Monster Mash – King of Tokyo Review

Boardgames – Earlier this week I had a chance to try out King of Tokyo, a kaiju themed dice game designed by Richard Garfield of Magic the Gathering fame. At first blush I looked at the game and thought ok this might be fun with the kids but there can't be any depth to it, right?

After doing a few test games for the Judge Dredd campaign my group is getting ready to run, we sat down and tried out Kings of Tokyo. While there is a board, it's not really a board game more of a yatzee style press your luck game with a board element and cards. In the box you get a bunch of special dice, several cardboard monster stand ups, victory/health counter with dials, deck of cards, boatload of green energy cubes, and a board that denotes Tokyo and Tokyo Bay. The art is fun and vibrant which fits the theme of this light hearted game.

Game play is simple, each player rolls dice and can re-roll any combination twice. On the face of the dice are the numbers 1-3, a heart, a claw and a lightning bolt. To score your looking for three of a kind or better with the numbers. The claw allows you to attack the monster in Tokyo (note if you hit the guy in Tokyo, he can out to flee and you are forced to move in) if you're outside or all other monsters if you're inside Tokyo. The heart allows you to heal if you're outside Tokyo and the lightning bolt gives you cubes which you can use to buy powers. The Powers are represented by three cards shown face up next to the board each has a cost in cubes and you can buy one at the end of your turn. The Powers allow for crazy stuff to happen and certain dice combinations to become more important to you.

You win the game by either being the first to score 20 victory points or by being the last monster standing.

In the first game we played one player got the freeze time power and was able to take consecutive turns while another got a power that let him cancel out damage. As more and more powers stacked you were able to do crazier things based on the die rolls. Eventually the player with freeze time was able to score 20 VP by staying in Tokyo and racking up points for every extra turn he took.

In the second game the powers that showed up were signifcantly weaker but some allowed you to trade energy to change a die whatever you wanted it to be. With this power I was able to just beat the snot out of the other players by focusing on doing damage. Good times ...

After playing the game a few times I have to say I'm impressed. The mechanics are really simple and easy to pick up. We wrapped up our games in about 20 minutes, including teaching time. The components are solid and being cardboard keeps the price down to an impulse buy level ($30 MSRP). I can see playing this with anyone and not just my gamer buddies which makes the game infinitely more attractive.