Sometimes, you just get into a mood where you want to smash stuff. And that’s perfectly okay – or so my therapist tells me. If you’re a giant monster, then you may have no choice but to smash – whether you’re in a full-on raging mood or simply trying to gingerly step over buildings but are just too clumsy, odds are good you’re going to do some wrecking. So you might as well just go with the flow and enjoy the chaos, right? That’s the basic theme of ‘King of Tokyo,’ a game that puts players in charge of their very own colossal beast and encourages them to wreak as much havoc as possible in order to win the game.
Here’s the quick-and-dirty overview of the gameplay: it’s a 2-6 player game, and each player is a different Monster; you can choose between Monsters however you want, they all have the same starting attributes, they only thing that differs between them is their physical appearance. Your selections are: Gigazaur, Cyber Bunny, Kraken, The King, Meka Dragon, and Alienoid. Each Monster will start with 10 health and zero Victory Points (VP), and there are two ways to win the game: first Monster to 20 VP, or reduce all of your opponents to 0 health. On your turn, you’ll roll six dice, Yahtzee-style (you get an initial roll and two re-rolls, being allowed to keep any combination of results throughout your rolls). Each die features the same options on it: the numbers 1, 2, and 3, along with sides for health (a heart), attack (a paw), and energy (a lightning bolt). You choose what you keep – hearts can restore your health, attack will inflict damage on other players, energy can be saved up to buy helpful cards, and the numbers can be combined in trios to get you VP (i.e. rolling and keeping three dice with 2s on them nets you 2 total VP).
The tricky part is the movement dynamic, as Monsters will go in and out of Tokyo in a “king of the hill” type scenario. At the beginning of the game, the first Monster moves into Tokyo City (and the second monster will move into Tokyo Bay (if you’re playing with 5-6 players). The Monster(s) in Tokyo, on their roll(s), deal damage only to all Monsters that are not in Tokyo; all Monsters that are not in Tokyo, on their turns, deal their damage directly to the Monster(s) that are in Tokyo. When you’re in Tokyo, you cannot heal from rolling hearts on dice, so it’s up to you how long you think you can safely keep your Monster in Tokyo. After every attack on them, the Monster(s) in Tokyo have the option to “pull out” of the city, and if a Monster does leave, the attacking Monster has to take the vacated spot in the city. It’s worth your while to be in Tokyo: a Monster earns one VP for moving into the city and earns an additional 2 VP for every full turn they can remain in their spot without pulling out.
As mentioned, energy cubes can be accumulated and used to buy cards from a shared “trade row,” and these cards can give your Monster a strategic advantage either throughout the rest of the game (marked as a “Keep” card) or as a one-time use (marked as a “Discard” card). These cards can be very powerful, but the trade-off, of course, is that while you’re rolling to get energy, you’re not doing as much healing, damage, or accumulating VP from the dice. It’s definitely a “balance” type of game with your dice actions: if you let your health get too low you’re likely to be killed by one of your opponents, but if all you do is focus on healing then you’re not generating enough attack to hurt your enemies, and all the while you might want a few energy cubes or some VP as well. In many of the run-throughs I’ve had with this game, I’ve actually found that letting my opponents’ actions dictate my approach on my turns is a fairly effective strategy – if you get to tunnel-visioned on what you feel like you have to do and aren’t paying attention to the game as it unfolds around you, you’re likely doomed for the “loser” seat.
The biggest complaint with ‘King of Tokyo’ from the gaming community seems to be that, if anything, the game is almost too simplified; roll dice, beat up opponents, try to score enough to win. A “sequel” game, ‘King of New York,’ was released that addresses some of these complains with more complex options when it comes to city maneuvering and dice management, but on the whole, I find the Tokyo version to be a fun, quick play with great replayability value. The Energy Cards, in my opinion, are what keep things fresh from match to match; with a deck of 66 cards, you’re guaranteed to see different advantages and strategy options in pretty much every game, and with the random way that dice fall as well, ‘King of Tokyo’ is a fun beat-em-up time for the vast majority of types of players.
CONTINUE: a game you enjoy so much, you’d opt to keep playing more right away if you could! The highest rating for a game.
Below, check out our live-stream playing this game, done in conjunction with the fine folks at GameTyrant.com. We’ll be live-streaming with them every Thursday night around 6:30pm EDT and. of course, keep visiting our site for written reviews of the games we play and much more!
Tony Schaab wishes Mars would attack, just once – at least then we could all go back and watch the historical document ‘Mars Attacks!’ to see how our ancestors handled it back in the day. A lover of most things sci-fi and horror, Tony is an author by day and a DJ by night. Come hang out with Tony on Facebook and Twitter to hear him spew semi-funny nonsense and get your opportunity to finally put him in his place.