King of Tokyo – Review

King of Tokyo is a classic. In fact, the label on the shrink wrap tell us that over 1 million games have been sold worldwide since the game’s release in 2011, which is quite something. The game’s theme of giant monsters fighting each other is one that I find hugely appealing, and it uses a dice rolling mechanic that I enjoy. Despite all that, and the fact that it’s designed by Richard Garfield, designer of my favourite game, for some reason I never got round to picking up a copy. Recently, Coiledspring Games sent me a review copy of the game, and I’m extremely glad to finally get my hands on it.

In King of Tokyo, various giant monsters are battling to be victorious, either by gaining a certain number of victory points, or by eliminating the other monsters. One monster at a time (two in a 5-6 player game) can enter Tokyo itself, scoring extra points when they enter and for each round they remain. The catch is that they paint a big target on themselves when they do so. All of the monsters outside Tokyo will be attacking them, and if you’re in Tokyo you’re unable to heal yourself.

King of Tokyo uses a dice rolling system that will be familiar to anyone who has played Yahtzee or similar games: roll a certain number of dice, put aside any you want to keep, reroll up to twice, and do various things based on the results. The dice are weighty and chunky, which brings a lovely sense of tactile joy to the rolling experience. The results let you do things like attack your enemies, score victory points, heal and gain energy. Energy can then be spent to buy upgrades, which give some nice options for customising your monster each game.

One of the things that I love about this game is that, even though it’s simple and quick to play, there always seems to be a variety of strategies you can take. Do you stay outside Tokyo and try and use your rolls to amass victory points as quickly as possible? Do you try and eliminate your opponents, or do you try to hold Tokyo for as long as you can? Do you grab a bunch of upgrades or ignore them and go full attack? All options seem equally valid and each is fun to explore.

It’s great with two players but I think it’s a game that gets even better the more you have around the table. And while the game is perfectly enjoyable with just two players, it’s so simple to play that it’s easy to control two monsters each if you wanted to.

It’s tons of fun. I love its bright, colourful look – the art on the upgrade cards is particularly outstanding. It’s simple to pick up and the gameplay can be learned in minutes. The tried-and-true dice rolling mechanic is rewarding and enjoyable, and each play can feel different depending on what strategies players employ and what upgrades are available. It’s easy to see why it’s such a classic.

If you’ve not tried it, and it looks like your kind of thing, I highly recommend it.

While I was very generously provided with a review copy by Coiledspring Games, all opinions are my own.

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