King of Tokyo is a 2012 competitive Adventure Board Game by Richard Garfield. You are a giant monster rampaging through Tokyo, and so are up to five friends. Rolling dice to determine the majority of your actions, the game is best described as a sort of bizarre lovechild of Yahtzee and Pokémon, soaked in a huge vat of kaiju tropes.
On each turn, you roll six dice a maximum of three times. (Like Yahtzee, you may keep rolls that you liked and reroll the remaining dice.) From these rolls you can gain points, deal damage to other monsters, heal damage inflicted by your opponents, or gather energy — the game's currency for buying special cards that make your monster more of a threat. Energy can also be spent for a few other gameplay actions. There is also the element of Tokyo — the game's board and special location. At most given times, a monster is occupying Tokyo — a risky position that can be very rewarding. You cannot heal while in Tokyo, and other players' attacks are automatically directed at you, but you gain points every turn you occupy Tokyo, and deal damage, when you attack, to everyone but younote . When you choose to leave Tokyo (and you will eventually want to, in order to heal), the last person to attack you must occupy it in your stead.
The game is won in one of two ways: You either win 20 points, or are the last monster standing.
An expansion to King of Tokyo, Power Up!, was released in summer 2013. It adds one new monster to the available options, Pandakai, and introduces evolution cards — monster-specific abilities unlocked with certain dice rolls that serve to make you even more ludicrously powerful. The advantages offered by the evolution cards show the start of tailoring certain monsters more towards certain strategies, rather than making the monster choices arbitrary a la the vanilla game.
A half-sequel, half-expansion set in New York, titled, appropriately, King of New York, was also released, along with its own Power Up! expansion. In addition to six new monsters, it was mechanically quite different, introducing districts to allow monsters to move about the city, buildings and military units as actual pieces to be placed and destroyed, and the far more proactive U.S. military actively fighting back against the marauding monsters. The core idea still remains, and the monsters from the new game can be used with minimal fuss in the old game. Provided you buy the expansion, at least.
A second sequel called King of Monster Island is a cooperative game where players have to battle an adversary that gets harder to defeat as the game goes on.
This game contains examples of:
- Admiring the Abomination: Implicit in the base game, with many of the point-earning cards representing celebrity. And upgraded to an actual gameplay mechanic in New York, as rolling 3 Celebrity dice allows you to claim the Superstar card and, on subsequent turns, earn victory points through your fame among the denizens of the Big Apple.
- Aggressive Play Incentive: Occupying Tokyo is a risky strategy because it makes you the main target for the other kaiju's attacks while making any healing dice rolls worthless. The payoff for this is that every round occupying Tokyo without backing down earns you 2 points and any attacks you make while occupying will hit all other kaiju.
- Alpha Strike: The U.S. military's entire MO in New York, as units will never fire on their own, only engaging in huge volleys when Ouch's start getting rolled. Granted, the havoc that ensues when someone rolls 3 and every unit in the city starts shooting is suitably impressive.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever
- Behemoth Battle: The game is all about kaiju battling each other.
- BFG: Drakonis packs a gun as long as he is tall. However, it's purely for visual flair unless you've drawn the appropriate mutation card, where it adds all sorts of unpleasant side effects for anyone he blasts with it.
- Big Applesauce: The canvas for your monsters to wreak fresh havoc upon in the sequel.
- Blood Knight: Certain monsters' mutations are built almost exclusively around an aggressive playstyle; Meka Dragon and Drakonis in particular are damage dealing juggernauts.
- Captain Ersatz: The original version had knock-off version of Godzilla, King Kong and Cthulhu. As noted above, the latter two appeared under their own names in later updates.
- Chainsaw Good: Mantis wields an appropriately massive one, though it too is cosmetic unless mutated into usefulness.
- Cyborg: The King and Alienoid represent good old fashion flesh and metal hybrids in Tokyo. Drakonis, Kong, and Mantis maintain the proud tradition in New York.
- Crossover Cameo: King Kong and Cthulhu both have their own dedicated expansions, complete with mutations and personal mechanics.
- Department of Redundancy Department: The inevitable result of Alienoid purchasing the Alien Origin card.
- Darker and Edgier: The aptly named Dark Edition, a limited print re-release of the original game that swapped out the bright, cartoony art style for a shadowy, ominous tone and an additional Wickedness mechanic.
- Destructive Savior: Rolling 3 Ouch's results in your monster being proclaimed "Defender of New York", and getting a spiffy new card declaring you as such. You are still perfectly free to crush buildings and slaughter the military.
- Digital Tabletop Game Adaptation: The game can be played online at Board Game Arena.
- Friend to All Children: An actual purchasable upgrade in Tokyo, which generates a steady stream of victory points.
- Humongous Mecha: Cyber Bunny is an ordinary-sized bunny piloting one.
- Hyperactive Metabolism: Several cards that offer healing side effects very heavily imply that their subject is being eaten by your monster. Similarly, it's all but outright stated in New York that this is the reason destroying hospitals and infantry companies heal you.
- Lawyer-Friendly Cameo:
- Most of the monsters available. Gigazaur and The King are fairly obvious expies of Godzilla and King Kong, respectively, while The Kraken has a striking resemblance to Cthulhu (especially the mutations it gets in the Power Up! expansion). Meka Dragon could possibly be a nod to MechaGodzilla. Even Cyber Bunny has the forehead-chevron usually indicative of a Gundam.
- In addition, Pandakai from the Power Up! expansion seems to be at least a wink and a nod to both Po of Kung Fu Panda and the Pandaren from World of Warcraft, with a shake of Hebai from Avatar: The Last Airbender.
- A Halloween expansion has Pumpkin Jack and Boogey Woogey.
- The Rozy Pony promo card is one for '"My Little Pony''.
- Sadly, it seems that in the case of Kraken and Cyber Bunny, this trope is averted, as both characters are going to be retired for legal reasons as of the 2016 revamping of the game (though they still appear in the 2020 Dark Edition re-release of the first edition). The former at least makes some sense, as Cthulhu himself was added in via booster expansions shortly afterwards.
- Rob, from King of New York, is a gigantic Robby the Robot with actually useful arms.
- Kong, also from New York is yet another King Kong styled kaiju, albeit albino, Elvis-themed, sporting Daft Punk sunglasses and is a communist for some reason.
- LEGO Genetics: Want to make The King a winged monkey? You can. Give Gigazaur giant, power-sapping tentacles? Slap 'em on. Mutating your monster even further is one of the primary game mechanics. There's even a power, Made In a Lab, that means you started off as one of these. Appropriately, it makes further upgrades cheaper.
- Make My Monster Grow: The "Even Bigger!" card.
- Monster Is a Mommy:
- Multiple Head Case: You can acquire one or two extra heads, each of which gives you an extra die to roll.
- My Defense Need Not Protect Me Forever: The entire reason there are two ways to win. Monsters can become so powerful that their damage to each other either keeps negating or heals more quickly than can be dished out... but there are still always ways to win points.
- Not Zilla: Gigazaur from the core game.
- Poisoned Weapons: You can add a poison attack to your weapons with the right card; a hit tags the target with a cumulative drain on their health.
- Power at a Price:
- Taking over Tokyo means you'll gain more victory points each turn and also allows you to hit everybody outside Tokyo when you attack. It also prevents you from healing normally, and also means that everybody outside Tokyo will target you every time they attack.
- Many one-time use cards will provide you with a decent chunk of Victory Points, at the cost of also damaging you.
- Destroying buildings in New York can grant you all sorts of boons, from victory points to healing to energy. However, every building you destroy draws out the military, who can drop a load of hurt on any unwary monster they come across.
- Promotional Powerless Piece of Garbage: The main argument seasoned gamers make against purchasing exclusive promos such as "Alpha Zombie" (unless you're purposely gunning for 100% Completion). At the end of the day, said monsters have the exact same stats as the monsters that come with the game. Not only that, but because the Power Up Expansion grants buffs exclusive to all monsters excluding the promos, it means that those fancy promos are at a severe disadvantage compared to the ones that come with the game.
- This game loves puns. For example, the "urbavore" card, which shows a monster devouring a building.
- Half the evolution cards in Power Up! seem to run on this. Fully 7 of Pandakai's 8 cards are puns.
- Purposely Overpowered: You're giant monsters. You're supposed to all be powerful as all get-out.
- Rewarding Vandalism:
- Points are heavily implied to be a gauge of how much general chaos and destruction your monster is causing. Many of the cards that can redeemed for points are structures, like "skyscraper" or "gas refinery", implying that you destroyed said structures.
- Fully codified in New York, where such cards have become tokens on the board, with dedicated mechanics for destroying them.
- Shrink Ray: One power you can acquire. Each blast strips off one of the target's dice on their next roll.
- So Last Season: Included in the New York version of the "Power Up!" expansion are Tokyo versions of the mutations, allowing the new monsters to take full advantage of the mechanics of the old game. There is no such upgrade available for the Tokyo monsters, which makes hopping the pond with the old guard a bit pointless. Oddly, though, this simply encourages you to go back and try out Tokyo with the new monsters, so it's a mixed blessing.
- Spikes of Doom: You can bolt on a spiked tail for extra damage.
- The Swarm: Mantis has a pair of mutations to this effect, letting it command hordes of locusts or cockroaches
- Tanks for Nothing: Subverted. You gain 4 VP from them and discard them afterwards, implying that you stomped them. You also take 3 damage, which means that the tanks did score a good hit on you.
- Subverted again in New York, while they don't hit you out of the gate, Tanks spawn from destroyed 3 health buildings and require a further 4 points of damage to remove. Due to this, they'll probably stick around a while and will start hammering you the moment those Ouch's start getting rolled.
- Xtreme Kool Letterz: Gigazaur, Meka Dragon, and Drakonis.