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Subject: Gaming on a Budget: King of Tokyo rss

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Phil Christiansen
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He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.
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Welcome to the eleventh installment of Gaming on a Budget, my series of reviews specifically tailored to people with a limited budget for games. My choice this time is something I have been hemming and hawing over reviewing for a while now. On the one hand, it hits the table a lot. But on the other, there are many fine reviews already. Still, I like to think the budget angle adds something new to the table. So emerge from that damaged nuclear plant, and prepare to crown yourself King of Tokyo!



King of Tokyo is a light and fast paced game that puts you in the role of a giant monster bent on claiming the soon to be smoldering ruins of Tokyo as your own. To accomplish this you will be rolling and re-rolling dice and purchasing cards with energy. This game takes moments to explain, in the vein of all good filler, and I have taught it to a wide variety of people since getting it. Seriously, the list of people who have picked it up in moments includes my parents and a six year old. No rocket science here folks.



The (very) basic idea is that there are two ways to win, be the first to 20 victory points, or kill everyone else. In the tons of games I have played of this, having one survivor has happened maybe twice, so mostly the game is decided by victory points. You could probably play a lot more aggressively towards that end if you wanted to, so your experiences may be different. Play can vary quite a bit depending on who is playing.



I have seen a lot of people compare this game to Yahtzee with monsters, which I guess is not entirely without merit in some ways. Roll dice and try to get whatever combination supports what you are going for at the moment. But the game does bring more to the table, not only with stuff like the cards that can change up the game a bit, but also in the very prevalent theme. To get the most out of this game you really need to bring out your inner child and let him play with the pieces. Despite my being somewhat anal about protecting my games, some of the most fun I ever had with this game were the times people were screwing around a lot. When I played the card “Drop From High Altitude” I set my Mecha Dragon on top of a two litre bottle and tipped him over so he ‘jumped’ down onto the current resident of Tokyo.



Now, the flip side of that is the (at least for my copy) somewhat shoddy construction of the game. Most of my standees, particularly pointy ones like Mecha Dragon, had some bending/peeling/wear right out of the box. There is also some damage to several of the score cards, as you can probably see from the pictures. Now, my copy may be like this because I got it right after they reprinted so they may have been a bit rushed to meet the demand. But still, it seems to me that a filler game at this price should be put together a bit better. Though the energon… errr, energy cubes do look very cool when exposed to a flash!



The theme itself is a great deal of fun to get into on this one, even if you don’t feel like flinging your guys around. Even people who never cared for the old monster movies seem to be able to get into it with an open minded attitude. Many of the problems with theme not meshing with gameplay (such as how all the monsters are statistically the same) seem like they are getting addressed in future expansions, but I haven’t played the one currently out so I can’t comment yet. Hopefully soon.

So, now the hotly debated topic of is there strategy to this game? I’m gonna go ahead and say ‘yes’ with a ‘but…’ on that one. There is some strategy to be found here, but it seems to be pretty limited with most (though not all) being of a one choice is pretty obviously best type. Stay in Tokyo with 3hp or flee? Hmm, hard choice there. The cards do add some decent strategy, but again some cards are just obviously better than others. Second Head for example gives you an extra dice no one else has, and if you combine that with something like Giant Brain you can pretty much choose your results. I have seen some pretty clever victories though, like the time my mom bought Herbivore and Energy Hoarder and just kinda sat back rolling energy and the VP numbers. She won without ever entering Tokyo.

I have found this to be a great gateway game in most respects, well suited to introducing non gamers to games. The theme can be a little off putting for some people, but it is really very cartoony and inoffensive so it shouldn’t be a problem. One of my biggest problems is that a lot of the non-gamers get kind of stuck on this one and just want to play it again when I suggest a game. Come on people, lets try something else maybe shall we? So I guess it is up to you if this is a plus or minus for this game.



So really, with the price fluctuating around $30ish at the moment, are you getting enough to justify that much for a filler game? That also is going to be kind of subjective. For a game that really shines when your group is goofing around the pieces seem awful flimsy to me. Not sure how many soda bottle dives Mecha Dragon has in him. The art is very cool though, the range of monsters is neat, the cards all have thematic names and functions. And rolling those big dice and coming up with just what you need to snatch victory from your friend/enemy at the last second is really a lot of fun. It is hard to top those “HAHAHAHAHA 5 3’s, looks like victory is mine Cyber Bunny!” moments you get in this game.

Quality: Low. As mentioned above many of my components came pre-damaged in the box. I suspect you could e-mail Iello for replacements, but the pieces seem pretty damage prone anyway. The cards seem fine though, and save the game from a very low.

Learning Curve: Very Low. Explain the symbols on the dice. Take a moment for the cards and the methods of scoring. Then off you go.

Strategy/Depth: Low. There IS some strategy to be found here, I’m not saying otherwise, but it seems very limited to me. Not really a selling point.

Theme: Very High. This is a thematic game, from top to bottom. The cards are tons and tons of fun to read and sometimes even act out with your standee. The art is cartoony and fun to look at, perfectly fitting the atmosphere. The only little touches missing are not enough to drag down the rating in my mind.

Gameplay: Moderate. Light and fast, lots of fun to be had here if you want it. A good deal of the fun however is going to come from you and your group, and is very dependent on your willingness to get into it.

Replay: Moderate-High. As long as you don’t overdo it this game is never something I avoid pulling off the shelf. However, when you’re six year old gets into it and wants to play 529529587295 times a day….

Roll your dice, save up your claws, and strike for all your worth! And as your opponent falls away you find…



Overall Score: 7/10
Budget Rank: Borrow It.


At around $30 plus or minus a bit this game just seems like a bit too much of an investment to call a budget buy. It is a lot of fun and not something to avoid by any means, but if the wallet is looking a little thin don’t stress about this one too much. I may revise my opinion a bit if the expansion does it fact give me the things I hope for, but for now just see if you can try out your buddies copy a few times. Hey, look at that weird metal thing. Seems like its glowing slightly… I best approach it without caution!

(Geeklist for GoaB can be found here)
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Larry Welborn
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Good review. But, it seems like a game that you spent $30 for, but played "tons of times" would be a good investment.

I understand the Budget Gamer view, but a $30 game that gets 50 plays would be a better value than a $15 game that gets played 4 times.
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Joe Rogers
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I have to agree with Larry. For the price and number of times it hits my table, I'd say King of Tokyo is one of my best investments. Also, people often use the term "filler" on a game as a dismissive quality (not saying you're doing this). It becomes sort of like the crappy little appetizer you endure before you get to the main course. As much as I love the long, slow brain-burners at times, I have to admit that a "filler" like King of Tokyo can be just as entertaining and rewarding as the oh-so-serious-now-THIS-is-a-board-game sort of experience. modest
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Lab Gnome
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Larry Welborn wrote:
Good review. But, it seems like a game that you spent $30 for, but played "tons of times" would be a good investment.

I understand the Budget Gamer view, but a $30 game that gets 50 plays would be a better value than a $15 game that gets played 4 times.


This is how I budget my purchases pretty much.

Anticipated plays/enjoyment / cost = likelihood of buying. So, one 60$ game that would keep me occupied for months is a better investment than 6 10$ games that keep me occupied for a few days for each.

I can also see though that though sometimes this formula runs into problems. Like Dominion + all the expansions may have a fantastic ratio for me (at least 100 enjoyable plays) but the high cost of all that is still restrictive (and the original would not have that kind of replayability I feel).

Anyway, appreciate the review! I have been eyeballing this game for some time and it is nice to hear price included in the reviewing process.
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Eric Baker
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Great review! Thanks for taking the time to write this out.

I have had my eye on this game for weeks now, but just cannot decide if it will work for my wife & daughters fueled gaming group. My youngest is intrigued by the Cyber Bunny monster, but my wife is violently against Godzilla flicks; she just hates them.

As we all know, it matters little how superific a game might be. If you can never get it to the table, it's a wasted purchase.

But, boy... I'd sure like to be able to get this game on the table.


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Michael Carter
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I had some minor issues with the quality of the components, also. My scoring card for The King had a crease in it from one of the layers of paper in the cardboard folding back on itself during manufacturing. It's not a big deal, just looks odd. Also, the insert is awful. I normally keep inserts in every game, but this one had to go. There aren't many components in the box that is really too big for what you get, so there isn't any reason why they couldn't have made a better insert.
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Pieter
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Any game that you play 529529587295 times a day is worth $30.
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Phil Christiansen
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He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.
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DBoonsGhost wrote:
Great review! Thanks for taking the time to write this out.

I have had my eye on this game for weeks now, but just cannot decide if it will work for my wife & daughters fueled gaming group. My youngest is intrigued by the Cyber Bunny monster, but my wife is violently against Godzilla flicks; she just hates them.

As we all know, it matters little how superific a game might be. If you can never get it to the table, it's a wasted purchase.

But, boy... I'd sure like to be able to get this game on the table.




Well let me assure you this one is kid friendly -if- you keep a close eye on younger ones. The energy cubes loooove getting lost. But my 6 year old plays and adores the game, and my 4 year old plays even though she may not entirely get it heh.

As for the comments about $30 being fine for a ton of plays, I agree. However, I simply feel there are better choices out there for that range. I recommend playing it a few times before purchase because at that price for a 'filler' game you should be sure you like it. Oh, and I don't use filler as a bad term. They tend to be lighter and smaller games and so cheaper. Thus in my opinion justifying a higher price tag can be harder for a filler game, thats all. Thanks for all the feedback!
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AbStrateGyk
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Good news! This is now selling on Amazon for $25.99

Bad News: Amazon now requires $35 minimum order for free shipping.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004U5R5BI?tag=article-boar...




 
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