18 min read

Fast How to Play Munchkin Rules for those who hate rulebooks

I hate the hassle of reading rulebooks and wish they could get straight to the point. I wrote this guide with the aim of helping you learn how to play Munchkin quickly.
If you are looking for a Munchkin game overview, understand its gameplay and appeal, click here for our summary and video, click here.

Players: 3 to 6 | Game duration from: 60 mins | Game Complexity: EASY

If you are looking for the official Munchkin rule, click here for pdf / rulebook.

What is the goal?

All players start a level 1 and the goal is to reach level 10, by killing monsters and levelling up.

Game Setup

  • Sort the cards into the Door and Treasure deck and shuffle them.
  • Each player gets four cards from each deck.

Card Management

Put each deck’s discard piles on its own face-up pile. Unless you play a card that allows it, you cannot look through the discards. If a deck runs out, reshuffle its discards.

Munchkin Game Cards In Play

The cards in front of you that represent your Race and Class (if any) and the items you are carrying. Some cards, such as Continuing Curses, stay on the table after you play them.
Munchlin Game Cards in play must be visible to other players.

Munchkin Game Cards in Your Hand

Cards in your hand are not in play. While they don’t help, they can’t be taken away except by cards that specifically affect “your hand”. You may have no more than five cards in your hand at the end of your turn. Cards in play cannot be returned to your hand – they must be discarded or traded.

Character Creation

Everyone starts as a Level 1 human with no class.
Characters can be either male or female. In the first level, unless you declare otherwise, your character is the same sex as you.
Look at your eight initial cards.

If you have any Race or Class cards, you may play one of each type.

You can play usable Items by placing them in front of you.

Munchkin Game Play

Starting the Game

  • Decide who goes first
  • Players take turns, each with several phases.
  • Once the first player completes a turn, the next player takes a turn, and so on.

Phases in each turn

When the previous player’s turn ends, your turn begins. Arrange your cards the way you want, and go to phase 1.

PHASE 1 (Kick Open the Door)

  • Draw one card from the Door deck and turn it face up.
  • If it’s a monster, you must fight it (See combat)
  • If the card is a curse (See Curses), it applies immediately and is discarded (unless it has a persistent effect or is kept as a reminder of something to come).
  • Any other card you draw, you can either play it immediately or put it in your hand.

PHASE 2 (Look for Trouble/Loot the Room)

  • Skip this phase and go to phase 3 if you fought a monster in phase 1.
  • You have two choices if you did not draw a monster in phase 1: Look for Trouble or Loot the Room.
  • Look for Trouble: Just as if you found it when you kicked open the door, play a monster from your hand and fight it. Until you’re sure you can count on getting help, don’t play a monster you can’t handle
  • Loot the Room: Take a second card from the Deck of Doors, face down, placing it in your hand.

PHASE 3 (Charity)

  • You must play enough cards to get to five or below – for example, playing curses, selling Items, or playing Items to the table.
  • Your excess cards must be given to the player whose Level is lowest if you cannot reduce your hand to five cards.
  • Divide the cards evenly if players are tied for lowest, but it’s your choice who gets the bigger set(s) of leftovers.
  • You can discard the excess if you are or tied for the lowest.
  • Once you’ve finished with Charity, it’s the next player’s turn.

Character Stats

Every character has three stats: Level, Race, and Class, consisting of weapons, armour, and magic items.
Your character might be described as a “Level 8 Elf Wizard with Boots of Butt-Kicking, a Staff of Napalm, and Kneepads of Allure.”


This indicates your general buff and studly status. If a rule or card refers to your Level, capitalised, it means this number.
You gain a level when you kill a monster, or when a card mentions that you do. Items can also be sold to buy levels.

  • Levels are lost when a card says so.
  • Levels cannot go below 1. However, your combat strength can be negative if you get hit by a curse or suffer other consequences.


Characters can be Warriors, Wizards, Thieves, or Clerics. If you don’t have a class card, you don’t have class.

  • The cards show the special abilities of each Class.
  • When you play a Class card, you gain its abilities, and when you discard it, you lose them.
  • Some Class abilities are powered by discards. Discard any card, in play or in your hand, to power a special ability
  • You can discard a Class card at any time, even in combat: “I don’t wanna be a wizard anymore”
  • You become classless when you discard a Class card until you another Class card is played
  • You are not allowed to belong to more than one class at once unless you play the Super Munchkin card.


A character may be Human, Elf, Dwarf, or Halfling. If you do not have a Race card, you are Human.

  • Humans have no special powers. The rules for Classes also apply to Races.
  • Unless you play the Half-Breed card, you cannot belong to more than one race at once.

Super Munchkin and Half-Breed

As long as you have an appropriate card (Class for Super Munchkin, Race for Half-Breed) attached to it, these cards may be played anytime a Class or Race is legal. At any given time, you cannot have more than one Class or Race card.

Playing Super Munchkin with one Class gives you all the advantages (the ability to equip Class-only Items, monsters with penalties against your Class suffer the penalties), and none of the disadvantages (you can equip Items prohibited to your Class, and monsters don’t get bonuses).

However, if the Class has a cost, you still have to pay it. You have all the normal advantages and disadvantages of both your Classes if you play Super Munchkin while you have two. (All of the above is also true for half-breeds, just for races.)


  • There are permanent and one-shot treasure cards.
  • Treasure cards may be played to the table as soon as you get them, or on your own turn except during combat (unless the rules below or the card itself require it).


  • Most Treasures are Items. Items are worth Gold Pieces. “No Value” is equivalent to zero Gold Pieces, and a “No Value” card is considered an Item.
  • Turn the cards sideways to indicate Items not equipped. Items you have in play are considered “carried”. Items that give you a bonus are considered “equipped.” During combat or when running, you may not alter the status of your Items.
  • You can carry any item (except for extra large ones) but can only equip one Headgear, one suit of armour, one pair of footgear, two “1 Hand” Items (or one “2 Hands” Item) unless you have a Hireling or Cheat card which ignores these limits or, unless the cards say otherwise. If you are carrying two Headgear cards, for instance, you can equip only one of them at a time.
  • Some Items have restrictions: for instance, the Mace of Sharpness can only be used by clerics. This bonus is only available to Clerics.
  • Item cards cannot be discarded “just because.” You can sell Items for levels, exchange Items with other players, or give an Item to another player (see below). Items may be discarded to power Class and Race abilities. Curses and monsters’ bad stuff may force you to get rid of things!

Big Items

  • You may carry any number of Small items, but only one Big item. Items that are not marked Big are considered Small.
  • You cannot discard one Big item to play another; you must sell, trade, lose to a Curse, or discard it to power a Class or Race ability.
  • If you lose the ability to have more than one Big item (Dwarf race, for example) you must either correct the problem right away or get rid of all but one Big item. As long as you have at least 1,000 gold pieces to sell, you can sell the excess Big items when it’s your turn and you’re not in combat. Otherwise, give them to the lowest-level player who can carry them! Discard of any Big items left over.


  • You may trade Items (but no other cards) with other players. Items must be on the table, not in your hand.
  • Unless you or your trading partner are in combat, you can trade anytime.
  • The best time to trade is when it’s not your turn. The items you receive in trades must remain in play. You may also give away Items to bribe other players – “Give me my Flaming Armour if you won’t help Bob fight the dragon!”. You may show your hand to others.

Selling Items for Levels

You can discard items worth at least 1,000 Gold Pieces at any time except during combat or running away, and go up one level immediately. The “No Value” cards are the same as no Gold Pieces. You don’t get change if you discard (say) 1,100 Gold Pieces. You can, however, go up two levels at once if you can manage 2,000. You may sell both hand-held and carried items. You may not sell Items to go to Level 10.

“One-Shot” Treasures

  • Treasure cards that say “Usable once only” are called one-shots. Most of these can be played from your hand or on the table, and are used to strengthen the munchkins or monsters. They may have other effects, so read each card carefully!
  • Once combat is over or their effect is resolved, discard these cards. One-shot Items with a gold piece value can be sold for levels like other Items.

Other Treasures

  • Treasure cards such as Go Up a Level are not Items. These cards state when they can be played and whether they stay in play or are discarded. For example:
  • You can play Go Up a Level cards anytime, even during combat. Once played, discard them. Go Up a Level cannot be played to give a player the winning level!
  • You can play Hireling at any time. During combat, however, you cannot give a Hireling an Item to carry.


  • Compare yourself to a monster’s combat strength. Level plus all positive and negative modifiers given by Items and other cards make up Combat Strength. When a monster has a combat strength equal to or greater than yours, you lose the battle and must Run Away.
  • You go up a level if your combat strength is greater than the monster’s (some big monsters go up two levels). Additionally you get Treasures according to the card.
  • Cards can sometimes rid you of monsters without killing them. It’s still “winning,” but you don’t get a level. The treasures are not yours unless the ability specifies otherwise. The combat ends as soon as the last monster is removed.
  • A monster card may have special powers that affect combat, such as a bonus against a Race or Class. Be sure to check these!
  • During combat, you can play one-shot Treasures or use Class or Race abilities. Some Door cards can also be played in combat, such as monster enhancers (see below).
  • Upon killing a monster (or monsters! ), discard it and any other cards you played, then claim your rewards. Just when you think you’ve won, someone might play a hostile card against you. After you kill a monster, you must wait about 2.6 seconds for anyone else to speak up. You have now really killed the monster, you have the level(s) and treasure(s), though they can still complain and argue


  • Monsters attack the person drawing them if they are drawn face-up during the Kick Open The Door phase.
  • A monster card you get any other way goes into your hand to be used for Look For Trouble, or to join another player’s battle with Wandering Monsters. (See Fighting Multiple Monsters, below.)
  • Even if the name on a monster card is plural, each monster card is still a single monster

Monster Enhancers

  • The combat strength of the monsters can be raised or lowered by cards called monster enhancers. Monster penalties are still considered enhancers. They also affect how many Treasures the monster is worth. Any player can use monster enhancers during combat.
  • Enhancers on a single monster add together. In a combat with multiple monsters, the player who plays each enhancer must decide which monster to apply it to.
  • Exception: Monster enhancements are applicable to their Mates as well.. You face an Ancient Enraged monster and its Ancient Enraged Mate, if you play Ancient, Enraged, and Mate on the same monster, in any order.

Fighting Multiple Monsters

  • Other cards (such as Wandering Monster) allow your opponents to send monsters to fight you. Your goal is to defeat their combined strength. A special ability, such as making you fight with only your Level, applies to the whole fight. Depending on your cards, you can eliminate one monster from the combat and fight the other(s) normally, but you cannot Run Away from one and fight the other.
  • You won’t earn levels or treasure if you eliminate one monster and run from the others!

Undead Monsters

This set has several Undead monsters. Without using a Wandering Monster card, you can play any Undead monster from your hand to help another Undead. If you have a card that can make a monster Undead, you can play it with a non-Undead monster to use this rule.

Asking For Help

  • You can ask any other player to help you if you cannot win a battle on your own. Until they all refuse or someone helps you, you may ask another player. Only one player can help you, adding to your combat strength. Anyone can play cards to affect your combat, however!
  • You may need to bribe someone. You can offer your helper any item you have, or any Treasure cards the monster has. Offering part of the monster’s Treasure means you have to agree whether they pick first, or you pick first. Any cards you legally can play on your helper, like Go Up a Level cards, can also be offered.
  • The monster’s special abilities and vulnerabilities also apply to your helper. A Warrior helping you, for example, will let you win if your total matches the monster’s. However, your warrior can Berserk and discard cards to add his combat strength only once (not once per monster). If a Cleric helps you, they can chase away the Wannabe Vampire. If an Elf helps you face the Drooling Slime, the monster’s combat strength is increased by 4 (unless you are an Elf and the monster’s combat strength has already been increased).
  • If someone helped you kill the monster, discard it, draw Treasures (see Rewards below), and follow any special instructions on the monster card. Level up for each monster slain. Your helper does not gain levels. . . unless the helper is an Elf, in which case they gain a level per monster slain. Draw the Treasure cards, even if your helper defeated the monster with his special ability. Distribute them as agreed.
  • A few cards and abilities allow you to compel another player to help you. Neither of these abilities work in a fight for victory – and if you force someone to help and then the fight becomes one for victory, that helper can leave without penalty. If you volunteer to help someone, you don’t get to back out just because the game is about to end – so be careful!


  • Each monster you kill gives you one level, unless otherwise specified by the monster card, and you get all its Treasure! Monsters have Treasure numbers on their cards. Draw that many Treasures, modified by any monster enhancers played on it. If the monster is alone, draw face down. If someone helped you, draw face-up so everyone can see what you got even if they aren’t taking any treasures.
  • You do not get a level if you defeat a monster by nonlethal means, and the Treasure may or may not be earned.
  • You can play treasure cards as soon as you get them, even if you are the helper.

Running Away

  • You must run away if nobody will help you or if anyone tries to help and your fellow party members interfere so that you still cannot win. You get no levels or treasure. The room isn’t even lootable. You even don’t always escape unharmed
  • Roll the die. You escape on a 5 or more. Certain abilities and treasures make it easier or harder to Run Away from monsters. Some monsters give you a bonus or penalty only for that monster.
  • As described on its card, a monster does Bad Stuff if you don’t run away. Losing an item can vary from losing one or more levels to Death (see below).
  • You must roll separately to escape each monster, in any order you choose, and suffer damage from each one that catches you as soon as it does.
  • If two players are cooperating and still cannot defeat the monster(s), both must Run Away. Roll separately for each monster in whatever order you like. (If they don’t agree, roll the die. The high roller decides who Runs Away first.) The monster(s) CAN catch them both.
  • Discard the monster(s) once all Run Away rolls have been resolved.


  • You lose all your stuff if you die. Your Class(es), Race(s), and Level (as well as any Curses affecting you when you died) will be carried over to your new character. Keep Half-Breed and Super Munchkin as well.
  • After you die, you don’t have to Run Away from any remaining monsters.
  • Looting The Body: Lay your hand out beside the cards in play (be careful not to include the cards mentioned above). If an Item is carried by a Hireling or attached to a Cheat! card, separate them. Everyone else chooses a card starting with the player with the highest level. Roll a die if there is a tie in levels. After everyone gets a card, discard the rest. If your corpse runs out of cards, tough. Looted cards are handed to players.
  • Death doesn’t allow you to receive cards, not even Charity, and you can’t level up or win the game.
  • Your newly revived character can help others using your new Level and Class or Race abilities when the next player begins their turn, but you have no cards unless you receive Charity or gifts from others.
  • Your next turn begins with the drawing of four face-down cards from each deck and the playing of any legal cards. Then take your turn normally.


  • Curse cards apply to the person who drew them during the Kick Open The Door phase.
  • If you obtain a Curse card by some other means, such as Looting The Room, it goes straight to your hand. Reducing someone’s abilities just as they think they have killed a monster is fun.
  • A Curse usually affects its victim immediately (if it can) and then is discarded. Some Curses give a penalty later in the game, or have a long-lasting effect. Keep these cards until you remove the Curse or the penalty takes effect. (Curse cards you keep as a reminder may not be discarded to power Class or Race abilities)
  • Note: It counts in your next combat if someone casts a “your next combat” Curse on you! This also applies to a “your next turn” Curse played during your turn.
  • The victim decides which Item is lost or Cursed if a Curse can apply to more than one.
  • Ignore a Curse that applies to something you don’t have. You can discard the card if you draw Lose Your Armour and you have no Armour. Some curses have alternate effects, so always read the card!
  • Sometimes it will be helpful to play a Curse or Monster on yourself or to “help” another player in a way that costs them Treasure.

How to Win

Players must reach level 10 by killing monsters, unless a special card allows you to win through another method. The first player to reach level 10 wins.

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