Review

Review

Dangerous Games: 'King of Tokyo' Game Review

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The chair creaks as you settle onto it. The candlelight flickers. All around you the ravenous faces of your so-called friends twist in delight as you slowly open the box laid out on the table. Welcome to Dangerous Games! Each week, we'll feature a horror/thriller/monster tabletop game you should be playing. Don't be scared… roll the dice… what's the worst that could happen?
 
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King of Tokyo
 
The water churns in the bay surrounding Tokyo. From off in the distance you hear a great, tumultuous crash! And a howling roar! Immense, powerful monsters emerge from all directions. A giant sea monster strikes at the ports, a giant ape monster smashes about, a huge radioactive lizard spews his atomic breath, and others soon join the fray! These giants, or Kaiju, begin to fight over the city, each one vying to be… King of Tokyo!
 
Yes, your Kaiju Big Battel fantasies can finally come true! In this amazing press-your-luck board game by Richard Garfield (he's the guy who created Magic: The Gathering), two to six players take on the roles of giant monsters battling for Tokyo. The winner is the first one to twenty points (or the last man standing) wins the game and is crowned king of Tokyo. Players can play as the Kraken (giant lobster/squid), Gigazaur (a Godzilla familiar), Mecha Dragon (a mechanized dragon, duh), The King (a giant King Kong lookalike), Cyber Bunny (which is a bunny in a giant mech suit), or Alienoid (which is, of course, an alien). The flavor of this game is too awesome, so let's talk about it while we crush pedestrians underfoot!
 
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Game Mechanics
 
Each player takes a turn rolling six dice. The dice have six different faces to them. There is a 1, 2, and 3, and there's also an attack, an energy, and a heal. Players roll these dice, and may re-roll any number of them twice. Rolling triplets of any number will get you that number of points (additional dice of the same number add one point to your total). Rolling the energy symbol gets you energy cubes (which you use to purchase power-ups). Rolling the heart symbol lets you heal. Rolling attacks will get you into Tokyo, which is the other major aspect of the game.
 
All players are either outside of Tokyo or in Tokyo. Only one player at a time can be in Tokyo. When he or she attacks, that player's damage effects everyone outside of Tokyo. But, all attacks from outside of Tokyo go directly to the player in Tokyo. Why take this risk and soak up damage? Because going into Tokyo gains you one victory point, and staying in it every round gives you two! As mentioned above, first player to twenty victory points wins.
 
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Replay Value
 
When a game focuses on an element of chance (like dice rolling), it's naturally bound to have a greater replay value. Because this is such a press-your-luck dice roller, it feels very different every time you play. You can also choose different strategies for each time you play. Do you want to just bash, bash, bash? Or would you prefer to save up energy for power-ups? Do you hang out in Tokyo? Or do you wait outside and attack anyone who enters? Richard Garfield created the most strategic game since Chess (Magic: The Gathering), so it's no surprise that even his "light" games like this (and Robot Rally) are full of choices, different paths to success, and high variance. This game delights with every play through.
 
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Overall Impressions
 
King of Tokyo is so fun it makes me want to stomp on skyscrapers. This is an awesome game that is bursting with flavor. Once a game's mechanics are hammered down and solid, it's up to the designers to add the flavor. The monsters you play as are either iconic or weird, and you really feel as though you're bashing your way to Tokyo. This is a great, monstrous, near-perfect game. Try it out before you get grabbed and carried to the top of a skyscraper!
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