King Of Tokyo
- Will you reign Tokyo or flee in fear?
Players: 2 - 6
Playing time: 30 minutes
Designed by: Richard Garfield
Published by: Iello
The city of Tokyo is under attack from mutant monsters, rampaging robots and abominable aliens in this chaotic, dice-rolling game. Will you rampage your way to the top and become the King of Tokyo or will you flee in fear?
King of Tokyo is a beloved game by most, originally released in 2011 and back again with a 2nd Edition in 2016, which is the version I will be reviewing along with the Power Up! expansion.
- 6 Monster Boards - 6 Black Dice - 6 Cardboard Figures
- 1 Tokyo Board - 66 Power Cards - Energy Cubes
- 28 Tokens - 2 Green Dice
All of the components are high quality, from the thick cardboard used for the monster figures to the glossy finish of the cards. One of the standout elements of this game for me is the character boards used to display a monster's health and victory points. These come with two wheels incorporated into the cardboard to track each stat which is so helpful. A lot of games tend to supply plastic clips to track stats and they usually end up falling off.
King of Tokyo comes with six black dice which are used on each player's turn and two additional green dice that can be used after purchasing certain cards. They're extremely high quality with a chunky weight which is satisfying when you're acting like a chaotic monster.
King of Tokyo has some of the most straightforward win conditions I've ever seen in a board game: get to 20 victory points or be the last monster standing to win. Victory Points are earned through either rolling three of the same number on the dice or being in Tokyo City on the game board, but be careful because the other monsters are on a rampage to get in too!
Place the small board in the center of the table. During the first player's initial turn their monster must enter Tokyo City. Only one monster can be in Tokyo City at a time, but if you're playing a 5-6 player game, then one monster can also occupy Tokyo Bay.
Each player chooses a monster from the vast variety including The King, Gigazaur and Space Penguin (because who doesn't want to be a giant penguin attacking Tokyo?) and takes the associated monster board. Each monster is the same and doesn't have any special abilities in the base game (these get added in the Power Up! expansion) and all start with 10 health and 0 victory points. This is where the race to victory begins.
On each player's turn they will roll the six black dice (and the two green ones if they have a card that says they can) and this will determine what they can do this round. It's similar to Yahtzee but a lot better... because you can be a Cyber Kitty. Any amount of dice can be re-rolled up to two times. Depending on what your circumstance is you'll be looking out for certain results on the dice, so it's recommended to freeze the dice you want to keep and re-roll the others. Each side of the dice represents an action and those actions are:
Gain Victory points equal to the dice numbers rolled
Gain Energy cubes
Smash Monsters to lose Life Points
Gain Life Points (you can't heal if you're in Tokyo City/Tokyo Bay)
Players can gain Victory Points and Energy wherever they are. Anytime a monster enters Tokyo they gain one Victory Point and if they start their turn there, gain two Victory Points. Staying in Tokyo is a great way to earn Victory Points but you'll also be the target of everyone else so it's crucial to weigh up the risk vs reward.
If you're in Tokyo and choose to Smash Monsters, you attack all of the monsters outside of Tokyo. This is a great way to get other players out of the game but you're not able to heal so it's risky business!
If you're not in Tokyo and resolve a Smash Monsters action, you attack the monster that is in Tokyo. After the first hit, they can choose to leave Tokyo and you will take their place. They will still take the damage because you are now attacking everyone else not in Tokyo but it means they have set you up to take damage next turn which is a great tactical decision.
Power cards are also available to buy at the end of your turn. These cost energy that you have gathered from your dice rolls and each have certain perks. Some of these cards are use once only, which means you must discard them once you have used them. These are usually cards that give you a certain amount of Victory Points straight away. There are also keep cards, which you can use every turn if you meet the requirements. Some of these cards can be super useful and you can even choose to use these as your primary way of earning Victory Points so you don't risk getting killed in Tokyo.
There will be three cards to choose from at any given moment. When one has been purchased, it gets replaced with the one from the deck. Players can choose to spend two energy to completely re-stock the supply if they don't like anything on show. A great strategy for this is to re-stock when you see that an opponent has enough energy for a powerful card and will likely take it on their turn.
The Power Up! Expansion:
So, now that the base game has been covered, it's time to talk about the Power Up! expansion. For something that comes in such a tiny box, it makes such a difference to the game. Firstly, it introduces a brand new monster (if you can even call her that) to play: Pandakai and a bunch of new cards for every monster currently in King Of Tokyo.
It contains a set of eight evolution cards for each monster and they give each monster a set of unique abilities, which makes picking a character a lot more interesting compared to picking the one you liked the look of in the base game. They now have their own set of mechanics and special abilities. I feel like this is a great expansion to have as it adds a bit more depth to the game and having a reason to pick a certain monster was really lacking in the base game. Each player starts with one evolution card at the beginning of the game with the opportunity to get more by rolling three hearts on their turn.
One of my favourite evolution cards is for Cyber Kitty. The Nine Lives card allows you to discard all of your cards and Victory Points and return to 9 health if you reach 0 Life Points. This adds a great element of theme to the game and makes you want to try out different characters to see what special abilities they have!
The King Of Tokyo base game is needed to play this expansion but the great thing is that it's compatible with the 1st and 2nd edition of the game. The 2nd edition swapped out Cyber Bunny and Kraken for Cyber Kitty and Space Penguin but power up cards are available for all of these monsters in the expansion.
A fun, quick game for all ages.
Accommodates up to 6 players while still being a fast game, which can be rare.
Easy to learn and can be taught to new players in 5 minutes.
Not a lot of waiting around in between turns.
Players remain engaged during other players turns because they have to watch out for being attacked.
The power cards make the game different almost every game.
The Power Up! expansion adds more depth to the characters with unique special abilities.
There is a lot of luck involved because of the dice rolls and this can get frustrating when you don't roll the actions you need.
One strong power card can tend to snowball into a win for a player.
If you want each monster to have a unique ability you have to purchase the Power Up! expansion. In my opinion, it is worth it though!
Accommodates for two players but it doesn't really work as well.
In my experience, not a lot of power cards are brought out and players don't want to spend energy to re-stock the supply.
Theme - if you've ever wanted to be a gigantic monster causing havoc in Tokyo, well now you can! I think the theme is extremely fun and colourful. It's a unique theme that excites most age groups: children, big kids and even Godzilla fanboys. The variety of monsters is huge with a lot of references to popular films that a lot of people will appreciate.
Complexity - King Of Tokyo isn't a complex game at all. The premise is simple which is great for people just getting into the hobby or for those who aren't a big fan of heavy games. As someone who does like a heavier game, I still really enjoy it. I love how quick it is and even play it in the short intervals I have while doing mundane household chores. It definitely makes cooking dinner go a lot quicker!
Replayability - it's one of those games that I find myself playing a lot, either as a quick game because I don't have too much time to dedicate to a heavier game or as a filler game at game night to break up from the heavier games. It's always a success when I bring it to the table and always requested to play again. I haven't had a game play out the same yet. The power cards almost always ensure a different variation of abilities and ways to achieve Victory Points and add the Power Up! expansion in, you'll want to play each character at least once!
So, if you don't already have this game in your collection, I think it's definitely one you should pick up. It's all round fun for everyone and one that even the confrontational elements of the game make it more fun. It's light-hearted and one to just have fun with! Sure, sometimes it can be frustrating when you're relying on the dice to work with the strategy you're trying to nail, but all of the positives definitely outweigh the negatives on this one. The Power Up! expansion is definitely one to consider as well, it's inexpensive and has a great impact on the game.
*King Of Tokyo and the Power Up! expansion was kindly gifted to me from CoiledSpring Games to review but all opinions are completely my own.