Most people I knew growing up loved monsters, from Frankenstein, The Werewolf to Dracula. I always felt bigger was better so I was more attracted to the likes of Godzilla and King Kong. I remember playing a PC game called Rampage when I was a kid, the idea being that you play a monster and move it around destroying buildings, eating people and smashing tanks. To sum it up total destruction! I was even attracted to The Power Rangers shows only because it had guys in silly rubber monster suits fighting each other in a mini city.
So I had high hopes when I first heard about King of Tokyo the board game. Did it match up to my high expectations?
King of Tokyo has the player choosing one of the six available monsters. These monsters are then pitted against each other. The first monster to destroy all the other or to have 20 VP is the winner.
To start off with, the art in King of Tokyo is excellent. It is bright and colourful and the monsters have a Saturday morning cartoon feel to them, totally not what you would expect from a game about monsters fighting. Strangely this works quite well. The cards are made of a good card stock and the art on them carries over the Saturday morning cartoon feel.
The dice are a good quality although I have heard of people complaining that they might be a tad big (especially because you roll six at once) but it didn’t really bother me as I have huge gorilla hands.
The small cardboard effect tokens are a nice thick cardboard. The plastic energy cubes look great and I love the translucent green plastic they used for them.
The monster boards displaying your health and VP are great especially because they use dials to keep track of this. These boards do tend to wobble a bit and could have been more stable.
The board is nice and solid and the art on it is once again good.
The cardboard cut out monsters are where I tend to be a bit disappointed. I understand that doing miniatures this size would have made the game too expensive but the card board monsters, although their art is good tend to feel a bit lacking.
At the beginning of the game players choose from one of six available monsters, The Kraken (Cthulhu), The King (King Kong), Aliennoid (a alien in a giant robot suit), Meka dragon (Mecha Godzilla), Gigazaur (Godzilla) and Cyber bunny (Yes this is not a typo, it is literally a bunny in a giant bunny mech suit).
Each player takes the corresponding monster board and sets their health to 10 and their VP to 0.
The deck of cards are shuffled and placed next to the board. The first three cards are drawn and placed face up next to the deck.
The game board is placed in the middle of the table and the player monsters are arranged around it. Now at first I was caught of guard because the board only has one move space (two if you play more than four players) and this just seemed strange to me.
So the game starts with each player rolling six dice. These dice have the following images on them:
Lightning bolt – This represents the amount of energy cubes the player receives (which the player uses to buy cards).
Monster claws – This represents the amount of hits the players monster deals.
Hearts – This represents the amount of health recovered by the player.
Numbers (1,2,3) – This represents the VP a player scores (only if more than three of the same number is rolled)
The player can re-roll any or all of these dice twice. The dice that the player kept on the first re-roll can be kept again or re-rolled on the second roll.
Once the player has rolled and re-rolled their dice they then receive the amount of energy points, deals the amount of attacks, heals the amount of hearts and scores the amount of VP shown on the dice. VP is only scored when three or more of the same numbers are rolled.
Now this is where it gets interesting. The first player to roll a monster claw (attack) is placed in Tokyo. When a player’s monster moves to Tokyo they immediately gain 1 VP. Every round the player’s monster stays in Tokyo they receive 2 VP after that round ends. This comes at a cost though; being in Tokyo means all the monsters outside of Tokyo attacks the monster in Tokyo. The monster in Tokyo is also unable to heal. When the monster in Tokyo attacks he attacks all the monsters outside of Tokyo.
This makes for a great risk reward system. When an outside monster attacks the monster in Tokyo, the monster in Tokyo can decide to exchange places with the attacking monster.
The cards mix up this formula a bit as the player can purchase these cards (using their energy cubes) each with a special ability that can be a once of power or one that the player keeps for the duration of the game. These range from gaining extra VP to forcing another player to re-roll dice or receiving extra energy each turn.
The players continue battling it out until one monster is left standing or a player is the first to score 20VP.
I really enjoyed King of Tokyo. At first glance I almost wrote it off as a kids game (although kids will enjoy it too) and I wasn’t sure of the art but have come to love it allot, it ties in great with the mood and playfulness of the game. Luckily I gave it a try and was very surprised.
It uses really simple mechanics that keeps the game play flowing yet you get the depth from using the power card (of which some have game changing abilities).
The risk reward mechanic of deciding to go into Tokyo makes for some tense moments. Do you risk your last health points to score the 3 VP you need to win or do you wait it out and heal? These are the type of questions that are responsible for the tension in the game.
That said this can also be a problem. Let me explain, when King of Tokyo is played with a bunch of play it safe gamers the game immediately bogs down and becomes boring. See in this game you really have to become the monster, let the kid in you come out and play the game. Smash and destroy stuff! It is great to try and win by scoring the most victory points but it is even more fun battling it out and seeing who the last monster standing is.
Choosing which monster you play is purely for visual reasons, as each monster plays the same. I would have liked it if each monster had different abilities. I have heard that the expansion changes this by giving monster specific abilities but it would have been nice to have it included in the base game. This is not a deal breaker though.
My last problem I have with the game as mentioned earlier is that it would really have been great if they included miniatures instead of the card board cut outs. These cut outs don’t detract from the game play but visually it would have looked even better.
My final thoughts on King of Tokyo? Well I think it is a great family game as well as a great gate way game, while still offering enough depth to seasoned gamers. It teaches very quickly and plays very easily. I got my brother and sister into board gaming by starting them of with this game and to me any game that can bring more people into the hobby is a great game.
Giant Monsters fighting each other in the streets of Tokyo, what’s not to like?
Components: 3.5 I would have really preferred miniatures to the cardboard characters. Over all the great although the player boards can be a bit wobbly.
Gameplay: 4/5 This game is a blast for all ages and all players from the beginner to experienced. It offers great game play in short sessions.
Complexity vs. Depth: 4/5 This is a game is a great game for beginners, but offers enough depth for seasoned gamers.
Theme: 3.5/5 King of Tokyo oozes theme, from the character art all the way through to the different powers. It is easy to feel like a powerful monster. My only reservation would be that each monster feels the same as the monster you choose is only for aesthetic purposes.
Overall: 4.5/5 King of Tokyo was one of the board games that got me and my friends back into board gaming. It is one of those rare board games that I believe would appeal to any player at some level. Anyone wanting to experience a quick, fun game and especially if the enjoy dice chucking should give it a go.