Tuesday Reviews Day: King of Tokyo

This week’s review post takes things farther from the realm of books, but keeps things decidedly nerdy. This week, we’re talking board games.

Specifically, King of Tokyo.

The fiddly bits of KoT

The fiddly bits of KoT

This game is tons of fun. Kris and I were introduced to it by some close friends and I’ve been obsessed with it enjoying it ever since. I think I ordered my own box the day after we first played it at their house.

If you’re a tabletop gamer, even casually, you’ll find yourself pretty at ease with this game right off. If you’re not into tabletop gaming, don’t worry; this game is easy enough to catch on to, but it doesn’t wear out easily, so you’ll have plenty of game time to look forward to.

KoT is a 2-6 player game, with slight modifications for 5-6 players. Choose from movie-inspired monsters including Meka Dragon (my favorite, of course), Alienoid, The King, Kraken, Cyber Bunny, and Gigasaur. Each character has a standup and a card that keeps track of your Victory Points and Health Points. The goal is to either be the first monster to 20 Victory Points or be the last monster alive.

Each player begins their turn with six dice, which can each be rolled up to three times. It sounds more confusing than it is. (Think of Yahtzee or Farkle and you’ll be fine.) If you’re the first player and you roll a claw, you enter Tokyo. If you’re not the first player and you roll a claw, two things could happen. If you’re already in Tokyo (meaning your standup is in the middle of the City board) then your claw attacks all other players. They lose one heart per claw. If you’re not in Tokyo, your claws only attack the player who is controlling the city board.

You can also roll numbers. Rolls of 1-1-1 give you 1 Victory Point; 2-2-2 gives you 2 Victory Points and so on. You get one more Victory Point for each additional matching number you roll. Gain another one when you enter Tokyo; gain two more if you’re still alive and still controlling the city when your turn comes back around.

You can also roll hearts. One heart rolled adds one heart to your health, but you can’t go over 10. (Unless you have the power-up card for that …) If you’re in the city, you can’t use hearts, so don’t waste your rolls on them.

And finally, you can roll a lightning, which earns you the Energy cubes. These are used to purchase power-up cards, which can do anything from deflect damage while you’re controlling the city or allow you to heal other players (for a fee, of course).

Since you can roll each die up to three times, it helps to figure out your strategy before you start rolling. Are you in the city? Can’t use hearts, so you might as well reroll any that come up. Are you close to 20 Victory Points? Rack up some triples. Or just play like I do, guns blazing, destroying every monster in sight. Whatever works for you.

There are so many power-ups I couldn’t possibly cover them all. Some are helpful, while others might not be worth your Energy points.

If you have 5-6 players, the rules are mostly the same, but you can have two monsters controlling the city at once. I haven’t yet played with that many people, so it’s worth consulting the actual game insert if you’re going to try that.

KoT Power Up

KoT Power Up

I also decided to spring for Expansion Pack #1, which I’ll admit I haven’t used to its full potential yet. This pack includes a new character called Pandakai, plus more powerups that are specific to each character and can be kept secret from other players during gameplay. Sounds fun; I just haven’t had a chance to use them yet.

So, after playing several rounds of it, I have to say that overall I’m pretty pleased with this game. It’s easy to pick up; my grandparents are pretty good at it, and so is my middle-school aged cousin. Aside from a bit of Munchkins experience and some brief Magic days in high school, I don’t play many games like this, but it was easy enough to get in the swing of things, probably especially since it was created by the same designer behind Magic: The Gathering, so the format felt just familiar enough.

The art is really fun, and all the pieces seem to be of a decent enough quality. I’m not really worried about damaged edges or faded colors at this point. It’s quite family friendly, as well. The gameplay itself has been enjoyable with every group I’ve played with, from our wild and crazy friends to our less animated but still enthusiastic grandparents.

But game time is, on average, pretty short, which is probably my biggest complaint with the game. Nobody’s asking for another Monopoly-esque game that lasts hours or days on end, but sometimes players (myself included) get knocked out within just two or three turns, and once you’re dead, you’re out of the game for good. One reviewer said his crew didn’t like this feature either, so they created a new Guardian rule that sounds really effective and enjoyable. Essentially, dead players can come back as Guardians who can’t win the game, but they can wreak havok among the remaining players.

My other issue with the game is that it claims you can play with two people, but even playing with three meant that complete games only lasted about 10-15 minutes. It’s definitely a case of “the more, the merrier.”

All in all, I’m really glad I sprang for buying my own copy of the game. It’s been a good purchase already, and I’ll probably be buying future expansion packs.


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