Oct 102013
 

In King of Tokyo players take the role of their favorite [in-no-way-similar-to-other-intellectual-properties] monster and head over to Tokyo for some light-hearted mayhem and destruction. Players grab some chunky dice. By Jove, are these things chunky! I love the feel of them. They are like radioactive dice. I want to rub them on my face. Players then roll three times for optimum effect. The effect is some combination of attacking, healing, gathering energy [monster currency to purchase cards with different immediate and repeated effects like special abilities, re-rolls or extra lives] and gaining points [combos of three 3’s, three 2’s or three 1’s for three, two and one victory point respectively].

Basics

  • Designer: Richard Garfield
  • Year Released: 2011
  • Category: Dirty Fetish Dice, Fighting, Monster Movies, Science Fiction,
  • Game Mechanic: Dice Rolling, Press Your Luck, Player Elimination, Furries
  • Number of Players: 2-6
  • Playing Time: 30 minutes
  • Expansions: King of Tokyo: Power Up!, King of Tokyo: Halloween

How do I play?

  1. Roll & re-roll chunky dice. Growl.
  2. Resolve chunky dice. Howl.
  3. Purchase Cards. Smash.
  4. Squeal in victory! Grumble in defeat!

You roll six [count ’em six] big dice, three [count ’em three] times which can do four [count ’em four] things [ah, ah ,ah!]:

  1. Heal [designated by a heart] – Each heart replenishes one health.
  2. Attack [designated by a claw..RAWR!] – Each attack causes one damage to the monster inside Tokyo or all the monsters outside Tokyo, depending upon where the player’s monster is located.
  3. Score points [1,2,3’s] – Three consecutive numbers will give you that number of points. Then every extra of that number will give you an additional point. So, three 1’s give you 1 point. Three 2’s give you two points. Three 3’s give you three points. Five 1’s would score you 3 victory points [1+1+1].
  4. Gain energy [designated by lightning] – Green energy cubes allows players to purchase cards for additional one-time, immediate or reoccurring abilities. Two energy cubes can be spent  to wipe out the three cards displayed and pull three new cards from the deck. The cards can let you roll extra dice, manipulate the outcome of the dice rolls, provide extra lives, etc.

After rolling, a player can re-roll any dice two more times. After your rolls are complete, you resolve the results – deal the damage to other player[s], heal if not currently in Tokyo, gain victory points or gain green energy cubes. Then the player has an option of purchasing one of the three face-up cards with any accumulated energy cubes they have in their stores.

At the start of the game, all the monsters are outside of Tokyo. Your not-really-Godzilla or your so-not-King-Kong will eventually be the first to roll an attack. When that happens that player jumps into Tokyo. Our first KING! You see, Tokyo is a crowded city and there can really only be one monster in the city at a time [2 monsters if playing with 5-6 people], and the ensuing battle will determine how long the new king stays. Once that king dies or relinquishes the title of “King of Tokyo,” the last person to deal damage gets to jump into the vacated space, earn a victory point and start dealing damage to the rest of the players.

The game will continue in this fashion with players rolling, attacking, and jumping in and out of Tokyo, buying cards, and applying abilities. If a player’s health falls to zero, they are eliminated from the game.

How do you win?

Mostly by luck, but there are two paths to victory; be the last monster standing or be the first monster to achieve 20 victory points. Players jump in and out of Tokyo from, what one can only assume, is a permanent, asymmetrical monster orbit around Japan. By delivering enough damage to cause the former king to return to orbit, a new king claims Tokyo gains a victory point. While in Tokyo, players attack all monsters outside of Tokyo and all players outside of Tokyo focus their attacks on the new king. Starting your turn in Tokyo gains you another victory 2 victory points for sticking it! Well done, but be warned, you are not allowed to heal in Tokyo, which means your time is generally limited.

You can hang back from the fray and concentrate on rolling numbers to gain victory points, or energy cubes to buy cards. You can be an aggressive beast and go on the offensive and attack anything that moves.

What was confusing?

Getting into Tokyo Harbor: In a 5-6 player game two spaces open for a rumpus: Tokyo City and Tokyo Harbor.  Getting into Tokyo is simple – you jump in if you are the first person to roll an attack. Then as the king of Tokyo takes damage, they can yield Tokyo, forcing whoever did that damage to occupy Tokyo. Somehow we tended with no-one being in Tokyo Harbor since a person would deal damage to both occupying monsters, both monsters would retreat leaving one person in Tokyo and the harbor empty. The next person to roll an attack would then have to jump into the harbor.

 What did you [dis]like?

Likes!

  • First off, I love brackets [] and use them all the time, deal with it.
  • I love the interaction and pace of King of Tokyo…usually…sometimes it can really, really, really drag on with two players. But for the most part it is good, fast, fun filler.
  • The sound of this game will bring spectators. It is full of rattling dice, frantic yelling and plenty of player interaction.

Dislikes!

  • Needs expansion to be fully played. If you get the base, spring for the expansion.
  • I feel it could use a slight dose of complexity.
  • As a home rule, I like to take n+1 cards [number of players plus one] and have a one player pick one and pass it to her left. This way each monster comes into the fray with a bit more of an interesting personality.
  • Just a tad pricey for what you get.
  • Player elimination. No one really likes being knocked out of the game. And it can happen quickly.

Would You Rather:

Would you rather play King of Tokyo or Zombie Dice

Since zombies are played out more than giant monsters, I would rather play King of Tokyo.

Would you rather play King of  Tokyo or Escape: The Curse of the Temple

OOOO! I prefer co-ops to player elimination so Escape would probably be my go-to for a fast, furious, dice-rolling game…now if Queen Games would only send me a copy to review…

Would you rather play King of Tokyo or sit in the corner and wait for your copy of Rampage?

I, I…don’t want to talk about Rampage…<<sits in the corner rocking>>…next question, please.

OK. Would you rather play King of Tokyo or the NES classic Rampage?

<<glare>> Don’t make me angry…you wouldn’t like me when I am angry.

Would you rather …

 JOHN SMASH LITTLE MAN! RAAAAAWWWWR!! <SNORT> WOULD LITTLE MAN RATHER ARM OR LEG?

Whaaaah-what?!? 

BOTH! JOHN REND! JOHN RELISH IN THIS PERSONIFICATION OF SOCIETAL CONTROLLED RAGE!!!

Unfortunately, King of Tokyo may be fired by Rampage. It may be more than fired, it may be rent from limb to limb. Rampage plays in 30 minutes, seems to be much more fun with the same general theme. The only downside is that it only plays four and the six player potential of King of Tokyo is still attractive. I plan on having a double feature with both games at one of my library gaming events and include the expansion of Kings of Tokyo to bolster the complexity but even then…I think this game may be moot once Rampage comes out. It just won’t matter.

Closing Verse:

To tread the land of the king,
Does not come without its price.
One needs not ask me twice,
to roll these fetish-inducing chunky dice.

‘Cept the day Rampage came to town,
With meeples  and cars and super breath!
The rowdy Kings of Tokyo did frown,
before being subtly, politely stomped to death.

About John Pappas

I'm John ~ a short, mustachioed Library Director of a small branch library outside of Philly. I'm a father, geek, librarian and zen practitioner. I wear glasses, play board games and tend to read pretty much anything that comes across my desk. I organize and host three gaming groups at my library ~ The Golden Gamers (65+), Tabletop Gaming at the Library, and a Game Design Guild. The name of this column "Roll for Fire" comes from my love of Flash Point: Fire Rescue [ and cooperative games in general] and the desire I have to watch it all burn down.

  6 Responses to “Goodbye, Chunky Dice! Hello, King of Tokyo!”

  1. I bought King of Tokyo (without any expansions) and my group played it exactly once. It’s a fun game but the complete randomness of it all and the lack of distinction between monsters (which I’m told is cleared up in the first expansion) kinda turned us off to it. I’ve been considering picking up the expansion, but I’m not sure if that’d just be throwing good money after bad at this point as there are so many other, much more fun, games that we could be playing instead.

    I do like the super chunky dice tho.

    • I understand the expansion adds that element of distinction. Since I would rather not shell out more money, I like the drafting at the beginning of the game allow players to choose from a few cards to “customize” their monsters.

      The randomness doesn’t bug me. We usually play it as filler and it serves as good downtime.

      Another thing I noticed at my library group was that new members of the group would use this game as a “getting to know you” game. Just as a way to interact over a game before moving to something heavier. Maybe as a way to test the waters?

      It amazing me that some people complain about these dice. I love them!

      • I FINALLY got to play the game with the expansion last night and wow. Whole different game. Changed not only the characters of the monsters in the game, but the strategies used by the players. Without the expansion, I’d rate the game a 5/10, with the expansion that moves up to 8/10.

  2. I own both Escape and King of Tokyo and Escape and we haven’t touched Escape since the month we picked it up, King of Tokyo hits the table every other weekish and mostly in social settings where the getting together and hanging out is more important than the game. That being said it is a great game to play with kids or like you said as a filler, I really enjoy the theme but also have not picked up the expansion mostly because King of Tokyo already has a role that it plays and it hits the table regularly so why bother with the expansion, I have been told it is a huge improvement though.

    • “social settings where the getting together and hanging out is more important than the game.” Yup. I agree. Interestingly, I’ve seen quite a few teens gravitate away from this game to something heavier. But even then, my library group pulls it out once or twice a month to play. It is like comfort food.

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