I’ve never been much of a fan of those early monster movies like Godzilla, King Kong, and otherwise. In fact, during my childhood years, I specifically went out of my way to avoid watching those movies because I genuinely thought they were boring. As years have passed and my tastes have changed, I’ve come to appreciate such movies, going so far as to say that I have enjoyed them more than I thought I would. Even though I didn’t watch those movies as a child, I did delve into the world of Power Rangers. For those that grew up in the late 80’s and early 90’s and watched Power Rangers, you might remember every single episode ending with the Rangers being inside a giant robot fighting off some humongous monster in a metropolitan area. If you’re interested in using the flavor of a game to help cement that old feeling, King of Tokyo helps me relive the glory days of my Power Rangers youth.
King of Tokyo puts you square in the mind of a giant monster with the intention to stampede into Tokyo, destroy all other monsters that are vying for the city as well, and become the ruler of the city.
King of Tokyo is a game for 2-6 players, takes approximately 30 minutes to play, and is intended for people ages eight or older. This game is a dice rolling game with fantastic cartoon-like art and fun Sci-Fi elements.
Setup for the game is relatively simple. Each player chooses a monster to play. The monsters do not have any kind of special ability. Instead, your chosen monster is for flavor. Each monster comes with their own player card with fantastic artwork to display your monster’s quirks. On your player board, set the heart symbol (your monster’s life) to ten and set the star symbol (your victory points) to zero. Shuffle the deck of Power Cards and turn three of them face up. Put all of the green energy cubes off to the side and grab the dice. Decide who goes first, and it’s time to play King of Tokyo!
The object of the game is to either be the last monster remaining with life points left or be the first monster to 20 victory points!
Much like Fantastic Beasts Perilous Pursuits, you roll six dice when it is your turn. These dice contain a variety of symbols, all of which have different effects. The symbols are as follows:
The Victory Points symbols are represented by either a 1, 2, or 3. Rolling three of any ONE number represents the amount of points you get. For example, if you roll three 3’s, you will gain 3 points. If you roll three 2’s, you will gain 2 points. For each additional die representing that number, you will gain 1 extra point. Four 3’s will get you 4 points (3 points for the first 3 dice, and 1 for the additional die).
The Smash symbol is how you do damage to other monsters. Inflict one point of damage for each Smash symbol rolled.
You will inevitably take damage throughout the game, and rolling 1 heart will heal your monster for one life point. Each additional heart also heals for 1 life point.
The Power Card Deck contains special powers that help you win the game. Each card costs a certain number of energy, and the Energy symbol on the dice will get you that energy. Each Energy symbol you roll will gain you 1 energy.
On your turn, you roll the six dice. You may reroll a maximum of two times for a total of three rolls. After each roll, you can keep or discard any of the dice you choose, much like playing Yahtzee. When you reach the end of the third roll, you then resolve your dice.
You roll the six dice and get the following: 2, 2, Energy, Heart, Smash, 1. For the sake of this example, we’ll say you keep the two 2’s and reroll the rest. You roll those four dice and get the following: 2, Energy, Energy, 3. You keep the 2 and the two Energy. You roll the final dice one last time and get a 1. The final dice is as follows: 2, 2, 2, Energy, Energy, 1. You move yourself up 2 points and collect 2 Energy. The last die is worth nothing.
After you have rolled your dice the maximum number of times, you can choose to purchase one of the face up Power Cards on the table. If you have the amount of energy necessary to buy the card, pay the energy, take the card, and immediately replace it with the top card from the deck. If you don’t like any of the cards available, you can choose to pay 2 energy and sweep all three face up cards into the discard pile and then draw three new ones for purchasing. You can buy as little or as many cards as you want as long as you have the energy to do so.
The power up cards all contain different effects that may help you or hinder other players. An example of a card would be the Psychic Probe. After the last roll of each other player, you can make them reroll one of their die. However, if that rerolled die is a Heart, you have to discard Psychic Probe. Other cards have effects that happen immediately and then get discarded. An example would be the Evacuation Orders card. It costs 7 energy, but as soon as you buy it, all other monsters lose 5 Victory Points. The card is then discarded to the discard pile whereas Psychic Probe stays with you until the discard condition is met.
Nobody starts out in Tokyo, so the first player to roll a Smash by their final roll must move into Tokyo. Every time you move into Tokyo, you gain 1 Victory Point. While your monster is in Tokyo, any Smash you roll will do 1 damage per Smash die to every single monster outside of Tokyo. However, if you are outside of Tokyo, and there’s a monster currently in the city, every Smash you roll will only do damage to the monster currently residing there.
When you are in Tokyo, if a monster outside the city rolls a Smash on their turn, you can choose to retreat from the city, allowing the new monster to take your place. Unfortunately, when you choose to retreat, you still take the damage the monster taking your place rolled on their turn. While you are in Tokyo, you cannot roll hearts to heal your life points, however, while you’re outside the city, you can heal as much as you’d like. If you go into Tokyo on your turn and you last inside the city for all of the other players’ turns, when your next turn starts, you gain 2 points for holding the city for an entire round of play.
A small variant exists for when 5 or 6 players are playing. There is a second spot on the game board called Tokyo Bay. If a monster is currently in Tokyo City, you must place your monster in Tokyo Bay when rolling a Smash. This allows for a varied and more strategic gameplay for a higher number of players. The same rules apply regardless of the number of players. If a monster in either Tokyo City or Tokyo Bay rolls a Smash, it hits all players outside Tokyo. If a player outside of Tokyo rolls a Smash, it hits both monsters currently in Tokyo.
King of Tokyo is a very simple yet fun little game. It took us all of about ten minutes to learn how to play the game, but we’ve yet to really master a good strategy for winning. I personally have yet to win a game when we’ve played, but it hasn’t taken any enjoyment out of it for me. Other than reading what the Power Cards do and how they can really play into your strategy, this game could easily be learned by children. It’s an enjoyable little time being put into the mind of a giant monster and attempting to conquer Tokyo.