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Manual Gamer

King of TokyoPlayers: 2-6
Duration: 20-30 minutes
Ages: 8+
Designer: Richard Garfield
Suitable for: families, casual gamers,  social gamers, hobby gamers (as a filler)

Overview

In King of Tokyo, players get to be giant monsters rampaging through Tokyo, causing as much chaos and mayhem as possible.  It is fast, fun and fantastic for families and casual gamers.

How does it play?

King of Tokyo Monster

The King and his score sheet

In King of Tokyo, players take turns rolling dice to score points for damaging Tokyo, gain energy to buy power up cards, damage other players and heal health.

Players start with zero points and 10 health.  If a player ever gets down to zero health they are eliminated.  The winner is the first player to reach 20 points, or who is the last monster standing.

On a player’s turn they roll a number of customised dice and are allowed two re-rolls of any or all of the dice (just like in Yahtzee).  The results of these dice determine what happens to that player’s monster:

  • King of Tokyo Dice

    Monster Dice!

    Hearts: if a player rolls health dice then their monster get to heal that many health points, up to their total.  The exception to this is where the monster is in Tokyo – health dice have no effect for monsters in Tokyo.

  • Lightning bolts: for each lightning bolt rolled, a player gets to collect an energy cube which can be used to buy power up cards (more on these below).
  • Numbers 1, 2 and 3: for each triple number rolled a player scores that many points, with an additional point for each extra number of that type.  So triple 2 scores 2 points and quadruple 2 scores 2 + 1 = 3 points.
  • Claws: if a player rolls claws then their monster attacks other players, causing damage equal to the number of claws rolled.  If their monster is in Tokyo then they attack every monster outside Tokyo.  If their monster is outside Tokyo then they attack all monsters inside Tokyo.

What is so special about Tokyo?

King of Tokyo Board

Monsters ready to pounce on Tokyo

When a monster enters Tokyo their owner gets a point, and when a player starts their turn in Tokyo they score two points.  Also, as mentioned earlier, monsters in Tokyo ignore any heart dice rolled but get to attack all monsters outside Tokyo at once.  So while Tokyo is a great place to score points, monsters can end up losing quite a bit of health in doing so (depending on how their opponents roll).

Whenever there is a vacant space in Tokyo, any player who rolls a claw will automatically enter Tokyo.  Whenever a monster in Tokyo takes damage they have the choice to leave or not, which introduces a real ‘push your luck’ element to the game. If they do leave then the monster who caused that damage automatically goes into Tokyo.

When there are 4 or less players in a game there is only one Tokyo space but when there are 5 or more players an additional Tokyo space is available.

Power-Up!!!

King of Tokyo Cards

Power up cards and energy cubes

At the end of a player’s turn they can spend energy cubes to buy power-up cards.   A giant monster with super powers is way more fun than just a regular giant monster.  They help to give each monster its own personality for the game and generally make them more awesome.

Three power-up cards are available at any time and there is no limit on how many a player can buy per turn (so long as they can afford them).

Power up cards can do lots of different things, including:

  • Scoring bonus points;
  • Healing or damaging monsters;
  • Allowing extra bonus dice to be rolled (because two heads are better than one); and
  • Giving an extra life (which can be used when eliminated).

How does the game look and feel?

King of Tokyo is bucket loads of fun for both children and adults.   Playing giant monsters rampaging through a city is something that kids love and most adults will too (even if they don’t admit it). The artwork vibrant and engaging and does a fantastic job of helping players imagine the theme.

The dials on the player score cards make keeping track of health and points an absolute breeze.  The customised dice are great and the fact that they are oversized adds to the craziness.

The power-up cards give players the ability to customise their monster during the game.  It is surprising how attached  players can get to the monsters that they have nurtured over the course of a game.

Pros

King of Tokyo Box

A well organised box

King of Tokyo is one of the most fun games around, with plenty of enjoyment packed into the box.  It plays quickly and there is minimal down time between turns.

It is incredibly easy to learn and teach.  The amount of luck involved means that brand new players have plenty of opportunity to win against seasoned veterans.

The artwork is vivid and the components are great.  The box is well organised.

Awesome theme.   More awesome than zombies.

Plays quickly with the first player to roll claws thrust right into the action.  Suits a range of different types of gamers.

Cons

Sometimes the interaction between particular power-up cards isn’t clear.  Fortunately this is a rare occurrence, and if players can’t agree then there is a fist full of monster dice to help settle any argument.

Players who have difficulty with being eliminated may need some assistance and coaxing to play (adults or children).  However given the short play time and the amount of luck involved in this game, players shouldn’t take elimination too personally.

While this game does play with 2 players, doing so loses much of the interaction that comes with 3 plus players.

While King of Tokyo is super popular, it  tends to have low print runs for how popular it is.  This means that it can occasionally be hard to find.  So if the game interests you I recommend grabbing it pronto rather than having to wait between printings (although I’m sure this game will be reprinted for many years to come).

Conclusion

King of Tokyo  plays quickly, is easy to teach and is very accessible to new players.  It has a fantastic theme and just begs to be played repeatedly.

If you like fun (or know someone who does), then you should get a copy of King of Tokyo.  Right now.

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