Date played: November 28, 2020
Basic details: 2-4 players; 45 minutes; competitive
Gist of the game: You are a kaiju, battling other kaiju to be Japan’s foremost monster. (M here: Godzilla is always the foremost monster and if this game does not end in that result, it merely reflects the fantasy nature of board games.) You destroy buildings and vehicles to gain energy and use that energy to attack other kaiju. You can throw trains, battleships, tanks, and even other monsters at your opponents. Eventually, the humans will deploy the oxygen destroyed (as they’re wont to do), ending the game. The most dominant monster wins.
To set up, the center tile is placed in the middle of the play area. Other tiles are randomly selected and then configured according to the number of players. For 2 player games, 6 additional tiles are used, with players 1 and 2 starting on opposite sides of the city.
Next, buildings are placed in designated spots on the board. The damage track is placed within reach of all players, and the oxygen destroyer is placed on the start space of the damage track. Two event cards are selected and placed in spaces at the top and bottom of the damage track. The setup instructions for each event (in terms of what vehicles to place) are carried out. Buildings and vehicles provide players with additional energy when they are destroyed.
Players choose their kaiju and place them in their starting position. Players place their kaiju mat in from of them and place an energy cube on the 2 space of the energy track. Players shuffle their kaiju deck and place them face down to the left of their kaiju mat and draw a hand of 5 cards.
The game is played across rounds. Each round has 4 phases: a) the oxygen destroyer phase (only begins in the second round); b) action phase; c) refresh phase; and d) event phase.
In the oxygen destroyer phase, the oxygen destroyer is moved one circle along the damage track.
In the action phase, players take turns using actions until all players pass consecutively. A player may play a kaiju card by paying its energy cost. Players do so by moving their energy tracker down the energy track by the cost of the card. Players cannot play cards if they cannot pay the energy cost. Once played, players resolve all the card’s effects and then discard it. Each card indicates the energy cost, the card’s power (move, attack, or defend), the card’s effects, and the dominance value. To use a card to attack, a player’s monster must be in the same space as the attackee or within the appropriate ranged distance for a ranged attack.
If using a target to carry out the attack, players then choose which one they will use. After choosing a target, the player decides whether to throw or damage it. Vehicles can only be thrown. Ranged attacks only deal damage and cannot target vehicles or buildings, only other kaiju. When throwing a target, the attack value is also the maximum distance the object can be thrown. Targets must be thrown in a straight line. When throwing a vehicle, players choose a space within the range for the vehicle to land and destroy the vehicle and a small building, large building, or another vehicle in the space where the target will land. If another monster is in range, the player may throw the vehicle at the kaiju to deal 1 damage and destroy the vehicle. When throwing a kaiju, players move the thrown kaiju in a straight line up to the maximum distance until it hits a large building or another kaiju. Players then also destroy up to one small building or vehicle in each space the thrown kaiju moves through. If the thrown monster ends in a space with a large building, the building is destroyed. If the kaiju lands in a space with another monster, both receive 1 damage.
When destroying buildings and vehicles, players gain the benefits shown on the underside of the building or vehicle. Large buildings are more valuable and are removed from play for the rest of the game. Large buildings can provide players with: a) 4 energy; b) 2 energy + 1 card; c) 2 energy + a discarded card placed on the top of their kaiju deck; or d) 2 energy and a peek at any one opponent’s top card of their kaiju deck. Destroyed small buildings go on the damage track. Vehicles and lighting generators are moved off the board, but may re-enter play during an event phase.
To deal damage to a monster, the other player can choose to defend using a card in their hand. If the attack value is less than or equal to the defense value, nothing happens. If the attack value is greater, the player wins the attack. The defense value is subtracted from the attack value and the attacking player takes a number of cards equal to the difference from the target’s kaiju deck. The card with the highest dominance value is taken as a trophy and placed face down in the trophy pile. The remaining cards are discarded in the opponent’s discard pile. If all drawn cards have a dominance value of 0, no trophy is taken. After dealing, any other attack card effects are resolved. After attack card effects are resolved, defense card effects are resolved.
To use a discard action, players discard a kaiju card and apply one of the effects from the kaiju mat.
Players can also decline to attack or discard, passing intsead.
After all players have consecutively passed, players can discard or keep any cards in their hands before drawing up to a hand of 5. The player with the King of Monsters card (the player who was the first player in the round or who attacked the previous King of Monsters) draws a hand of 6 cards. Any special kaiju abilities or enhancements can also be activated in this phase.
In the event phase, both event cards are activated in their assigned order. Usually, vehicles still on the board are moved or new vehicles are placed on the board.
After the event phase, players check to see if the game has ended. If the oxygen destroyer marker and the small building tokens have passed each other, the game ends. If the oxygen destroyer has not passed, or is adjacent to a small building token, a new round begins.
If the game ends, each player tallies the value of their trophies. The player with the King of Monsters token gains an extra 2 points. The player with the most points wins.
Color commentary: The small kaiju figurines are pretty neat, and I think the oxygen destroyer mechanic is pretty neat — the humans will tolerate some level of destruction, but won’t abide by having the entire city completely destroyed before trying to bring an end to the monsters. At least with 2 players, the only real interaction was by using attack cards and throwing vehicles at each other. No occasion really arose to throw one another’s kaijus. The multiple event cards and tile layouts allow for differentiation and randomness between games, which will help keep it fresh across plays. In general, though, I thought the premise was more interesting than the actual execution, but the idea of throwing vehicles and other monsters and destroying buildings and such is a fun one.
Thoughts from M: This game has all the chaos and fun of a good Godzilla movie. Unfortunately, I have no idea what a good strategy is. Some vehicles, especially tanks, can sap your energy if they end up in your tile or adjacent to your tile, so perhaps focusing on destroying those would be helpful, although they would also get replaced later in the game once there are a sufficiently low number of them currently on the board. Actually attacking your opponent doesn’t seem very efficient, and requires quite a bit of energy. So you need to constantly be destroying things to gain energy to try to attack your foe, which thematically makes sense, I suppose, but does limit the meaningfulness of the interactions in what is at least in part designed to be a combat game. Still: there’s a Godzilla miniature, and the game very accurately captures the flavor of the real Godzilla et al. franchise.
Petra’s rating: 4/10
M’s rating: 7/10