Who's That Pokemon. . . . Err I Mean Huge Angry Monster? - King of Tokyo Expansions Review

When something is made by Richard Garfield, you have to expect expansions galore, not that it's a bad thing of course, but your wallet will say otherwise. King of Tokyo, which is already a staple in most gamer's collections has now received 2 expansions to date and we're expecting a special standalone game "King of New York" in 2014. However at £11-12 per expansion should you consider grabbing these for your game or can you survive just fine with the base game?



Designer: Richard Garfield (2012/2013)
Publisher: Iello
# of Players: 2-6
Ages: 8+
Play Time: 30-60 minutes
BGG Rank/Rating: #86/7.50
Dice Tower 2013 People’s Choice Rank: 2
Category: Expansions to Base Game

It's Over 9000!!

First off, we have Power Up, released in 2012. This expansion only really brought in two new additions to the game, that being a new monster in the form of a giant panda (. . . . . riiiiiiiiight) and Evolution cards for each monster.

The new monster is no different from the others; you get a stand up cardboard piece and the little board that records your HP and Fan Loyalty points (remember from my original review I call them that as I like to think the monsters are competing for popularity). It is popular though in games as after all, it's a giant panda which is amusing in itself and plenty of references to Kung Fu Panda are made during each game he makes an appearance. But he's no Gigazaur though. . . . yes I'm still defending him, I don't know what it is with me, I'm like this with Yoshi from Nintendo games - I guess I just like dinosaurs.

"Kung Fu Panda goes Feral!"

The main highlight however are the Evolution cards. There is a set of 8 cards for each monster and annoyingly they are square shaped meaning you can't sleeve them - not sure what the thought process was for that decision, but they are reasonably good cardstock none the less.
During the game if you roll 3 Hearts at any time you can take a random Evolution card which gives your monster either a permanent or one-use only ability that is unique to your monster. The cards tend to be related to a specific theme for each monster as well, for e.g. the Kraken cards emphasise healing where as The King just wants to pummel and pummel particularly from within Tokyo.

"The cards are colourful and easily distinguishable for each monster"

They come up often enough to influence the game depending on the rolling, but now each monster feels like it has its own identity. At first play you won't know what the differences are, but over time you could actually be choosing your monster based on your intended play style. Even for just casual players it's good for them to have an additional factor to consider when choosing their monster, however if you choose Cyber Bunny, you're still insane and you will be 'om nom nom'ed by Gigazaur as soon as possible.

This Is Halloween, This is Halloween, Halloween, Halloween!!

Only released just over a month ago (see I can be current too!) this has been put forward as more of a Collector's Pack rather than an expansion, but that's just glossing, it's an expansion, end of. The whole expansion is called Halloween and funny enough everything fits that theme. We're treated to two new monsters in Pumpkin Jack and Boogy Woogy, both of which have pretty cool designs, particularly Jack.

A new set of 6 chunky dice in orange are also included to fit the theme, but I can't see why this was done. Ok it fits the Halloween theme, but they are identical to the old ones so it's just something new to store unless you have both out in the same game to save passing them around. As this expansion is around £11-£12 as well, we could have saved a bit of cash if these weren't included as I'm sure they aren't cheap to make.



"Pumpkin Jack does look awesome!"

Each monster comes with a set of Evolution cards similar to Power Up, however this creates an issue in itself. If you haven't bought Power Up, you can't use these evolutions unless you're playing a two player with just Jack and Boogy included and from experience I rarely see any less than 4 players involved in this game from the beginning. Almost seems like it's assuming you've bought Power Up.


We do get something different however in the cards department, which I felt needed a small boost. New Costume cards are included which act very similar to normal ability cards, but with a slight tweak. If a monster pummels you with 3 Claws and pays you the energy cost, he can steal the costume from your monster for himself. All the costumes carry the same great humour as can be expected (the sight of Gigazaur as a princess is just priceless).



"Good humour and good abilities, but they just don't come up very often - there's more than 5 mind!"

There are some issues however when playing this from experience. It's really rare that any monster has both the 3 Claws AND the energy cost to pay for the costume as they're not cheap to acquire. Most players spend their energy on other cards that come up and don't save up hoping for a costume to appear. Also once you've shuffled them into the main deck, there aren't many of them, so you will commonly get games when they won't turn up at all. 


Verdict

With regards to Power Up, £12 for this expansion seems a little pricey as you don't really need the new monster, but the Evolution cards are great and add a new reason for rolling hearts even when stuck in Tokyo when you can't normally heal. If you are getting a lot of plays from the base game and feeling it's getting generic, it's worth grabbing this one to reboot it, but it really should have come in the base game.

 Halloween is a mixed bag however. Again I don't think one of the issues with King of Tokyo was ever the monster limit. There were already 7 to begin with (8 with Power Up), now we have 10, that's plenty more than we need. The dice are completely unnecessary and the Costumes, even though they are fun and all, aren't anywhere near an essential addition to the game. 

There is also the added issue that without Power Up, part of this expansion is unusable due to the Evolutions only being present in the first expansion. That's a bit of a downer as it forces you to buy an expansion which you may or may not have bothered getting before.


So to summarise, Power Up is a good expansion for the Evolutions, but still pricey for what you get and by no means essential to enjoy King of Tokyo. Halloween is no where near essential. It's a nice extra, but only one to get if you are affected by Completionist Syndrome or are a devoted fan of King of Tokyo. And even then do not get this expansion if you haven't bought Power Up.


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