Fri. Jan 21st, 2022

Richard Garfield is the famous designer of the most popular CCG (trading card game) of all time, “Magic the Gathering”. Other than that, he has been successful in designing games like “Android: Netrunner”, “The Great Dalmuti” and “Roborally”. In 2011, he came up with the idea for a fun dice game called “King of Tokyo”. I gave it a try and found it really remarkable for its category. Read on to find out why!

Do board games fit into categories? Target of course! There are games for the whole family to enjoy called “Family Games”, games with a strong strategic element called “Strategy Games” and many many more (see our home page catalog for a list of available categories and, for Of course, most games fall into more than one category. “King of Tokyo” could well be described as a family game, but also as a party game, a theme game, and a dice game.

In “King of Tokyo,” you take on the role of fierce giant monsters who set out to destroy Tokyo, or rather to be the only kings of Tokyo. It reminds you of the ’50s B movies where giant monsters were all the hype and I’m not just talking about King.

Kong or Godzilla but all the other movies with incredible titles like “Attack of the Crab Monsters” or “It Came from Under the Sea”. There are six different monsters to choose from, each with its own miniature cardboard. Aside from appearance, all monsters behave the same, there are no special abilities for each one (this fact is changed through an expansion, however). The monsters have fun and intimidating names like Gigazaur, Kraken, The King, MekaDragon, CyberBunny. Kids are sure to love them and pick a favorite by looks or name!

All monsters have a corresponding monster board that is mainly used to track the monster’s life points and victory points. All monsters start with a life total of 10 and zero Victory Points. The object of the game is to score 20 victory points or be the last monster standing. Health points are very important because when you hit zero, guess what! You are dead! Yes, there is elimination of players in this game, but you know how that goes … the winner takes it all and that makes sense in the game in particular! You cannot pretend to be a ferocious monster and leave your rivals alive. Tokyo can only have one King.

Now the story: These giant monsters appeared out of … nowhere! and decided out of nowhere to attack Tokyo. Don’t ask me why, I guess they found it quite exotic (the Fukushima nuclear disaster hasn’t happened yet or maybe these monsters may have caused it, through their battles). So Tokyo is. The monsters are rampaging and destroying everything in their path.

The game has a small orthogonal board, which represents the city of Tokyo divided into two different places: “Tokyo City” and Tokyo Bay “.” Tokyo Bay “is used only in a 5 or 6 player game. Generally, monsters are in or outside Tokyo (Tokyo City or Tokyo Bay). Only one monster can be in Tokyo. The others are outside of Tokyo. Tokyo. Whenever a monster is outside Tokyo, it can heal itself, attack the monster in Tokyo, gain energy, or gain victory points. Each of these can be achieved by rolling the correct combination of dice. Once in Tokyo, monsters cannot heal but they get 2 free victory points at the start of their round, they can still gain energy.

Energy is used to buy special cards that help you in various ways, for example, to gain victory points, heal or damage opponents.

At the beginning of the game, each player chooses a monster and takes its monster figure and board, setting the life points to 10 and the victory points to 0. At the beginning, there is no one in Tokyo. The cards are shuffled and turned face down. The first three cards of the deck are revealed and placed near the board. These can be acquired by all players and have a cost in energy cubes.

Each player, in turn, rolls the 6 game dice that have the following effects:

  • When a triple 1, 2 or 3 is thrown, the player gets that number of victory points, that is, for example, with the triple 2 they get 2 points. Each additional roll of the same number grants an additional VP.
  • when a “thunder” is thrown, the player gains a cube of energy for each
  • when a “leg” is rolled, the player deals damage to other players depending on their location. Damage means loss of life points. A player outside of Tokyo, rolling the dice, deals damage to the monster in Tokyo. If yours is in Tokyo, deal damage to all players outside of Tokyo. At the beginning of the game, when there is no one in Tokyo, the first player to roll a leg, moves in Tokyo. When a player in Tokyo takes damage, they can choose to leave Tokyo (usually to heal) and the player who caused the damage takes their place.
  • when a “heart” is cast, players are healed for that many hit points (maximum 10)

When rolling the dice, players can choose to keep as many dice as they want and reroll the rest two more times. Dice that are kept on the first roll can be re-rolled later or can be saved again. After rolling the dice and resolving their effects, the player whose turn it is, can choose to buy a card among the three revealed or pay two energy cubes to discard these cards and reveal three new ones that he can buy in the same turn. That is a typical round of the game. In a 5 or 6 player game, “Tokyo Bay” is also used. Whenever a player outside of Tokyo deals damage, they must take control of “Tokyo City” or “Tokyo Bay” if either of them is unoccupied. Players outside of Tokyo deal damage to “Tokyo City” and “Tokyo Bay” players and vice versa. “Tokyo Bay” has the same advantages and disadvantages as “Tokyo City”. But enough of the rules! Let’s get to the actual review:


Board: It is relatively small made of thin cardboard, which represents an imaginary Tokyo under attack. It seems to adequately serve its purpose, although it would feel a bit better if it were made of a stronger material.

Cards: Very well designed with a cartoon feel and complete structure. Nothing more to be desired.

Counters: Made of cardboard, there is nothing special about them.

Energy Cubes: Nice green transparent cubes.

Dice: Original dice made especially for this game. I liked its size and weight, as well as the futuristic black and green design. Their weight makes rolling them a very pleasant experience.

Monster Boards – Nice and practical, they represent the player’s monster in action and have life and VP counters.
Monsters – intimidating, creepy, or just plain funny, each character is unique. The miniatures are made of cardboard and that seems to be fine. However, after watching Krosmaster Arena, I began to wish for more realistic 3D miniatures for every game that used them. In King of Tokyo, the monsters are somewhat static, which means that they don’t actually move except in or out of Tokyo, so even though the plastic-painted monsters would look better, they would have no practical use and would increase the cost of the game significantly. This type of game has to be kept at a familiar price, otherwise you will lose your main target group.

In general, the components of King of Tokyo are satisfactory. There is nothing great about them, but neither is there a particular flow. 7/10

How to Play:

I had a great time playing King of Tokyo, although I’m not a huge fan of dice games. As in all dice games, luck plays an important role, which is also true in this game. However, there are some factors that reduce the amount of luck in the game, such as the opportunity to roll the dice again, keep the dice you want, and the ability to buy cards that affect the game in a number of ways. Additionally, you can choose to leave Tokyo every time you take damage, so there is some decision-making and control over the game that mitigates the sense of randomness. Choosing which dice to keep and which to reroll is vitally important. You must know when it is time to heal or attack, where to focus on each particular situation.

The presence of cards in the game makes it much more interesting, although the real impact of the cards in the game is not that great. Let’s say they add to the flavor of the game, giving it a few twists that are of course welcome and give the game that little touch of strategy that adds to the overall feel and makes the game richer.

Something that generally annoys people is the elimination of players because it’s kind of ugly for someone to get kicked out of the game and stay around to watch the rest. In this particular game, the elimination is not that annoying because the games do not last long for the eliminated players to get bored. In addition, the elimination seems to be linked to the theme of the game. We are talking about giant monsters fighting each other, so they should show no mercy about it! I have not played with 5-6 players yet, but it seems that the game becomes even more interesting with the activation of the “Tokyo Bay” area.

Monstrous characters must have special abilities that differentiate them from each other and link the theme of the game more with the gameplay. This is solved through “King of Tokyo: Power Up!” expansion, but I think it should be included in the base game from the beginning.

In conclusion, I consider King of Tokyo to be a well balanced game with fairly simple but very satisfying gameplay. 8/10

Learning curve:

The rules of the game are neither super simple nor complicated. There is an ideal balance in the game between simplicity and depth. New players will get the hang of it by playing their first game and then everything about the rules will be clear. 8/10


King of Tokyo is a very themed game. You are supposed to take the role of monsters and you really see the monsters. You are also supposed to fight them and that is represented by a loss of life points. If it was more realistic, maybe the monsters could be gradually destroyed by losing, for example, a leg or a hand. Such an approach would make the fights more realistic, but the designer here went the traditional way. You also see Tokyo on the board, although you don’t really feel like it’s being destroyed. 7/10


One of King of Tokyo’s strongest assets is replayability. No two games are the same and that is guaranteed by the presence of dice and the cards that are shuffled and appear in a random order. I never get bored of playing a King of Tokyo game and in fact I could play many games in a row, fighting to win and testing my dice. 9/10


This game is a lot of fun, even if you don’t really like dice games. You can make fun of your friends, hit their ass, curse your bad luck with the dice, and of course, get a chance to become the only King of Tokyo! Kids are guaranteed to have fun with it, especially kids who will embrace the theme and enjoy the monsters’ look, maybe even invent distinctive voices for each monster when they attack and in this way add to the theme like kids tend to do . Big kids can do that too! 9/10


  • Great fun for all ages
  • easy rules


  • player elimination

Recommended for: casual gamers

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