Review: King of New York

King of New York Review

When I imagine Monsters rampaging through a city I imagine kaiju like in Pacific Rim, Godzilla or Cloverfield. King of Tokyo, the precursor of King of New York, never got that feeling going for me. King of New York does. Although not from the point of view of the helpless citizens but rather from the huge rampaging monsters!

King of New York is a big brother to the King of Tokyo. Both games feature huge monsters fighting for control of a major city. King of New York takes all the fun and basics from King of Toyko and expands on it. It is designed by Richard Garfield, who gave us Magic the Gathering, and published by IELLO. It was nominated for 3 Golden Geek awards in 2014.

For the TL;DR version click here.

Opening the box

The specs on the box:

  • 2- 6 players
  • Ages 10+
  • 40 min

In the box we have a larger game board than the original. With the original we did not actually need the board that was supplied; you just needed to remember who was in Tokyo.  There is an assortment of new cards for powers and tokens as well as 6 new monsters. The same energy (currency) cubes are present. The dice, which are the core of the game, are slightly different. Gone are the familiar numbers which are used to score VPs, they are instead replaced by new symbols.

King of New York Review
Everything packs up easily.

All of the components are of good quality, the cards are a bit on the thin side, but they fit nicely into the box. I always a like a game that packs away nicely, I hate having to fiddle with components to get the box to close correctly.

Theme

The game is all about monsters fighting for control of the city of New York. There are 2 ways of winning the game, either by being the first to acquire 20 Victory Points or to be the last monster standing.

In the original game you did not even need to know the name of the city. You could play to win in a very short space of time. This time around you get to travel around the city and destroy buildings. Doing this results in the army showing up, and they can make things tough on you or the other monsters. You can however, eat them to regain health 😉

King of New York does a much better job of making you feel like you’re rampaging through a city than King of Tokyo did.

King of New York Review
That is a lot of content for such a small box.

Gameplay

For those who have played the original game there are a few new tricks which you will pick up fairly quickly. For everyone else, don’t stress, it’s actually very easy to learn.

Setup is fairly quick; the board is laid out with 3 stacks of 3 building tokens in each of the boroughs of the city. Each player selects a monster and takes the appropriate monster board and sets the health to 10 and VP to 0.

First player is determined by rolling the dice and the player who rolls the most claw symbols goes first. Each player then places their monster in a borough in the city. A borough is only big enough to hold 2 monsters at a time.

Then it’s time to roll the dice. Each player will get a turn to roll the dice, with up to 3 re-rolls, each time keeping the dice that they desire. It’s a Yahtzee mechanic that works very well. The dice have symbols etched into them instead of the usual numbers; these allow the player to perform various actions.

  • Claws: These allow you to attack other players and take control of Manhattan. If Manhattan is empty and you have at least 1 claw then you can move in. If there is a monster in Manhattan then you will deal 1 damage, per claw that you roll, to that monster. If you are the monster that is in Manhattan then you will deal damage to every other monster that is not in Manhattan. NB: this means that every other monster will be attacking you too!
  • Lightning: Each bolt you roll gets you 1 energy cube which is the currency that you can use to buy super powers for your monster.
  • Broken buildings: Each broken building you roll allows you to damage a building in your borough. After a building is destroyed a military unit will be summoned. The broken building rolls allow you to destroy military units in the same manner as you would destroy buildings. Destroying buildings and military units can provide you with bonuses like health or VPs.
  • Broken Skulls: These activate military units on the board, which can be a good and bad thing. A single skull means that all the military units in your borough attack you. 2 skulls mean that all military units in your borough attack all monsters in your borough. 3 skulls make all military units on the board attack the monsters in their respective boroughs, additionally the stature of liberty comes to life, Ghostbusters 2 style, and helps you to fight the other monsters!
  • Hearts: Each heart you roll lets you heal 1 point of damage that you have received.
  • Stars: If you roll 3 stars then you acquire the Superstar card. While you have the card each star that you roll will get you victory points.

Being in Manhattan is a risky but rewarding place to be. Just for entering the borough you get Victory Points. Each turn you start there can give you Victory Points and Energy, which moves you swiftly along the road to victory. However, with every other monster on the board actively attacking you, you can die very quickly. In addition to that rolling hearts while in Manhattan means nothing, they cannot heal you while you are there!

King of New York Review
+2VP & +2 energy for being in Manhattan, no hearts though.

When you think it’s time to leave you can surrender/yield Manhattan to a monster that just attacked you. You get to jump out and he then takes your place and becomes the prime target.

When resolving your die rolls you need to be careful of the order in which you do it eg, if you resolve your attacks first and have to go into Manhattan. You can no longer resolve any hearts that you have rolled as they will no longer work!

After resolving your die rolls you have the option of moving to another borough and can start sowing destruction elsewhere. Then you can spend your energy to gain a power card. These can do everything from growing an extra head that allows you to roll more dice to regeneration that lets you heal faster, or even eating an underground power cable which will hurt you but give you a lot more energy.

The game ends when a monster reaches 20 Victory Points or is the last monster left standing.

Conclusion

The game is fairly quick, not as quick as the original as there is a fair bit more to do. I think it’s more fun than the original. While both games can be pretty random King of New York does give you a lot more options, it feels like a full board game and less like a filler game. It is still a fairly light game, in the spirit of the original.

If I were to be asked which of the two I prefer I would have to say New York. I already have a copy of Tokyo on my shelf though, so I’m not going to be buying New York anytime soon. I really want to get it but I cannot justify having both games.

King of New York Review
Eat the military before they get to fire!

Can I braai with this?

Most definitely. Even with a multiple actions available per turn, each action is very easy to resolve and you won’t get analysis paralysis trying to figure out which action is best. Turns go very quickly and you can assess the board at a glance so popping off to turn the chops won’t really be an issue.

 

Thanks to Boardgame.co.za for the copy of the game so I could write this King of New York review.

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