The King Is Back
King of Tokyo is one of our favorite tabletop games here on TechRaptor. It's incredibly accessible, has huge reliability, but most importantly, it is a lot of fun. King of Tokyo Dark Edition is the 3rd edition of this popular game. We're going to review it in full, and for those who've already played King of Tokyo (or King of New York), we look at the differences between 2nd edition and Dark, along with discussing if it's worth the repeat purchase at the end of the review.
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In King of Tokyo, players pick 1 of a choice of 6 monsters and compete over Tokyo in order to become the top monster. Players win by either reaching 20 victory points (VP) or by being the last monster standing. VPs are earned each turn by rolling 3 of the same number or by being in the Tokyo City district, which earns 2 VP a turn. While in Tokyo City, all monsters outside of it can damage you in their turn, and during your turn, you can damage them. There can be only 1 monster in Tokyo City at a time (unless playing a 5-6 player game, where there can be a monster in Tokyo City and another Tokyo Bay which has the same effect) and you can't heal while in Tokyo City, so building up those VP's only lasts as long as you can take damage.
During their turn, each player rolls 6 dice and gets 2 rerolls of as many dice as they wish, in order to get the best combination of dice for their requirements. The sides of the dice offer different effects which include:
- Heart - Heals your monster (if you're not in the Tokyo district)
- Hand Print - If you're in Tokyo city, it damages all monster outside, or if you're outside Tokyo City it damages the monster that is in
- Lightning Bolt - Gives energy cubes that can be used to purchase special power cards
- 1, 2 and 3 - Give you the number of VPs for each triple rolled
If the monster in Tokyo City is damaged by a roll, they can choose to leave, they still take the damage, but it forces the player with the next turn to enter Tokyo City. This means that knowing when to pull out is an important and tactical decision. Usually, several turns of making the push for VPs and then leaving to heal before returning is the key to winning.
It's also possible to play aggressively after getting some high-level special cards and enter Tokyo in order to damage all the other monsters, leaving when the next player's monster is low on health, forcing them to take Tokyo City in their turn. You can also go straight for the win by knocking out all the other monsters while in Tokyo City, but with all of them damaging you in their turns, its a risky maneuver.
There are special cards available to purchase during play with energy, which you build up and store by rolling lightning bolts. Only 3 special cards are available to buy and are replaced when 1 is bought or a player spends 2 energy to discard them all, forcing a redraw of 3 new cards. Some of the cards are very powerful, so paying 2 energy to discard them all is a viable option to deny other players from getting hold of powerful cards.
A new element in King of Tokyo Dark Edition is wickedness tiles and points. Whenever players roll a triple 1 or 2, they get wickedness points that unlock wickedness tiles at 3, 6, and 10 points. Wickedness tiles open up permanent abilities, and players choose from any available when they hit each wickedness threshold. There are only 4 tiles at 3 and 6 wickedness points, and 2 tiles at 10, so the first players to reach each threshold get them.
At its heart, King of Tokyo 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 going for Tokyo City along with your damage and the levels of damage you are doing to others, make it a lot more thought-provoking than the box contents would have you believe.
Because the dice rolls are random, as are the 3 available upgrade cards, every game of King of Tokyo is different and you can never predict how you or any other player will approach it. Attacking the monster in Tokyo City can lead them to move out, forcing the next player to move into Tokyo City, setting you or them up for damage in subsequent turns, but not damaging them leaves them on a victory point gaining a path to victory. Should you push for that extra energy to buy the powerful special card before an opponent or just go for straight damage? It's all a choice and risk/reward gamble.
There is a 2-player rules variant detailed in the Dark Edition rulebook, which replaces the VP's for being in Tokyo City with energy gain. It means that games can be a lot more tactical, and usually a lot more fighty as it isn't a straight push for VPs. It makes games slightly longer, but this gives you a chance to buy upgrades and look to build up some ability combos.
The only criticism for King of Tokyo, as with other editions, 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. With King of New York and the older versions of King of Tokyo, this is dealt with in the Power Up! expansion, with varied evolution decks for each monster. Missing out on giving them each a unique skill in this release would have gone some way to making each monster feel different, but could also have affected the balance of the game.
The King of Tokyo Power Up! expansions, as well as the monsters from King of New York and their Power Up! expansions still work with King of Tokyo Dark Edition, but the artwork won't match.
For players coming from older editions of King of Tokyo, should you buy this edition? Yes, you absolutely should. The only real difference between 2nd Edition and Dark, beyond the visuals, is the wickedness rules, which are a great addition and still maintain the speed and balance of the original game.
The components for the Dark Edition are stunning. The different textures on the main-board and monster boards, the smoky dice, and the included wickedness extras make it entirely worth it. It's a limited edition copy of the game and that will make it a collector's item for King of Tokyo fans.
The Bottom Line
King of Tokyo is a lot of fun. It's extremely easy to learn for players of any age or skill level (the rulebook is extremely short with very detailed 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, and the components, especially in the Dark Edition, look stunning and are extremely durable. It's light for easy transportation and doesn't require a lot of table space.
While the Dark Edition doesn't add a lot beyond visuals, it's limited nature, extra wickedness rules, and incredible looking components mean that even previous edition King of Tokyo owners should find a place for this. King of Tokyo Dark Edition is the best looking, most polished edition of the game and should have a place in every household.
Get This Game If:
- You don't already own King of Tokyo, everyone should have a copy.
- You're a King of Tokyo superfan or collector.
- You want a very accessible, fast-paced great game.
Avoid This Game If:
- You already own King of Tokyo and don't want the visual changes or wickedness rules.
This copy of King of Tokyo Dark Edition was provided by Iello.