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Game Night Review: King of Tokyo

Like any review here, let’s start with some story time. [NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! – Ed.]

Recently I was invited to a game night hosted by people I didn’t know. One side of me was like ‘YES! Great! I have all these board games I’ve been buying because I think they look neat and now I actually have people to play them with!’ but the other side of me panicked, ‘What if they’re not as nerdy as me? What if the game I pick is too complicated?’ and so on. Well, first off, I needn’t have worried…but that’s not why you’re here. However, it was this chain of thought that sent me to my fairly local game shop. You see, I had wanted to take Godzilla: Kaiju World Wars…but in going over the revised 2nd edition rules, well, it still seemed like a lot: a lot of set up, a lot of rules and a lot of gameplay. So, my dilemma: find a game that featured giant monsters wrecking stuff, is fun and, if possible, is quick to play.

Enter King of Tokyo.

Yes, I know, I’m reviewing a seven year old game. But it’s still on game shelves…so it’s gotta be new to someone at some point, right?

Objective: To have your giant monster earn the right to be the King of Tokyo. Duh. You can do this two ways: collecting 20 victory points in various ways or in classic Kaiju fashion: KILL EVERYONE!

Mechanics: The game is dice-based. There are 6 6-sided dice (there are two additional 6-sided die that are included for use under game specific conditions) that each player rolls per turn, resulting in a 1, 2, 3, lightning bolt, claw or heart. The numbers are used to gain victory points, but you have to roll three die with the same value in order to get that number of points. For example, rolling a 2, 2, 2, 3, claw and heart will earn you 2 victory points. Had that 3 actually been a 2, then the additional 2 would have given you an additional victory point, resulting in 3 VP. Claws are attacks, doing one damage to the targeted monster. For monsters outside of Tokyo, the targeted monster is the current reigning ‘King’ while for said ‘King’, the target is…well…everyone else! We’ll discuss the ‘King’ in his own paragraph. At the very start of the game, the first player to roll and keep a claw in their dice becomes the first ‘King’. Lightning bolts will buy you an energy cube which you can save up to buy cards that result in effects, actions and items for your chosen beast in the form of cards. Three cards are always available for purchase at any one time for differing costs. If you don’t like the selection, you can spend two energy to do away with the current set of cards and have three fresh ones put out. One thing to point out, energy is signified by these tiny green cubes players will collect throughout the game…and their likeness to Energon Cubes from Transformers is obvious. [Yet, strangely enough, you were NOT the one to point this out during your session. I’m equally impressed and disappointed in you. – Ed.] Hearts are easy, those serve to heal your monster. To wrap up this portion, the remaining thing to mention is that each die can be rerolled twice after your initial roll. This can allow you multiple attempts at your chosen strategy or, if the dice are just falling a certain way for you, give you the chance to change your strategy on the fly.

So…you’ve just become ‘King’…well, buckle up, buttercup, because heavy is the head that wears the crown! Upon taking your place in Tokyo, you earn 1 VP. If you stay in there for a full round, at the start of your next turn, you’ll get 2 VP. As I’ve already mentioned, as ‘King’, if you attack, you attack EVERYONE. And honestly, you’d better…because everyone else is aiming for you! But watch how long you reign, because so long as you’re in Tokyo…YOU CAN’T HEAL. Now, when you’ve finally had enough, you can abdicate your throne to the last person to deal you damage…therefore giving you the chance to heal all the while giving an opponent 1 VP as they enter the city and giving everyone else a new target.

Thoughts: The game lives up to everything I needed it for: it has giant monsters, it’s fun and it’s quick with games averaging about half an hour each. Game mechanics are fairly simple and most players will pick them up after the first play through. The game is labelled for ages 8 and up…and that seems about right. Sure, it may seem a little kiddie…but given the opportunity to win via bloodbath means that there’s plenty of violence here to satisfy the older crowd. And the equipment/events/actions in the cards may certainly lead to levels of betrayal and downright hatred that the best tabletop games are known for. My only hesitation for giving this game a full blown recommendation is its asking price. While everything within the box is top quality, particularly the cards where you keep track of your VP and health and the thick cardboard avatars…$40 feels a little steep. The good news is that a fair number of big-box retailers are carrying the game now, likely due to both its popularity and age, and as such you may find it in a Target or Wal-Mart for $30-$35…and if that’s the case, then yeah, it certainly gets a full recommendation! I can’t tell you why a difference of $5-10 is such a difference maker in my opinion…it’s such a nitpicky thing! Still, if you’re like me and you’d been looking at this game from time to time over the years but were never sure about whether or not to pick it up, I’d certainly add my voice to those saying ‘check it out’. Like I said, it’s fun, it’s quick and it fulfills any Kaiju quick-fix you might need! The fact that it’s all ages, yet still gives adults a chance to vent any bloodlust? Even better.


A Kaiju-sized thank you to our hosts, Stacey and Tim, for teaching us the game...and then promptly kicking our butts in it!

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