Table Top

Published on December 18th, 2014 | by Rufus Hound

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King Of New York – Review

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Average time per game: 40 minutes

Suitable for ages: 10+

Number of players: 2-6

This sentence that you are reading right now – yes, this exact one – is the survivor of many, many fallen brothers. There have been about nineteen others that I have written to begin this review, but each, once reread, needed to die. The problem? That I’m trying to review King of New York without reviewing King of Tokyo – its predecessor and the reason that’s so hard to do, is that I LOVE King of Tokyo. As a man who, for the last three years, has evangelised boardgames’ divine power, King of Tokyo has been the box I’ve opened most.

For the uninitiated: In King of Tokyo, you play a massive monster intent on the destruction of – yep, you guessed it – Tokyo. Giant Apes, Massive Nuclear Lizards, Cybernetically enhanced Rabbits – bizarre, B-movie leviathans coronated by either a) being the last monster alive or b) being first to 20 points. It’s comic book beautiful, they’ve nailed the theming, and – not to be underrated – can be taught to most semi-intelligent people in about ten minutes. A game packed with nail-biting moments, killing sprees, monstrous new abilities and screaming, table banging, air-punching fun. Like I said, I love it.

So, news that Richard Garfield was producing a new version set in New York genuinely excited me. Trust me, I’m as surprised as you that a 35 year old man can be juiced about the release of a boardgame, but I really have been. And now it’s here. Squee!

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So, let’s start with what’s the same. You still play as one of six massive monsters. Rob (B9’s big brother), Drakonis (Power Rangers baddy), Mantis (Zorak on steroids), Sherrif (T-Rex in a cowboy hat. Obviously.) Captain Fish (A fish in a bowl, on a gigantic body. Obviously.) or Kong (Massive Gorilla styled by Daft Punk). Having decided which monster you want to be, you take the cardboard figure and the corresponding ‘Monster board’, which helps you keep track of your points and health, thus doing away with anything as old fashioned as ‘a bit of paper and a pencil’.

So far, so familiar, but the moment the board is laid out, it’s clear we’re not in Tokyo anymore, Dorothy. Where King of Tokyo’s board could accurately be described as ‘two dotted circles on a small square of card’, King of New York’s play area is four times the size, and divvied up into various boroughs.

Each borough has buildings in it, which, during your turn, you can choose to destroy in return for points, health or ‘energy cubes’ (basically the currency in the game – or should that be ‘currents-y’?! Energy cubes?! Current? As in electrical energ… no? Fine.) Now, this is an exciting twist on the old game. In King of Tokyo, though the trail of desolation left in your wake was heavily implied, you never got to do any actual destroying and, let’s be honest, what’s the point in being a massive, weaponised killgiant if you can’t beat the shit out of things, right? So, a welcome addition that’s definitely in keeping with the spirit of the game.

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Then there’s the cards. Three of these are face up and available to players with enough ‘energy cubes’ (just think of them as money. Get money, buy power ups). The cards are one of my favourite parts of the game. Some serious thought has gone into what should be on these cards – not just the advantages they give the players (which can have a massive effect on the tactics you’ll use to win) but how those abilities would manifest themselves for the bizarre creatures in the game. Again, real attention to detail and a brilliant demonstration of how much thought has been put into every aspect of this game. There’s also two new cards that are permanently in play for King of New York – ‘Superstar’ and ‘Statue of Liberty’. These are available to everyone, and move around, player to player, depending on how the dice land.