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King of Tokyo

Entry updated 15 April 2016. Tagged: Game.

Board Game (2011). Iello. Designed by Richard Garfield.

King of Tokyo is in many ways the absolute opposite of his prior invention, the Collectible Card Game Magic The Gathering. King of Tokyo is a board game that is quick and easy to play, and does not require any form of collecting or accruing new pieces, cards or upgrades. It is a good Gateway Game, a game deliberately designed to be easy to learn and play by those new to board-gaming and its conceits. The game has won several awards, most often in the "family" or "light" game categories, including a Golden Geek award for Best Party Game (2011).

In King of Tokyo, 2-6 players each take the role of a B-movie Monster and attempt to destroy the others by either exhausting their Health Points or by gaining more Victory Points than their enemies. The game is played on a small board representing the City and bay of Tokyo, and the theme is strongly reminiscent of Monster Movies such as the Godzilla/Gojira franchise. Players must roll matching combinations of dice to gain energy cubes (used to buy cards which boost their character), health, damage, and Victory Points. Each die can be rerolled twice in order to gain the optimal combination.

King of Tokyo has a fast pace and takes about 30 minutes to play. A point of interest is that the is played both on and off the board. The first player to end their turn with a damage "claw" showing on their die must enter Tokyo, placing their monster on the board. Subsequent dice rolls affect monsters by dealing damage to them – the monster inside Tokyo damages every monster outside the city / board, whereas the monsters outside only damage the monster on the board. (Two monsters may enter the city when there are 5-6 players.) Monsters cannot regain health inside Tokyo, and therefore may "cede" their place at any time after taking damage, swapping positions with the attacking monster. Judging when to remain in the city confines and when to cede are key strategies, as is optimizing the number of supporting cards a monster has.

There are two expansions for the game, which provide more playable characters and cards: King of Tokyo: Power Up! (2012) and King of Tokyo: Halloween (2013). Power Up! allows a further dynamic whereby monsters can "evolve", rather as in the Pokemon games, if the player manages to roll a certain combination of dice: it contains an alternative set of dice in orange and black and new cards which enable the player character to evolve their character. The Halloween expansion adds cards which provide the player characters with masks that bestow various powers. New characters for the game have also been released as promotional materials, as part of crowdfunding campaigns for other games by Iello (see Zombie 15') and as charity items. For example, the Draccus card – a creature from the Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss – was sold at Gencon 2015 to support the Worldbuilders charity. Apart from the Evolution and Mask cards, these expansions and extra characters are largely cosmetic. This is very unlike Magic: The Gathering, in which certain cards are made available in limited amounts, and are often more beneficial to play or bestow extra power to the player, which unbalances the game in their favour.

A sequel to King of Tokyo is King of New York, published in 2014. As the title suggests, the game transposes the location to New York, although characters from the first game can still be used. King of New York adds complexity in the form of buildings that can be destroyed for points and a "fame" dynamic, which allows players to gain more victory points as they become more notorious. [EMS]

see also: Terror in Meeple City.

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