Wednesday 23 September 2015

Cardboard - King of Tokyo

[Salvaged and updated from the old blog, here's a review for King of Tokyo, the kaiju-monster-smashing dice game by Richard Garfield.  Since writing the original review we've added the Power Up! expansion to our collection, so I've updated the post to include this.  Working on this really makes me want to try followup King of New York!]

When it comes down to it, I'm pretty sure that most nerdly-types like nothing better than rolling a hand-full of dice. If possible, two hand-fulls of dice. Even better, giant dice. Especially if those dice happen to roll up some damage and cause chaos for your friends...

If this is true of you, then I'm sure you'd love King of Tokyo.

King of Tokyo box art | Random Nerdery

Each player takes on the role of a giant cardboard kaiju monster stomping around poor Tokyo attempting to eliminate all other players and become the last monster/alien/robo-bunny standing (or first to 20 victory points!)

King of Tokyo - Cyber Bunny | Random Nerdery

You're given six dice with which to cause your destruction. On your turn you have three rolls of the dice. Each time you roll, you can choose to keep or re-roll individual die. This allows you to collect sets of various symbols - 3s, 2s, 1s, hearts, lightning bolts and claws.  Power-up cards can earn you additional dice (shiny green ones!)

King of Tokyo dice | Random Nerdery

You can use your dice rolls to gain the following helpful things:

Victory points: Collecting three or more matching numbers will give you that many victory points and move you closer to a monsterly win.

Energy cubes: Lightning rolls will earn you 'energy cubes' which you can use to buy power-up cards. These cards give you helpful things like extra dice or healing. The cubes look like little green sweets, but should definitely not be eaten...

Damage: Claws (or 'punchy fists', as they should rightly be known) deal damage to your opponents. Monsters can be in two places - 'in' Tokyo, i.e. on the game board, or 'outside' Tokyo on the rest of the table. You end up in Tokyo if you have a claw symbol amongst your final dice roll on your turn and if there isn't already a monster occupying the space. When you roll damage from outside Tokyo, you damage any monster inside Tokyo. When you roll damage from inside Tokyo, you damage everyone else! So Tokyo is a pretty dangerous place to be, but it's great for whittling down everyone else's health points while you're there. You also get extra victory points for braving the centre spot.

Healing: Hearts allow you to heal up your monster, unless you're standing in Tokyo, where you can't heal at all until you leave (very painful!)

Designed by Richard Garfield in a huge departure from his Magic: the Gathering roots, King of Tokyo is great fun as a filler game.  It works well for bigger groups of people (plays up to 6) and does a great job of pulling everyone into the action.

Don't expect much in the way of in-depth gameplay - new players can pick up the straightforward rules really quickly, which also makes it great for younger gamers (the box says age 8+ but I'm sure it could be younger than that, provided they're not scared of the monsters!)

The components are lovely, with chunky dice, handy points/health trackers for each character and cool artwork throughout.

King of Tokyo in play | Random Nerdery

Power Up! Expansion

The Power Up! expansion pack for King of Tokyo adds the cute Pandakai monster:

King of Tokyo Power Up! expansion - Pandakai | Random Nerdery

It also adds a deck of eight evolution cards for each monster which can be bought by using at least three rolled hearts.  As well as getting an evolution card you still get to benefit from the healing power of the hearts, so these are really useful!  The evolutions can be temporary (discarded after playing) or permanent and do all sorts of beneficial things from changing dice rolls to gaining extra energy cubes.

King of Tokyo Power Up! evolution cards | Random Nerdery

Whilst Pandakai himself doesn't really add anything to the game other than a bit more character choice, the evolution cards in Power Up! have added an interesting new dynamic to the game which is great for players who have already played a lot and are looking for something new.  They also add a bit of differentiation to the characters, who are otherwise identical in all but artwork.  Definitely a worthwhile addition to our collection.