King of Tokyo Review: The wrath of the Cyber Kitty!

The wrath of the cyber kitty

Tokyo has not had much luck in mainstream entertainment since the invention of the television.  On multiple occasions has the city of Tokyo been attacked by giant monsters and laid to waste.  And in Richard Garfield’s King of Tokyo that is no different!  Several giant monsters are fighting it out for control of the city and battling to be the one true King of Tokyo.  So prepare to battle it out to become the King of Tokyo in this King of Tokyo Review.

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King of Tokyo Box Art

King of Tokyo Box Art

What do you get?

Inside the King of Tokyo box there are some really great components.  Firstly the cardboard standees are great.  They are thick, come with good plastic holders and slot in without scuffing the cardboard.  The artwork for these characters is also fantastic.  It has the feel of an old Saturday morning cartoon.  It really is great fun and does a great job at pulling in and keeping the interest of kids.  The board is of a similar quality in terms of construction and artwork.

Also in the box are the matching character score and health trackers.  These thick pieces of cardboard have 2 spinners built in that allow for a fun way to track health and score points.  This is also great as an extra interactive step that keeps kids involved.

The dice included in this game are nothing short of delightful.  Large, chunky and great in the hand, they are so much fun just to hold and roll.  The black and green colour scheme really stands out and makes them fun.  Also in the box is a number of small transparent green cubes.  The same awesome green colour is used on the dice and these little cubes just look fun.  They may just be small cubes but they’re the most satisfying cubes I’ve had the pleasure of playing with.  They look good enough to eat, but please don’t do that.

Finally in the box is the deck of cards, each with awesome individual artwork.  The cards are what I would describe as good enough but nothing incredible.

All in all the components for this game really are outstanding and just do so many things right.

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What about the insert?

I have mixed feelings about the insert for King of Tokyo.  It works as an insert should and is certainly functional.  However I feel it leaves a lot to be desired.  The cardboard player sheets and standees could do with an improved storage option.  As the character cards have spinners they do not easily lie flat.  This means that when they are stacked in the box they wobble around a lot and the hole for them isn’t quite deep enough.  This can lead to components sliding around when moving the box.

Additionally I would prefer it if the standees did not have to be disassembled each time.  However this would have been difficult due to size and isn’t a huge issue as there are only 6.

King of Tokyo Cards

King of Tokyo Review Cards

How to play

Each turn, players roll 6 dice.  They may choose to reroll any number of dice an additional 2 times.  The outcome of the dice can either heal the player, provide them with energy, force them to attack or add towards their score.

The number of hearts rolled allows players to heal that amount of damage.  Damage is taken from attacks or card effects.  If the player is in Tokyo then they cannot heal.

The number of claws rolled allows players to attack that many times.  Attacking from outside Tokyo damages whoever is currently in Tokyo.  Attacking from inside Tokyo damages all the players who are not in Tokyo.  When a player attacks somebody in Tokyo, the player in the city has the option to yield.  If they yield then they take damage from the attack and vacate Tokyo forcing the attacking player into the city.  Upon entering or starting a turn in Tokyo, players receive additional points.

Rolling the energy symbol allows players to collect that amount of energy cubes.  Energy cubes can be used to buy cards that provide the monsters with additional abilities.  Abilities can range from extra damage to extra points as well as a huge variety of cool special abilities.

To earn score from dice rolls players must roll 3 of the same number.  This will grant them points equal to that number.  Each additional die of the same number counts as 1 additional point.

How to win

There are 2 ways to win in King of Tokyo.  Either by being the first player to reach 20 victory points, or by being the last player standing.  Generally the more players in a game the more likely it is that somebody will reach the victory point limit as opposed to wiping out all other players.

In my opinion this works pretty well as being entirely eliminated from a large group game can be pretty disheartening, especially if there is still a lot of the game left to play.  The smaller groups I have played with however love the more cut-throat competitive nature of attempting to eliminate other players.

King of Tokyo Review Space Penguin

King of Tokyo Review Space Penguin

Stuff I Like

The artwork for King of Tokyo is a particular highlight.  The artwork recently had a complete overhaul and some people were really put off by it.  But in my opinion the artwork is still outstanding and makes it that much more appealing to newer players while helping it to stay fun and interesting for more experienced players.

The way that all the components have been illustrated really ties the game together and really cements the Saturday morning cartoon feel and theme.

King of Tokyo is an extremely easy game to learn.  The turns all follow the same format and are simple.  The real anchor to this is the dice rolling which is front and center of every turn.  The large weighty nature of the dice makes this extremely satisfying and as such turns are always fun.

The fun theme of the game and the simplified fighting and point scoring mechanics also help to make this game easy to learn.

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Stuff I Don’t Like

I greatly enjoy playing King of Tokyo but I don’t think it’s unfair to say that the theme and artwork will appeal to younger people more than other games would.  This isn’t a bad thing, however for a game aimed at younger people it is quite easy to be eliminated.

For younger children being eliminated can put them off the game quickly.  An alternative set of rules without elimination would potentially solve this problem.  Whilst possible to do with house rules it would have been nice to see some of these included.

The other major problem I have with King of Tokyo is variety.  The monsters in this game are great!  However they all do exactly the same things.  Although each monster can upgrade its abilities by purchasing cards, it seems a key opportunity to provide each monster with a special ability was missed.

Giving each monster something different would provide players with a reason to try out different monsters in different playthroughs.  It would also help to keep people more engaged and provide the option to play with a variety of different strategies.

King of Tokyo Review

King of Tokyo is good fun overall.  It’s great for all ages but is especially great for introducing kids to more complex and interesting board games.  Though if playing with younger children I would recommend mitigating the way elimination works to keep them interested and happy.

Though the theme of this game shines I feel like they still could have done more.  The lack of variable monster abilities and the absence of any mechanics around actually destroying Tokyo feel like missed opportunities.

There are expansion packs and a separate King of New York game but I am yet to play these so I don’t know how they compare.

All in all I do enjoy playing King of Tokyo and think it works really well as a more interesting gateway game than those everybody is used to.  If you think that it is a game that you might enjoy then check it out over on Amazon using the button below!

Let us know below in the comments what you think of King of Tokyo.  Also let us know what other games you want us to review in the future!