Kaiju Madness: King of Tokyo

Recently for my birthday (yes, I’m bringing that up again, but I swear it’s in the service of a good cause) some very good friends got me a new board game: King of Tokyo. I had never heard of it before, but just looking at the box got me excited. It had giant monsters destroying a city, and with a name like “King of Tokyo”, there was only one way this thing could be headed. A little while later I headed home, cracked it open, and started pouring over the contents.

I have not stopped playing this game since.

King of Tokyo has won several prestigious awards, including the 2012 Golden Geek awards for Best Party Game, Best Family Board Game, and Best Children’s Game (although a note to parents with little Geeklings at home: pretty much the entire game is a choking hazard). It seems as if someone sat down and scientifically figured out all the things geeks loved and put it all into one game. Monsters? Dice? Of course, and plenty of them. Tokens? Got them too. Points to keep track of? Not one kind, but two, including the ever popular life points, both tracked on individualized and thematically accurate cards. And speaking of cards, there’s a whole deck of them to enjoy! There are even stand-up cut outs that serve as miniatures of your monsters. Monsters? Of course there are monsters. That’s the whole point of the game. And there’s even a board, although it plays a small (but crucial) role in the overall game.

The best part of the game is how fast it is to pick up and play. Everyone I’ve played it with has learned it in less than five minutes, and most of them have beaten other people who have played multiple times within their first two or three games. It plays fast and there are multiple avenues to victory, either by collecting points or (my personal favorite) be the last monster standing.

The game play itself is fast paced and fun as well. Despite (or perhaps because of) all the little pieces and details to keep track of, gameplay is breezy and lighthearted. It’s kind of like a cross between Yahtzee and King of the Hill, with the cards offering a dizzying array of options to expand strategies and take your game in all kinds of different directions. Being the geek that I am I immediately started thinking about different ways to tweak out the rules to create different scenarios, which is part of the fun to a guy like me. There are a few rules that are a little unclear on how they interact with each other, particularly when certain cards get involved, although on the whole the game designers did an excellent job anticipating rules lawyers like my friends and I and provided a handy reference sheet for specific issues that came up during play (and even some that I look forward to having come up in the near future).

All in all, I highly recommend this fantastic game to anyone who enjoys board games, monsters, rolling dice, or just having fun with friends. The more people you get to play the more fun it is (the rules are even slightly different for five or six people). I haven’t gotten the expansion yet, but I plan to soon.

And a quick shout out to the Js: Best birthday gift ever.