Destroy All Monsters in ‘King of Tokyo: Dark Edition’

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King of Tokyo Dark Edition box. Image by Iello.

If you’ve been playing board games for any length of time, you’ve probably played King of Tokyo, or perhaps own a copy yourself. Originally published in 2011, this family game was created by Richard Garfield, who most notably invented a little game called Magic: The Gathering. GeekDad reviewed the first edition when it was originally released. There has since been a second edition of the game, multiple expansions, and now Iello has brought out the limited “dark edition” of the game.

What Is King of Tokyo: Dark Edition?

King of Tokyo: Dark Edition is a 2-6 player game of dice rolling and card drafting that plays in about 30 minutes, and is for ages 8+. It has all-new artwork by Paul Mafayon and all-new components. The rules are mostly the same as regular King of Tokyo, but with a notable addition of the “Wickedness” mechanic. The game retails for $49.99 and available at Amazon and other online retailers. It is limited to one print run; in other words, once it’s sold out, it’s gone for good.

King of Tokyo: Dark Edition is GeekDad Approved!

King of Tokyo: Dark Edition Components

Here’s what you’ll find inside the box:

  • 6 Monster Boards
  • 6 Cardboard Figures
  • 6 Plastic Stands
  • 1 Tokyo Board
  • 6 Gray Dice
  • 2 Yellow Dice
  • 66 Power Cards
  • 10 Wickedness Tiles
  • 6 Wickedness Counters
  • 40 Plastic Energy Charges
  • 27 Tokens
  • Rulebook
Game components. Image by Paul Benson.

From the moment you pick up the box, you’ll notice the marked change in artwork in this edition. For comparison, here are the components from the standard 2nd edition of King of Tokyo:

King of Tokyo 2nd Edition components. Image by Iello.

In King of Tokyo: Dark Edition, Paul Mafayon has steered away from the bright, primary-colored cartoon images of the original and gone for a more mature comic book style that uses a largely greyscale palette punctuated by sparing use of color as highlights. This dynamic art style is very striking and creates a bold presence on the tabletop.

Power Cards. Image by Paul Benson.

A few of the components—such as the boards, monster figures, and cards—are the same as in the standard edition of King of Tokyo except for the artwork. However, there are some notable upgrades to other components.

Gray and yellow dice. Image by Paul Benson.

The dice in Dark Edition are approximately the same size as in the standard edition, but are frosted and have a satisfying heft to them that’s a definite improvement over the standard dice. Along the same lines, the Energy Charges are now green plastic lightning bolts, rather than the green plastic cubes of the standard edition.

Energy Charges. Image by Paul Benson.

The various tokens have also gotten an upgrade. Instead of discs, each type of token now has a distinctive shape to go with their illustration. I would have liked to have seen these upgraded to plastic as well to match the new Wickedness Counters, but it’s still a nice thematic improvement.

Upgraded tokens. Image by Paul Benson.
Plastic Wickedness Counters. Image by Paul Benson.

Finally, the box insert itself has gotten a practical upgrade. As you can see, not only is there a specific space for all of the game’s components, but there are sculpted images in the insert’s plastic to show you where the tokens and counters should go when putting away the game.

Box organizer spaces for tokens and counters. Image by Paul Benson.
Counters and Tokens in place. Image by Paul Benson.

The components as a whole are top-notch, and definitely a step up from the ones in the standard edition of King of Tokyo.

How to Play King of Tokyo: Dark Edition

Whether you’ve played the regular King of Tokyo before or are picking this version up for your first time, King of Tokyo: Dark Edition is easy to learn and teach.

Goal

Be the last monster standing either by being the first to reach 20 victory points or by eliminating all the other monsters.

Setup

Gigazaur’s figure and board. Image by Paul Benson.

Each player takes a Monster and its matching Monster board and sets the Life Points (as illustrated by the heart) to 10 and the Victory Points (as illustrated by the star) to 0.

Place the Tokyo board in the center of the table.

Tokyo Board. Image by Paul Benson.

Shuffle the Power Cards to form a deck, and deal out the first three cards next to the deck. This forms the Market. Place the tokens, dice, and Energy Charges within easy reach of the players.

Place the Wickedness Counters at the bottom of the Wickedness track (on the right side of the Tokyo board). Then divide up the Wickedness Tiles according to their values, and stack them next to the Tokyo board at the indicated spots.

Setup for a 2-player game. Image by Paul Benson.

Gameplay

Everyone rolls the 6 gray dice. Whoever has the most “claw” symbol results goes first.

On a player’s turn, much like in Yahtzee you will roll the dice up to three times, keeping what you want each time. After the rolls, you move on to resolving the dice.

Threes of a kind of any of the numbers (1, 2, or 3) will score that number in victory points. For each additional die that matches the number of a three of a kind, you will get 1 extra victory point.

In addition to any victory points scored, if you have rolled three 1s you will move your Wickedness Counter up the Wickedness Track two spaces, or on three 2s you will move it up one space. This rule is also printed on the Tokyo Board to help you remember it.

Moving up the Wickedness Track. Image by Paul Benson.

If you land on or pass the 3, 6, or 10 space, you get to choose one of the Wickedness Tiles from the corresponding space. These will provide you with extra abilities for the rest of the game.

Wickedness Tiles. Image by Paul Benson.

If you have rolled any lightning bolt symbols on your dice, you will then receive as many Energy Charges.

If you roll any claw symbols, one of two things will happen: if you are outside Tokyo, you will do that many wounds to a monster that’s inside Tokyo. If you are inside Tokyo, you will do that many wounds to each of the monsters outside Tokyo. If you are inside Tokyo and receive wounds, you have the option of yielding Tokyo. If you do so, you still take the damage but leave Tokyo and the attacking player then takes your place.

If you roll any hearts, you will heal that many wounds, but only if you are outside Tokyo.

If no monster is in Tokyo, you enter it (and gain one victory point for doing so). If you start your turn inside Tokyo, you gain two victory points.

Finally, you have the option to buy any Power Cards in the market, if you have enough Energy Charges to purchase them. There are two different types of cards: “Discard” and “Keep.” Discard cards resolve immediately, while Keep cards have an ongoing effect. As you can see below, the Power Cards can significantly impact the game.

A few “Discard” Power Cards. Image by Paul Benson.
Some of the “Keep” Power Cards. Image by Paul Benson.

You can also spend 2 Energy Charges at any time to discard all the cards in the marketplace and deal out three new cards. That can be a great option to deny an opponent a card that they’re saving up to buy.

Optional 2-Player Variant

For a 2-player game, instead of gaining victory points while entering or starting your turn in Tokyo, you gain an Energy Charge.

End of Game

The game ends on the turn that a Monster reaches 20 victory points or that Monster has eliminated all other monsters.

The Verdict: King of Tokyo: Dark Edition

I love King of Tokyo. I own a copy of the 1st edition, along with the Power Up expansion, which provides both a new monster in the form of a giant panda, as well as “Evolution Cards,” which give each monster its own deck of unique power cards. I also have the Halloween expansion, which provides two new monsters reminiscent of Jack Skellington and Oogie Boogie from The Nightmare Before Christmas, and a Broken Token organizer for my game box. I have played the heck out of King of Tokyo on many a game night. It’s a competitive game that never engenders bad feelings, which you can get to the table quickly and plays fast. It’s a game that’s enjoyable for both kids and parents, and one I always recommend to families.

So why pick up King of Tokyo: Dark Edition?

If you’re a fan of King of Tokyo like I am, getting this limited edition while it’s still available is almost a no-brainer. The improved components in and of themselves are worth the price of admission. While my friends always used to joke that the green cubes used for the Energy Charges were “Energon Cubes” from Transformers, the new lightning bolt-shaped pieces are so much more thematic for the game. And the dice… they just are so nice. They’re the same chunky size as in the standard edition of the game, but these dice feel so amazing when you roll them. If you get your hands on them yourself, you’ll see exactly what I mean.

And the artwork is fantastic. While the cartoony style of the standard edition of the game is bright and fun, the artwork in the Dark Edition is gorgeous. You get a much stronger feel of a “B” monster movie from the art, and the sparing use of color really brings each of the illustrations to life. There will be some that prefer the artwork of the standard King of Tokyo, especially those with younger children, but it’s a real pleasure to look at the art of the Monsters and on all of the different Power Cards.

Cyberbunny Player Board. Image by Paul Benson.

Speaking of Monsters, King of Tokyo: Dark Edition only contains new dark versions of the 1st edition monsters from King of Tokyo. So if you had your heart set on Space Penguin, bad news: he was introduced in the 2nd edition, so you won’t find him here. I find it hard to imagine that being a dealbreaker, but I just thought I should mention it.

The gameplay of Dark Edition keeps the fast and furious playstyle of King of Tokyo and adds a couple of seemingly minor rule changes that make this (in my mind) the definitive version to own. First, the 2-player variant. While I’m a fan of King of Tokyo, I’ve always felt that it plays best at 3-5 players, and I’ve generally avoided playing it as a two-player contest. But the subtle change of earning currency instead of victory points for staying in Tokyo makes it a much more interesting challenge for two players.

Of course, you could easily apply that rule variant to the standard version of the game. But unique to King of Tokyo: Dark Edition is the Wickedness mechanic. Thematically similar to the Evolution Cards from Power Up, it provides a subtle but tangible improvement to the game and evens the playing field. There was already a risk and reward factor in playing King of Tokyo, but the Wickedness Tiles provide the players with more significant choices. Do you purposefully go for fewer victory points on your roll, so that you can get Wickedness Tiles?

All of the players have access to the same Wickedness Tiles, but each one is unique… so the first player to move their Wickedness Counter up the track to a stack of tiles will get to choose one first. And each tile significantly affects your playstyle. Do you go for Eternal, which will give you one health point at the start of each of your turns? Or maybe you’d prefer Devious, which gives you one of the yellow dice to roll in addition to the six gray dice.

If you’re looking for a fun filler game to enjoy with friends and family, one where you can get in multiple plays in a night, then it’s hard to go wrong with King of Tokyo: Dark Edition. From its evocative artwork to its high-quality components to the most evolved gameplay yet in a tried and true franchise, this game hits all the right notes. Run out and get a copy while they’re still available!

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