06 August 2012

Yahtzee Monsters - King of Tokyo Review

Remember those old monster movies? Godzilla and King Kong were the most famous ones. They would somehow find their way into a major city and start to cause all sorts of havoc. The Japanese used to make tons of these types of movies. They were almost always terrible, but they provided some great entertainment in a great campy way. Then, in the 90s, there was  a series of arcade games named Rampage, where you were one of these monsters and you would see who could destroy the most of a given city. These movies and games seem to be the inspiration to the game King of Tokyo.




King of Tokyo is a game for 2-6 players that plays in 20-30 minutes. It was designed by Richard Garfield and is published by Iello Games. The game uses dice-rolling and card-drafting mechanics. In King of Tokyo, each player takes the role of a different monster, and each monster has the same abilities. The different monsters are purely ascetic. The goal of the game is for each player to either score 20 victory points or be the last monster standing. This is accomplish by causing destruction to the city of Tokyo and by attacking the other monsters. On a player's turn, they will roll 6 custom six-sided die. Players then have the option to re-roll any of the dice up to two times. Then, the die are resolved. Three sides have numbers 1-3 engraved on them. If you roll three of one number, you are awarded that many victory points (i.e. if you roll 3 number 2s then you get 2 victory points). For each additional dice of that number, you gain an additional victory point (ex. 4 number 3s gives you 4 victory points). The other dice faces have special characters. A heart which increases your health by one for each heart, with a maximum health of 10. There is lightning bolts that give you one energy cube for each one you roll--these are the games currency. Finally, you can roll claws. The first person to roll a claw will enter Tokyo. From then on, anyone who is outside of Tokyo who rolls a claw attacks the player in Tokyo, and the player in Tokyo will attack everyone outside of Tokyo, when they roll a claw. Players take a hit to their health for each claw that is rolled. If a player is attacked in Tokyo, they can decide to stay in Tokyo or leave and be replaced by the player who attacked them. If a player loses all their health, they are eliminated from the game. After players have rolled and re-rolled their dice, they are resolved with the above results. Then, players have the option to purchase one of the three cards that are available. They can also pay two currency to remove the cards and have three new cards revealed. The cards usually give you either some special ability that you are able to use the rest of the game, or they have some immediate effect and are discarded. The dice are then passed and the next player does the same thing.

Review
Components
I love the components for this game. The dice are custom, engraved, and big and chunky. They give you a feeling that you got your monies worth when you hold them. It's nice when you have six die and you have to use two hands to roll them all. Now, I believe the First Edition did not have engraved die, but I believe you can get some from Iello if you want them. The players cards have nice dials on them and the player pawns are nice. They are all picture representations of the different monsters and are placed on plastic stands. The pictures are cardboard and are solid. The only way to really make these better would be to have figurines and that would have greatly increased the price. Maybe they could have a figurine set as an expansion. The cards in the game are a good stock and clearly state what they do. Finally, the currency are plastic clear green cubes. They work and are better than cardboard chits or paper money. They also work well with the theme of the game. The best thing the game has going for it is the artwork: it's beautiful and gives that Gozilla/King Kong feel to it. It just really helps bring the theme to life. I can't say enough good things about how well this was done. Finally, the price for King of Tokyo is at an MSRP of $40. This is a fair price for what you get. The frugal side of me says they could have sold it at $35, but I think $40 is still in the right range for the game play and components.

Game Play
King of Tokyo is not a deep game. It is not very strategic or long, but is very fun. The game is basically a variation of Yahtzee, however, it brings a great theme that most people can get into, and is easy to teach and learn. I was able to teach Mrs. Games with Two in less than a minute. I taught a couple of non-gamers in less than three minutes. The game plays smoothly and quickly. It's also fun to encourage other players to re-roll their dice and to leave or stay in Tokyo. The back and forth makes the game play great. The only real flaw is that there is player elimination. However, the game is so sort that it usually doesn't matter. Someone maybe sitting and watching for a couple minutes until the next game starts. Other than that, I don't have any other complaints. The game plays exactly how it's supposed to. Richard Garfield has created another winner. If you are wanting a deep strategic eurogame, you won't find it in King of Tokyo. However, if you want a light and quick dice-chucking game that is a blast to play, King of Tokyo is a winner and deserves to be in your collection

How is it with Two?
As I have been hearing about this one, I had come to the conclusion that the game was not going to work with just two players. I figured it would be better with the more people you had, and that part is true. The more players the better the game plays. The back and forth and ganging up on the player in Tokyo is great with a group of 4-6 players. This is where King of Tokyo shines. However, it still works with just two. I will admit it's not for everyone; especially if you don't like direct conflict. It worked for us though. We enjoyed the back and forth between the two of us. It's also super quick with just two. We finished three games in about 45 minutes. So, if you and your gaming partner are looking for a fast game that has that back and forth, this maybe one to consider. Yet, if you are planning to only ever play this with two players it may not be the best choice, because it really is a cause of more is better.

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