King of Tokyo Review – By Jarrod Piccioni

King of Tokyo

King of Tokyo

What is King of Tokyo?

King of Tokyo is a an award-winning “push your luck” dice rolling game where players take on roles as giant monsters who are trying to become the King of Tokyo either by defeating all other players or accumulating 20 victory points. It plays from 2 to 6 players and takes about 30 minutes to play, a little longer with more players.

Who makes it?

King of Tokyo is published in 2011 by IELLO Games and was designed by Richard Garfield, who you may know as the designer of one of the most popular games around, Magic: the Gathering.

Why should I play it?

King of Tokyo is a fun and fast game that plays well with any group. Anyone who’s played Yahtzee! can sit down and play within a matter of minutes, and whether you’re playing with kids or with a group of seasoned board gamers, the game scales well as you can be as risky, safe or cutthroat as you feel like. King of Tokyo also has a good number of optional expansions that add extra Monster characters as well as a new ‘Evolution’ mechanic, adding a good deal of replayability.

How do you play?

 kot setup

King of Tokyo setup for 6 players – taken from:

In a nutshell, pick up the dice, throw them and take actions depending on the sides that show up. Each player is allowed to reroll as many dice as they’d like up to 2 total times, and the different faces will have different effects:

  • Punches – If you’re in Tokyo, each punch will deal 1 damage to each other player in the game. If you’re not in Tokyo, punches will only deal damage to the player currently in Tokyo, and they will choose whether they want to stay in Tokyo or if they want to give it up to the player who just injured them. Taking over will grant you 1 point immediately and every time you start a turn in Tokyo, you gain an additional 2 points.
  • Hearts – So long as you are not in Tokyo, each Heart rolled will heal your Monster 1 health. If you are in Tokyo, however, you are not able to heal until you leave.
  • Energy – Each energy symbol you roll will get you and energy cube. These cubes are used to purchase various Power cards, of which there are 3 showing at any given time. These cards vary in price and power, and some of the more expensive cards can allow you to roll extra dice on your turn, deal additional damage or reduce incoming damage.
  • Numbers – The remaining sides are numbers 1, 2 and 3. Whenever 3 of the same number are rolled, you gain that many points plus 1 additional point for any more of that number. For example, if a player were to roll 4 2’s, it would grant them 3 points (2-2-2 grants 2, the extra grants 1 more). Since the game ends when any Player reaches 20 points, scoring points this way is harder to pull off but is generally quite a bit safer than sitting in Tokyo.

Still not convinced?

As a base game, King of Tokyo is excellent for most gamers, however the content added by the expansions really kicks the game into high gear by introducing ‘Evolution’ cards which give each Monster unique powers. Additionally, IELLO will be releasing King of New York this October;  a ‘sequel’ of sorts to King of Tokyo but the two games will be almost fully compatible with each other. King of New York introduces new monsters and powers, as well as a new board where Players move through the 5 boroughs of New York, fighting Military along the way and destroying buildings for extra points.

So what’s the catch?

The biggest issue with King of Tokyo is the randomness of the dice rolls. While the ability to re-roll your dice helps to alleviate this, there may be turns where the dice simply do not fall well and you can have a less than exciting turn. Also, despite the short game time, there is also the matter of Player elimination to keep in mind, however the mechanics do a lot to prevent this from being a massive problem, as players tend to only be eliminated toward the end of the game, when there is only a few minutes before they’ll be able to play again.

SummaryWhen it comes to an easy introduction into the world of modern board games, King of Tokyo is a great choice and an easy recommendation. The game is easy to pick up and play, handles up to 6 people without stretching out the game time and has a considerable amount of additional content to keep things fresh.

If you’re interested in similar games with lots of dice rolling, but don’t use the Yahtzee! style of gameplay, consider checking out Escape: The Curse of the Temple or theSpace Cadets line of games, they’re both much more frantic experiences but are also excellent games.

This article has been submitted by Jarrod Piccioni

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