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Go to the King of Tokyo page

King of Tokyo

41 out of 46 gamers thought this was helpful


I first heard about King of Tokyo in a Dice Tower video. I thought it sounded neat, but it was nothing I had to have. Then I saw it again on an episode of TableTop, and they made it look so fun. I had to have it immediately! “Don’t care how I want it noooooow!” Normally I order my games online, but I left my apartment within minutes of watching TableTop and headed to my FLGS. Of course, they didn’t have it. I went to another game store – same story. I think I went to 5 or 6 stores around Austin before I finally saw it on a dusty, old shelf at a hobby store. Rejoice! In that moment, I was the king of the world or – you know – of Tokyo.

After all that, I couldn’t find anyone to play it with that day or the next. So it goes. But I finally did find people to play. A lot of people over the next few months. I spread the word of The King far and wide. I converted many skeptics into believers, and then went on to bathe those believers in the righteous fire of my Mecha Dragon’s nova breath. And they always came back for more.


What’s in the box is nothing to write home about, but it gets the job done. The monsters are no more than cardboard cutouts on plastic stands. The scoreboards have spinning dials which can sometimes get knocked out of position if you aren’t careful. The game board itself is small and hardly even necessary to play the game. The 6-sided dice are nice and custom-tailored for the game – depicting claws, hearts, and lightning bolts as well as numbers. But they are HUGE! And I have big hands. The ability cards are normal sized, which I love. I hate small cards… *Cough, cough, Timeline, cough, Ticket to Ride, cough.* The artwork of KoT (we’re calling it that now) is very cartoony but fits the tone of the game perfectly.


The goal of KoT is to either be the first to score 20 victory points, or to be the last monster standing. The main mechanic of the game is very similar to Yahtzee. On your turn you roll 6 dice, keep the ones you want, and reroll up to 2 times. After your third roll, you are stuck with the dice you have. The dice will allow you to attack, heal, gain energy, or score points. If you are out of Tokyo you attack the monster in Tokyo. If you are in Tokyo you attack EVERY OTHER MONSTER. However, you CANNOT use your dice to heal in Tokyo. The monster in Tokyo can leave when they are attacked and the attacker MUST go in. Energy can be stored over several turns and spent to buy either one-time or ongoing abilities.

PSA – You can and WILL get knocked out of this game! So mind your lil’ guy’s health. I’ve seen the King roll 5 attacks in a turn and kill every other monster at once, thus winning instantly.

KoT moves at a quick pace. Even with 6 players I don’t feel like it drags much. Most games are done in 30 minutes or less. Domino’s anyone? This game gets people pumped and the energy is something akin to a ***** table in Vegas. Temporary alliances form to take down the leading monster. The table explodes in raucous cheers when someone gets that last claw they need to kill said leader on their third roll. And everyone boos when someone wins by scoring 20 points, which is decidedly the less awesome way to win.


KoT was designed by Richard Garfield, who to most nerds is probably better known for creating Magic: The Gathering (and Netrunner!). In terms of design, KoT is far, far simpler than either Magic or Netrunner. It doesn’t have nearly the depth or learning curve involved with those games. And where winning those games leans more toward skill, winning KoT definitely leans more toward luck. It is after all a game where you are primarily just rolling dice.

That’s not to say that there is no skill involved. You do have to know when to go into Tokyo and when to stay away. This is tied to learning the balance between scoring points, dealing damage, healing, and gaining energy. Rolling 6 dice is like shooting a shotgun, but you aren’t shooting blind. You get to aim what direction to shoot by choosing which dice to keep between rerolls. I win frequently enough to know that it can’t just be all luck. cool

As far as balance, KoT isn’t perfect. Some ability cards are extremely powerful while some are next to useless. If a really powerful card is in the ability pool, it often turns into a race of who-can-roll-the-requisite-energy-first. If it isn’t you, you are at the very real disadvantage of not having the overpowered ability as well as wasting a turn or two saving energy, and there may only be crap cards left in the pool. This is, however, balanced somewhat by the rule that a player can clear the ability pool for 2 energy. If you know you aren’t going to be the one to buy something overpowered, you should consider doing this defensively. There does exist a nice balance between the two victory conditions. In my experience, it seems there is close to a 50/50 split between which way games end. This gives players options of how to proceed with the game. If you can’t afford to play aggressively, sit back and score some points!


So if you can’t tell by now, I – and most people I have shown this game to – really, REALLY like King of Tokyo. It has become one of the staples of my core gaming group. And in fact, most members of my group have bought the game for themselves. You should too! I give it an A+.

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