“Do the monster smash”
Right off the bat I have to say that King of Tokyo might be one of the most accessible, fun, and easy to teach games I have had the pleasure of playing. The basic concept is gloriously simple: be the first monster to score 20 points, or be the last Monster standing once everyone else has been reduced to zero health points to become King of Tokyo. However, becoming King can be achieved in serveral ways, and there is some surprising depths of tactics and strategy to be found…
Each player takes control of one of the six skillfully copyright-infringement-avoiding monsters included in the game, receiving a cardboard standee of said beastie and their dashboard. Then engage in a madcap dash to achieve either of the two victory conditions.
Setup is among the fastest going, as the “gameboard” is – compared to most games – absolutely tiny, featuring stylised art of Tokyo bay and two circles in which to place a monster, the second of which only comes into play in games with 5 or more players. The monsters simply require the punchouts placing in one of the many stands provided, shuffle up the deck of power cards, laying the top three out as “the store”, then place the dice, status tokens and pool of energy cubes within easy reach of all players. Finally, roll to see who goes first – highest number of monster claws starts!
Play is incredibly fast, even amongst new players, as a back and forth ensues between occupying the city to earn guaranteed points each turn and being able to attack all the other monsters, vs being the focus of the other monsters attacks and not being able to heal. There are some neat tactical wrinkles you can play with though, to mix things up – when your monster takes damage you can voluntarily move out of the city, which forces whoever attacked your monster to take up residence instead. If you generate power cubes on the dice roll you can use those to buy power cards that can offer bonuses ranging from points and healing to adding crazy effects to your attacks like poison & flame. Alternatively, buffs allow your monster to immediately respawn, making you immune to certain damage and negating a certain amount of damage. If a game goes longer than 45 minutes it’s incredibly rare, but that speed means you can get in several games or make it the start to a longer night of gaming to get folks into the mood.
If you find the main game starts to get boring, then there are a pair of expansions (Power Up & Halloween) that add two further monster as well as new power cards and additional mechanics. Alternartively, King of New York presents a whole new experience where a new band of very familiar looking monsters fight their way through the boroughs of New York City, with additional features like the National Guard turning up to ruin your day and being able to destroy parts of the city (it should also be pointed out that gameplay is not effected by whichever monster you choose to play, so they are fully compatible between King of Tokyo and King of New York).
King of Tokyo retails for around the £25 mark and can be found in the likes of Waterstones easily enough, or failing that it is almost a core item for most specialist boardgame retailers. For your money you get a nice high quality product. The internal vacuum-formed plastic is sturdy, durable, and holds the contents securely. Power cards are nice, whilst tokens, dashboards and standees are of a hardwearing cardboard. The custom dice are larger than the typical D6, chunky and vibrant, whilst the only dour note might be the energy cubes being a potential risk to go AWOL, but if that happens I recommend buying a bag of Fruit Gums, and as players spend “cubes” encourage them to chow down ;)