by George Holochwost
As much as we geeks would like to think some of our industry heroes require no introduction, most of our celebrities are fairly obscure to the uninitiated. This is not the case when it comes to Richard Garfield. As if it needs to be said, Richard Garfield is the creator of collectible card games (CCGs) - most notably Magic: The Gathering.
What some folks don't know about Richard Garfield is that he is also the creator of some extremely cool boardgames. Nonetheless, his newest offering is a fantastic treat called King of Tokyo, and lucky for us, Richard was all too happy to talk all about this city-smashing slug-fest of a game.
When I first started my talk with Mr. Garfield, he was fresh out of a panel and had just finished signing a stack of Magic cards. Accompanied by his family, I tried to be brief so that they could get back to enjoying their very busy convention experience. However, after my few quick questions, Richard pointed to his bag and mentioned that he was working on a new expansion for King of Tokyo and asked me if I'd like to try it out. With a resounding “TOTALLY!” I accepted his offer and later we met up to conduct our kaiju showdown.
King of Tokyo (released only a couple of weeks ago) is, according to Richard, his personal re-working of the Milton Bradley (now Hasbro) classic Yahtzee in attempt to make this dice-driven favorite into a more interactive play experience. To say that he has succeeded is a gross understatement. King of Tokyo is effectively a game of dice-driven king of the hill – only the “king” is a giant, rampaging monster and the “hill” is the city of Tokyo. Oversized dice produce results that constitute attacks, provide much needed healing for your monster, and also earn you special energy cubes that can be used to purchase powerful card effects that vary wildly throughout game play. When players do damage they have the option to become the king of the hill by entering Tokyo and and can choose to leave when they are damaged directly by the other monsters. Earning twenty victory points or out-surviving the other monsters are the two paths to victory.
The King of Tokyo expansion (which is currently in play-testing and will likely hit shelves sometime during 2012) adds additional levels of smash-tastic depth to the already vicious conditions of the core set. In its current incarnation (which Mr. Garfield told me is subject to radical change), the expansion will add four new monsters, character specific powers (for both the four new monsters as well as the original six found in the original box), higher cost and more powerful cards, and a new custom die called the “colossal die” which comes into play under special circumstances and crushes all comers when it does (as Richard's son Schuyler demonstrated when he kicked our collective butts in round one of our play session).
King of Tokyo retails for 39.99 and comes to us from Iello Games. The game's incredible art design is the work of Benjamin Raynal who give it an eye-popping cartoon look that adds a touch of humor to this savagely brutal play experience.