Launching at retail next week is the Munchkin CCG from Steve Jackson Games. And to jump right away on your first question, no, it’s not just the Munchkin card game in new packaging. The CCG would be better described as Munchkin-inspired. The game features similar humor and artistic style and borrows many thematic elements. It’s still a parody of fantasy roleplaying. Levels and loot are part of the game. And traditional Munchkin-y things show up on various cards—ducks, chainsaws, and gazebos are just a few.

Gameplay, however, is quite different. It is a CCG, so the essential idea is to attack your opponent and reduce their hero’s life points to zero. The way cards work together, too, is an important part of the game. In fact, each player chooses a hero of a specific class (elf thief or dwarf cleric, for example) and the cards of their deck are all supposed to either belong to that class or be neutral. The cards of each class type, of course, build on a common theme. Cleric cards allow the player to resist damage or heal. Thief cards lean toward the Mischief type (special actions or attacks that can be played out of normal order).

All that is fine and good. But what makes the Munchkin CCG outstanding is how brilliantly it pairs serious game with silly humor and take-that attitude. To attack your opponent, you send out one monster at a time with the money to pay for it. The card you put forward, however, goes face-down and need not even be a monster, or maybe you paid too little, or too much. Your opponent then has a choice to make, whether to defend, or runaway, or simply stand and take the hit—all while trying to read your bluff. “Cheating,” as it’s called (attacking without a monster or the money to pay for it), is part of the game, and part of the strategy in getting past an opponent’s defenses.

Bluffing and cheating also makes the Munchkin CCG much more than just playing your cards against your opponent’s deck. You’re really playing your opponent.

At launch, the Munchkin CCG will be available in two-deck Starter Sets (Cleric/Thief, Wizard/Bard, Ranger/Warrior) for $20 and 12-card boosters for $4.