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Game Preview: King of New York, or First We Take Manhattan

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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Board Game: King of New York
Richard Garfield's King of Tokyo came out in 2011, and in just a few years it's been released in multiple languages around the world and now shows up in mainstream retail U.S. outlets like Barnes & Noble and Target. In some ways, it feels like the game's been around forever.

King of New York — which debuts from IELLO at Gen Con 2014 and will be available through retail outlets in September 2014 — builds on the foundations of KoT, reusing some parts of that game system while confronting players with new challenges, starting with the five borough layout of New York City that comes stocked with buildings for you to destroy. Here's an overview to show you what's familiar and what's new:

Board Game: King of New York

The goal of King of New York remains the same as in the original game: Be the first player to score twenty points or be the last monster standing, and you win. Each turn, you roll six dice up to three times, freezing any dice that you wish to keep, then you resolve those dice in the order you wish:

• Each heart gives you an extra life point (up to a maximum of ten).
• Each lightning bolt gives you an energy cube to spend later on power cards that grant all types of special abilities.
• Each claw causes damage to the monster in Manhattan or (if you happen to be the one in Manhattan) to every other monster in the city.
• Each star on its own is worth nothing, but if you roll three on a turn, you get to be the Superstar (pictured at right above), earning one point for each star you roll on subsequent turns as long as you hold the card.
• Each destroyed building symbol allows you to attack the top tile on a building stack in your borough, but you need as many symbols as the number (1-3) on that tile; when you do so, you gain the reward shown on the tile (energy, points or life), then flip the tile over to show a military unit with strength 2-4. Instead of attacking a building, you can use destruction symbols to attack these units instead and gain their rewards.
• Each ouch symbol causes damage to monsters from military units. Specifically, one ouch causes one damage to you per unit in your borough; two ouches causes damage to each monster in your borough (and each borough other than Manhattan can hold at most two monsters); and three ouches causes damage to each monster on the board based on the military presence in their borough. That can be good for you since you might be able to whack everyone at once, but more importantly when this happens the Statue of Liberty comes to life to protect her home from all the damage being caused, and for some reason she sees you as a fellow protector, rewarding you with three points for as long as you hold the card.

Board Game: King of New York
Note that each borough should have three stacks of three building tiles, not just one

After you resolve your dice, you move in the city, moving into Manhattan if no one else is there or moving to another borough if you fear the military units where you are. If you ding the destructor in Manhattan, that player can stay put or leave — and if he leaves, you have to go to Manhattan in his place, earning you a point in the process and earning larger rewards as you stay more turns. The drawback, though, is that you can't earn life while in Manhattan, so if everyone hits you in turn — which they will — you'll need to leave town with your tail between your legs to lick your wounds.

At the end of your turn, you can spend energy to buy power cards, buying as many as you can afford, with each card providing a one-time benefit or a long-term power that could come back to bite you, such as "Natural Selection" that gives you four points, four hearts and an additional die — but which costs you all of your life should you end up with a star after your final roll. You've been unselected! Some cards can be purchased only when you're within a particular borough, while others are discounted based on where you are. With the new landscape and military units, the New York cards have lots of effects not previously seen.

As in King of Tokyo, you're pulled in different directions throughout the game: Do you want to slap the leader? Take out buildings for easy points? Build up your health because you're halfway to being dead? You're somewhat at the mercy of the dice, of course, but you still get to choose a path each turn — then choose again and again for as long as your big ol' monstrous paws keep swinging...

From gallery of W Eric Martin
New York awaits for you!
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