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Subject: King of Tokyo - Pros, Cons, General Impression rss

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I have been eagerly awaiting this game for some time, and had to satisfy myself with reading through the rules, cards, and forums for a quite a while before finally being able to try this game out personally.

Overview

I won't go too much into detail with the rules, but essentially players take turns rolling dice Yahtzee-style in order to gain victory points, attack each other, or obtain special-power cards in order to help with those goals. The winner is the first to 20 points, or last monster standing.

General Impression

Overall, people had a lot of fun with this game. There was definitely a lot of laughter, a lot of opportunity for interesting decisions, and lots of surprises during the course of the game. The dice rolls feel balanced, such that people did not feel like they won or lost only due to the roll of the dice. The huge variety of cards make each game play differently, and definitely cause strategies and play style to change during the course of the game.

Our group was a mixture of people brand new to board games, and a few who have recently (within the last year) gotten into board games. All of the games were with the full 6 players.

The rules were slightly challenging to explain at the very start, but it only took a few turns for everyone to figure it out. The next time I teach this game, I will do a quicker rules overview and just jump into the game and teach as we play.

Every game we played so far has ended with the winner winning due to all the other players having been killed. In one of the games, we had several players who were eliminated early, with the game continuing on for another 10-15 minutes after the first elimination. In the other games, all or nearly all of the players died on a single turn, or within one turn of each other. The highest point total achieved so far was around 14 points, before the game ended due to player elimination.

Most of my concerns from reading the rules turned out to be not as big of a problem as I thought, and none of them detracted from the enjoyment of the game. I still have some thoughts about things that could be improved if there ever were to be an expansion, but there are no deal-breakers that would cause me to be hesitant about recommending this game to anyone.

Finally, regarding the components - going strictly on looks, I think the design is great. The giant monster figures, the board of Tokyo, and even the energy cubes really add to the feel of the game. But, I have to say that quality-wise, I was a little disappointed. The way the dice are printed, I can see the faces wearing out very quickly. I have heard stories of dice that are already chipped, and overall I am very afraid of how mine will look in a few months. Also, I have small hands, and these dice barely fit in them. I'm sure some people love these giant dice, but I would have liked them to be slightly smaller. The player boards are also a little disappointing, as the score wheels are very easy to turn accidentally. There were plenty of times where someone forgot how many points/heath they had because they accidentally bumped the wheel.

Pros:
-Accessible for a variety of people to learn and play together.
-Turns are very fast and keep everyone engaged. You don't have to wait long before your next turn.
-No targeted attacking. Occasionally you have to decide whether to knock out a certain opponent early or not, but most of the time, the attacks should not cause any bad blood or hurt feelings.
-Theme is easy for people to get into, and the display draws in onlookers.
-Everyone loves rolling custom dice.
-Card combos: One particular card everyone thought was weak turned out to have multiple useful strategies, including a powerful combination with another card that won someone the game. Overall, the cards are a great way to make each game play out differently, and for people to explore different strategies.
-No one is ever really out of the running (until they die). Several people we thought were in a great position to win ended up dying first, while others who were behind were able to catch up quickly. Even so, it did not feel random that they died, every time, there was a legitimate explanation and turning point for why they died.

Cons:
As previously mentioned, none of these Cons are deal-breakers, they are all only minor details that I think could be improved to make the game even better, hopefully in an expansion.
-Points aren't a particularly fun (or even valid) way of winning: I haven't had a game won by points yet, and in games where people went for points rather than attacking, I felt that the game dragged slightly. I definitely think having the point system there is important for game balance, but overall I wish there were more interesting ways to gain points, and more of a balance that by the time people are getting eliminated, everyone's points are around the 15-point mark rather than only 8-10.
-Rolling 1/2/3's for points is kind of boring: Similar to above. There should have maybe been a side benefit to rolling for points, rather than simply getting a few points. And since it's hard to win with points, there's really no incentive to waste 3 dice for a few points anyways.
-Not enough benefit for staying in Tokyo: The game was described by some as "king of the hill", but I'm finding that most people don't want to stay on that hill. If the game is called King of Tokyo, more of the game should be about gaining control of Tokyo for as long as you can, and there should be a fierce struggle before someone is willing to give up control.
-Wish for more card interaction: People only buy 1-2 cards per game, only see 9-10 cards per game. The game might be more interesting if there was more opportunity for the right card combos to come up, more opportunity for cards to be gained/lost during the course of a game, etc.

Conclusion

The theme is great, the game plays fast with a good number of people, and games often end in new, surprising, and entertaining ways. I definitely see this being played at least once or twice whenever we get together to play games. There are certain gameplay decisions I feel were made to keep this initial game simple to learn, that I hope we'll see expanded on in future expansions. But even so, the game stands up on its own and I would highly recommend it.
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Hassan Lopez
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Nice review, thank you. Would some of your issues be addressed if the VP/turn reward for staying in Tokyo was increased? Also: do you think these are issues more likely to turn up in a 6 player game vs. a 3-4 player game?

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Jay Levy
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I played a game on Sunday where the winner played for points. She got the herbivore card that allows you to get 1 point every turn you don't attack, then added the ability to pay two energy to heal 1. On the last turn, any of us could have won - I had enough attack to wipe out the last two players, and they had the ability to get enough points ... she ended up doing a great combo for 5 vp ending the game.

So, I understand that some people may be more interested in the smashing and crashing - but, in my experience so far, VP is totally valid if there are enough people playing. Can't see it happening in a two player game, but maybe. This happened to be a 5-player game.
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Evgeni Liakhovich
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jayntampa wrote:

So, I understand that some people may be more interested in the smashing and crashing - but, in my experience so far, VP is totally valid if there are enough people playing. Can't see it happening in a two player game, but maybe. This happened to be a 5-player game.


How does VP become more valid if more people are playing? So far I see the opposite. I played several 2 player games and a couple of them were won by VP. In my single 4 player game very few points were accumulated before a single survivor emerged. This is due to 2 factors:
- The more players, the slower Tokyo points are accumulated
- The more players, the more damage is dealt (due to simultaneous attack)

Also, I agree on cards being under-utilized. I have one simple idea to slightly improve the situation: during setup, deal each player one card randomly (face-up). See who got the most expensive card. All other players get the price difference in energy cubes.
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A. B. West
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As a counter example, I have played 7 times and only twice has a player won by eliminating everyone else. Usually, points are the winning condition. I think both ways of winning are valid.
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G S
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Glad8r wrote:
jayntampa wrote:

So, I understand that some people may be more interested in the smashing and crashing - but, in my experience so far, VP is totally valid if there are enough people playing. Can't see it happening in a two player game, but maybe. This happened to be a 5-player game.


How does VP become more valid if more people are playing? So far I see the opposite. I played several 2 player games and a couple of them were won by VP. In my single 4 player game very few points were accumulated before a single survivor emerged. This is due to 2 factors:
- The more players, the slower Tokyo points are accumulated
- The more players, the more damage is dealt (due to simultaneous attack)

Also, I agree on cards being under-utilized. I have one simple idea to slightly improve the situation: during setup, deal each player one card randomly (face-up). See who got the most expensive card. All other players get the price difference in energy cubes.


I agree, I feel that winning by VP gets harder as more players are added, but I haven't played any games with fewer than 6 yet. And of course, having the right cards definitely would make a VP strategy stronger. But the other issue I had with winning by VP is that a lot of that is kind of boring, because if you're going for sets of 3 numbers, that means you get fewer of the other faces, which means you're interacting with the other players less.

I was trying to think of a way to start players with cards as well - I'll have to try your suggestion. Other thoughts are maybe deal two to each player and have them pick. I'd maybe want a limitation of only dealing out "Keep" cards of cost 3-4, so that no one starts out too strong.

More ways for players to mess with other people's cards would be fun too, which is why I really like the Unstable DNA card.
 
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Alex Martinez
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So far, this game has been a big hit with everyone I've played with.

I think the VP element depends entirely on how many players are involved. My two player games have made VP very important. My three player games tend to be more "bloody", so to speak.

I think the beauty of the game is that tactics will change with more or less players and so some paths to victory will be less viable / more viable depending on the number of players. That's not an oversight. It's a way of keeping the game good with different number of players.
 
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Brian M
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Just to mention, we played three games with 4 players tonight and all were VP wins. Even the one where two of the monsters got taken out halfway through.
 
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No targeted attacking would be a huge con for myself and most gamers I know. If you're going to get hurt feelings over a board game, you probably shouldn't be playing them in the first place AND you may have larger personality issues that need to be addressed before playing any game.

Sounds like a randomly fun experience without much depth. Thank you for the review, it was very informative.
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Jay Levy
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In a multi-player game, I find more people switch in and out of Tokyo, meaning less times do you see someone attack everyone at once. That gives people more time to accrue VP if they are playing wisely.

In a 2-player game, you can't let a single person sit in Tokyo for too long because they'll get too many points. So, the two people tend to bash each other a lot.
 
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Ed Bradley
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26 of 42 games have ended as VP wins for me and my chums.

Those are all 3-6 player games as I can find better things to do when there are just two of us.
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Josh Malbon
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Great review! KoT has totally became a standard for our evening battles. With just ten minutes you can have a memorable time.

I really like the giant dice. It takes two hands just to barely hold'em before they go spilling-crashing to the table.

Just pretend they are buildings between your monster's paws.laugh


The option to win by shmacks or planetary destruction is a good mix to me. If I get a few threes or other triples I like to press for more victory points....but a ton of claws can be a good mix too.
 
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Christopher Boat
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After 4 games games of this (with 4 players)-

3 wins by points
1 win by eliminating the other players.

It really depends how aggressive the players are. In my group we were much more interested in all of the available energy cards.

Though, I will say this-
the three games that were won by points were all won by me, the one player who wasn't bothering with the cards. Not sure how that makes sense or if it's just coincidence, but it's something to consider.
 
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Michael Kefauver
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To add in, I've seen a few wins either way, though most of the point wins are based on survival tactics. Wings, for example, is totally broken with less than 4 players, since you can ignore damage for a turn with 2 energy. All a player with Wings needs to do in a 3 player game is to get 4 energy a turn and they can never be hurt. When it gets down to 2, two energy a turn is all that's needed. Heck, if they get a decent stockpile before getting to Tokyo, it's even easier, since they can have energy/2 turns of invincibility.
 
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Christopher Boat
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yea, Wings is pretty overpowered. I've found Jets to be really powerful too.

Once card i'm not sure is worth having in the game-
8 Energy- Discard for 9 Energy.

I don't remember the name of that card, but it never gets used in our games. Seems like it would've been more useful if it was buy for 3 or 4 energy, discard for 4 or 5.
 
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Alex Martinez
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Nessmk2 wrote:
To add in, I've seen a few wins either way, though most of the point wins are based on survival tactics. Wings, for example, is totally broken with less than 4 players, since you can ignore damage for a turn with 2 energy. All a player with Wings needs to do in a 3 player game is to get 4 energy a turn and they can never be hurt. When it gets down to 2, two energy a turn is all that's needed. Heck, if they get a decent stockpile before getting to Tokyo, it's even easier, since they can have energy/2 turns of invincibility.


That's why I always use 2 energy to discard it if I don't think I can get it. On the other hand, if I try to get it, and my opponent grabs it first, then I can hardly call it broken now, can I?
 
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G S
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Thanks for all the input. I will definitely explore the points option after I play more games and possibly edit that section of the review in order to give a more balanced opinion.

A question for you all though - when people won by points, did you feel that the game dragged a bit compared with when people were more concerned with attacking? I found that the most fun I had was when everyone was around 3-6 health and fighting to stay alive, and I feel that in a game where people are going for points and constantly topping off their health, the game would become much less exciting.
 
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Alex Martinez
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Perhaps it feels "more exciting" when monsters are fighting constantly, but at the end of the day, the game is all about changing values on dials. I've enjoyed VP victory games just as much once I realized this.
 
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Brian M
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Quote:
All a player with Wings needs to do in a 3 player game is to get 4 energy a turn and they can never be hurt.

Ok, so that's 4 dice going for energy and your other two dice...can't score you points. Maybe attack other players? Probably going to waste a lot of the time, since you won't consistently get 4 energy, won't consistently get 2 attacks, and can't heal while in Tokyo.

Meanwhile, the other players are using 1 die for an attack to make you burn energy, 3 dice to score points and have 2 dice left for more attackiness, healing or more points. Not such a good situation for you

Its not that wings aren't good - they're very cool - but I really don't think they qualify as "broken". So far every time we've seen them in play they are really awesome...but the winged monster still loses on points.

Quote:
No targeted attacking would be a huge con for myself and most gamers I know. If you're going to get hurt feelings over a board game,

There are lots of reasons to dislike targeted attacks besides hurt feelings. I can't imagine why anyone would consider non-targeted attacks a bad thing.
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Christopher Boat
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okkay wrote:
A question for you all though - when people won by points, did you feel that the game dragged a bit compared with when people were more concerned with attacking? I found that the most fun I had was when everyone was around 3-6 health and fighting to stay alive, and I feel that in a game where people are going for points and constantly topping off their health, the game would become much less exciting.


I didn't find the game to drag at all. We were still attacking eachother quite often in points games. Most of the time the points came naturally through normal gameplay. It wasn't uncommon for at least one player to be eliminated.

Personally, I wonder how much fun it would be if everyone was just focusing on attacking and healing. Seems like they'd be missing out on half of what the game has to offer.
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Bill Hartman
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jayntampa wrote:
I played a game on Sunday where the winner played for points. She got the herbivore card that allows you to get 1 point every turn you don't attack, then added the ability to pay two energy to heal 1. On the last turn, any of us could have won - I had enough attack to wipe out the last two players, and they had the ability to get enough points ... she ended up doing a great combo for 5 vp ending the game.

So, I understand that some people may be more interested in the smashing and crashing - but, in my experience so far, VP is totally valid if there are enough people playing. Can't see it happening in a two player game, but maybe. This happened to be a 5-player game.


I second this. I was at 17 Victory Points, my 7 year old daughter had 19 Victory Points, and my wife had only 12. My wife was in Tokyo, and I bought a card (a shark bomb) that dealt 3 damage to EVERYONE instantly. My wife was then at 1 health, I was at 4, my daughter at 4. My wife rolled 5 damage and won the game right after that...lol. Didn't expect her to get enough damage to take us all out, but she rolled lucky. My daughter would have won with just 1 more VP, and it could have easily happened on her next turn, had my wife not rolled what she did (she was rolling very unlucky the entire night leading up to that!). I forgot she had a card that allowed her to change a dice to whatever she wanted, and that just added insult to injury...lol.
 
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