King of Tokyo (iello, 2015)

Date played: November 28, 2019

Gist of the game: You’re a monster trying to gain and maintain dominance over Tokyo. Battle with other monsters to maintain your position. The first player to accumulate 20 victory points wins. Fight and gain victory points by rolling 6 dice. Players also receive 1 victory point for taking Tokyo and 2 points for each turn you begin in Tokyo. The catch is that you can’t use dice rolls to undo combat damage in the city, so it may become necessary to cede the city to your attacker. In 2-4 player games, only one player will ever occupy Tokyo, but another city location becomes available for 5-6 player games. Combat damage affects players where you are not (i.e., if you are in Tokyo, you deal combat damage to monsters outside Tokyo and vice versa).

On your turn, roll 6 dice with up to 2 re-rolls. Resolve the dice to gain victory points (triples only), gain energy, deal combat damage, or heal. You can also purchase cards, using energy tokens, that offer specific rewards (either temporary or permanent).

Color commentaryM claimed after we sat stupefied following the first game at how easily we grasped the mechanics that he thought this was a children’s game. To quote my notes, “I’m not as convinced, though maybe.” But indeed, the box indicates the game is for ages 8+ and it won Golden Geek Awards for Best Children’s Game and Best Family Game. That said, the easy mechanics don’t diminish game play, and make it a breezier play than a lot of other games. It also has considerable replay. 6 monsters come included in the original game, but you have more than a dozen options once all the expansions are taken into consideration. Moreover, the expansions include “Evolution” cards, which add additional dynamics that keep the game feeling fresh and unique. However, except for an initial selection from 2 Evolution cards at the beginning of the game, the dice didn’t present any other opportunities to add to my evolutionary bounty. The same was generally true for the regular cards available to purchase with energy tokens. I was also too focused on trying to smote M or rack up victory points of my own to focus on acquiring energy tokens as currency.

Probably my biggest complaint about the game is that the original packaging doesn’t take into consideration at all the additional monster standees, monster boards, and cards that the expansions offer, so can’t handle even a small expansion. I’ve ordered inserts from The Broken Token that seem like they’ll better manage the surfeit of accouterments. I’m hopeful, because looking at the box is giving me a little bit of anxiety, and I’m hesitant to crack open King of New York until I know its expansions can be managed.

M started getting a little cranky about the fickle nature of lady luck in the last game, which was essentially a battle of attrition. There were repeated changes in possession of Tokyo, and M clawed his way back from the brink of defeat several times (also refusing to acknowledge that he was also getting lucky dice, though from a defensive, rather than offensive, perspective). Also, we played this game probably more times before writing the blog post than any other, rampaging our way through probably half a dozen games over the course of Thanksgiving day and Black Friday. We even broke out some of the expansions, which we feel a compulsion to collect even before playing the game. I’m excited to work more with the evolution cards, which are really where the monsters become differentiable from one other, since otherwise they’re essentially featureless figures that add nothing to the game besides something neat to look at. Without the evolution cards, we could just as easily play with Hello Kitty and Homer Simpson figurines.

M’s thoughts: Top of the line graphics. There’s lots of advantage to going first, as there are considerable benefits from being the first to take Tokyo. Maybe it’s different with more than 2 players, and especially 5-6 players, when the 2nd Tokyo location becomes operable. The cards available for purchase seem to be of minimal use (P here: he said this moments before purchasing one that gave him the 3 victory points needed to win). It might be interesting to play the game over a series of rounds and retain your energy points across rounds, thus making it more likely that you would (be able to) purchase cards.

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