King of New York released in 2014 and is the sequel game to the hugely popular and award winning King of Tokyo, which released in 2011. King of Tokyo was updated in 2016 and expansions have since been released for both. The TechRaptor tabletop team thought this would be a great time to review King of New York, along with its expansions and then update our King of Tokyo review after. For those interested in the difference between the two games, we will cover those at the end of the review. Over the next few days, we will also review King of New York Power Up! and the King Kong Monster Pack, so keep an eye on TR.
King of New YorkIn King of New York, players pick one of the colorful and varied monsters and compete over New York City in order to become the top monster. Players win King of New York by either reaching 20 victory points or by being the last monster standing. Victory points are earned each turn by being in Manhattan or by controlling the Superstar special card. While in Manhattan, all monsters outside of it damage you in their turns, and during your turn you can damage all of the monsters outside Manhattan. There can be only one monster in Manhattan at a time, and you can't heal while you're there, so going for it is a risk.
Each player rolls six dice on their turn and gets two rerolls of as many dice as they wish in order to get the best combination of dice for them. The sides of the dice offer different effects which include:
- Healing your monster
- Damaging the opposing monsters if you're in Manhattan or damaging the monster that is in Manhattan if you are not
- Damaging buildings or units in your borough
- Energy for buying special power cards
- Celebrity, which allows you to earn victory points if you have the Superstar card
- And Ouch!, which is when the civilian defenders of New York City open fire and damage your monster
All monsters in King of New York start with 10 health, and with every monster outside of Manhattan damaging you while you are in it, making a push can be risky. If your monster is damaged while in Manhattan, you can choose to leave, which forces the monster who damaged yours to enter Manhattan, but you still take the damage. This means that knowing when to pull out is an important and tactical decision. Usually several turns of making the push for Manhattan, getting a few victory points, and then leaving to heal before returning are the key to winning, but you can also play aggressively after getting some high-level special cards and enter Manhattan in order to damage all the other monsters, leaving when a monster low on health damages you and forcing them to take your place in Manhattan.
At its heart, King of New York is a dice rolling game with a random card option draw element, but playing it is so much more. The risk/reward of the dice rolls and re-rolls, along with tactically managing your position in terms of going for Manhattan and controlling the levels of the units in the same borough as you, make it a lot more thought-provoking than the colorful box contents would have you believe.
Because the dice rolls are random, as are the three available power cards, every game of King of New York is different, and you can never predict how you or any other player will approach it. Attacking the monster in Manhattan can lead to you taking its place there, setting you up for damage in subsequent turns, but not damaging them leaves them on a victory point gaining path to victory. Should you push for that extra energy to buy the powerful special card before an opponent, or should you try to roll damage for the tank that could damage you next turn? It's all a choice and risk/reward gamble in King of New York. You'll laugh as your opponent is attacked by hordes of units after they destroy buildings for the rewards, but then cry when you roll a set of useless dice and fail to grab that epic special card.
The only criticism for King of New York is that other than how they look, every monster is the same; they have no unique abilities to set them apart or make playing a different one have any effect. This is dealt with in the Power Up expansion, with the varied evolution decks for each monster, but giving them each a unique skill in this release would have gone some way to making each monster feel unique.
King of New York is a lot of fun. It's extremely easy to learn for players of any age or skill level (the rulebook is four pages with pictures and examples, and our description above is enough for you to start playing and pick up the fine details as you play). It's quick (you can smash out a game in around 30-40 mins when everyone knows the rules) and the components are of a great and solid quality and are also light for easy transportation.
King of New York has a place is every gaming household, as it's great as a filler game between games or also as a game played over a long period with multiple games.
King of New York vs King of TokyoApart from the board setting and available monsters, the difference between both games is a couple of extra rules in King of New York. The buildings and units are only in King of New York and the building damage, Celebrity, and Ouch! dice rolls in King of Tokyo are replaced with Victory Point rolls. This makes King of Tokyo a slightly simpler, but no less fun game. Because victory points can be won through dice rolls in King of Tokyo, the game can be won simply through dice rolling, whereas you need to be in Manhattan taking damage to get victory points in King of New York. Owning both, on-top of both Power Up expansions, gives you options to play both sets of Monsters in King of Tokyo.
We will cover King of Tokyo and its related expansions in full in our review next month.
The Bottom Line:
King of New York is an incredible game. Fun, tactically challenging, very easy to learn and teach, it's also quick to play with a lot of room to expand and explore, and it never gets old. It's a great game to play with new players and also against veteran King of New York players. It's a game that defies all boundaries and brings people together, which is what tabletop gaming is for. For the level of enjoyment and replayability out of the box, King of New York is a classic and long shall it remain so.
Get this game if:
You love family friendly enjoyable games.
You love giant monsters smashing things.
You want a little more tactical challenge than King of Tokyo.
You simply want more monsters to add to King of Tokyo.
You enjoy dice games.
Avoid this game if:
You don't like playing games with people.
You don't like fun.
You're looking for a competitive strategy board-game with less random dice rolls.
This copy of King of New York used for this review was provided by CoiledSpring Games.