King of Tokyo Dark Edition Review
Buckle in kids it’s fairy tale time. Once there was a young man who hadn’t yet discovered the wonderful world of board games. On fated day his younger brother visited and taught his the card games Love Letter and Fluxx. The magic was strong and the young man was enchanted. Later that week on a chance visit to a local bookstore he noticed on the shelf a copy of King of Tokyo. Drawn in by the awesome premise of giant monsters fighting through a city he decided he must own it. Purchase it he did and he has never been the same.
King of Tokyo was my first board game purchase. Having played Yahtzee as a child I was immediate familiar with the dice mechanics and wowed by their application here. I resisted the second edition, sentimental as I was about the first, but this Dark Edition has claimed my interest. With the dark and broody graphic design and promise of wickedness, KoT Dark could be the best yet?
Turn on the Lights
KoT Dark has gorgeous art work. From the UV spot box to the use of the same technique on the player dials it looks great in person. I’m not sure the pictures really do it justice. I’m sure there will be some who miss the bright and whimsical nature of the older editions but I am not one of them.
Art changes alone do not justify a new edition, though even if it is limited. So what else is new? There are a few minor changes to the power cards, the energy cubes are now shaped like lightening and the frosted glass style dice are amazing quality, and then there is wickedness. Wickedness is a new mechanic that allows you to gather some tasty powers while going after points.
If you roll three 1's or three 2's you get to move your wickedness token up the 10 step wickedness track. Three 1s will net you two steps up the track, three 2s will net you one step up the track.
When you get to stage 3, 6 and 10 of the track you are a awarded your choice of upgrade. These work much like power cards but are usually very powerful. Most are permanent upgrades but some need discarding upon use. This seems like a small change but it's a big impact. One of the complaints with the original King of Tokyo was that you could play games without getting many or any of the juicy power cards. This was rectified a little in the Power Up expansion which added a new type of evolution card earned through rolling three hearts. If you combined that with this Dark Edition (possible though perhaps not atheistically pleasing) you would now be earning powers for days!
The other thing these wickedness powers do is speed up the end game. King of Tokyo is a game that has player elimination, a game that actively encourages it. Though its short enough to excuse that, nobody likes sitting out. Here the wickedness powers are a game changer, often increasing the rate at which you earn victory points or deal out damage.
From the Beginning
But what if you haven't played a King of Tokyo game before? Sorry. I got ahead of myself! The gameplay is based on rolling 6 dice up to 3 times. Each time you roll you can choose some results to keep and at the end of your rolls take actions based on what you end up with. Claws attack, hearts heal, numbers earn points and lightening earns energy (the currency of the game). This simplicity it combined with the importance of Tokyo. If you are in Tokyo your attacks hit every other monster, but you can't heal and every other monster targets you. Why would you stay in such a place? Well, manage to start your turn in Tokyo and you earn 2 victory points. That's a whole 10% of the score needed to win the game!
Deliciously when you are attacked in Tokyo you can decide to vacate, and the attacking monster must take your place. This makes King of Tokyo a game of risk, reward and timing. Manage to control your opponents from Tokyo with hefty attacks means they chase hearts instead of attacks and you can rack up the points, but is a risky strategy. For a simple game there are a few ways to approach it. Winning the game requires 20 victory points or annihilation of the other players.
Back to the Future
One thing that is hard to predict is what will happen next. Generally, not just in board games. There has been no hint from Iello about whether they will remake the existing expansions in a 'dark edition' style. And on one level it doesn't really matter - they will all technically work with each other, but there will be a mash of art styles. With Funkoverse and Unmatched paving the way for mash up battles maybe it doesn't matter too much? That's up to you. One think to note though is that either of the first two power up expansions are compatible with the characters included here, but not the New York one! For me I will be retiring my 1st edition copy to the family museum after rescuing the power up expansion from inside of course, as I can't imagine wanting to play again without wickedness.
If you are new to King of Tokyo then this is probably the best version to get, until they release a big box. If you already own it... well I could possibly tell you to get this new edition... that would be wicked...