All Aboard January 2013

Geez, I’ve been so busy, two All Aboard events passed by and I didn’t even get the chance to write about either until now! Well, now I can sneak in a couple of posts so might as well talk about those events now.

Last January 26, I attended All Aboard with my nephew and we joined the King of Tokyo tournament.

king of tokyo box

King of Tokyo is a dice-based board game designed by none other than Richard Garfield, the man who created Magic: the Gathering, the most famous CCG of all-time. Players take control of different kaiju (Japanese for strange beast, but is considered to mean giant monster) all vying to become the king of Tokyo. The six different kaiju included in the main game are: Kraken, The King (a pastiche of King Kong), Gigazaur (arguably a pastiche of Godzilla), Meka Dragon (possibly a pastiche of King Ghidora), the Cyber Bunny, and the Alienoid.

king of tokyo game contentsWhat’s inside the box: Cardboard cut-outs of the 6 different kaiju, their respective life and VP counters, the 8 dice, energy cubes, monster skill cards, and a board of Tokyo.

Players select their kaiju and roll the six black dice to determine who goes first – that honor goes to the player that rolls the most number of claws, the rest take their turn in a clockwise order. Roll a number of claws? Well, each six-sided die has either the numbers 1, 2, or 3, or a symbol of a claw, heart, or a lightning bolt.

king of tokyo diceThe game comes with 6 black dice and 2 green dice.

To play the game, a player, on his turn, rolls all 6 of the black dice. Each claw result represents an attack of 1 damage. Each heart result represents 1 life restored. Each lightning bolt result is 1 energy cube gained, and these are used to purchase skill cards. The numbers 1, 2, and 3, when rolled in certain combinations, can earn you VPs, or victory points. After the initial roll, players have the option to re-roll any of the dice twice before they end their turn.

king of tokyo board and diceThe map of Tokyo. Each big monster is either outside of Tokyo, or is occupying Tokyo. Tokyo Bay is only used when there are 6 players.

 Players also have to consider Tokyo. When your monster is in Tokyo, your attacks hit every other monster that’s not in Tokyo, but you can’t heal. When you enter Tokyo, you get 1 VP, and each turn that starts with your monster already in Tokyo, you get 2 VPs. Monsters outside of Tokyo are always attacking the monster that’s in Tokyo. If there’s no monster in Tokyo and you have at least 1 claw in your final die roll, then you enter Tokyo automatically.

How do you win? Well, you win either by having the last living monster (all the other monsters have been KO’ed, or their health reduced to 0) or if you reach 20 VPs. So the strategy revolves around making decisions based on the dice probabilities and the situation you’re in – Are you going to be passive and try to roll those number combinations to earn VPs and heal/gain energy as necessary? Are you going to be aggressive and try to take and stay in Tokyo, attacking everyone else? What skills are you going to use your energy cubes for? That’s as far as I’m going to go in terms of the mechanics, if you want to learn more, there’s Google or better yet, go with me on the next All Aboard. 😉

king of tokyo cardsA few of the many monster skill cards that can be used to upgrade your monster. These are purchased via the energy cubes that you collect.

So, I was convinced by some of the organizers to sign up for the tournament, and in turn I convinced my nephew to sign up with me. I ended up doing well, making it to the final winner-take-all table with five other participants.

The final match was amazing – it started with two of the participants colluding against the rest, resulting in one player getting eliminated right away and the other three (me included) down to one life. Because of the collusion, the three of us ended up working together temporarily to stick alive, and one of us took out the two colluding players by rolling a 6 claw attack. He eventually won the match and the tournament after I had given up Tokyo to him (big mistake). Just a little regret, but I think he deserved to win the whole thing after rolling those 6 claws.

After the tournament, we played a game called Puerto Rico:

puerto rico box

In Puerto Rico, players take the role of plantation owners vying to be the best or the number one plantation owner in the country. In order to do so, players determine which crops to grow, how to store them, choose which structures to build, where to allocate colonists, when to sell and ship goods.

puerto rico boardEach player gets a board where they plan out which crops to plant and which structures to build.

Sounds simple? No, the game is far from simple. First of all, the options are vast – some crops grow fast and last long, but are very cheap when sold. Meanwhile, other crops require storage and some need specific buildings for processing before you can sell them. And the game amps up the difficulty by putting in a mechanic that not only rotates the turn order but also the roles that you get to choose. It’s hard to explain in detail, but all I can really say is that your role influences what benefits you get during that turn and impacts what the rest of the players can do as well. In order to win the game, you have to have the most optimal decisions compared to the rest of the players – choose the right role at the right time, manage your resources well and plan out alternatives. At the end of the game, players earn points based on how far they’ve improved their plantation.

Personally, I didn’t like the game. It’s not a bad game, I just prefer games with more adventure in them. It doesn’t have to be based on fantasy – Flash Point is a game involving fire fighters trying to save civilians trapped in a burning building, and Pandemic is a game involving a medical team trying to find cures for deadly diseases. I simply don’t enjoy games where the objective is to have the better fill-in-the-blank which is why I did not enjoy 7 Wonders.

So, that’s how the January 2013 All Aboard was for me. While I didn’t like Puerto Rico that much, it wasn’t a bad game and I enjoyed learning it. The King of Tokyo tournament was a blast though, definitely convincing me to join in these tournaments every now and then.

Here’s the updated list of board games that I’ve tried in these events:

  • Shadows Over Camelot
  • Dixit
  • Last Night On Earth (bought it)
  • Jab
  • 7 Wonders
  • Pandemic
  • Monopoly Deal
  • Cutthroat Caverns
  • Conquest of Planet Earth
  • Defenders of the Realm
  • Flash Point: Fire Rescue (bought it)
  • Smash Up
  • Incan Gold
  • Ultimate Werewolf
  • King of Tokyo
  • Puerto Rico
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