Oh, kaiju. You interesting, bizarre things. At some point in our lives, we've been exposed to the concept of a giant monster coming out of the ocean or from outer space to wreak havoc on a major city, most likely Tokyo with horrible voice dubbing.

But what would it be like to be that monster? Better yet, what if a bunch of kaiju monster showed up in Tokyo at once, all wanting dibs on being the monster flattening the city while people run around screaming and the Japanese army fires away uselessly?

Well, that's what King of Tokyo does. Utilizing Yahtzee-style dice-rolling and rules that can be grasped easily, King of Tokyo allows you to put on the scaly skin/fur/metal of a giant monster out to wreak havoc, and throws together a rip-roaring, fast-playing mix of luck and strategy.

So, get ready, *mouth moves different than words coming out* it's time to play King of Tokyo.

Game: King of Tokyo
Players: 2 to 6
Gametime: 30 minutes
Designer: Richard Garfield (he also designed an occasionally-played card game called Magic: The Gathering)
Mechanics: Press Your Luck, Dice Rolling


Story: Tokyo is under attack! By not just one monster, but a whole bunch of monsters at once. So not only are the monsters trying to destroy Tokyo, they're also fighting with each other. It just kind of happens when kaiju monsters get around each other. OK, maybe a bit of kaijusplaining there, but oh well.

What do you do?: Players began the game by choosing which kaiju monster they will be playing. In the base game, there are six monsters to choose from: Giga Zaur, The King, MekaDragon, Kraken, Alienoid and Cyber Bunny. While there are expansions that differentiate what each monsters, in the base game, all the monsters start off playing exactly the same. Each player take the corresponding stand-up cutout of their monster and a player board that is used to show a monster's earned victory points and health. Each monster starts the game with 10 health.


In the center of the table is a small board that represents Tokyo that players will place their monster cutout on when they are in Tokyo, A deck of ability cards that will have three cards showing face-up, and a bunch of energy cubes that are the game's currency.

On a player's turn, they will roll six dice. Like Yahtzee, a player gets three rolls on their turn and the option to keep or re-roll as many dice as they want each time. What do the different sides of the dice do? Let's talk about that:

  • Numbers 1, 2 and 3: If you get three of a kind of any number, you score that many victory points. For each extra number of that kind you get, you get one more. So, for example, rolling three 2s is 2 points, but four 2s is 3 points, five is 4 points.
  • Lightning bolts: Each lightning bolt earns you one energy cube. You use the energy cubes to buy the ability cards in the market.
  • Punch: A punch is an attack that works in three different ways: If Tokyo is unoccupied, the punch allows your monster to enter Tokyo (you place your cutout on the center board). If your monster is in Tokyo, each punch you roll deals one damage to every monster not in Tokyo. If your monster is not in Tokyo but another monster is, each you roll deals one damage to the monster(s) in Tokyo. The monsters in Tokyo have the option to yield Tokyo to you.
  • Heart: If your monster is not in Tokyo, each heart you roll heals one health you might have lost in taking a punch. If you're in Tokyo, hearts do NOTHING.


So, let's talk about a couple of things in more detail. First off, occupying Tokyo. If everybody not in Tokyo gets to punch the fuck out of you and you can't heal jack shit, what's the point of occupying Tokyo? Well, victory points. Each time you monster enters Tokyo, whether it's open or you force another monster to yield Tokyo to you, you receive one victory points. Then, if you manage to not get forced out and you can start you turn already in Tokyo, you receive two victory points in addition to whatever you do on you rolls. The city adds a risk-reward strategy element to the game in addition to just doing a bunch of dice rolling.

Next, energy cubes and ability cards. Energy cubes (earned with rolling lightning bolts) are the game currency. There are three different ability cards available for purchase from the deck. Each ability card displays a cost. You pay that number of energy cubes to take a card, then a new card from the face-down replaces it (you can also pay two energy cubes to discard the three cards available and have three new cards dealt). What do these ability cards let you do? All kinds of shit. They can be single-use items that deal damage or score you points. They could be permanent items that allow you to take less damage or deal more damage or score more points in specific situations. Basically, the cards add another level of strategy to the game in addition to doing a bunch of dice rolling.


How to taste sweet, sweet victory: There are two ways to win the game: First option, be the first monster to score 20 victory points. Second option, kill all the other monsters and be the last one standing. Then Tokyo is yours to trample/Riverdance on.

So, what makes this game awesome?

  • While Tokyo and ability cards add some strategy elements, the core of the game is rolling dice. Pretty easy to grasp, and gives newcomers a decent chance to play well alongside more experienced players.
  • The whole theme of being a monster is just fun. The game's art design really brings the kaiju elements of the game to life. The first time I saw the "Urbavore" ability card, I laughed out loud.
  • It's not out of line to do monster roars during the game. In fact, making monster noises should probably be madatory.
  • It can play up to six people. That's always good. It's not the same with just two players, but it is still playable.


Variety is the spice of life: There are a couple of official expansions for King of Tokyo. Power Up! is the main expansion, which both adds a new monster (PandaKai, yes a panda, and you know I FUCKING LOVE PANDAS) and also gives each monster a custom set of evolution cards that makes each monster more unique. The Halloween expansion adds two more monsters (Pumpkin Jack and Boogie Woogie) and their evolution card sets. Many people have also taken to creating their own custom monsters and offer the art for download online.

See it in action: King of Tokyo was featured in Season 2 of Tabletop.

Board Games With OB, is somewhat profane feature where OregonBeast gets a board game he likes and briefly explains how to play it and hopes you would be interested in playing it, too. Because board games are fucking awesome.


Previous Board Games With OB:[Takenoko] [Snake Oil] [Tsuro] [Dixit] [The Resistance] [Hey, That's My Fish!] [Ticket To Ride] [Survive: Escape From Atlantis] [Castle Panic] [Small World] [Qwirkle] [Elder Sign] [Carcassonne] [Jaipur] [Tokaido] [Blokus] [Puerto Rico] [Love Letter] [Can't Stop] [The Red Dragon Inn] [Dominion]

Images via BoardGameGeek