King of Tokyo: Rules and Basics of How to Play

King of Tokyo is a unique, award-winning family game that is played with both luck and wits.

Much like Splendor, the premise of King of Tokyo rules is based on resource management and strategic thinking. But that’s where the similarities end. 

Right from the element of dice play to the theme of monsters at war, King of Tokyo makes sure to position itself as a one-of-a-kind board game. The esteemed awards that it has received from game organizations like the Nederlandse Spellenprijs is enough proof for its international prominence.

Let’s now quickly hop on to the ins and outs of how to play the King of Tokyo game!

What Is King Of Tokyo

King Of Tokyo Board Game Info image

King of Tokyo is a board game played with custom dice and cards. With elements of a racing board game like Candyland, the race to gain maximum victory points in King of Tokyo quickly escalates to brutal damages to players and power struggle to maintain position inside Tokyo.

Number Of Players: 2-6

Ages: Ideal for 10 years and up. 

Difficulty: Medium

Length Of Play: 20 – 30 mins.

Main Objective: Rolling the right combination of dice to score points, attack players, and maintain life.

Why We Love It: King of Tokyo is a complete package. Not only does it combine dice, cards, and board together, but also elements of challenge and active thinking to make the perfect family game.

Brief Overview Of The History Of King Of Tokyo

About a decade back, Richard Garfield combined his geniuses in game-strategy and graphic creativity to design a dice – card – board game which he called the King of Tokyo. The game was released in 2011 by IELLO and owing to its instant hit, several variations and expansions have been popularized ever since.

In the following year, the game went on to earn several accolades and honors in its name including various international nominations such as the best family, children and party board game. A more popular version, King Of New York hit the stalls in 2014. The most recent version has seen mutants in monsters and more visually provocative creatures appear.

What You’ll Need to Play King Of Tokyo the Game

The contents of a typical King of Tokyo game kit will include:

  • A game board.
  • 6 dice (numbers 1, 2, 3, claw, heart, and lightning on the faces).
  • 6 monsters (with individual character sheets).
  • A deck of power cards.
King Of Tokyo Contents Image

Before the game begins, the players should set the game up in 3 simple steps:

  1. Hand over a monster and character chart to each player.
  2. Set the victory points to 0 and health points to 10 on every chart.
  3. Shuffle the deck of power cards and place 3 cards face-up on the side.

That’s it, you’re good to roll (metaphorically and literally).

For enhanced fun and playing experience, here’s the latest version of King of Tokyo with new and improved graphics by the original publisher IELLO.

Our Pick
IELLO King of Tokyo Dark Edition - Limited Edition
$80.99 $69.67
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10/12/2023 06:37 am GMT

King Of Tokyo Rules, Gameplay, And Instructions

Players take turns in rolling dice and compete against each other to hold positions inside Tokyo city.

Basic Gameplay

The basic gameplay revolves around players rolling dice in order to move forward and score victory points by trying to maintain their health points.

Victory Points

A player can win victory points in two ways:

  • Scoring a successful combination on the dice.
  • Staying in Tokyo for as long as possible. 

Victory points mark the threshold for players to win. Every player needs 20 victory points to win the game. 

A player who maintains the position inside the Tokyo city after one complete round and remains there at the beginning of the next turn gets the Tokyo City Bonus of 2 victory points

Health Points

These are points that determine the life of a player in the game. Every player has 10 hearts in the beginning. Health points are lost when a player is attacked and can be gained when the dice rolls out a heart.

Health points mark the threshold for players to survive in the game; this means when a player’s health points reach 0, the player is eliminated from the game. An important rule to remember here is that health points cannot be gained if the player is inside Tokyo. So if a player is low on lives, it’s in their best interest to step out during an attack.

Dice Play

The dice play, according to the King of Tokyo rules, is exactly like that of Yahtzee. In a turn, a player has the chance to roll the 6 dice in any preferred combination a total of three times. The aim is to get at least 3 dices with the same number on the face to score a point. The number of points also corresponds to the repeated number on the dice.

With every extra dice that rolls out the same number, a point is added. For example, if player A gets the following sequence in the first roll – 2, 3, 2, 3, claw, heart – from the two numbers that are repeated, 3 is higher. So the player will set aside the two dice that rolled out 3s.

Between the claw and the heart, if the player decides that a heart is not needed (either because A already has many hearts or if they are inside Tokyo), A will only keep the claw aside. This leaves A with 3, 3, and claw after the first dice roll and the remaining 3 dice will be rolled in the next turn.

The player now needs to roll out another 3 to score 3 points. In the second roll, if A manages to get 3, 3, and lightning, this means the total score after that roll becomes 3+1=4 (3, 3, 3, and one extra 3). The extra claw and lightning thus received during the turn will have special purposes that the player can use to gain an edge over other players.

King Of Tokyo Dice Play Image

Moving Inside and Outside Of Tokyo 

Once the dice are rolled, the player can choose to move inside the Tokyo city or the Tokyo bay. The only condition is that the position should not be occupied by any other player

When a player moves inside Tokyo, the player gets a victory point. This is in addition to the points earned by the dice roll. When another player earns an attack, the player inside Tokyo can opt to move out of the city to save health points.

Attack and Defence

When a player earns a claw by dice roll, that means that the player can attack every other player that is not in his/ her arena. This means a player outside of Tokyo gets to attack every player inside Tokyo and vice versa. An attack equals damage to a player which equals to the loss of a heart. 

RELATED: Our Guide to the Best War Board Games.

When a player earns a lightning bolt by dice roll, that means the player gets energy. This energy can be traded to buy power cards, each costing a player different levels of energy and helping the player defend himself/ herself in different ways. This can include getting an extra dice, getting the chance to deal with attacks to players, or something completely different.

How To Play King Of Tokyo Image

Scoring & Winning

In summary, the game moves forward in the following fashion:

Player A rolls the dice → gets the final combination and scores points → move inside the Tokyo city if possible → plans to either attack, spend energy, do both, or none → player on the left continues.

The ultimate winner of Kings of Tokyo is the player who manages to stay alive and earn 20 victory points.

Frequently Asked Questions About King Of Tokyo

How Many Monster Players Can Tokyo Bay Hold in King Of Tokyo Game And When Can You Enter?

To enter Tokyo bay requires at least 5-6 players to still be in the game. So if 3 are already eliminated, your monster can no longer occupy Tokyo bay.

What Do You Do If You Don’t Want Any Of The King of Tokyo Power Cards From The Available Ones?

If you don’t want to choose from the 3 face-up power cards, you can trade 2 victory points to shuffle the deck and release 3 new cards for sale.

What Are The Approaches We Can Take To Win In The King Of Tokyo?

There are 2 main approaches ;

  1. Peacefully focus on making points by rolling out combinations or 
  2. Aggressively attacking players to eliminate them out. 

Of course, a balanced and strategic approach can be used by weighing one’s own points and hearts.

Similar Board Games to King of Tokyo That You Might Like

If you’ve loved the power struggle involved in King of Tokyo, there are a plethora of games out there that may also thrill you.

Small World, for example, is an area control game quite similar to this one. For something different but with the equal influence of strategy and luck, don’t forget to try out Dragon Farkle.

For more board games that involve active thinking but with a twist of question and answers, we would recommend trying your hands on Battle Of The Sexes for adults, Hebanz for family, and Guess Who for kids.

The bottom line is, as long as you need more variety and inspiration for board games, we will have you covered with options and guides.

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Read all the articles (6) written by Megan Bidmead