Time to go back to where it all started: Munchkin. Heavy Jon, the Dianimal, and myself tried out some Munchkin Axe Cop this weekend, and here I'll run the experience back.
The three of us had fun, moving through the full deck about 1.75 times over the course of three rounds. The games were about a normal Munchkin length (with one early-victory exception) and have a good balance of low-level and high-level creatures. Overall, we had a good time getting to level 10. Here is a sorta-review that gets into the nitty-gritty, but if you just want a verdict then read the last paragraph. If you're a Munchkin newb and require some elaboration on how it's played, this is not the place you want to be, sorry. Try the official Munchkin website.
Munchkin Axe Cop borrows more than a few key gameplay concepts from the last Munchkin stand-alone game, Munchkin Zombies. In both games there are relatively few classes (three mojos in Zombies, four classes in Axe Cop) and the system of powers revolves around a few cards with multiple copies possessing versatile skills (six in Zombies, seven in Axe Cop). Both games have a number of special rules for undead monsters, fire/flame attacks, and pile-on rules for certain monster types. It's a refinement of the classic Munchkin formula that works, and it's part of why I thought Zombies was the most balanced set yet.
The key gameplay difference between the two most recent Munchkins is the power balance. Zombies was often a slow-building affair with a long endgame, thanks to a multitude of curses, curse-related abilities, enemy bonuses, and eff-you cards. Axe Cop, however, stacks the deck in favor of players. The Cop class and the Axe and Uni powers are three of the most powerful normal cards in Munchkin history. Cop allows you to have two additional allies (ok…) in addition to wielding two-handed weapons with one hand (!); Uni allows you to either 1) remove a curse from any player or 2) draw a free treasure card once per turn (!!); and Axe allows you to Look for Trouble after already encountering trouble, potentially fighting twice in one turn (!). These are normal classes and powers, and have no drawbacks other than the usual (you're limited to 1 or 2 classes and powers equal to your level).
If that weren't enough, you can also use a You Got Blood On You card to exchange any of your powers for anything in the discard pile. On top of that there are all kinds of shenanigans in play with the game's suite of one-shot cards, many of which are power- and class-specific. Bottom line - the right combination of classes and powers early on can make your level and score to skyrocket. The levels and combat scores aren't quite as crazy as in Super Munchkin, but definitely up there. Lawd help your opponents if you manage to be an Axe-Uni-Cop by the midgame.
But that's enough silly gameplay talk. Is the game a worthy Munchkin title? Are the art, text, and combinations hilarious? Oh my goodness yes. You can Go to the Weapon Store for a quick level, you can eventually terrify enemies like King of the Bad Guys and Chainsaw Cop as a Dinosaur-Baby-Avocado-Man-Soldier armed with Sword of Chopping Bad Guys. This game is hilarious, and has lots of in-jokes and references for Axe Cop fans. If you like Munchkin and like Axe Cop, I guarantee you will like Munchkin Axe Cop.
What's next for @therealmonsoon? I got to work on the big ol' Sequential Art blogpost for tomorrow, then continue on my latest gaming project, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. Good times.