Review - King of Tokyo: Dark Edition

Hi everyone!  With the current lockdown winding down I thought I’d reflect on some of the games that helped get us through in our family. One that we kept coming back to time and again was King of Tokyo: Dark Edition. I figured it's about time I review it and share my thoughts!

What?

In addition to being one of only a handful of games our family can play together, King of Tokyo: Dark Edition, is just so easy to get to the table. The concept is simple. Each player selects their favourite kaiju (strange beast), parodies of famous monsters in the tradition of Godzilla and King Kong, etc. The goal of the game is to become the King of Tokyo, this can be done in one of two ways, either by defeating all other monsters by reducing their health to zero, or by being the first player to acquire 20 victory points, either outcome will end the game immediately.

How?

On their turn a player rolls six custom dice in an effort to damage opponents, heal themselves, gain victory points or acquire power tokens, the latter of which can be used to purchase power cards granting one-time or ongoing abilities to give their monster the edge. King of Tokyo is a push-your-luck game, meaning players get up to three rolls on each of their turns. They can carry over any results they like from previous rolls or re-roll any combination of dice until their third roll at which point the results are final for that round. Some powers will grant extra dice or dice rolls. 

Why?

Those core mechanisms are a carry over from the classic version of King of Tokyo, so what makes the Dark Edition stand out over its predecessor? The first and most obvious change from the original game here is the art work.  Rather than the campy, colourful and delightfully cartoony style of the first game, Dark Edition opts for, well, simply put, a darker take on the subject, as in, literally darker.  The characters are still cartoons, and the concept still maintains the quirky tongue-in-cheek vibe of the original, but everything from the box art, cards, and creature standees, to the custom dice and power tokens have been given the DC movie treatment, resulting in a game that feels more dark, edgy and serious in tone. 

Wicked!

The second major change is the addition of the Wickedness Track which allows players to make use of less desirable rolls. In the previous game, rolling a set of three 1’s would result in receiving a single victory point, a set of 2’s would net you two points and three for 3.  Choosing to re-roll the lower results felt like the smart play there as gaining only one or two VPs didn’t feel very satisfying.  In the Dark Edition, not only do you still get the VPs from your roll, but on sets of 1s or 2s you can progress up the Wickedness Track and gain powerful new abilities on a first come, first served basis. These powers stay with you for the rest of the game and can turn the tide of battle in some cases. 

Apart from these alterations the core gameplay remains largely the same.  Having only been vaguely aware of the original version, playing it only a few times, I found King of Tokyo: Dark Edition to be a more fully formed gaming experience.  The simple addition of the Wickedness Track adds a degree of strategic decision making that was largely absent from the original game and the artwork is more mature and stylish, though lacking the more lighthearted approach of the previous version.

 

Likes

  • The new darker art style is cool in a goth kinda way

  • The dice look awesome!

  • The Wickedness Track adds some much appreciated depth

  • The game is great fun for kids and adults, making it ideal for families

  • Fun theme

  • Cool powers extend the game’s playability

  • An actual, useful insert!

Dislikes

  • Card backs differ from previous games, meaning older expansions won’t really gel here

  • Needs more monsters

  • Lightning bolt-shaped power tokens hurt when you step on them

Final Thoughts

King of Tokyo: Dark Edition has been a welcome addition to our family’s board game collection.  Over recent weeks it’s been played more often than almost anything else on our shelves, this is testament not only to how fun the game experience is, but to the thought behind it’s design, its quick and simple to learn and teach, and even the dice are large and hefty, making it easier for little hands to get in on the fun. If you’re looking for a game to introduce new players to the hobby or to share with the kids, then you may find it a good fit.


Thanks for joining me again this week, always good to see you stop by the blog space especially when you’ve been so busy.  If you’ve had any experiences with any of the King of Tokyo series or if you know of any games you’d like to see reviewed here, let me know in the comments below, or over on our Game Kings Gamers community group.  Until next time, remember, board games are self-care!

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