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A Giant Gorilla Versus a Large Robotic Bunny Versus a Cthulhu Wannabe… Who Will Win?

“The measure of a man is what he does with power.” – Plato

As children, we all have unique ideas and insights into what it is we want to be when we grow up. Several of the children I knew in kindergarten, for example, wanted to become police officers, especially after having a local policeman stop our class and explain what he did for a living. His tale of being on the force was one of high speed car chases, epic gunfights and other assorted stories that sound like they came out of an episode of “T.J. Hooker”. I can honestly say that his comments had nothing to do with sitting hidden behind billboards clocking speeders, tailing people who haven’t renewed their plates or passing out parking tickets, which I know now is pretty consistent with law enforcement where I live, but at the time, my friends and I only knew that his story kicked ass and almost every kid in the room, at that moment in time, decided that they, too, would join law enforcement and bust drug cartels on a daily basis…

At five years of age, however, that was not my true calling; nor was it my goal to “work” at McDonald’s, which is still the dream job of most children everywhere (seriously, ask any child what they want to be when they grow-up and McDonald’s is usually at the top of that list – scary, right, because when you get that job in high school, it sucks complete ass). No, my dreams were much greater than that and my goals far loftier.

You see, I wanted to be Godzilla.

The King and Cyber Bunny size each other up.

I’m not going to try and explain why, because if you know who Godzilla is, there should be no question as to why I would pursue this as field for a career. The perks alone made this job one of the greatest positions to ever exist – exotic travel, the ability to crush cities under your feet, and let’s not forget the fact that you can expel radioactive atomic rays from your mouth! Truly, this was a job worth applying for!

Of course, that dream was crushed when I was informed by my kindergarten teacher that:

Godzilla is a creature, not a job option, and it’s not his “job” to destroy cities and fight monsters

and the much worse:

Godzilla doesn’t actually exist

As I walked home from school that day, I stomped the living daylights out of a few anthills, as well as a couple of flowerbeds along the way, all the while upset and in tears. Yeah, my teacher was right, but come on – why did they have to be right? At that moment, as I walked in the house, I knew that my lifelong dream (of five whole years) was now a festering pile of memories that would help launch me into adulthood. Never again would I ever dream of being a giant lizard hellbent on destroying Tokyo and fighting along side my best friend Shannon, who dreamt of being Jet Jaguar (why, I’ll never know – I mean, really? That dude was LAME)… that is until NOW!

That’s right, fools! My dream has come true!

Erm, well… sort of.

You see, I’ve recently become  the “King of Tokyo”, though my name isn’t Godzilla anymore. You may refer to me by my new title – Cyber Bunny: RULER OF ALL HE SURVEYS! HAHAH! BOW DOWN BEFORE ME, BOW DOWN AND PRAY FOR MERCY FOR I AM THE BRINGER OF DEATH AND DESTRUCTION!

Again, sort of…

King of Tokyo, by iello Games, has given me the chance to live out my childhood dream of becoming a super-sized rampaging beast, complete with an assortment of bad-ass super-powers, all from within the comfort of my own home! Created by Richard Garfield, the madman who unleashed Magic: The Gathering on the unassuming masses, “King of Tokyo” is a dice-rolling game that pits your monster against other unique monsters in a free-for-all brawl of shame that will ultimately decide the fate of the world… but let’s talk about how this game is played before we wreak havoc on an unsuspecting Tokyo!

First and foremost, the board is placed in the center of the table. Now, this isn’t just any board, mind you, it’s easily the smallest, most simple playing space ever created for a board game and it features not one, but TWO WHOLE PLAYING SPACES – one for “Tokyo Bay” and the other for the actual city of “Tokyo”.  Of course, you don’t do a whole lot on the board, so it serves its purpose, but man – is it TINY!

Once the board has been laid out, it’s time for each person to choose a monster and claim it as their own. Here’s the thing  though – movie monsters don’t make the cut here, most likely due to licensing issues, so you have to deal with the blatant knock-off versions of these memorable characters. For example, good ol’ Godzilla has now become the rampaging “Gigazaur”, while King Kong has been renamed as simply “The King”. Of course, there are some original characters, such as the out-of-this-world “Alienoid”, as well as my new alter-ego, Cyber Bunny – who I might describe as a cute ‘n cuddly bundle of fuzz who just happens to be piloting a 50 story mecha-terror designed to obliterate all life as we know it. Seriously, it’s Peter Rabbit with an attitude – and this time, farmer McGregor won’t know WHAT hit him.

So, board has been placed on the table, each person has been provided with a monster AND a health/victory point dial associated with said creature, now it’s time to shuffle the deck of special cards (which provide players with an obscene assortment of powers) and start playing.

The game is played with dice – six black dice, to be exact.

On each turn, a player will roll the dice and observe the results of their roll. Each die is loaded with symbols, each designed to provide a specific resolution:

1 / 2 / 3 – These are victory points. If you roll three of a kind with ANY given number (1, 1, 1  or  2, 2, 2  or  3, 3, 3), you score THAT number of points (in the previous example, you would score 1, 2 or 3 victory points, NOT 3, 6, or 9). If you happen to roll MORE than three of a kind, each matching number AFTER the three is worth an additional 1 victory point.

Lightning Bolts – When lightning strikes, you score an energy cube. Energy cubes are used as currency in the game to buy special card and are also used as, well, energy to actually USE said cards if they require it.

Claws – A claw counts as an attack, which reduces the life points of monsters by 1 point. Multiple claws = multiple points of attack, so if you have 5 hit points remaining and I happen to throw  5 claws – I WILL STOMP YOU LIKE A GRAPE!

Hearts – Hearts are used to heal 1 point of energy for each heart you resolve! That is, unless you’re in Tokyo…

So, the first player rolls their dice and can choose to lock any of the results they received on their first roll. After they choose which dice they wish to keep, they may roll again – up to three times (think “Yahtzee”, but with results that may whoop some ass, instead of simply scoring a “Small Straight”). Once the third roll is completed, the player resolves the results of their roll  – in any order.

On the first turn, however, the first “Claw” result moves that monster INTO Tokyo, which is both good and bad.

Of course, Cyber Bunny is planning to keep all the energy for himself! That fluffy bastard!

It’s good in that you receive victory points every time your turn comes up and you’re still in Tokyo – 2 points, to be exact! It’s also good, because every attack roll you get is used to attack every other player outside Tokyo, or as I like to call them: PEONS. Seriously, it’s like a can of whoop ass that you can share with everyone! However there is a really, really bad side to this in that every other player outside Tokyo (previously referred to as “PEONS”) are now all attempting to drive your sorry ass out of Tokyo so that they might embarrass and replace you as the dominating force in Tokyo. This means that every player that resolves an attack die action, resolves it with a boot to your monstrous head – and you want to know the best part? You can’t heal using the dice rolls when in Tokyo! That’s right, any heart results don’t count, because hey, you’re the king, right? You can take it! YOU CAN DO IT!

But… what if you can’t?

Well, that’s when you retreat! There’s no shame in backing off if you’re a point or two from death. After all, you can’t be the “King of Tokyo” if you’re lying in a pool of your own blood and filth!

When you take too much damage, you can decided to leave Tokyo – leaving the person who LAST ATTACKED you to take your place! They don’t even get a choice, they HAVE to enter Tokyo and become the next punching bag for each monster thereafter! This will provide you with some time to heal and the chance to dish out your own special brand of vengeance!

Once the dice rolling has been resolved and all the action has taken place, you may, if you have enough energy, purchase a card. There are three cards face up on the table at the start of the game and you can swap them out with three new ones for a meager 2 energy cubes. If you see a card you like that features a power your creature simply can’t live with out, feel free to drop those energy cubes and buy, buy, buy! You won’t regret it! Card actions are widely varied – some allow you to heal without the need for a heart die roll, while others allow you to place shrink counters on other monsters and reduce their dice roll by the number of shrink counters they have (like I said, each person is allowed to roll all six of the black dice, but when you have a shrink token, you only get to roll five and so on and so forth). These cards lend a truly epic air to the game and allow for some absolutely ridiculous situations!

Play continues, with each player taking a turn, rolling the dice and kicking some butt until either ONE player reachers 20 victory points OR one monster is left standing.

That’s it!

I really can’t find any faults in the bits featured in King of Tokyo – as everything works together quite nicely. The dice are large and easy to read, with the numbers engraved and painted into the sides (as opposed to the first edition, which was apparently silk-screened and wore off after a few plays), the character cards are heavy stock cardboard and the artwork is simply fantastic. Colorful, cartoony – absolutely wonderful! The energy cubes are pretty slick, as well – transparent green cubes of energy! All in all, it’s an impressive package and I really dig the art – especially on the cards! The dial are also well constructed and the art mimics the playing pieces you’re using. Truthfully, I’d LOVE to see some plasticized pieces instead of the cardboard ones, but hey, the cardboard works well enough, so I can’t really complain. Actually, I just did, but whatever.

Cyber Bunny dances on the corpses of those who defied him. LONG LIVE CYBER BUNNY!

King of Tokyo is something I feared introducing to my friends and family – partially due to the fact that it doesn’t have a whole lot of depth to it. I mean, for all intents and purposes, the game is a very simple dice-roller that features some unique mechanics meant to keep things moving fast and furious – and surprisingly, when you put all those things together, it makes for a game my group simply ate up. It wasn’t hard for them to be sucked in by the art, but the initial groans about the simplicity of the game disappeared a few minutes into our sessions as people started clamoring for the title of “King of Tokyo”. Seriously, there’s something to be said for a group of people who have come together with one goal in mind – to destroy Tokyo and eventually the world, under the guise of a bunny controlled mech. It’s a game we’ve been playing repeatedly as both filler and as a feature title – and give that the game takes but 30 minutes to resolve, you can play it over and over again with very little downtime.

While some cards in the game are slightly overpowered, the fact of the matter is that King of Tokyo is simply an amazingly fun game that people of all ages can really get into  – I mean, my daughter is ten and she adores the game! The concept is brilliant, the simplicity of the game is fantastic and it takes only a few minutes for people to be introduced to the game mechanics – meaning that almost anyone can enjoy this game. However, where the game really manages to work is in terms of fun – its chock loaded with FUN. It’s silly as heck, I’ll give you that and the premise is completely off-the-wall, but it’s one of those games that you’ll walk away from laughing – win or lose. Of course, in the end it’s all about the dice rolling, so if you’re not a fan of dice or the fact that dice often equals luck, this might not be for you, but for the rest of us, King of Tokyo is just the kind of game that we want to play.

Especially me…

And though it may not be my job to be Godzilla, I can always make it my hobby!

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