What Is Kaiju Crush?
Whether it’s Godzilla, Pacific Rim, or some other giant monster movie, the best parts are always the fighting and massive destruction. A new game from Fireside Games brings these elements to your table in a 2-4 player game for ages 10 and up that is a fast-playing good time, playing in less than 45 minutes. Smash stuff, fight your opponents in Kaiju Crush!
Kaiju Crush Components
There’s a lot in the box of this moderately priced game. Inside, you’ll find:
4 Monster tiles
4 Monster figues and plastic stands
5 Movement cards
6 Objective cards
13 Special Ability cards
38 City tiles
80 Territory markers (20 each for four colors)
20 Combat victory tokens
4 Reference cards
The four monsters are a variety of beasts you’ve seen on the big screen — and some you haven’t. There’s Galithor, an aggressive reptile who has recently emerged from a dormant volcano. There’s Mecha Kaizer, a robotic creature with six legs and constructed of unknown materials. Draximus is a two-headed dragon who first appeared after a toxic waste spill. Finally, there’s Steganox, an insect-dinosaur who mysteriously appeared after a UFO sighting. The standees for each monster are great and the monster tiles are color coded to the monster and also have a reminder for combat resolution printed on them.
The territory markers are thinner cover stock and decorated on one side with a demolished city space and the monster’s color (all monster colors also have a unique footprint for those who have trouble with color). On the other side are one of five monster icons, which are the same for all monsters. There’s a claw, a tail, feet, head and torso with spikes, and a head breathing fire. For all monsters, there are 4 tails, 4 claws, and 4 feet. Additionally, there are 5 firebreathers and 3 spikes.
Cards are all normal quality and regular poker sized. The reference cards are double-sided but have the same information on both sides. They help remind you what to do on your turn and how to score, but not how to fight. That’s on your monster tile. The movement cards depict five different ways to move and are illustrated, much in the same way you might show someone how chess pieces move.
There are six objective cards, 1 marked A, 1 marked B, and then two each for C and D. Each card has a different front and back. These are important because they are the means of primarily scoring points. More on objectives A-C at the end of the rules explanation. Objective D provide a bonus to the player with the most of a given category tile during gameplay. The benefit may transfer as players earn more city tiles — pay attention so you don’t miss out!
The special ability card describe one-time enhancements a player can use to temporarily elevate their kaiju. These are things like Ambush Warp, which lets you teleport to any unclaimed non-park city tile that is adjacent to another monster, Gigasmash, which lets you remove a park tile from the board and replace it with one of your territory markers, or a variety of other movement hacks or tile-swapping maneuvers.
The combat victory tokens are cardboard and look a little like small guitar picks. I’m not sure what they are meant to be, but one side is blank, just cracked and distressed. The other side has a value on it, 1, 2, or 3. There are a dozen ones, 5 twos, and 3 threes.
Finally, there are the city tiles, representing your fine city (which you’re about to destroy). City tiles are divided into four categories, mostly. There are community tiles, which are things like a capitol, library, water tower, and hospital. The commercial tiles have things like a restaurant, cinema, hotel, and supermarket. Transportation tiles have a freeway, bridge, gas station, and even a launch pad. Then there are the power tiles. There, you’ll find a solar farm, wind farm, oil refinery, and substation.
On each of these tiles, you’ll see an icon identifying it as one of these categories and a value for scoring the tile at the end of the game. On some tiles, there’s an icon to let you know to exclude certain tiles for 2 or 3 player games. Last up, there are two wild tiles, which have all four icons on them and the player who claims the tile gets to designate its category, and four parks, which have no icons on them.
How to Play Kaiju Crush
To set the game up, you lay out the city based on the number of players. A 2 player game gets a 6 x 5 grid, three players gets 6 x 6, and a full complement gets a 7 x 6. Monster tiles are shuffled in with the appropriate number of city tiles to make the city. Once the city is laid out, first shuffle your deck of territory marker cards and replace your monster tile with a random territory marker, color/footprint side up, and the monster token is placed in front of the player for reference.
Movement cards are shuffled and dealt according to rules governed by the number of players. These are placed face up in front of each player, with one additional movement card placed at the top of the city. This is a community card. Objective cards are also randomly picked and placed where everyone can see them. Next, everyone gets 2 special ability cards. Each player selects one and returns the other. Victory tokens are shuffled, face down, and then the game is ready to begin.
First You Move
On your turn, you do two things and one optional action. First, you move. From your starting monster card you make a move based on the instructions on the community movement card or your own movement card. If you use the community card’s movement, awesome. If you used your movement card, you must now swap it with the community card, taking the previously shared card into your possession. The only legal moves are onto an unclaimed city tile or a territory marker occupied by another monster. If you land on a park, you must immediately move again, following the same rules for movement. Park tiles are not claimed.
If you’ve landed on an unoccupied city tile, that building is crushed. The player collects that tile and replaces it with one of their territory markers. If you’re located adjacent to another monster, you may battle. If you’ve landed on a territory marker with another battle, you must battle.
Then You Fight
Fighting is done in a rock, paper, scissors style, with a kaiju twist. When a battle is inevitable, each fighting player draws 5 territory markers from their draw piles. They look at their cards, make some boasts or bluffs and then play a card. The icons in the game are easy to look at to determine the winner, but claw beats tail, tail beats kick, and kick beats claw. However, firebreath beats all of those. However, again, spikes beat firebreath. And all three, claw, kick, and tail, beat spikes. Really, just look at your player tile. It’s simple. Rounds are resolved one by one and most wins earns that battle victory.
In a territory battle, when you’ve landed on an occupied territory marker, you must attack the other player. The winner gets to leave their territory marker on the board and pick up a victory token. (If the territory changes hands, the winner does not receive the original city tile. The loser, upon receiving back a territory marker, places it at the bottom of their deck.) Both players stay on the space. In an adjacent battle, there is no potential exchange of territory marker, only a random victory token is given to the winner.
It should be noted that, when drawing a hand and when adding a territory marker to the city, this is done randomly, drawing from the top of the shuffled deck. You don’t know what cards you have left, nor do your opponents. One other clarification, You may move through monsters without effect and you must move if you can. But if you can’t move, you must pass. Once everyone has passed, the game ends and points are tallied.
Then You Score Points
When the game ends, points are tallied. First, players count the value of each city tile in a simple summation. Next, players evaluate the objective cards. The A objective awards a point for each space on your largest controlled territory, the A card pays a point for each distinct area you control (yes, a single marker counts as an area). The B objective awards for either the most tiles in a category group or the fewest in that group, depending on the side of the card you chose. The objectives marked C give points based on the shape of areas you control — lines, squares, diagonals, or orthogonals.
Lastly, you tally the battle victory markers. Add all the numbers up and the most points wins. Easy and fast, huh? Perfect, let’s play again!
Why You Should Play Kaiju Crush
There is something deeply satisfied about huge monsters smacking each other around and crushing buildings. Perhaps it stems from a childhood of Godzilla and King Kong movies or all those quarters pumped into the Rampage cabinet at the arcade. Kaiju Crush does an admirable job of capturing the raw, visceral feel of the destruction.
Movement is a puzzle you have to plan for. Because your monster can’t move unless your card or the community card allows move to an undemolished city tile or a territory with another monster on it, you have to plan two or three steps ahead, directing your kaiju toward a part of the board with more open tiles. As the game progresses, this becomes more difficult and, since you can’t score points unless you’re crushing or battling, not moving is not a good strategy.
Fighting is a fun battle of wits. Should you save your firebreather for the end of a battle or come out strong? Chances are you will tie at least once and then there are always suprises. Don’t forget kaiju powers, which may give a monster a win on certain ties or extra draw abilities. On top of that, there are special abilities, which are fantastic, almost overpowered, one-time actions. Everyone gets one and when you use it, it can dramatically change that one turn for you. It’s best to hold on to it until the end of the game.
Any city tile you crush is played in front of you, face up so everyone can see. And then there are the objective cards. A couple of them have the potential to give a runaway victory, so be aware of them. There are four D objectives and two of them, Powerhouse and Commerce King, are really valuable to whoever is currently fulfilling them. Powerhouse gives a new Special Ability card after using one to whoever has the most power tiles. Commerce King gives a random combat victory token to whoever has the most commerce tiles. These are big — don’t let anyone get a monopoly on those tiles when these objectives are in play!
Even with eight objective cards, you will always have four in play. For this reason, the objectives get a little repetitive and we wished there were more. The same with movement cards, with only 5 you will have all of them in play in a 4 player game and a bit more variety would be welcome. However, there is some math involved as to what those cards can do, so I understand why there are so few of them.
If the game becomes a little stale for you, there are additional rules you can add to freshen it up. You can remove movement cards in a 2 or 3 player game to ratchet up the difficulty or, if you love fighting, there’s an arena mode where you fight to the last kaiju standing — a really fun mode.
All in all, Kaiju Crush is a neat fighting game that captures the feeling of being in a monster movie. It’s a bit of a departure from Fireside Games’ usual fare and a welcome addition to their lineup. Kaiju Crush is available now.
If you’d like to stay up-to-date with all of our tabletop gaming coverage, please copy this link and add it to your RSS reader.
Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.