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W. Eric Martin
For the fifth anniversary of Richard Garfield's King of Tokyo, a.k.a., Yahtzee King of the Hill, which has had editions in thirty languages and has racked up more than 750,000 copies sold, French publisher IELLO has decided to do what it does best: Throw money at artists to create a huge portfolio of enticing fantasy illustrations.
Yes, as you can see at right, IELLO has given King of Tokyo a new set of clothes, starting with the cover by King of New York illustrator Régis Torres and carrying through to almost every flat surface associated with the game. Four of the six monsters from the earlier editions of King of Tokyo have been buffed, chromed, and made ready for their close-ups, as with Gigazaur and Alienoid below.
IELLO notes that these new illustrations will be used in the digital version of King of Tokyo, the development of which demanded a makeover for some parts of the game, as Matthieu Bonin has explained on BGG: "...the art we had were not compliant to that [digital version], both esthetically (take a closer look at the art on the cards — it's fine when it's printed in small, but not as quite when displayed on a larger screen...) and technically (we missed most layers to fully animate the monsters, for example...)."
Two of the six previous monsters (Kraken and Cyber Bunny) have been sent to the bench, with them being replaced by Space Penguin — previously available only as a KoT tournament prize — and Cyber Kitty, the driver of which has some big ears to fill in the cyber department.
The power cards have also freshly illustrated, with the text being rewritten for clarity and to incorporate a more consistent use of icons and keywords. Why create 66 new pieces of art when you see only a dozen or so each game? Why not?! IELLO receives a subsidy from the French government to ensure that native illustrators are supplied with a steady flow of work, and that subsidy won't spend itself. (Also, it might not exist.)
The backs of these cards used to bear the cover artwork, and since that's changed, the backs have changed as well, with IELLO noting that it plans to produce KoT card sleeves in the future for those who own promo cards or the King of Tokyo: Halloween expansion.
As for the evolution cards from Power Up!, those can be used as is since those cards are kept in their own decks and not mixed with cards from the base game. IELLO says that a new version of Power Up! is also in the works, and King of New York: Power Up! — which contains evolution cards for both KoT and King of New York — is now due out in October 2016.
IELLO has also overhauled the rulebook (English, PDF) to make the game easier to learn, and it plans to release this new version in France on June 17, 2016 and in English in North America on July 14, 2016 (with brick-and-mortar stores that participate in its preorder program receiving English-language copies on June 30). Other English-speaking regions will receive this new edition in the weeks that follow, and by the end of 2016 it will be released in an addition fourteen languages: German, traditional Chinese, simplified Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Spanish, and Swedish.
And continuing a trend that I've been seeing from a number of publishers, IELLO also has a separate new edition of King of Tokyo coming out that will be exclusive with the U.S. retail chain Target. This edition is the same as the new one described above other than Gigazaur being replaced with Baby Gigazaur, with IELLO noting that this toddling terror will be exclusive with Target for one year, after which it "will be available to the owners of the other versions of the game".
As for the new parts added and old parts removed, IELLO notes that it's working with its two dozen-ish publishing partners on the "possibility of offering Cyber Kitty and Space Penguin as a mini-expansion" so that current KoT owners can add these monsters to their game. Kraken will be replaced with a new tentacle-bearing monster, complete with evolution cards, while Cyber Bunny is gone for good, with Bonin noting that "We chose to discontinue Cyber Bunny for legal technicalities". Clearly a lawyer monster should be joining the game in the future...