Yahtzee is a solid game, one that is still very popular today. There is something about rolling those dice and pushing your luck in order to score the most points. While the roll and re-roll mechanic is intriguing and filled with excitement (there is nothing like shouting YAHTZEE!!!! after a lucky third roll), the strategy comes in when a player has to record their roll on their score sheet. Is filling out the small straight more valuable or should I use the chance box? Will I get a better role next turn? I will still play Yahtzee if it is pulled out and suggested simply because the dice rolling mechanics are evergreen – I will never get tired of rolling dice trying to find the right combination. Many modern designer board games have taken this mechanic of rolling dice three times and then resolve it’s values with a little extra on top.
My recommendation for you if you enjoy Yahtzee or or dice rolling in general is King of Tokyo!
King of Tokyo, designed by Richard Garfield and published by IELLO Games, takes the simple mechanics of dice rolling in Yahtzee and turns it into a competitive monster fighting game set in Tokyo. Okay first I need to talk about the theme. Monsters fighting each other and destroying Tokyo is nothing new for the western world. Godzilla and other giant monsters (kaiju) have been attacking Japan for many many decades now. I love giant monster themes but I understand the theme may seem childish or a little nerdy. HOWEVER, please do not let the theme color your perception of this game (although, I personally think this theme is perfect for this game). Players take control of a monster, depicted on the box cover, with the goal of controlling Tokyo or destroying all of their competitors. And do this by rolling custom dice!
Similar to Yahtzee, players will roll and re-roll their dice up to two times. After a player decides to stop or exhausts all three of their rolls, they will resolve their dice in the order they choose. Each side will give a players different actions: the opportunity to attack other players, heal themselves, gain victory points, or to charge up energy. Attacking and gaining energy are probably the most intriguing parts of the game. There is a game board that depicts Tokyo from a top down view, with one space for a monster to control Tokyo. When a monster attacks from outside of Tokyo, they hit the monster inside Tokyo. When a monster attacks from inside Tokyo, they hit all the monsters outside of Tokyo. When a monsters in Tokyo is damaged they have the opportunity to yield Tokyo to the attacking monster. There is a push your luck element here because players gain victory points by holding Tokyo but they cannot heal inside the city! If a monster’s health reaches zero, they are defeated and out of the game. There is player elimination in this game but King of Tokyo plays very fast, so players who have been defeated will not have to wait long before starting another game.
The energy players collect allow them to buy power up cards! These cards provide game long continuous effects or instantaneous one time effects. All the powers break rules in some way or another, allowing players to use different faces of the dice for other actions, giving a monster extra life or extra damage, give players extra dice to roll, or even allowing a game end condition for a “yahtzee” roll. The player to player combat and these special cards really provide a unique twist on the original Yahtzee system.
I personally do not own King of Tokyo but I own the next game in the series, King of New York. This adds another layer of strategy by adding the different burrows of New York monsters can move around and changing a couple faces of the dice to add the destruction of buildings. King of New York is a more ‘complex’ version of King of Tokyo, but in my opinion, it is almost the same game with a couple of twists. I encourage you all to check out either game, both readily available. King of Tokyo might be available at your local Target or Barnes and Noble. King of Tokyo just got a 2nd edition reprint with the much coveted limited edition Penguin Monster and new artwork! If you love giant monsters battling, this is the game for you. If you like rolling dice, this is also the game for you! I will keep King of New York (and possibly King of Tokyo) in my board game collection for a long, long time.
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