One of the problems of getting older and having kids is that your free time gets heavily eroded. You get less, and what you do have tends to broken down into smaller, less predicable chunks. Its the price you pay for the great adventure that is parenthood, and to be honest I wouldn't change it for the world. But it has meant that, for the most part, my days epic gaming are behind me, as it gets harder to corral both the time and the people. On the plus side, one of the perks of parenthood is growing your own gaming partners, although it can take longer than "hey, whatcha doing next saturday?". It does mean that I'm always on the look out for games that appeal to a wide range of ages and abilities, without being either too dull, or too complex. In King of Tokyo, we found another winner.
The objective of King of Tokyo is pretty simple; you are a rampaging giant monster, and you want to wreak as much devastation as possible. You earn Victory Points from destruction, but you can also attack other rampaging giant monsters and win by being the last monster standing. Each turn you roll the big, freindly dice and try and get 3 matches that score you damage, heal you, earn VPs, or accrue "power" that lets you buy new abilities. Finally, there is always a "King of Tokyo", a monster (or two, in larger games) sat in the city and earning victory points by just being there.
It's the King of the Hill gameplay wrinkle that really makes this shine. If you're in Tokyo your attacks hit every other monster in play, but you can't heal. Similarly, if you're out of Tokyo you can heal but your attack only hit the person currently in Toyko. Of course, if the chap in the City takes damage, he can always elect to retreat, ceding the city to his attacker, which isn't always something you'd want if, for example, your health is a bit low to start with. So suddenly you have a range of tactics - tough it in Tokyo, go for damage, or try and accrue VPs and abilities outside the city, biding your time for a longer game.
King of Tokyo is a big, friendly game, and endearingly fun to play. The cardstock monsters are full of character, the rules simple to learn but with a lot decision making as you play, and you can rattle through a game in less than an hour, even with new players. It's another effortlessly charming "entry-level" game that you can carry around and play with non-gaming freinds without spending too long on the rules or having a huge advantage from playing before. If there is a criticism, its that maybe it lacks depth; but I'm not sure that's what its aiming for, nor that every game needs multiple levels of mastery to get the most of it.
There is also a couple of expansions, of which the first feels like a must have addition. It adds a new monster, but more importantly it adds "Evolutions" that you can develop over the game, and are unique to each creature. This means that rather than all being the same, they quickly favour different play-styles, as each set of Evolutions are themed around a different set of dice results or manipulations. It certainly adds to the mayhem!
The most telling point I can end with is this - since we got King of Tokyo, its yet to have been worth putting it up on the games shelf, as I know it'll be coming back out again all too soon.