Why is Japan the mecca of giant monster attacks? Is it just the astronomical levels of radiation and nuclear testing?—Godzilla paved the way on that theory. Whether its giant lizards, turtles, moths, or gorillas, I’ve always been fascinated with the monster movie genre and it’s culture. King of Tokyo brings the likes of Godzilla and King Kong to the table (with different names for licensing reasons of course).
Each player takes on the persona of 1 of 6 monsters (in the base game): Gigazaur, Kraken, The King, Alienoid, Cyber Bunny, Meka Dragon. A battle ensues for the thrown with dice as the fuel.
A player has 3 chances to role 6 dice in an attempt to mount an attack, stockpile energy to purchase upgrade cards, heal, or gain victory points. Wait, are we playing Yahtzee? Yes, but with a theme and a few other variations. Cards like “Extra Head”, “Healing Ray”, “Fire Breathing”, and “Wings” are purchased to allow the monsters to gain more abilities and take advantage of their dice roles; dealing extra damage, change dice rolls, gain more energy, negate damage, etc…
The interesting dynamic within King of Tokyo is whether your character is “in Tokyo” or not. Being in Tokyo means that your monster is attacking all other players at once and steadily gaining victory points each turn —basically you are the focal point of the game. Those monsters that are not “in Tokyo” are teamed up battling the one “in Tokyo”. One thing to note about this location dynamic, when “in Tokyo” you are not able to heal yourself. At certain points in the game a player can leave Tokyo to regain the ability to heal or some other strategic reason, giving the reigns of Tokyo to the monster attacking it. A nice round-robin, in-and-out gameplay continues throughout King of Tokyo.
The gameplay is vastly different depending on the number of players. King of Tokyo advertises playability from 2–6 players but take my advise and never play this game with 2 players, its terrible —3 or more and you’ll have a good time. With 2 players the other person your playing is in Tokyo, there is no multiplayer dynamic. The game is also extremely quick and highly based on dice rolls, the upgrade cards almost never come into play with just 2 players —again, let me reiterate that this game is terrible with 2 players.
I’m admittedly a sucker for themes in games, I think they really add a dimension of understanding and fun to the mechanics of the gameplay. Yahtzee is a good time, but Yahtzee with monsters and upgrade cards is even better. Don’t get me wrong, this game is more than just a skin for Yahtzee, but I think it helps when explaining the game to have a frame of reference. Occasionally a dice roll game gets really frustrating because of its ties to the luck of the roll, this game never really feels that way to me. If you are trying to roll for a powerful attack and it doesn’t happen you can change your strategy to go for energy, healing, or victory points. Bad dice rolls are inevitable, but this game weathers that storm pretty well. King of Tokyo a game with solid gameplay and fun theme, both are easily approachable.