If I were to be asked who is my favourite game designer, I’d have to answer Richard Garfield. I don’t think there’s any individual that has had more influence over my leisure time than Mr. Garfield. I got really into Magic: The Gathering when I was about 11 years old, and it has been a mainstay of my gaming time. I’ve played Mr. Garfield’s other games, and have always found them at least enjoyable, with the exception of Rocketville. When King of Tokyo dropped on the world, I took one look at it, at the components, at the art, and was pretty much instantly taken with it.
In King of Tokyo, you play as one of the monsters trying to take over Tokyo. Every turn you roll dice, take the actions as indicated on the dice, and then, depending upon whether Tokyo is empty, occupy Tokyo. That’s the game, in a nutshell. There are obviously more rules, and the strategy is deep, but that’s the elevator pitch. You get victory points for playing cards and occupying Tokyo for several turns in a row and for rolling sets of 1s, 2s and 3s. The game is quick, and you’ll typically only have to wait a few minutes each round for your turn to come around again. It moves fast, and you’re always engaged on other players’ turns- the player in Tokyo can attack everyone, and the players outside of Tokyo attack the player inside Tokyo.
Every decision and dice roll is important. You’re constantly monitoring the other players for their progress and life totals. The fewer individuals left in the game, the better the chances are that you’ll win. You get the opportunity to reroll, and even that is a tense decision. Should you try to roll another 3 to make a set, or should you do as much damage to the player inside Tokyo as possible.
There really is something to be said for games that force you to make so many small decisions, and keep on top of so much information and at the same time are simple enough that it can be taught in five to ten minutes. This game can be played by people who have never played a modern board game. It is an easy game to learn, but at the same time, doesn’t get boring for those who have played it several times. That’s one of the marks of a great game! You can play with new players, for the twentieth time, and not be bored, and for the most part, not really steamroll them either. That actually occurs in a lot of negotiation games (if a person gets off to a big lead, the other players can band against them), but King of Tokyo isn’t really a negotiation game in the strictest sense. There’s some negotiation regarding what can and cannot be done, but it really isn’t necessary.
To be honest, I burned out a big on King of Tokyo and have not really been looking its way for my gaming fix. Of course, that was after about 20ish playthroughs, which for me is a lot. The game is always different, and the game always moves, but I think I’ve seen most of what the game has to offer at this point. That being said, it’s a thirty dollar game with a good replay value that can be taught to new players in 10 minutes. The game is essential in your collection if you’re often gaming with newer players. If you pull this out with a new player, you’re not making a mistake- they will like this game and they will want to play it again.
What more could you want from a game?