Want to know what was going through my demented brain as I worked on the latest Munchkin mini-expansion, Munchkin Clowns?
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OK, you asked for it. Go read my Munchkin Clowns Designer's Notes.
It's Shakespeare Day!
If you didn't check out today's Daily Illuminator, you should do that – it has a Munchkin rule for use today only! Plus, Warehouse 23 has a special Munchkin Shakespeare bundle at a groundling-friendly price. The curtain falls on this promotion after April 23, so act quickly!
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This week is a little bit of a different update from the others we've done so far. The Starfinder Roleplaying Game includes three new classes that happen to share names with classes we've already done in other Munchkin sets. Rather than leave them out of Munchkin Starfinder, we decided to go ahead and reuse the names . . . which left the problem of whether to have the same abilities or not, even if those abilities don't 100% make sense, or to replace some or all of them with more Starfinder-y options.
In the end, we have one card that's exactly the same (Mystic), one that's entirely new (Mechanic), and one that splits the difference (Soldier). Click each one to see a larger version of these three new-but-not Munchkin Starfinder classes.
We have THREE Munchkin Starfinder updates to go! Check Munchkin News every Monday to see what we're talking about.
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It's always fun to work with a race that has an unusual appearance, and bringing the Lashunta into Munchkin Starfinder was certainly no exception. (Look at the Kasatha from a few weeks ago for another example.) Lashunta in the Starfinder Roleplaying Game have versatile antennae that they can use to cause a psychic daze in their opponents. It wasn't a hard choice to model both of these on the Munchkin Starfinder version of the Lashunta, and I really like what we came up with here. (Click the card to see it bigger.)
Don't forget that Kickstarter backers will start getting rewards shipped in May. If your Friendly Local Game Store was one of our retail backers, let them know that you want the game! Make sure to check out Munchkin News next Monday . . . it might be another preview or it might be something else, but you won't know if you don't come back to check!
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A little over a month ago, we published the annual Report to the Stakeholders. As usual, there's a lot of content there, but one paragraph has caused several people to contact us asking for clarification:
The shift in the market affected our "keep it in print!" approach to Munchkin games and expansions, and we're now starting to let some of the slower sellers fade into out-of-print status. We would rather keep the Munchkin games and expansions available at all times – it is frustrating when a Munchkin fan is forced to spend five, ten, or twenty times MSRP on eBay to get a game they want – but declining sales volumes do not mesh well with holding inventory. We will try to keep the top ten or so Munchkin games and expansions available at all times, but everything else will see out-of-stock times . . . or simply go away for the immediate future.
Of course, the most immediate concern expressed was, "Is Munchkin in trouble?" My answer to that is an unequivocal NO. Munchkin continues to be a large part of SJ Games' business, particularly with the impressive launch of the Collectible Card Game, and that's unlikely to change any time soon. What we are seeing, however, is a sales drop in many of our older titles in favor of the New Hotness (to quote Ken Hite). That's absolutely to be expected, but it highlights a problem that has grown worse in the last several years: the effort required to keep an ever-growing line of games and accessories constantly in print is taking resources (both time and money – especially money) away from continuing to develop new games. Not just Munchkin games, either; one of the delays in Car Wars has been an inability to give it the focused time it needs because we have had to pay so much attention to Munchkin and the CCG.
The obvious solution, of course, is to shift away from having everything available all the time. We had already decided that most of the 15- and 30-card mini-expansions (such as Munchkin Clowns and Munchkin Cheats) would not be reprinted, but we've now made that a hard policy for all of them, with very rare exceptions, if any. We've also realized that we put too much energy over the last several years into Munchkin game accessories, so we'll be backing away from those in favor of games and expansions. We won't stop doing them entirely, but we will be a lot more choosy about them moving forward, and you'll see most of them designed for general Munchkin games instead of specific genres.
Looking at the games themselves, we're going to stress our top sellers and let the rest go out of print. Without giving a complete list, I can say that of the lines published before 2010, we're planning to keep Munchkin, Star Munchkin, and Munchkin Cthulhu available, possibly one or two others. We're also going to be less afraid of games that will be printed once and once only: Munchkin Shakespeare is a recent example. With the exception of Munchkin and Munchkin Deluxe, however, even the titles that are staying in our catalog may have a delay of a few months between printings if that's what works for our schedule.
As for the tuckbox expansions, we plan to keep the numbered expansions for the original Munchkin game (such as Munchkin 6.5 – Terrible Tombs and Munchkin 9 – Jurassic Snark) in print, and that's as far as I'm able to commit right now. While sales of many of the core games have declined, the sales of their expansions, including fairly recent ones such as Munchkin Apocalypse 2 – Sheep Impact and Star Munchkin 3 – Diplomatic Impunity) has plummeted – even at our minimum order from our printer, we'd be getting a multi-year supply of almost all of them, and right now that's just not a good investment for us. We don't plan to stop making new expansions for new core games, but it's very likely that those will be "one and done." The larger-format expansions, such as Game Changers and Holiday Surprise, are almost certainly going away for good – in fact, we expect those two titles to sell out at our Atlanta warehouse well before the end of the year. If you've been holding off getting them, don't.
This may sound dire, but it really isn't. It's a deliberate shift in policy toward a more flexible catalog, without the constraint of keeping all of our Munchkin games and expansions on shelves all the time. Just like partnering with great companies such as USAopoly, IDW Games, and SlugFest Games, it's part of our plan to keep offering our fans new Munchkin games for the foreseeable future.Share this post!
I wanted to take a break from Munchkin Starfinder previews to talk about three other companies who announced Munchkin games this month. It's going to be a good year!
- We've pointed at Munchkin: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from IDW Games in this space already, but I wanted to congratulate them on a very successful Kickstarter. They ended up with 3,353 backers and a total pledge of $146,647, which is fantastic for a project with no stretch goals and exactly one add-on. Alain and I have been looking over the files as they've come in and we could not be more delighted. I can't wait for y'all to see the results in a few months.
- Last week, USAopoly announced Munchkin Harry Potter, their first Deluxe-style game. We've been working closely with them on this one and it's going to be a real treat for everyone in the Potterverse. (And I would be remiss if I didn't mention that it blends very well with Munchkin Spell Skool . . .) That article talks about some other Harry Potter-themed games USAopoly will be coming out with, so definitely go read it!
- On Friday, SlugFest Games launched their Kickstarter for The Red Dragon Inn: Munchkin, bringing Spyke and Flower into the tavern for their special brand of hijinks in a two-player expansion that is also a playable game. Better yet, for an extra $10, you can also get Munchkin: The Red Dragon Inn, a 29-card Munchkin expansion that brings your favorite foes and loot (and, let's be honest, DRINKS) from The Red Dragon Inn into Munchkin itself. It even comes with a special promo Prize card for The Red Dragon Inn games. The Kickstarter ends on April 7, so don't forget to pledge, or you'll have to wait for the games to hit shelves this fall.
We're very excited to be working with three great companies this year and bringing you some games we're proud of. We certainly haven't forgotten our own Munchkin projects, including three that we just sent to print late last week. I can't talk about them yet, but as soon as I can, I'll definitely mention them here! And there are still more surprises on the horizon . . .Share this post!
The Solarian is one of the most intriguing new classes in the Starfinder Roleplaying Game. Solarians have captured little motes of light that let them control energy or even gravity. For Munchkin Starfinder, we emulated this with an ability that sometimes gives you a combat bonus and sometimes makes it easier to Run Away. The Solarian's second ability lets you refresh your hand if you really need to get some new cards. (As before, click the thumbnail to see a bigger version of this card.)
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In the world of the Starfinder Roleplaying Game, the Swarm are a fearsome alien force that nearly destroyed all the other races. However, one group, the Shirren, defected and helped change the tide of the conflict.
In Munchkin Starfinder, we've adopted the Swarm as a group of nasty monsters who can gang up on the poor munchkins. Luckily, the Shirren know how they work and get bonuses to fight them. And because of their hive-mind heritage, Shirren also get away from losing fights more easily. Click the picture to see a bigger bug!
Catch up on all the Munchkin Starfinder previews in the Munchkin News archive, and check back next Monday to see what's new for Munchkin!
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