Monday, April 15, 2013

King of Tokyo Review

King of Tokyo
  • Designed by Richard Garfield (yes, the same man who designed Magic the Gathering)
  • Published by IELLO
  • For 2-6 players. I enjoy 4-6 player games more than 2 or 3. 
  • Playtime is around 30 minutes, just depends on the dice.  
You're a monster attacking other monsters while trying to take over Tokyo.  Seriously, that's the catch. Want more?  There's dice and cards and really cool monsters.

On your turn you roll 6 dice.  You can set any aside, and re-roll any.  Then you can do that again.  So it's Yahtzee in terms of rerolls.  Based on what you roll, different things happen.  If you roll 3 "1s" or "2s" or "3s" you get that many points.  Hearts let you heal one life point per heart, and the lightening bolt gives you 1 energy.  If you roll claws, you deal that many damage to whoever is in Tokyo if you are outside of Tokyo, if you are inside Tokyo, then you deal that much damage to all players outside of Tokyo.  After a player in Tokyo is attacked, they may choose to yield Tokyo, which causes you to go in.  You get 1 point whenever you move into Tokyo, and 2 points if you start your turn in Tokyo.  The downside is that you can't heal while in Tokyo.  After resolving all the dice, you can buy cards with your energy.
The Dice

Your goal is to be the first monster to 20 victory points, or the last monster alive.

The main form of interaction comes from attacking each other.  There's balance in terms of points and health, both of which must be watched carefully.

King of Tokyo starts to feel like monsters fighting each other.  I say starts to feel because ultimately the game is dice, and fairly abstracted.  Don't get me wrong, the theme is great, I think it works really well with the mechanics, but it isn't highly immersive.

Dice are great, energy tokens are really cool, translucent plastic.  The player boards for the monsters are good, though prone to incidental damage since they're cardboard, in fact mine are starting to show wear after only 10 games.  All the cards and tokens are good quality.  The board is easy to use and plenty big.  The monsters are fine for what they are, though I'd love to have sculpts rather than cardboard, then the game would be like twice the cost.

Learning Curve
The might KRAKEN
King of Tokyo is one of those games where anyone can jump in and play the game.  There is some strategy when it comes to getting in and leaving Tokyo that may not be apparent your first time through, but the game is fairly forgiving on new players.  You may not win your first game, but you will have fun.  The cards you can buy can be tricky to understand why one is better than another, or how to make the combinations actually work, but the best thing to do is just to try and see what happens.

I've played it 12 times in a month and I'm still having fun playing it.  I've been able to play with a few different people, and it shows no signs of slowing down.  There isn't much depth here, but there is a lot of variety, and that keeps every game feeling a little different.

Why I like King of Tokyo
Tokyo City with the upgrade cards
It's a fun and random game.  Monsters beating up on each other is a fun theme, and the game is pretty quick.  There's enough interesting choices to make without being too complicated, and I think it's the perfect balance in terms of luck and choices for a short dice game.  The cards add needed variety and make each game at least slightly different.

Why I don't like King of Tokyo
The game lacks control.  I may see that Bill is going to win the game, but there's nothing I can do to stop him.  I'm not saying this is a terrible thing, but it can be a detraction for some people.

King of Tokyo is a very fun game.  It's a definite keeper for me.  I know it's random, and some people may not like that, but the randomness feels fun.  The game has player elimination, but it doesn't feel out of place. (sometimes monsters die.)

Would it be a good game for Tabletop?
I think this would be a smash hit for Tabletop.  The game has tension, allows for a lot of player discussion and random quotes that would be entertaining to watch. Boardgamegeek's Game Night did this for their first episode and it was fun to watch, in fact, it's what convinced me to buy the game.

Want to buy the game? Here's a link to Amazon, and you'll help support BoBG.

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