Updated: Sep 19, 2019
Unlike most gamers I’ve never really played “Richard Garfield’s other game”, Magic: The Gathering. Although I did own a starter set of the game I found that it was practically impossible to enjoy the game with the decks included. So, despite the huge popularity of M:tg, I never got into it, despite my love of card games in general. So when I heard that Richard Garfield would be releasing a new game I figured “Big Whoop” and ignored it.
… But then Christmas rolled around and I’d begun to hear good things about the game… really good things. As usual I was hunting for new games to play with my little brother and one game kept cropping up, King of Tokyo.
But what did I think of it? I guess you’ll just have to wait and see…
Tokyo is under siege, six terrifyingly huge monsters are fighting to gain control of the city, and the yummy human shaped treats contained therein. A giant lizard, a humongous monkey, a mech warrior controlled by a super intelligent bunny, a leviathan sized sea monster, a mechanical dragon and an interstellar alien have all turned out to battle over who will dine on humankind!
What do you get?
1 Tokyo Board
6 Black Dice, 2 Green Dice
6 Monster Boards
6 Monster Standees
50 Energy cubes
First off, I can’t decide if it is a good thing or a bad thing, but when you open the box everything is prepunched and sorted into sections and bags in the box so you’re ready to play straight away… but you don’t get the fun of punching and bagging everything… It’s a confusing state of affairs!
The components themselves are very good, the artwork is superb, if you like the cartoon style that is. The tokens and boards are all nice and thick and the energy cubes look cool. The dice are now etched as opposed to the initial print run which used painted dice which rubbed off easier, however they’re still not as good as the custom dice that appear in FFG games like WFRP3 or Elder Sign for example, but they are still pretty nice and the size and contrasting colours will work well even with players who may have a difficult time seeing.
Overall I’m very happy with the components and the visual style of the game, it looks great both on the table and on the shelf!
Playing the Game
To set up King of Tokyo, place the board in the centre of the table and deal out three cards from the deck face up. Each player takes a monster and a monster board and you’re ready to begin.
First player is determined by all players rolling the 6 black dice and which ever player rolls the most attack symbols goes first.
On your turn you will roll the six black dice and use the results to gain victory points, gain energy, heal your monster or attack other monsters. The game is played until only one monster remains or until one monster achieves 20 victory points.
Each turn the players will roll the dice 3 times, keeping any dice results they want and re-rolling the other dice. the possible results are as follows.
1, 2 or 3 – These results indicate victory points. If you score three 1’s you score 1 vp, three 2’s is 2 vp and three 3’s is 3 vp. Each additional matching number is an additional point, so four 2’s is 3v p for example.
Heart – This heals your monster 1 point of damage. You cannot heal if you are in Tokyo however.
Claw – For each attacking symbol you roll you do 1 point of damage to every monster not in the same area as you. There are two areas, in Tokyo and not in Tokyo.
Lightning – Energy symbols allow you to take energy cubes which can be spent to buy cards or power effects on cards.
Much of the game revolves around controlling Tokyo. The first player to use an attack symbol takes control of Tokyo, after that players can only take control of Tokyo if another player yields or through a card effect.
Taking control of Tokyo earns you 1 victory point, starting your turn in Tokyo earns you 2 victory points. As noted above all attacks generated by players not in Tokyo target the player in Tokyo (and vice versa) and you cannot heal while in Tokyo.
A player may only yield Tokyo when he is attacked by another player, if he chooses to yield the attacking player is placed in Tokyo and gains the victory point for taking control. Because you can choose when to yield (mostly) you can push your luck to gain additional victory points or yield to a weak player in the hopes of them being killed by the other players.
The final way to gain victory points is through purchasing cards. The cards give you all manner of different abilities, some give you an extra dice or additional rerolls, others simply give victory points or deal damage.
When only one player remains or one player scores their 20th victory point the game ends.
My little brother opened King of Tokyo on Christmas morning, and despite being initially disappointed that it wasn’t all 3 seasons of Ben 10 Alien Force (although he got that too!), we had already opened and played the game three times through before lunch was served.
The game went on to be a popular choice all throughout the holidays. The fast playing time and colourful nature of the game makes this great filler and a perfect family game.
There is a certain element of “take that” in the game, however because who you attack is arbitrarily defined by the game and not really by your choice, it doesn’t feel like you’re being picked on even though the victory conditions are last man standing.
As I’ve already said the artwork is fantastic and really helps to capture the feeling of those giant monster versus the city style films that dominated early cinema. Even having played the game over a dozen times I’ve yet to get through all the cards in the deck (I've never even used any of the tokens supplied with the game yet) so replayability is huge.
I guess if I have to find a negative point to the game, it would be player elimination. It is possible to be eliminated early in this game, especially in higher player count games, which could leave you out of the action for 20 minutes or so until the game is over. That said there is always the “It had a Baby” card which would allow you to respawn with full hits and 0vp. But the game is so fast and fun that even when I’m eliminated I don’t mind watching the rest of the game play out.
This games major strength is in it’s simplicity and it’s weight. The simplistic, yahtzee style nature of the game makes it easy to play with any group, even non-gamers and families. The lightweight nature of the game certainly lessens, if not removes entirely, the possibility of feeling victimised by the other players actions. And the vast number of combinations with the card effects keeps the game fresh and interesting every time, despite the simplicity, making it fun to play over and over again.
King of Tokyo is a great game and can be enjoyed as a filler game between heavier ones, or a great way to start off or wind down an evening of play. I highly recommend you check it out.