that the movie has been well represented. From the inserts in the box that show different grave stones to cards that represent the many characters in the movie. You will find Zero, Oogie Boogie, Sandy Claws, Jack Skellington, the Easter Bunny, Sally, Lock, Shock, and Barrel. Along with many other characters from the movie. A special dice is also included which can be seen during the movie, when Oogie Boogie has Sandy Claws tied up and he rolls snake eyes.

Clarity of Rules: The rules are very well written and if a question comes up, you can easily find it. The rules cover just six pages. In addition to the well written rules, humor is sprinkled throughout it.

Game Play:  The game play is excellent. It starts with each player receiving eight total cards. You will see a variety of items show up in your hand. You want to start building your character by equipping them with objects. Each object allows you to increases your characters level when it comes to fighting the monsters that you may encounter. You may also run into: cards that allow you to curse other players, become a citizen of a specific town which gives you additional rewards, monsters you can choose to fight, abilities to move up a level, or cards that allow you to either add or subtract from a monster. Those are just a few that I am highlighting.
The player knocks on the door by drawing a card. If it is a monster, they must fight them. If they can beat it by a combination of their level and the items they have equipped, you go up a level (sometimes two) and earn treasure cards. If you can not beat the monster, you must ask for help from the other players. If they can't help you or are not willing to, you must run from the monster. If you fail to get away, "bad stuff" happens which is outlined on the card.
At times you may draw a curse card when knocking on the door. When this happens, you must follow the directions on the card. Know this, something bad will happen to you or potentially all of the players in the game.
If no monster is at the door you can either play a monster that you can beat from your hand or choose to loot the room and take a 2nd card that goes into your hand. Now, you must get down to five cards in your hand. If you have more than that, you have to give out your extra cards.
Play continues around the table until the first person gets to level 10 and is declared the winner. Some of our games have come down to everyone being at level 9, which makes the game very intense to see who gets that final level up to win the game.

Replay Ability: This is a game that will be in your rotation for a long, long time. You can play and play again and never see the same results.

Appropriate Audience: The rules suggest 10+ years old. I think a younger child could easily catch on to this, perhaps someone as young as 8 years old. The one thing to consider for the child is how they will handle it when the other players are out to prevent them from winning.

What We Liked/Didn't Like: There isn't much to not like about the game. The one complaint that I have is that the game did not come with anything to keep track of your levels. You have to incorporate something into the game to track this. We used coins. With that being said, there are certain releases that have an actual board that will help you track this. The kids don't always like how they can be close to winning and then the other players come after them to try and prevent the win.

Add-ons/Other Releases:  Because Munchkin has been around since 2001 and due to its popularity, there are many, many releases out there.  They all have the same game rules.  Once you learn one, there isn't a steep learning curve to go onto the others. In fact, you can combine sets.  Below are just a few of the available releases.