We got this for our 12 year old for Christmas and it was an instant smash hit. It took a few minutes to get our head around the rules, but the box came with very helpful instructions, and by New Years we were having daily epic battles lasting two to five hours. The grown ups love this game too, it's fun, fast paced, encourages cheating and dirty tactics, and the cards are just plain funny.
Basic premise is that you try to collect cards that give you points advantages while taking it in turns to take a card from a deck that has a monster on it – if the monster has a higher point value than you do, you loose the fight and bad things happen. If you win, you get treasure. And you can collect monsters to attack other players with, which is always fun. As with the best games it's part strategy and part blind luck, so the outcome of the game is never predetermined. Even if you cheat. Like I do.
Basic reading and counting skills are a must though, and I think any child under 8 may struggle with this. The Big Kids will enjoy it though. A great rainy day activity and much easier to put in a bag and take on holiday than monopoly or scrabble – all you need to carry is the two decks of cards, one dice, and a pen and paper.
We'll definitely be tracking down expansion packs and different versions of the Munchkin Game.