Giant monsters, bunny robots, aliens from far, far away and the king himself are destroying Tokyo. Not Elvis, but a giant gorilla! Who will die and who will survive, who will be the King of Tokyo? Check it out in this dice-chucking game from Richard Garfield.
What do you get for your money?
6 Monsters and 6 monster boards, 66 cards, some energy cubes, 8 dice, a little board of Tokyo and some tokens.
How do you play the game?
Every player chooses one of six monsters: Gigazaur, the Kraken, Alienoid, Cyber Bunny, Meka Dragon and the King. Every monster starts with a health of 10 and zero points. Now it’s up to the dice. You can roll ones, twos, threes, thunderbolts, hearts or claws. You may throw three times. Hearts are for healing, thunderbolts are for energy cubes (money) and claws are attacks. The first player who ends up with at least one claw goes into Tokyo. Everyone outside Tokyo can attack the monsters in Tokyo and the monsters inside Tokyo can attack everyone outside Tokyo if they rolls claws. In Tokyo you can’t heal and if you are attacked, you can choose to take a hit and stay or take hit and get the hell out of there. The monster who attacked, then must go into Tokyo. Every time someone must go into Tokyo, he gets a point, if you survive a whole round in Tokyo you get two. Another way to score points is to roll numbers. 3×1 is one point, 3×2 are two points and 3×3 are three points and every extra number in a row is one extra point. You can also buy points with energy cubes from the card offer. You can also buy cards who will give you a special power, sometimes for the entire game, other times you have to deal with a card power immediately.
The card powers are the possibility to poison, an extra die, damage to your opponents, just some extra points and many others.
The game is over when a monster reaches a point total of twenty or is he only one left.
The gameplay is incredibly simple (maybe too simple). King of Tokyo is a real family game.
Although the point scoring system doesn’t make thematically sense, I do understand that without it, there wouldn’t be a real game here.
Now you have two ways to win the game. You can collect the most points or kill all other monsters. That’s better than only beating each other up with dice.
This two-way scoring system adds a ‘press you luck’ element and therefore some excitement to the game.
Because of the cards you are able to get special abilities. There are nice cards for both winning conditions; re-roll a die to increase your chances to score points, give monsters poison tokens to damage them, or maybe shrink others, so they roll with one less die. And many, many more.
The cards are random and there are a lot of them so you can’t count on a certain card to turn up, but they do give the game something extra, it spices things up. Without it, King of Tokyo is just a (too) simple dice rolling game.
You don’t have to be a master tactician in this game, you just roll the dice and see what comes out of the hat. Buy the cards you like, take as much points as you can and if you’re able, attack monsters. The gameplay is very simple and pretty well thought of, but is it fun…?
Flavour and Theme
The theme: Monsters fighting over Tokyo, is implemented in almost every aspect of the game. The dice bring chaos and the cards bring the thematic detail. You can create your own two headed, fire breathing, poison spitting monster that destroyed all kinds of buildings.
If you are in Tokyo you are on you skyscraper fighting everyone off and everybody else is trying throw you off.
The only thing that thematically doesn’t make any sense is the point scoring system. Why will you be the King of Tokyo when you have the most points?? Don’t get it. I get that you are the King if you beat everyone else to death or destroy all buildings. But the most points and not be in Tokyo?? You are this giant dragon and are destroying everything in Tokyo and there is this bunny, standing at the edge of the city shouting: ‘Yay, twenty points, I win, I’m the King!’ Doesn’t make any sense.
And energy cubes as a way to get upgrades is a nice idea, but why do you have to use energy to be on the news or to gain human supporters?? Most of the cards make perfectly sense though.
The cartoon-like illustrations also suck you into the theme.
The game looks very nice. The illustrations are very cartoony.
The fluorescent dice, the see-through green energy cubes and the bright, fluorescent colours on the cards; the colours that are chosen in this game add a lot to the whole gaming experience. They could have chosen a more realistic type of art, but the current artwork drags you into this old pulp monster movie theme.
So the art is not only pretty, it is also very thematic.
Quality of the game parts
The card quality isn’t that great. Luckily you don’t have to shuffle the cards very often. The cardboard player-boards and standees are OK and the energy cubes are small, but have a good quality.
The dice are bigger than normal dice, but they feel a little too light (personal preference).
The box insert could be better, the space where the cards should go is just six cards to small and you have to put the player boards back in the box in exactly the right order or otherwise they will pop out of the insert.
I’m not really fond of this game. It became stale too quickly in my opinion. The first couple of times I played it, it was really fun. A little monster bashing, a bit of trash talking and the excitement when a new card was revealed. But after a couple of game nights, every game felt the same to me. Just rolling my dice. Earn a couple of points here and attack a guy there.
Everyone is doing that same thing. You’re are not really competing for anything important. I’ve said that there are two ways to win this game, but I don’t feel that it’s your choice to make. You just win or lose one way or the other, it just happens to you.
For me, the only thing that is a little fun after a while, are the cards, but only some of them ( ‘poison spit’, ‘acid attack’, ‘shrink ray’ for example) and they might not even turn up.
I’ve also found that you have to play this game with the right group of people. Not everyone likes the theme and without the theme, and without the trash-talking, it only is Yahtzee for dummies.
What I also don’t like is the player-elimination. A game lasts 30 minutes, but sometimes even longer when some people have certain special abilities and that is too long to sit there and do nothing. A couple of minutes OK, or better no elimination, but 15 minutes or so is too long.
This game isn’t bad. I’ll play it when someone wants me to. I’ll have a bit of fun. But if I had to choose a game to play that evening, I choose something else.
I’ll keep it though, because my friends like it and it’s an easy game to start with if people do not play games very often. Hopefully they are as excited about King of Tokyo as I was when I first played it.