Attack of the Kaiju is a 2-6 player arena brawler in the vein of old-school kaiju films. You control one of several kaiju with designs loosely based on iconic characters such as Godzilla, Biolante, Cthulu, rodan, Kamacuras, and Jet Jaguar.
Each one sporting a unique ability but playing the same for all other intents and purposes. You will rampage through a city while battling each other and vying to complete objectives while dealing with the intervening military forces that desperately crowd around your feet and try to take you down.
The core of the game is about resource management and utilizing the best set of actions possible in your turn. You generate energy and then expend it to perform actions. Ending your turn when you have depleted as much or as little as you like. Energy can be used to perform standard actions such as moving and attacking but is mostly spent on a large number of special moves that often combine with other actions.
These involve actions such as throwing tanks at other kaiju, rampaging to perform multiple attacks and pinning enemy kaiju to stop them from moving. There is a large variety of these moves and a lot of them are contextual but generic enough to appear in every game. Other game features involve strategically placing army units to attack and hinder enemies.
They are individually weak but gain buffs from supporting allied army units which enables them to inflict damage more easily and makes them an element that should not be overlooked. The actions are easy enough to understand and utilizing them effectively is where the main gameplay takes place. It is important to plan and counterplan your moves.
What Do You Do!?
Do you put ignore your opponent to smash buildings and gain more power for the next turn or do you suplex him into the middle of a cluster of army units? Do you aim for this turn's random objective to gain vp or pin your opponent to stop them from gaining it? There is a fair amount of tactical depth and you will find yourself planning your turn well in advance and trying to pre-emptively mitigate your opponent's moves.
It is a very enjoyable amount of depth that feels just right for this game. There are always options available, but you will have to decide on what will perform best for you and then curse when your opponent pulls off a perfectly planned turn.
In terms of replayability not too much will change between games. You will probably choose a different spawn location and the objectives will change each turn but the gameplay is the main element which over a few games you will develop a few tricks and nasty combos you can pull off. It would have been nice if there had been a bit more variation between the different kaiju's but they do have unique abilities that trigger when they roll a double on attack rolls. Some smaller passive ability would have been ideal but having them mostly identical does offer a fairer game balance.
This is where sadly the game falls short. The board is tiny, the giant kaiju are small standees and in a forest of similar standees, they are often not easily identifiable. There is an abundance of small cardboard tokens which are also easily forgotten. You can easily forget that the army unit your kaiju is stood on adds 3 power to an attack which would have dealt you damage if you had realized. The character sheets are thin and feel a little flimsy.
It is a genuine shame that this game was not given a higher quality of components and it feels like that was the initial idea. There are coloured square cardboard tokens that would be ideal if replaced with plastic cubes, the kaiju standees call out to be replaced with figurines showing off their great designs and the board desperately wants to be twice the size with clearer tokens.
There is a great game here and it is sorely let down by the physical aspects. Additionally, there are some odd choices, like only including one reference sheet for special moves which is usually in high demand as players want to pre-plan their moves in advance. On a more positive note, the style and artwork are fantastic. The entire thing is black and white with some great kaiju inspired designs and the box looks fantastic and really goes the distance in capturing that classic cinema feel.
The biggest downside as mentioned above is the components. It is not always clear what is where on the board and that is an important part of the game where positioning is key. The only other downside is the rulebook makes some jumps. Nothing egregious but a few clarifications would have been ideal. When playing we did encounter a few questions over how the unique kaiju abilities would interact with each other and we were able to reach logical solutions fairly easily but a clearer rulebook would have been appreciated.
Attack of the Kaiju is a great midweight arena brawler game that will see a good amount of table time. It is a real shame that it did not get the big box release that it deserved. The game is solid and easy to learn with some great levels of strategy to enjoy. It ticks all the boxes for kaiju fans, you can perform wrestling moves, crush tiny army units, demolish city blocks, and throw tanks at each other.
It is also a fairly forgiving game as there is no permadeath, your kaiju just returns at the start of the next turn if destroyed in classic film plot fashion. I really enjoyed playing it and it was a hit on games night and I can see it becoming a gateway game for newer boardgamers to enjoy. It is also worth mentioning that for its price it is easily the rival of more expensive counterparts such as monster apocalypse and is a lot easier to store and set up.
The teardown/ setup time is maybe five minutes and it is easy to teach to new players. It took approximately fifteen minutes to get everyone comfortable with the rules and play with games clocking in at between one to two hours. There are a few game modes included that offer a shorter or longer game. So, in conclusion, if you can overlook the quality of the components, it is a great game that is definitely rewarding to play.