King of Tokyo is a casual party game for 2-6 players designed by Richard Garfield, who created what is thought to be the first collectable card game, Magic: The Gathering. This review is mostly focused on playing with my family including younger children. The box recommends that the game is suitable for ages 8+ on the box and I played with my son, who is six but quite used to playing board games.
You play as a gigantic rampaging monster and are willing to do anything to be in control of Tokyo. Unfortunately for you, every other player has a similar goal, so your job is to control the city and inevitably fight the other monsters for the top spot. The game is played with dice rolls which determine many results such as victory points or damage to your enemies. To win you must get to 20 victory points or be the last monster standing. There are also power up cards which can be used to purchase different abilities for your monster.
How to play?
To start a game of King of Tokyo you place the very simple, small board in the centre of the table and each player chooses a character - my personal favourite being ‘Cyber Kitty’ a pink robotic cat with bionic claws. Most of the characters are inspired by pop culture and there is sure to be a character someone is desperate to be whether it’s the Cthulhu or a Space Penguin.
Next players will shuffle the power card deck and deal three face up which are placed near the board in easy reach of all players. The players then take the corresponding cardboard figure and Monster Board; the Monster boards have wheels on to determine the characters victory points and health.
To take a turn, the player rolls all six-black dice and then resolve their rolls dependent on the types of symbols that have been rolled. On the dice there are, numbers from one to three, heart symbols, monster claw symbols, and finally a lightning bolt symbol. The lightning bolt is the symbol for energy, allowing you to pick up energy cubs, which can be used at the end of your turn to purchase the power up cards.
Victory points are gained by rolling three of a kind of the same number. So, if you rolled three – twos you would gain two victory points, four – twos and then its three victory points and so on.
The heart symbol is used for healing and if you are outside of Tokyo you can heal for one heart on your board. The last side on the dice is the monster claw, which represents an attack. If you are in the City you hit all the monsters outside of the city for one damage for every claw you have rolled. If you are outside of Tokyo City the monster currently inside will losing health.
The next stage of your turn is whether to enter Tokyo City, there must always be a monster in the city, so therefore if no one is in the City you must go in. Entering and staying in the city will net you victory points, and If you roll the smash symbols you attack everyone out of the City simultaneously. The downside of being in City is you cannot heal while inside, regardless of your roll. If you do get attacked while in Tokyo and your health is getting low, you can choose to yield and leave the City and thus making the person who’s turn is next enter the city. The final stage of a turn is the ability to buy power up cards; you can purchase one of more from the three face-up cards near the board.
The cost of the cards is indicated at the top and you must have the correct amount of power cubes. If you have enough power cubes you can continue to buy as many cards as you like. These power up cards, make the game different on each play and add a strategic element to the game. Some of the cards effects allow you to roll extra dice, gain extra energy, health or even poison your fellow monsters. If you are in the city the power cards are the only way you can regain health while remaining in there.
In games of five-six players the Tokyo Bay space on the Board is also used. Tokyo Bay is used in essentially the same way as Tokyo City and the monsters who become king have the same rules, so can’t heal but can attack greater numbers of players. As soon as the game is down to four players, Tokyo Bay will become off limits. This element is introduced to keep the balance in larger games and it’s a smart touch that easily allows the addition of two players which is nice to see without having to purchase additional expansions - however I have yet to play it with more than four players so have not personally needed to use it.