King of Tokyo used to enjoy a regular cycle of play in our house until one fateful day when my younger brother became very disheartened with losing and screwing up one of the player boards. Since then the game has idled on the shelf waiting patiently to make its triumphant return.
Well… it’s back! King of Monster Island takes the King of Tokyo gameplay and makes it full co-op hopefully bringing an end to any potential temper tantrums. In King of Monster Island players take on the role of a monster, hired by the government to bring down an even worse threat. It’s like the plot of every terrible B-Movie thrown in a box and it makes for a great theme!
The game ships with 3 bosses (two different difficulties for each) and 5 heroic monsters, but you can use any “King Of” monsters from other products as your heroes if you want. Like the original King of Tokyo, the monsters themselves have no inherent powers, instead players can acquire powers through ramping up their fame, attracting a support team such as the Med Bots, Ninjas or an army of intelligent Ape Monsters.
Each round begins with a boss phase, any available boss dice are chucked in the volcano, which acts as a dice tower, spewing them randomly onto the board. The boss then moves to a new sector, activates minions and then activates any dice there. The boss wants to either build 3 pylons, opening a gate to their home dimension and ending life on earth as we know, run out the bag of minions or have a monster start their turn on zero health. The heroes simply want to take down the boss.
Once the boss has taken a turn the heroes go, rolling 6 dice and taking the actions depicted. Yahtzee style they can reroll their dice up to 2 times, accepting whatever the final result is. Feet can be used to move or attack, claws attack for 2, lightning bolts give you energy which can used to purchase ability cards, fame can be used to remove boss dice and power up your support team, hearts heal any monster in the space and spanners can be used to build support ships which give you access to even more actions.
Any unused dice can be locked in the space allowing other monsters to use them on a future turn, creating a sense of cooperation and that no roll is wasted, even if you can’t use the dice yourself.
King of Monster Island is a great, simple co-op, with lots of dice chucking and working together. Those familiar with the “King Of” series will find familiar elements, although the function of some of the icons has changed, but enough of the DNA remains that the games will give you the same feeling, but in a cooperative setting.
If the game has a downside it is the components. Everything looks fantastic, the art in particular has always been amazing in this series. However, the large volcano and massive standees do obscure things like locked dice and minions and players are always having to peer around the components to see what is behind. A number of times during our plays we realised we couldn’t have done certain things because we hadn't noticed there were minions in the space because they were hidden by the volcano. So, cool looking, but not necessarily the most practical from a game play point of view.
However, component issues aside, this is a fun co-op that lets me get the “King of” series back to the table but without tears before bedtime!
On the ninth day of Christmas, Santa gave to me... Nine Rampaging Monsters!