Stop at nothing to become the King of Tokyo… but that’s when the real trouble begins for you!
King of Tokyo was first released 5 years ago, but Will and I only got round to playing it for the first time at EGX Rezzed in April this year. What is instantly a great feature about this game is how quick and easy it is to play. The rules are relatively simple and once you’ve got them, you can play rounds at a very fast pace.
King of Tokyo is a combination of game variants, featuring dice, cards and a board. The game features a lineup of wacky monsters, aliens and robotic characters that you pit against each other to determine who is the one and only King of Tokyo. Picture all those old school Kaiju movies featuring Godzilla and the like, and how they constantly terrorized Tokyo, well this is the slightly watered down and comically toned version of those films.
You determine who goes first by rolling 6 dice. Whoever has the most damage icons across the 6 die goes first, then as tradition you go clockwise from the first player. The player who rolled the most damage icons begins the game as the King of Tokyo.
The dice each have a different symbol on one of their six sides. There is the number 1, the number 2 and the number 3. These display the number of ‘victory points’. They also feature a lightning bolt which represents an energy token, a heart which represents an option to heal and a claw which represents damage. So the starting player rolls the 6 dice. You have 3 attempts at rolling the dice choosing if you wish to keep or discard certain die that did or didn’t roll in your favour. It all depends on how you want to achieve victory. You can try to score victory points and try to reach twenty first, or try to destroy the other monsters opting to try and roll for damage icons attempting to take your opponents down to zero health. While in Tokyo you do not have the option to heal, So if you had rolled any heart symbols in your first two rolls, you’d more than likely re-roll these hoping for a more aggressive outcome.
Once the player in Tokyo had finished their turn, the outcome is played to the other players if necessary. E.G, if the player in Tokyo scored 2 damage icon, 3 number 2 icon and a 1 energy token roll, the outcome of this roll is that each player outside of Tokyo receives 2 damage, the player in Tokyo gets 2 victory points towards his goal of scoring 20 and collects one energy token.
It now moves onto the next player outside of Tokyo to roll the six dice, and again get three attempts at discarding or keeping dice that they wish. Players outside of Tokyo that might roll a heal icon can heal any damage if they wish too. Only players outside Tokyo can heal. Players outside of Tokyo that roll damage icons only damage the player in Tokyo. If a player outside of Tokyo does roll damage to the player in Tokyo, the player outside of Tokyo can ask if the current King of Tokyo “Yields Tokyo”. On the first round it’s probably not likely that the player in charge of Tokyo will yield unless the player takes a large amount of damage.
Ideally the player in Tokyo want’s to survive a complete round till it comes back to him as one successful round in Tokyo grants that player two victory points. When a new player enters Tokyo if a the King does yield, that player then entering gets a victory point.
So while this all sounds pretty simple, and it really is, just what are those energy tokens for and why would people opt to keep them on their dice roll? Well energy tokens are what is needed to purchase upgrades that can be used to inflict more damage or cause other game altering effects. The upgrades can throw complete spanners into the works, with some making the player who rules Tokyo pretty powerful. Others are simple one use and discard cards such as “collect 5 victory points” but again can be very useful if you’re in a position of only needing 5 victory points to win the game, and have enough energy tokens to purchase that card.
As touched up on above, the character designs for this game are brilliant. Some of them bare a slight resemblance to some of the old Kaiju legends of old such as King Kong and Godzilla, with some completely over the top outrageous characters like Space Penguin. The artwork for these characters and on the upgrade cards is bright, colourful and fun. They’re a perfect fit for what this game is all about. Fun! The board while small, is all that it needs to be, an illustrated board with two noticeable spots to place your character when you take Tokyo, and the player cards are large with very nice, easy to read scores to ensure you keep track of your health and victory points.
In terms of strategy the game is easy to pickup without being too deep. The games components are colourful and will appeal especially to younger players. King of Tokyo is an absolute highlight to play. It’s become one of my favourite games due to being short on rules and fast on play. It didn’t take long at all to explain the rules to new players and within two rounds the new players were getting really involved in different approaches at attempting to win. Be it trying to become more powerful with the upgrades route, or just trying to avoid Tokyo and rolling victory points. We played it for hours and barely noticed how late it was getting. A sign of a good game whenever someone is disappointed that it’s getting a bit too late to carry on playing