Richard Garfield, he of Magic the Gathering fame and fortune, now has time to enjoy designing fun games in the knowledge that his name alone is enought o create a great deal of interest. IELLO, the classy French games company enjoyed good success with Richard Garfield's KING of TOKYO and thus jumped at the chance to repeat that success with the revised gameplay update as the action moves to NEW YORK.
Drawing inspiration from the age-old home computer favourite, Rampage, the players take on the roles of super-powered Monstrous Creatures who are in competition with each other to smash, bash, destroy and decimate everything in their paths, including each other. Success is judged by either being the Last Monster Standing or being the first to reach 20 Victory Points.
KING of NEW YORK contains a rulesbook (which is always a helpful inclusion), gameboard which represents and colour codes the five Boroughs of New York City - Staten Island (purple), the Bronx (orange), Queens (red), Brooklyn (yellow) and Manhattan (green). Manhattan is then subdivided into three sections, Lower, Upper and Midtown. Then there are 64 Action cards, 46 Tokens, 6 Black dice, 2 Green dice, 6 Monster (player) boards, 6 Monster figures - cut out thick card with plastic snap-in stands, energy cubes and 45 building tiles; so lots of pieces for you to enjoy - and enjoy you almost certainly will.
The cards are shuffled and placed as a draw deck with the top three cards flipped face up and set out as a display, it is from these that players choose, replacing after removing. The tiles are also shuffled and formed into stacks of three buildings, placing three stacks in each of New Yorks Boroughs; making sure that only the top tile in each stack is seen. Players have a good selection of Monsters to choose from and take the Monster card and Monster stand-up of their choice. The Sheriff is a T-Rex wearing a cowboy hat and a gunbelt. Rob is a rocket-shaped robot with a see-through head. Drakonis is literally a small-winged walking dragon. Mantis is a Praying Mantis complete with chainsaw and buzzsaw. Captain Fish is an amphibiann in a glass bow helmet half-filled with water. Finally there is Kong, a gorilla with red eyes, wearing a gold-outlined red starred vest - with the N reversed of course. The artwork and colouring of these formidable Monster characters gives them an almost 3D effect illustrating that each could easily be from animated cartoons, they wouldn't be out of place on a children's channel TV show.
Prior to taking turns the players have to position their Monsters on the board, anywhere except in Manhattan. A player's turn requires that they roll all six of the Black dice to begin with, allowing up to 2 more rolls or rerolls, so that they have six descriptions that they must take. These can be taken in any order with the exception that all of the same type have to be resolved before any other action can be taken. Therefore it is important to think before you act. The dice faces have different effects: Energy (gain energy cubes), Attack (1 damage per symbol), Destruction (needed to destroy buildings), Heal (heal 1 life per symbol), Celebrity (you need to roll 3 or more stars to gain the Superstar card - this is one of the 2 special cards in the game) and Ouch! (The Borough military open up on you). The dice results you are left with have to be used, there can be no passes.
A player's turn consists of: Rolling the Dice. Resolving the Symbols. Move (optional generally, occasionally mandatory, as in if Manhattan is empty). Buy Cards (optional - you can also spend 2 Energy cubes to discard the 3 cards on display and replace them). Then End the Turn (some card effects may now take place prior to your Turn actually ending). These are not choices and are actioned in the order given.
When placing Monsters at the beginning no-one, as I said, can be placed in Manhattan, that's one in Manhattan per se not one in each of the three areas. When choosing the Movement action the player must move to Manhattan if there isn't a Monster already there which means that when the player Moves they have no choice but to move to Lower Manhattan. There can only ever be two Monsters in a Borough and only one in Manhattan. If your Monster is in Manhattan they cannot use their Move phase to leave it, though they can flee if they are attacked. There are advantages and disadvantages to being in Manhattan but in our games no-one ever wants to be first as that prevents them roaming New York City.
When stomping buildings you need to roll the correct number of symbols that are shown on the Tile. There are no tokens to put on Building Tiles so if you stomp one and don't destroy it then during the end of your turn and the beginning of the next player's turn it is automatically repaired. ie you don't actually see anything or do anything but the damage disappears unless it is whole. If you are able to completely destroy a Building you flip the Building tile over to reveal a military unit, Infantry, Ground vehicle or Air. You gain (as in score) Hearts or Stars (Healing or VPs) when you destroy tiles - you keep the tiles you beat in front of you as visual aids to your current VCP score.
The rules are on just 4 sides of glossy, colour paper. They are colourful throughout to the point that it looks somewhat like a shower of small coloured decorating sprinkles. Each section of text is one colour over a pastel, such as red on faded orange, dark blue on light blue, white on red, until towards the end of the rules where clarity is a necessity and the text is good old black on white.
KING of NEW YORK is not an exact copy of KING of TOKYO though there are obviously some similarities. The dice have some changes which prevent you just continually rolling them to win and barely playing the game at all - one of my complaints about King of Tokyo - then there is a game board in New York whereas in KoT the board was Tokyo so not really a board then and not actually needed. There are also "Advanced Rules" in King of New York which are only for 5 or 6 experienced players and basically allow for additional Monsters in Manhattan as well as updating a couple of other regular game rules.
KING of TOKYO is a fun game for younger players who like to stomp things and play beat-up and back-stab on each other. KING of NEW YORK is a fun game for younger and older and experienced players who like to think and strategise as, when, before and after they stomp things and play beat-up and back-stab on each other.