In my experience of playing board games, there’s few which I felt have radicalized what a board game is. That is until I played King Of Tokyo. The core mechanics of the game are very simple, with each player choosing a Kaiju and winning by either gaining the most victory points or by defeating the other players in the game. Each round involves a dice throw, of which each die can be re-rolled a total of twice each. This is then followed by a card round in which players can choose to purchase cards. The way they purchase said cards is through acquiring tokens through dice rolls that land on the appropriate face. These die also have a heal face, an attack face, and then the other three devoted to acquiring victory points, numbered 1 to 3. Where I found this game most interesting was in the fact that this wasn’t much of a board game considering the board game held little point to the proceedings. This is a game that could easily be transferred to utilizing dice, cards, and character sheets. The board, tokens, counters, and monster figures are really just accoutrement. Not to say it isn’t a beautiful looking game, it could just easily be streamlined into a more convenient size which would allow for portability. But this is not important to the actual gameplay which was the most interesting part.
King of Tokyo more resembles an RPG than any board game I’ve ever played. With it’s attack system, bolstered by upgrades and countered with health, this was more an analog video game to me. It’s still very fun to play however and will work when your console won’t boot up for whatever reason. I guess what really makes it different is the randomised nature of the dice rolls and how you can then gamble these in order to accrue whichever desired resource you need. The us or them attack system is also interesting with one person at any point having invaded Tokyo, their attacks are on all other players whilst said players can only attack person currently in control of Tokyo. While it would seem foolish to want to remain in Tokyo, there are the added benefits of victory points for every round played as invader. Unfortunately, this was my downfall in our playthrough as in my quest for victory points, I was subject to a brutal round of attacks from the other players who had levelled up earlier which I unwittingly forgot. Which leads to another interesting aspect, the levelling system.
While in games like Catan, cards can be bought but they are usually a gamble as they are left unknown. Opposingly, in King Of Tokyo you are able to see what cards are available for purchase, however, there are only three available at any time and of these, they require varying levels of tokens to unlock. This was an interesting touch as it allows for a more dynamic game. Considering the subject matter, this is an important factor to have as it adds to the literally larger than life subject matter at hand. This is probaby one of the bigger draw cards for me as it plays into the childhood fantasy of being one of these huge characters demolishing everything in its path. It comes from a long tradition of these kinds of monsters in media; all the way from arcade games such as Rampage through to modern blockbusters such as Pacific Rim and the recent Godzilla reboot. That’s why it is important for the gameplay to be as un-boardgame like as it is as it would hinder on some of the fun if it had a stricter set of rules on it. I think it also helps in that it lends a leaner learning curve to the game which makes it a lot more approachable for casual players whilst still being rewarding enough for Board Game junkies.