Godzilla. A staple of Toho films and a pop culture giant of his own right is brought to the tabletop by none other than Funko Pop. Godzilla Tokyo Clash is a lighter weight board game where 2 to 4 players throw down several iconic kaiju from the classic films in intense player versus player combat.
Playable characters include the terrifying King Ghidorah, benevolent Mothra, subterranean Megalon, and of course the glorious Godzilla himself as they throw down in the sandbox arena that is Tokyo complete with wrestling moves, skyscrapers and the token resistance of humanity as they fight at the feet of the titans. Each game lasts approximately an hour and the rules can be taught in under fifteen minutes.
Mechanically the game is light and easy to learn but offers a solid foundation that provides strategic and thoughtful combat. Each monster has actions that are triggered by playing cards from their hands which allow them to move, fight, make ranged attacks and trigger unique powers such as flight or bodyslams.
Each monster has its own unique gimmicks such as King Ghidorah powering up his lightning breath for powerful attacks or Mothra gaining energy passively rather than from destroying buildings. This makes for slightly asymmetrical play as each deck provides different tools for taking on your opponents.
Apart from cards you also track energy and wounds. Energy is used to play cards and generate passively each turn as well as from when a monster attack destroys a building. Combat is dice-less and can be augmented by throwing opponents into buildings so there is an element of tactical positioning. Wounds are tracked elegantly with players taking ‘trophies’ from each other in the form of cards from that player’s deck.
Meaning their move sets are reduced but never to the point where it feels the player is being punished too hard or have their agency taken away. These mechanics have the effect of rewarding offensive play as well as carefully balancing energy generations so you can unleash bigger attacks and have more capacity to act on your turn.
There is also a built-in timer that ticks down each round and gets accelerated through the destruction of the city’s buildings as the military prepares an oxygen destroyer to end the kaiju brawl. The military will also send tanks, battleships and even alien spacecraft to disrupt the players through two randomly drawn event cards that will affect the whole game in minor ways and add a level of strategic movement.
This is aided by the semi randomness of the city set up with each tile rotating to change the location of various builds/terrains that offer a high number of potential variations. This can also affect certain event cards such as where battleships and trains will appear.
It would have been nice to have double sided hexes and perhaps a different environment such as London or New York as an alternative arena but from a mechanical point of view. There is a good amount of replayable-ness through each kaiju having a unique trait/deck and the map layout on top of the random event cards drawn at the start of each game.
The game has a solid feeling of quality and there is obvious thought and passion that has been put into the visual design. The figures have nice sculpts and come pre-stained to pick out the detail, the box art is modelled after an old-school Toho poster style and the cards/player boards come pre-weathered to add to the vintage feel.
Everything oozes retro Godzilla style and it is appreciated. The board tiles are reasonably thick and one-sided and the plastic buildings add a sense of dimension to the game and help to put the monsters in scale.
You can see the thought put into the design and for the most part, it all holds up to build a level of excitement as you build Tokyo and tear it down through physically removing the towers and tokens with tactile glee.
There are some downsides to this game. The rules manual leaves something to be desired as there are some edge cases that are not accounted for and some leaps in logic. Nothing game-breaking as some common sense can be applied to them and for the most part overcome. There is also a robust FAQ on boardgamegeek which addresses all the rules queries and then some.
Apart from some minor logical leaps that the rulebook makes it is clear and there is an always welcome rules overview printed on the back of the manual. Additionally, the game is not the best experience with only two players and really comes alive when you have three or four of the kaiju throwing each other around and shooting atomic fire at each other.
The only other complaint is one that is probably divisive but having a different kaiju than Megalon would have probably been a more popular choice such as Rodan or the fan-favourite King Cesar. But this comes down purely to personal bias and there is always hope that Funko release more monsters to expand the selection.
There is also perhaps the lightness of the game to consider. It is not an intense crunchy game but rather a more light-hearted one that relies on a more casual atmosphere to prosper. So, it will probably not satisfy someone looking for an intense heavyweight game although I do not think that is a bad thing as the game prospers as one that is easy to pickup. It is hard to object to a game where you can suplex your opponents into a powerplant and throw a tank at a giant lizard…
The game is solid and a good contender for less experienced groups. I also think it is one that would work well with children as a family game with those familiar with board games. The flavour and theme of the game is the main selling point, but the rules are perfectly functional bar a few easily fixed occasions where google is necessary.
It is also the type of game that draws the eye and really pops on the tabletop from the box to the actual layout. It is a little surprising that such a fun and quality game came from Funko but as said before there is a clear appreciation for the old-school Godzilla and a good deal of fun to be had here.
If you are a Godzilla fan this game is near essential and you will definitely enjoy this, otherwise, you can take it as a fun rules-light brawler with high-quality components and some fun tactical gameplay.