King of Tokyo Review

King of Tokyo game in play

One game that I've been hearing about for several months now is King of Tokyo.

In King of Tokyo, each player takes on the role of one of several monsters attempting to destroy Tokyo.  But, though Tokyo is fairly defenseless, the other monsters are contesting you, as they want to be the ultimate destroyer of the city!  Each turn, you run six dice.  You can keep any number of them that you want, and you can re-roll the other dice up to two more times.  Based on those dice, you can do a few things - with claws, you attack whichever monster is in Tokyo (or, if you are in Tokyo, you attack everyone else), with hearts, you heal damage (unless you're in Tokyo), if you get three matching numbers, you score that many victory points, and if you roll lightning bolts, you gain energy.  Whenever you attack someone in Tokyo, they must decide if they are staying in Tokyo, or leaving.  If they leave, then you are forced to take over Tokyo - which gives you one point, while making you a target.  But, for each of your turns that you are still in Tokyo, you gain two points.  At the end of each turn, you may also use your accumulated energy to buy upgrades.  The first person to score twenty points wins.  Or, since you're awesome monsters and fighting each other and such, the last monster standing wins!!!  (This is actually how most of my games end.)

The first pro for King of Tokyo is that it's incredibly fun to play.  This is one of those pros that is really hard to quantify or explain, but some games are simply more fun than others.  I think that some of the things contributing to the fun of King of Tokyo are the goofy theme, the awesome upgrades, and breaking all odds with die rolls.  (How can you be angry when someone in Tokyo rolls six claws and wipes out everyone else at the same time?  I have seen this happen at least twice.  No, it was never me being awesome like that.)  Of course, it also helps to talk about your monster in the third person.  One of the guys in my game group always uses Meka Dragon.  And generally, when going into Tokyo uses his best Meka Dragon voice to announce, "Meka Dragon new King of Tokyo!"  This is just a light, enjoyable game that you can play while joking around with your friends.

Meka Dragon - one of the King of Tokyo monsters
An upgraded Meka Dragon
The next topic for King of Tokyo is both a pro and a con - the upgrades.  The upgrades really make the game play differently each time.  The upgrades are awesome.  You can heal, deal damage to everyone, deal extra damage every time you attack, gain victory points, take another turn, etc.  Buying upgrades and making your monster even more phenomenal is really fun.  However, the upgrades can also make the game imbalanced - if one person gets amazing upgrades, then they can really run away with a game.  Also, if really expensive upgrades are dealt at the beginning of the game, then they can become a bit of a non-factor, as it will take longer before players are able to actually purchase any of them.  Now, you are allowed to clear out all of the upgrades (at the cost of two energy) to provide yourself with better options.  However, this is not done very often - especially since you may unintentionally set the next player up to be able to purchase an upgrade that you can no longer afford.

My third pro for King of Tokyo is that I appreciate that it is interactive.  There are several dice games that have come out recently (Martian Dice and Zombie Dice come to mind).  But, in those games, it doesn't really matter if you're playing by yourself, or with five friends.  The only real difference is that you have to wait longer between turns.  However, in King of Tokyo, your decisions are heavily influenced by the other players.  Did someone just hit you for five health?  Guess what - you're going to be trying to roll hearts.  Is someone in Tokyo down to two health?  Sounds like the perfect time to try for claws to finish them off!  This really sets King of Tokyo apart from other dice games to me.  This is a game that you can enjoy with friends, and the more the better (up to the six player that it supports).

King of Tokyo monsters
Potential Kings of Tokyo
So, whereas I don't have any more "cons" for King of Tokyo, there is one thing that I will mention.  (I considered leaving it out, since I consider it fairly obvious.)  There is a lot of luck involved in this game.  It is a game about rolling dice.  Yes, there are upgrades, and yes, you get to make some decisions about what you keep and what you re-roll.  With that said, rolling what you need is a better strategy than planning ahead.  If you don't like luck based games, or you're not in the mood for a game with a high luck factor, then don't play King of Tokyo!  (Until later, when you are in the right mood.)

Overall, I give King of Tokyo an 8.5/10.  The game is a blast to play.  Whereas it won't be for absolutely everyone, I would encourage everyone to try it at least once if you have the opportunity!

As a final note - I was at a gaming event recently and saw someone that had taken some figures from Monsterpocalypse and was using them for King of Tokyo.  This was amazing!  I may need to find some of these for my own copy.  After all - beautiful plastic figures are better than cardboard figures.

If King of Tokyo sounds fun, you might also check out Liar's Dice, Dixit, and Martian Dice. And, since everyone has their own opinion (which doesn't quite match mine), you might also want to check out Play Board Games' King of Tokyo Review, or this other review of King of Tokyo by Games With Two.

I would like to thank Iello Games for providing me with a review copy of King of Tokyo.


  1. Nice review Josh... strong contender to be added to my shelves this fall...

  2. I got a copy at GenCon, and it's quickly become one of my favorite games. It's just one of those things - you need a good smash-n-bash game every once in a while to break up the brain-burners.


  4. Not gonna lie, doesn't sound like the game for me. I would be interested in playing sometime for the experience. I typically hate luck games. might be fun every once in a while though.