Cards & Dice & Tabletops: King of Tokyo
Believe it or not, board gaming is quite a sociable pastime. It requires a regular gathering of like-minded people to play some awesome games. And like most social gatherings, it does also suffer from “that guy” syndrome. You know what I’m talking about. You painstakingly arrange the time and place for your game day and plan the games to be played but there is “that guy”. He is always late. You can even tell him to arrive at a time half an hour earlier than everyone else and he’ll still saunter in bloody late! You then have this wasted chunk of time until your final player turns up. There are however certain games that can be played as filler until his royal lateness eventually turns up. Fun wee games that require little setup, can be taught in a minute and completed in less than an hour. This week’s game accomplishes all these and even lets you blow off steam as you all become large monsters battering seven bells out of each other in an effort to become the King of Tokyo.
King of Tokyo is a two to six player dice game that takes its inspiration from those old fantastic Japanese monster films. Each player takes on the role of a monster battling to take over Tokyo. Among the choice of monsters are a large ape called The King, the huge dinosaur-like Gigazaur and the rabbit controlled Cyber-Bunny. Once everyone has a monster the battle for Tokyo can commence. The game can be won in one of two ways; be the first player to get twenty victory points or eliminate every other monster to be the last beast standing. Apart from Victory points and doing damage to other monsters, players can also heal any health lost and gain energy cubes that are used to buy upgrades such as a spikey tail or fire breath.
The gameplay is progressed by players taking turns to roll a set of six dice. These dice have various symbols and numbers on them. Get three of the same number (1, 2 or 3) and you gain that many victory points, hearts restore health points, paws deal damage to the other players and lightning bolts earn energy cubes. Players get three rolls per turn meaning they can reroll any number of the die twice whilst keeping the results then wish. This adds a surprising amount of skill to something as luck based as rolling dice.
Dealing damage to player is also dependant on location – let me try to explain. Each player’s monster starts the game off the game board – outside of Tokyo. The first player to roll a damage icon places his monster on the board and now occupies Tokyo. Now, when a monster in Tokyo rolls damage, this damage is dealt to every monster not in Tokyo. Monsters in Tokyo also receive one victory point when they gain control of Tokyo and two victory points for every completed turn they occupy that space. The downside of being in Tokyo is that all players outside of Tokyo deal damage to you and you cannot heal health points. You can however leave Tokyo once a player has dealt damage to you and then they must take your place in the hot seat.
One of the best things about King of Tokyo is the two ways to win the game. I have played games that have been more tactical and ended by two players rolling for victory points and I have also played several games where everyone was killed off within three rounds. The deciding factor in how a game will play out can be down to Lady Luck and the roll of the dice. This random element makes for very interesting games when you find yourself switching tactics after you have rolled five damage points and wiped out two players at once. King of Tokyo is one of the rare games that has that “no two games will play the same” factor which make it a fun and frantic experience every time.
Whilst King of Tokyo is a simple game to teach and play, it is also extremely cool. This is partly down to the minimalistic but well done production values. Each monster is simply a large cardboard cut-out on a plastic stand but the artwork is amazing. The coolest part of the game though has to be the scorecard for each beastie. They are individually designed for each monster and have dials that track your current health and victory points. The truth of it all is that the game could be played without both of these components but the fact that they do exist and are so well done makes a really good game mechanic an amazing wee game.
So the next time you find yourself waiting for “that guy” to show up for your game day, get some King of Tokyo on the go. It fast, fun, easy to teach and who knows, if he sees you playing this he may even start to show up in time.