On Munchkin

Introduction: The Munchkin Book

The Space Between the Cards
By James Lowder

It was Dave Arneson who got me to play Munchkin for the first time. As the gaming history afcionados among you may already know, Dave co-created Dungeons & Dragons. He was also a nice guy who loved games – not just designing them, but playing them and sharing his enthusiasm for them. So in 2006, when I was putting together a roster of industry notables I hoped would contribute to an essay anthology about the best hobby games, Dave’s name appeared near the top of the list. In fact, the book as I’d envisioned it would have a lot in common with the conversations about games I’d had with Dave the few times our paths crossed at conventions, though probably with fewer jokes about our mutual former employer, TSR.

Dave responded to my invitation by rattling off a few games he’d gladly champion. His selections were characteristically diverse and demonstrated how current he’d been keeping on the hobby. For every classic he mentioned, like M. A. R. Barker’s Empire of the Petal Throne, he listed several newer designs, such as Carcassonne and HeroClix. He finally settled on a title less than a year old at the time of our conversation: Dirk Henn’s excellent resource management game, Shogun.

Sadly, that essay never saw completion. First Dave’s teaching schedule, then his failing health precluded him from ever finishing his contribution to Hobby Games: The 100 Best, but the book’s subject clearly inspired him. Even after he’d settled on his topic, I received several short emails  …

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