Gigazaur Is The Best. . . . . END! - King of Tokyo Review

I am generally one of those players who likes a little bit of tactics and strategy in his games. Doesn't have to be overloaded with such concepts otherwise we would be getting into the realms of 18xx games (see Episode 2 for my views on them!)

However every so often I need a game on the lighter side, but it's important for those games to be fun enough to play so that the lack of tactical or strategic depth is irrelevant. King of Tokyo is one of those games. Created by Richard Garfield who would likely be most well known for his iconic Magic The Gathering CCG (a game which I confess to having liked and suffered a reduction in bank funds to in the past), some would argue that this is the game he should be known best for.



"Look at all those shiny awards"

Designer: Richard Garfield (2011)
Publisher(s): IELLO 
# of Players: 2-6
Ages: 8+
Play Time: 30 Minutes
BGG Rank/Rating: #97/7.48
Dice Tower Peoples Choice Rank: 18
Category: Dice Rolling Conflict with Player Elimination

Crazy Carnage and Loving Every Minute Of It

The objective of the game is simple. Gain 20 victory points or kill everyone else. I hate the term "victory points" when used in anything other than a Euro game, so I prefer using "fan loyalty points" (FP) as this game seems to appeal to that way of thinking.

Each player takes control of a giant monster, most of which are based on popular B-movie archetypes or TV genres such as Godzilla , King Kong and Japanese Anime. In the base game it matters not which monster you pick (of course this is completely wrong, Gigazaur is who you should always pick, unless I'm playing in which case "mine, mine, mine, mine, mine!") This issue is addressed in the first expansion, but I will deal with that in a subsequent review.


"I think everybody refers to the Kraken as Cuthulu in all games I play."

On their turn the player will roll 6 dice with various symbols on them. The player will have 2 chances to re-roll or keep any of the dice depending on what his current tactics are. Each symbol means:

1 / 2 / 3 - Rolling 3 of the same number grants that many FP points. Any additional number grants one extra point.

Heart - Heal one damage (if outside of Tokyo)

Claw - Deal one damage

Energy - Charge 1 energy

The monsters are competing over Tokyo City. The first person to roll a claw enters Tokyo and then from that point can gain additional FP points and deal damage to all other monsters in the game. However on the downside they are too busy pulverising the city to be able to heal up. When a monster is outside of Tokyo, they can heal their wounds but may only deal damage to whoever is occupying Tokyo.


"Is this Tokyo or Paris?"

Tokyo is represented by a small board which you could argue is rather superfluous, but it adds to the theme and aids game play by showing the additional space for larger games and the FP gained while entering and remaining within Toyko. Keeping track of your FP's and health is done by a sturdy card with rotating counters within. All the artwork is cartoon-like, but very striking and adds to the quality feel of the game. Even the dice are nice and chunky and feel great to roll.

Throughout the game players will collect as many FP points as possible to reach 20 or seek to beat down all other players to zero hit points. Either method wins the game for the player.

Raw Fun In A Box

The game sounds pretty simple and in that regard it is true. But not so simple that it devoid of any choices on the player. For starters you have the dice. On each turn the player must decide what objective they are hoping to achieve (healing, destroying, recharging, etc) and then adapt to the results on the dice. This gives them a tactical choice to make each turn, not something usually prominent in dice games considering the nature of rolling a dice in general.


"Decisions, decisions - do I go for 3 FP's, increase my damage further, or save up for a juicy upgrade?"

Secondly you may have wondered what I meant by "recharging". Rolling an energy symbol grants you an energy cube that can be stockpiled and used to purchase various ability cards. These upgrade your monster's powers allowing them to inflict more damage, heal faster, augment die rolls or even add dice (IELLO have even provided special green dice for those occasions).


"All the cards share the same striking artwork and provide useful abilities for your monster"

These help to give your monster its own identity, though it doesn't completely solve that issue. More so it adds a little variation to the game as only 3 cards are available at any one time and there are lot of them in total. All the cards have good artwork, keeping with the general humour of the game.

The game plays out quickly with little downtime in between turns and the game can be wrapped up in 30 minutes with relative ease. I only wish it would last longer as it is just simple, plain fun in a box. Nearly everyone who has tried this game for the first time has instantly got hooked and because the monsters are mostly familiar to even non-gamers, you find people quickly getting attached to their monster and relishing in the beating of the others. I don't have this problem of course, keeping a perfectly objective view in all my Giga. . . . I mean games.

The rules are very easy to teach and the rules sheet is laid out in a very colourful and logical order making learning the game a quick and painless process. I only wish games like Arkham Horror shared a similar style - oh don't get me wrong, I love Arkham Horror, but the rulebook needs some reorganising.

It is important to note however that this is a player elimination game. If you lose all of your health, that's it you're out. However even if you don't like that genre the games play out quickly enough so that you're not waiting long and even then you're probably rooting for one of the other monsters all the way.

Verdict


This game is liked by a large majority and I'm pleased to join that group. I had heard about this game all the time on The Dice Tower and frequently it was being played at my gaming groups. Eventually I got lucky and got to see the game how it is. Immediately I was hooked and even though I lost, Gigazaur remained alive. . . . and that's all that matters. . . . wow I might have issues.

It took me a while to consider purchasing the game due to everyone and their dog already having it, but I feel it's must in any collection. Kids can enjoy this and adults will have no issues with the luck element of the game as there are still tactical choices to make every step of the way.

Due to its short length it almost fits the profile of a filler game, being able to fit multiple plays in one session or in the case of my groups still leaving plenty of time for a large Euro game on top of it. Even for haters of elimination games this one can still appeal.

The base game provides plenty of fun, however I wish that the monsters could have more identity between them - something that bugs me. However as stated, the first expansion to this game solves that issue so you can make a decision now as to whether alone that makes it worth a purchase or wait for me to review it at a later date. Despite this though King of Tokyo is No 18 in the People's Choice for a reason - it's just raw fun and for a mere fraction of the cost compared to years of playing Magic The Gathering.


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