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Raine's been gaming for as long as he can remember. It all started back with his video gaming roots, and as he got older he transitioned into tabletop. A lover of all games, some of his favorites include Pathfinder, Battlestar Galactica, Magic: the Gathering, X-Wing, Android: Netrunner, and Warmachine/Hordes. Raine's been writing for many years, and loves being a part of the gaming industry.

Written Review – King of Tokyo

KoT Box

The people of Tokyo City are running in terror. Giant monsters have descended upon their city, and they’re tearing everything apart! Not only are they collapsing buildings and tossing cars, but they’re brawling with each other. King of Tokyo is an all-out brawl where players take the role of giant monsters fighting for control of the bustling city below. You’ll either fight to be the last monster standing, or work to earn enough Victory Points to claim the title of King of Tokyo, but either way, there’s going to be a battle!

King of Tokyo Stats

Components:

  • 66 cards
  • 6 monster boards
  • 6 monster tokens with plastic stand
  • 8 six-sided dices
  • 50 energy tokens
  • 28 tokens (cards effects)
  • Color Rulebook

Game Setup

Setup is complete and the smashing is about to begin!

Setup is complete and the smashing is about to begin!

Setting up King of Tokyo is simple and clean. Each player selects a Monster, takes its Monster figure and board, and sets its life points to 10 and Victory Points to 0. The board is placed in the middle of the table, within reach of every player. This board represents the city of Tokyo, divided into Tokyo City and Tokyo Bay. (Tokyo Bay is only used in a 5- or 6-player game.) All the cards are shuffled to form a singular deck and the first three cards are dealt face up on the table next to the board. These cards become the purchase row. All 6 black dice are put on the table within reach of all players, and finally, form a pool with the green Energy cubes so they can be accessed by all players. Now you’re ready to start smashing!

The Gameplay

In King of Tokyo, each player takes a turn that is broken down into 4 different steps:

1.)    Rolling and rerolling the dice

2.)    Resolving the dice

3.)    Purchase cards (optional)

4.)    End the turn

When your turn begins you’ll take all of the black dice and roll them. Then, in a Yahtzee-like fashion, you’ll reroll any number of the dice twice. Once you’ve rerolled twice, you have to stick with the result. Each face on the dice means something different:

Each of the different symbols: 1, 2, 3, Energy, Attack, Heal.

Each of the different symbols: 1, 2, 3, Energy, Attack, Heal.

  • Rolling 3 each of either 1/2/3 means you gain that many Victory Points, plus 1 for each die showing the same number rolled
  • A lightning bolt stands for Energy, and for each Energy rolled you receive 1 Energy cube
  • A claw symbol means an Attack, and for each Attack symbol rolled you deal 1 damage to all Monsters not in the same place as you (either inside Tokyo or out), each damage results in the loss of 1 life point, and when a Monster loses its last life point it is eliminated
  • A heart symbol translates to healing, and for each Heal symbol rolled you heal one lost life point, but you cannot heal over the 10-point maximum
When resolving this roll, the player would receive 2 Energy cubes, make 2 Attacks, and Heal 2 life point.

When resolving this roll, the player would receive 2 Energy cubes, make 2 Attacks, and Heal 2 life point.

When playing a 2- to 4-player game of King of Tokyo, the Tokyo Bay location is not used. This means that Monsters can only be in two places: Tokyo City or outside Tokyo. When rolling the dice, the first player to resolve an Attack deals no damage, but instead places their Monster figure in Tokyo and is currently in control of the city. From then on, all Monsters outside of Tokyo who resolve Attacks deal damage to the Monster currently in Tokyo and vice versa. When a Monster inside Tokyo takes damage from an outside Attack, they may choose to yield to the attacker, leaving Tokyo and forcing him to take your place.

The game board, showing Tokyo City and Tokyo Bay.

The game board, showing Tokyo City and Tokyo Bay.

Of course, there are some advantages and disadvantages to being inside Tokyo. When you take control of Tokyo, you immediately gain 1 Victory Point. Starting a turn in Tokyo earns you 2 Victory Points. Finally, the Monster inside Tokyo cannot use any Heal results on his rolled dice to heal, but can do so through using cards.

Sweet, sweet Energy cubes.

Sweet, sweet Energy cubes.

Using the Energy cubes obtained by rolling the dice, you can purchase cards that will do a multitude of different things. Each card either says “Keep” or “Discard” and has an effect. If the card has a Discard effect, it is immediately resolved, whereas Keep cards are placed in front of you. You can purchase as many cards as you have Energy cubes for, as their costs are indicated in the top left of the card. If you decide you don’t like the cards shown, however, you can spend 2 Energy and discard all three cards, replacing them from the top of the deck.

Some of the purchasable cards.

Some of the purchasable cards.

Once you’ve rolled and resolved the dice and had the chance to purchase a card, your turn ends. The player to the left then picks up the dice and starts over from rolling them. The game ends when either a Monster scores a total of 20 Victory Points or is the last one standing.

How Has Tokyo Fared?

King of Tokyo is everything people say it is. What’s more is that it’s exactly what it tries to be – an over-the-top monster smashing game that is packed with a lot of fun. There’s the push-your-luck element that makes the game exciting, but it’s not one of those of the same genre that see you losing it all if you push just a bit too far. It’s not a game that focuses on rolling high to overpower opponents. Honestly, I don’t think the dice rolling is really where the push-your-luck mechanic comes in the most, but rather in determining whether or not to stay in Tokyo or yield to your opponents.

The Yahtzee-like mechanic of rerolling the dice helps add to the game’s excitement, especially when you know exactly what you need to roll. If you’re trying to out-brawl your opponents, the numbers on the dice won’t mean much. Of course I’ll reroll this entire hand of dice to try and get 4 Attacks and knock you out of the game. That’s the risk I take, because I could end up rolling absolutely nothing and having to survive until my next turn.

Giga Zaur is ready for battle!

Giga Zaur is ready for battle!

It takes some real courage and strength to keep hold of Tokyo. You can only take control of the city on your turn, and while you’re stomping on buses and wrecking trains, you’ll feel the ire of each Monster not in the city. You have to absorb damage and dish out as much as you can while there, and take into account that you can’t heal yourself with the dice while on your scenic vacation. You could start at full health in Tokyo and, with enough players, see yourself being eliminated before you even take another turn.

A way to offer some strategy and remedy this is to purchase cards to help you. Each of the cards offers some phenomenal artwork by Benjamin Raynal, and they can mean life or death. Some cards help you cull damage, while others add effects to your opponents when they take damage from you. Some of the cards gain you instant Victory Points, and others allow you roll additional dice. With the right combination of pushing your luck and purchases, you can easily become a force to be reckoned with.

Some cards use tokens to track things, and these are the tokens.

Some cards use tokens to track things, and these are the tokens.

All of this is great, but the game didn’t come without complaints. One of the things I had issues with is that my components were a bit bent when I opened the box. The Monster figures are made out of thick chitboard, but for some reason the tips on some of mine were bent. This could have been due to shipping, but it’s still annoying. The other components, such as the Monster boards, tokens, and Energy cubes are perfect, however.

Another issue that’s more of an annoyance comes when a player gets eliminated. The game has varying lengths of play time, and if a player were to get eliminated early in the game they could find themselves waiting for quite some time to jump back in again. No one likes sitting on the sidelines, and that’s even more true when it comes to watching your friends play games. The only redeeming factor on this is that the game can get a bit quicker once players are lost, but it’s not guaranteed.

Speaking of players, though this game is marketed for 2-6 players, I really feel it should be 4-6. A 2-player game comes down to an all-out boxing match between Monsters, where with 4 players you really get that feel of urgency once you realize your luck is running out. Adding in even more players lets you use Tokyo Bay, which allows for 2 Monsters to be in Tokyo at once, so things can really get fired up.

King of Tokyo is one of those games that I’ve known about for some time, and royally kicked myself for taking so long to pick up once I played it. It’s a great push-your-luck slugfest that lets me relive my glory days of Rampage with my friends. I’ve taken a liking to Giga Zaur, but each of the Monsters has their own unique look that makes them great. The game plays quick, but it also plays brutal. Despite my couple of issues, I still find myself busting this game out over and over again to have some fun, and once you pick it up you will too.

Have this on your shelf!

Have this on your shelf!

The Good

  • Easy and quick setup
  • Easy to learn and teach to others
  • Push-your-luck mechanic introduced in a different, yet fun way
  • Artwork is fantastic and colorful
  • Dice are great quality and fun to use

The Bad

  • Some production issues with components
  • Player elimination can harm the gameplay

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  1. Today in Board Games – Issue #39 - September 6, 2013

    […] King of Tokyo (Initiative: Tabletop) […]

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