Munchkin is fun game that the Majorspoilers group has been introducing to gamers for sometime now. The highlights of the game are the back and forth battles where each player tries to beat a monster while the rest of the group throws all sorts of obstacles in way to trip them up. Backstabbing, bluffing, and treachery are hallmarks of this fun card game by Steve Jackson Games. There are all kinds of themes for Munchkin from ancient to futuristic and from real to fantastic. Munchkin is a great way to introduce new gamers to the hobby with fun art and simple game play rules. But what is the next step for a munchkin player? Cutthroat Caverns by Smirk & Dagger is a fantastic game of cooperation and betrayal where a party of adventurers must work together to defeat monsters but only the killing blow will earn the prestige.
In Cutthroat Caverns each player takes the role of an adventurer in a party. Nine encounter cards are randomly chosen and placed in a pile that sets the length of the game. Seven cards are dealt to each player and the game begins.
Play starts with the first encounter being revealed. Encounters are typically monsters with a large number of hit points and some special ability or attack. These encounters are worth a number of prestige points which are needed to win the game. Players are allowed to play any potion cards at this time to prepare for the revealed monster. Then initiative cards are drawn/dealt randomly to each player. This begins the combat phase.
The combat phase has several parts and will most likely take a few rounds since the monsters tend have a large pool of hit points. The first part is each player will “set” an attack card. This is selecting a card and placing it face down to be revealed in initiative order. Each player reveals and resolves their attack card. Repeat this step for each player until everyone has had a turn. Each successful attack adds damage to the monster and is marked on the monster tracker at the end of the party combat phase.
Next the monster fights back. This happens in two parts. If the monster has a specific attack it is resolved right away. Attack cards are discarded, initiative cards are shuffled and re distributed. Then the monster resolves any initiative based attacks. All damage for these attacks is resolved immediately. Players then draw one card not exceeding the hand limit which is 7. The combat round is then repeated until the encounter is defeated.
Once the encounter over the prestige is awarded. Each player is allowed to dump any cards and draw back to hand limit. The round marker is moved and a new encounter card is drawn.
While this seems like the basis for a standard cooperative card based dungeon party adventure game, there are lots twists and secret maneuvers that can happen. Since the player with the most prestige points wins players are trying to get the last blow to earn the points. The attack cards have options of big damage, small damage with tricks, and tactical maneuvers. Players may also have action and item cards to steer the fight in their favor. Action cards are usually played in response to other players attacks and may cancel attacks or alter their value. This is were the real backstabbing nature of the game comes in. If you can read what other players might do you can plan ahead and trip them up getting the final blow for yourself. But watch out for retribution. Items are cards played immediately after being drawn and can be used at different times to varying benefit.
Cutthroat Caverns is a great way to bring sneaky backstabbing shenanigans to a cooperative adventure game and have fun. Like the game says “Without teamwork… You’ll never survive. Without betrayal… You’ll never win”.[signoff predefined=”PayPal Donation”][/signoff]