By: Nick Dush
King of Tokyo
More often than not, when someone hears family game, the inferences that begin to form in their mind are not usually positive and may cause nausea, images of free parking and the word “sorry” to be accidentally muttered under one’s breath… Or not, do you booboo. The good news about this “Golden Age” of board gaming is that family games are exactly that: games (which implies fun or at the very least, entertainment) for the family. Richard Garfield’s King of Tokyo by IELLO falls neatly into the category of family game, but is it the king? Ha! Couldn’t resist.
The object of the game is to reach 20 victory points (we call ‘em star points), and set up requires each player to take their monster, their monster cutout and stand, shuffle the deck of cards and put the main board on the table. To determine the first player each player rolls all the black dice. The player that rolled the most “Attack” (Monster claw/fist) dice wins. Now you’re ready to become the overlord of Tokyo!
On a player’s turn they will roll them black dice again. You get three rolls and can lock dice after each reroll (‘cept the third roll, then you’re stuck). You can reroll any previously locked dice. Them dice are important so let’s go over what each face does:
The Numbers “1”, “2” and “3”—This is how you score victory points! Other than that… useless. You can only score victory points on dice when you roll triples of that number (or more). Each triple is worth that number (so three 3s is worth three…tehe) and each matching number after that is an additional victory point.
Energy (lightning bolt)—For each energy you roll, you get to take an energy cube. These bad boys are yo’ money. You save this energy to purchase cards that can give you victory points, enhance your monster or cause havoc for your opponents.
Attack (claw/fist)—This is how you figuratively smack monsters around. Since the hand looks ready to slap, grab yo’ powder and be aware of who you be smacking! If you are in Tokyo then you deal one damage per attack to each monster not in Tokyo. If you are not in Tokyo then you deal one damage per attack to each monster in Tokyo.
Heal (heart)—Each heal you roll restores your monster’s health by one, up to ten health (hearts). Oh, you cannot heal when you are in Tokyo. Cue the music when you find a heart piece!
Soooooo, how the heck do you get into Tokyo? Well, at the beginning of the game, Tokyo is unoccupied and the first monster to roll an attack places their figure into Tokyo. After that, it’s a game of cat and monster cat. While you’re in Tokyo and you get attacked, you can yield Tokyo to the monster that attacked you. Playing a 5 or 6 player game means you can have two monsters in Tokyo simultaneously.
Tokyo sounds dangerous! Why go there? That’s where the victory points be! Dice rolling those victory points can be disappointing if you don’t land them Commander Trips (triples) but Tokyo grants you a victory point each time you take control of Tokyo and two more at the beginning of your turn. Just remember that you cannot heal whilst in Tokyo.
Brief right? It’s a simple game so let’s move on! Dem highlights:
There ain’t no Eren Yeagers: I like taking down monstrosities with uber-sharp metal katana’s and a 3D harness, but on occasion it’s just nice to be one! The core game comes with 6 monsters and one of them is super cute for the ladies! Oh, it’s also quite deadly. The monsters all have appropriate names and some are quite obviously parodies of monsters in other media. The artwork is fun too as it highlights the monsters and the devastation they dish out in a cartoon way. The monsters are:
- The King
- Giga Zaur
- Cyber Bunny
- Meka Dragon
The Dice: Since you’ll be rolling these babies a lot it makes sense that they should emulate the game. I’ve heard players complain about the weight and bulk of the dice, but I think it adds an extra layer of theme. You’re supposed to be portraying a monster, not some mystical star child or fluffy heffalumps and woozles! Dice need be big! I like that it feels clunky and that most people use both hands to roll the dice. I’d imagine that’s what debris would feel like if I sat down to play a game with my lil’ monsterlings after a long day destroying a human civilization.
Simplicity and Speed: This game is perfect for roping in new gamers or playing with younger children. It’s easy to learn and easier to play. I mean, the rulebook is only three pages long. The game goes quick (sometimes too quickly) so it is easy to run that back!
Depth: This game is almost too simple. I know there is strategy involved, but unless I’m trying to introduce a new player, I will not submit King of Tokyo as one of the games I want to play. There just isn’t enough strategy to keep me coming back after a game or two for a while. I’d rather have something with a bit more meat. Ironic, no?
Variation: All the monsters have unique names and I can dig the artwork but that’s where the fun stops. All the monsters function exactly the same. They might all look like white mystery but they all taste like lemonade.
Despite the lack of depth and variation, this game does serve a valiant purpose. It fills that niche of beginning gamer or family game; whichever you need. This game has served me well in that regard and I am glad I purchased it, as I will be teaching it to my son as soon as he is able (to begin the conversion process early). I already got him on reading, Star Wars and Star Trek; board gaming only seems to be the next logical step.
Expansions: There are currently two expansions out for King of Tokyo and a planned reimplementation of the mechanics found in King of Tokyo into IELLO’s King of New York to be released August 2014.
King of Tokyo: Power Up! –This expansion is a must have in my opinion. Not only does it add a giant ninja panda monster, it adds the mechanic that the core game needed. The Power Up! expansion adds an evolution deck for the new Pandakai and each monster found in the core game. Those heal dice now grant you an evolution card if you roll triple heals (hearts), even in Tokyo! These decks really individualize your monsters and add some strategy as no two decks are the same so each monster is tailored to a certain play style. I recommend starting with an evolution and using the Controlled Evolution variant found in the new rules but you do what you do. This expansion is a perfect addition to the game and a great way to graduate from the core game and still have a blast with your group. My personal favorite evolution deck is Cthulhu… I mean the Kraken.
King of Tokyo: Halloween –This expansion, while not necessary like Power Up!, adds some flair. It comes with two new Halloween themed monsters: Pumpkin Jack and Boogie Woogie. The expansion comes with each new monster’s own evolution deck, orange dice (which are awesome) and costume cards. The new spin on the evolution decks for these de-pantsers (trick or treat, smell my feet…) is they can gift some of their evolutions to other monsters. You don’t want these gifts; they’re bad and mean. The new costumes are supposed to be mixed into the regular deck and can be purchased and then ripped off of other monsters and then given to your monster if you roll triple Attack (claw/fist) dice and slap some energy there way. I personally like to start everyone off with one costume as they add some nifty benefits. ‘Cept the Cheerleader costume. Not a fan. Dat Zombie though…