I know, I hear you, “King of Tokyo! That’s a pretty old game for an opening review!” But hear me out.
I’m a newcomer in your lands. I’m a video gamer taking the first exciting steps on a new adventure that has, so far, filled me with absolute joy. But, I’m also playing some serious catch-up. In reality my boardgaming journey is in its infancy, and despite having amassed a nice little collection over the past six weeks or so, most of these games are already long standing classics or well regarded, and equally well reviewed titles. But I wanted to at least get my own take as a noob, talk about how these games play for a noob, and also how they play for a family with children young and, not so young.
So without further ado and all that…
Apocalyptic sized monsters intent on wreaking havoc in downtown Tokyo gather for an all-out powered-up fight to the death, or to a winning points total, in a gloriously vibrant coloured, cartoon landscape with big, bold dice and plenty of laughs. Welcome to King of Tokyo.
The foundations of the game are built upon the solid grounds of simplicity and fun. The basic premise is that controlling the monster of your choice from a healthy selection of sci-fi mainstays such as the giant ape known as The King, or the Godzilla-esque, Gigazaur, you must attempt to win by either amassing a points total of 20, or reducing all other monsters life points to zero.
This is done in a sequence that sees you first roll the six bright, eye-catching dice. These special dice are marked with numbers from one to three, a clawed paw, and a lightning bolt. Having rolled once the player chooses which dice to keep and which to discard, and then rolls again for upto three consecutive rolls. Points are scored by matching three numbers on the dice, for example three two’s scores two points. The claw is an attack, the amount of damage inflicted is relevant to the number of clawed dice kept by the player, while the lightning bolt is energy that can then be spent on a card that could power up your monster, gather points or inflict damage. Play then passes around the table.
The game holds some cool twists that allow the player to lightly consider options. The first player to roll a claw for example must enter Tokyo. When in Tokyo all damage from those outside the city is taken by that monster, but equally all damage dealt by a monster in Tokyo is received by everyone outside. This offers something of a dilemma, being in Tokyo alone scores points each round, but, and especially in a game with more players, it can prove bad for your health and can see a monster knocking on death’s door in just a few plays. This opens up the option that when in Tokyo and taking damage, the player can choose to leave and the monster that dealt the damage takes their place. An additional spot of decision making comes in the form of the power-up cards. Three are on offer at all times throughout the game, but where to spend that hard rolled energy brings some light hearted tactical thinking into play.
And that is basically the meat of the game. It’s beautifully simple yet wonderfully addictive. I have to admit to going in a little unsure as to whether there was enough going on to truly grab me, but after just one play I knew this was a game that would make frequent visits to the table. It has that quick blast playing style that allows players to, not switch off, but to relax, laugh and just enjoy the action.
In terms of looks, King of Tokyo, is vibrant. Fantastic artwork and bright warm colours really make the game pop against the wood of a table. The dice are big, chunky and delightful, and the way the score and health is implemented into the character card via a score wheel is pretty cool. There are enough power-up cards that they don’t get repeated too often and these are equally well presented. How well the cardboard stands up to repeated plays I can’t yet say. I’ve brought this to the table probably ten or so times and so far so good, but I wouldn’t be surprised if down the line there is some noticeable wear and tear.
One for the Kids?
I can say without any hesitation that King of Tokyo is a big hit with the kids. In fact it’s my six-year-olds favourite game. As I mentioned, it’s such a wonderfully simple game to pick up and play, that he now knows how to proceed without so much as a second guess. He loves the theme, loves throwing the chunky dice and has a taste for inflicting damage with his power-up purchases. My ten-year-old gains equal pleasure from the game and both were playing unassisted within one round of the very first game.
It’s proved a big hit in my household, and due to the fact that it is so friendly to players of all ages has become a personal favourite of my own.
Honestly, if it wasn’t already obvious, I love King of Tokyo! Despite it being lightweight in nature and me generally having a taste for something a little meatier, it never fails to delight. I find the game plays better with four plus at the table, but having said that it isn’t a lost cause with less than that number. What really makes the game shine is the interaction around the players. During our plays we’ve watched little friendly feuds develop, players fall just at the brink of victory, and a constant flow of laughter and chat. I think for a family game there’s little more can be asked. Also, the game is anyone’s to win. Because so much is based upon the fall of the dice, and wise, or lucky, power-up decisions we’ve seen the youngsters comfortably rubbing adult monster faces into the ground on their march to glory.
King of Tokyo is a simple, fun, and addictive game, blessed with great looks and chunky dice that all the family can enjoy time and time again. In fact I hope the kids hurry home from school because I’m itching to play again!