When Ito first looked out the window, he thought he was still sleeping in his cubicle. He rubbed his eyes, but strange alien with a helmet like a big ferris wheel did not go away. It lazily leaned against the skyscraper across the street and it seemed for a moment, that it was looking at Ito. But it looked a little higher on the roof. The japanese man can suddenly hear shooting coming from there. Security guards tried in vain to drive off the monster from house they should protect and attracted its attention instead.
Only one punch was enough to shake whole ground under Ito, and he suddenly found himself two floors below. He managed to crawl under a massive table, when ceiling partially collapsed and smaller stones slipped harmlessly over the surface of the desk. Ito turned and saw the monster’s belly. It came closer to the building. The shooting stopped a while ago and now he could only hear people screaming. But with next blow of monsters hand, even these sounds were silenced. And then again, Ito fell. Monster made a triumphant sound, when skyscraper collapsed. It turned away and headed towards the center. Destruction is great!
Destruction will be your main mission in board game King of Tokyo, which is distributed by French company IELLO for the European market. Its author is the famous Richard Garfield, who is not only a man behind the Magic the Gathering cult, but he is also responsible for the amazing robotic RoboRally racing entertainment. And now he came up with a new idea and again with a unique gaming experience. Graphics for the game were created by Benjamin Raynal.
King of Tokyo is absolutely perfect title, because of its theme. You discover monsters already on box’s lid. They stand tall above the skyscrapers of Tokyo and they are sowing destruction everywhere. City is burning, people fleeing and monsters have a large smile on their face as it quenches its appetite for destruction. Taste for destruction, which will you soon inherit.. Just lift the lid and dive into the components inside. That’s all it takes..
The pack includes sheets with beautifully painted cardboard figures. These are the main heroes of the game and you have to transfer your mind into their body. You become one of them. Each monster needs also one of the stands, where will you insert the cardboard tile. Some might think, that miniatures would be better. But the illustrations on them would not be so enjoyable and detailed and moreover, those pieces play basically just an instrumental role in the game.
Everything would revolve around cards and dice. Deck of cards contains 66 pieces, each one is unique. And what about a nice big dice, that gives you radioactive impression! Maybe on the outskirts of Tokyo, some creature stomped on a radioactive nuclear powerplant and blew it into air, that is where the dice got its colours. Anyways, these dice will accompany you for the whole game. Fortunately the symbols on them are no longer merely printed (as in the first edition), but are embedded and should sustain all the battles you will have.
There is also a game board showing Tokyo in flames. This board serves only as an auxiliary to the game and you do not really need it. Its just for fancy looks. You will find only two rings on the map – one red with inscription Tokyo and one blue designating Tokyo harbor. Only one of those sites will be open to visit, unless you are playing with more than four players, then also the other will be available. You will stand there with your monster and sow destruction. In the lower left corner of the map, will also find three icons clearly resembling basic rules, which should be remembered.
But monsters want to be main theme of our review again. We had completely forgotten their special plates made from cardboard. For each monster, there is one fat card with two small holes. You attach two colorful wheels to them in a way, that only one number can be seen in the little window. It is there, where would you record not only the victory points, but also the life of your destructive pet.
Moreover you must punch out one sheet with small round tokens used to label various special effects of cards, such as smoke, reduction or poison. And the last component, we have not spoken, remains. Its small cube tokens representing green energy coming to monsters for destruction of buildings. These money will allow you to buy cards.
Preparation of the match is simple. Each player chooses one of the six monsters, that suits him the best. The authors deftly avoided a license troubles, when they turned Godzilla into Gigasaur and King Kong into King. All will recognize them anyways, so why bother? You take also corresponding plate with monsters image, and set wheels to zero victory points and lives to ten. This is also the maximum health, which can be overcome only with the help of cards.
Players put that small board in the center of the game board next, where everybody can reach it. Next to it, they creates the supply of energy bricks, tokens and of course black dice. In addition there are also two whole green ones, which serve as a bonus. You can get to throw them only as a result of some card effect. Monsters surround Tokyo and prepare to attack, but no one is inside so far. Last important thing before you can commence, is to prepare a pile of cards and turn top three to create a menu.
Monsters are fighting not only for survival, but also for glory, therefore victory points. And is there a better way to get fame, than to get inside Tokyo, stay there and shed fear on its citizens? There is place only for one monster in Tokyo. It can be pushed away, to the edge of town, where it can gain strength again and attack from a distance on another monster, that has taken its place inside.
Each of participants must first roll all available dice at the beginning of his turn – usually there are six of them. Now he has the option to re-roll any number of dice twice, so that the result is as close to his intentions as possible. According to the rolling outcomes, he then takes the appropriate actions.
This means, that now is probably the best time to introduce symbols on the dice. First there are numbers from one to three, which can bring you victory points, if used wisely. Besides them, you will find three more symbols on each dice – a heart to heal one life of your monster, a flash gaining energy cubes for you and the last one with claws. This alone allows you to attack other monsters.
Attacks are the most important thing in the whole King of Tokyo game and the only possible way to victory. It is also the only way, how you can drive the current ruler of Tokyo out and take his place. Of course, any succesfull attacks with paw icons mean one life loss, which you immediately alter on your monster board. Yet monsters, which are located outside of Tokyo may only attack the monster inside. And monster, that is currenty sowing destruction among skyscrapers, may punch back on one of the rivals according to its masters (players) choice.
Once evaluated, player thus has attacked, healed, gained energy cubes or victory points (this, however, requires three same numbers on the rolled dice), he can still buy any number of cards from the offer for energy cubes. Then his turn ends.
But where do you get the victory points? They are awarded in most cases for domination over Tokyo. The player gets one immediately, when he manages to get inside the city and oust the current monster here. For each wheel he holds his position inside, he gets two precious victory points – always at the start of his turn. Yet until you are inside of Tokyo, you can not heal with heart symbols. All hears you roll will come in vain.
And now you can actually say, that you know, how to play King of Tokyo. Players can, of course, also use cards in their hands during their turn. These can be either one-time or permanent, giving you an advantage in each round. So now there remains only one question. You want to know, how and when the game actually ends. There are two ways to end the match. Either everyone else withdraws from battle after losing the last life (dies), or one monster earns twentieth victory point.
King of Tokyo is amazingly brutal and yet delightfully simple game. Your goal is to stay in Tokyo as long as possible, and hold on to rivals onslaught of attacks from outside. But lives are falling very rapidly without treatment options, and you must always well consider, if you will not let someone else go in instead. Its better to let some weaker player with less victory points, than give this chance to some stronger player.
You can make this decision at any time during the game, whenever you are under attack. Simply announce, that you are retreating and leave the space empty for the attacker. This is another reason, that makes you want to attack – only this way can you be the one, who gains reing over Tokyo, even for just a while. As soon as the player enters the metropolis, he immediately gets victory point.
Keeping your position within the city is very difficult, because you are under attack from several opponents. And you earn points only, when your turn starts. So sometimes you have to withstand three attacks. Often your game can shrink to one decision: can I survive another attack and get those two points, or do I prefer to run now? Everything then depends on the decision of an opponent, who will roll the dice next and luck – what actions do the dice allow him to take.
Coincidence in King of Tokyo game is irreplaceable . But yet you still feel, that the game is under your control and your decisions really matter. You can re-roll the dice, and modify your decision for upcoming turn afterwards. In most rounds, there will remain some unused symbols of numbers, that will not bring you anything.
Amazing game is made even more extraordinary with action cards available. There are 66 and each one is unique and has specific skills and its own image. Purchasing cards and using them is an important part of the game and monsters gain important skills, that may decide the whole fight. Many cards allow you to gain more victory points, for example. Due to the fact, that in one match you usually use only a fifth of this amount and even less can you try on your own, the variability of upcoming games is guaranteed.
King of Tokyo revolves around the player’s direct competition. No hiding behind cards, game board or excuses, that you did not know. Only direct attack on the opponent’s monster can lead to a successful end for you. Defensive strategy will not lead to success here. All players wll be attacking opponent in the middle with joy and sly smile. But often you need to use dice differently, than to attack – to treat your creature or to gain energy.
The game is designed for two to six players. But experience for two players according to the basic rules is really weak. The player in Tokyo is attacked only by one outside player, so his main disadvantage is the impossibility of healing. But his injuries are not nearly as critical as in the multiplayer game. A good option is to add one (or two) more claw to the attack of player outside of Tokyo. It can nicely work as an emulation of other players.
King of Tokyo is a great action game, in which there is constantly something going on. Players challenge each other and trying to keep in Tokyo as long as possible and it is up to the decision, how long they will last. Everyone wants to get there. The big advantage of this game is short game time, giving you a taste for revenge. Richard Garfield once again managed to create a game with gloating elegant and simple principles, which will entertain everybody.
+ unique gameplay
+ destruction of Tokyo
+ each action card is unique
+ enormous level of conflict
+ short gametime
+ excellent from three to six players
- two player game is not that good