Monday, October 31, 2011

King of Tokyo

King of Tokyo is IELLO's 2011 dice-based family game, designed by Richard Garfield. Does that name sound familiar? Richard Garfield is the creator of Magic: The Gathering, the incredibly popular collectible card game that brought so many people to the gaming hobby. King of Tokyo is a 2-6 player game weighing in at 30-45 minutes a game for monsters aged 8 and up. 

In King of Tokyo the players play familiar monsters on a rampage through Tokyo, dealing damage to each other, the city and its inhabitants as they go. The first player to accrue 20 victory points wins! Each of the six monsters in the game is identical aside from aesthetic differences, all monsters start the game with 10 hit points, 0 victory points and 0 energy. 

The board depicts Tokyo in a state of emergency, with one circled area labeled "Tokyo" and another labeled "Tokyo Bay" which is only used in 5- or 6-player games. These two locations are the most straightforward way to get victory points. When a player enters Tokyo, they gain one victory point. For every turn they start in Tokyo, they gain two additional victory points.

Components of the game: 1 game board, 6 monsters, 6 basic dice,
2 advanced dice, counters, energy cubes, and cards

On a players turn, he or she will roll 6 oversized custom dice, depicting the various actions that they can perform. In a Yahtzee-esque manner, each player is allowed to reroll any or all of the dice two times. After your second reroll, your monster receives or performs the depicted actions. 
The game has four basic actions:
  1. Attack, shown by the four-fingered hand
  2. Heal, shown by the heart
  3. Energize, shown by the lightning bolt
  4. Gain Victory Points, shown by the numbers.
The effectiveness of those actions depends on two things: the number of the action's symbols present, and your location. If I roll 4 Energize dice, I will get 4 energy cubes. If I roll 2 Attack dice, I'll do 2 damage. With one exception: the Gain Victory Points action only works if you roll at least three matching numbers; 3 2-faced dice give me 2 victory points, 3 3-faced dice give me three. For each additional matching die I get 1 more victory point.

Tokyo and Tokyo Bay

Tokyo is a pretty cool place. Its got great food, cool nightlife, and it gives you victory points for being there. It also modifies your results slightly. If you roll Attack dice while in Tokyo, all your damage goes to those outside Tokyo and vice versa. You also cannot use your Heal dice action while in Tokyo. As you can see, Tokyo is also the most dangerous place to be. In order to leave Tokyo, all one has to do is survive an attack. After the attack, that player can swap places with the attacking monster. Success comes to those that can properly balance being in and out of Tokyo while juggling dice rolls.

You may be thinking to yourself "This game seems pretty straight simple. Are you sure Richard Garfield designed this? There's no tapping!" Remember the Energize action? It gives you these satisfying little energy cubes that you use as a currency to purchase cards.

These cards represent mutations, events, and technology that your monster can now exploit. Some of them are permanent, some of them are one time use. But all of them feature amazing artwork. The deck of cards consists of 66 cards, and nearly all of them are unique.

King of Tokyo is a simple game at its heart. It's a roll-and-play game that has heavy interaction, and some might have a problem with that. It has been called a family game, both here and other places, but I think it's more than that. I've played this a dozen or so times, and each game feels more strategic and tense than the last. The artwork in the game is truly beautiful, the components are solid and the dice are so beefy and satisfying, it's hard to say anything bad about the quality of this game. What really sets this game apart from other games in this genre are the cards. When you add the variable powers, gains and losses that the cards present you truly get a unique experience. King of Tokyo is an incredibly rewarding game that people should not pass up.

For more information, check out King of Tokyo on Board Game Geek here.

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