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The King of Tokyo co-op board game is a lot more of the same: Essen Spiel 2022 preview

A monster box.

King of Tokyo has always been a series where size matters. Whether it’s the original King of Tokyo or its spin-off title King of New York, bigger is always going to be better in a board game themed around Kaiju fighting one another in various major cities. King of Monster Island is easily the largest iteration the series has seen yet.

Featured at Essen Spiel 2022 – the biggest tabletop gaming convention in the world – King of Monster Island is the first entry in the franchise that’s entirely cooperative. Previous King of Tokyo games have encouraged players to team up with one another, albeit very temporarily, but King of Monster Island is the series’ brand-new co-op board game pitting an entire band of Kaiju against an even bigger one.

An image of the boss card and dice from King of Monster Island
The monster boss has many terrifying attacks for the players to survive, which can get worse as they gain fame.

King of Monster Island embraces the franchise philosophy of grandness in every aspect, presenting players with a bigger board, larger monsters and more gameplay mechanics than ever before. The most immediate example of this perspective in action is the upcoming game’s board, which features a prominent volcano piece that sits in the middle. During gameplay, the volcano is used to roll the dice that determine the actions performed on each of the enemy monster’s turns – wherever the dice stop on the board decides whereabouts those actions will take place.

Players will need to share their ideas and strategies with one another if they want to achieve victory.

Whilst previous entries in the beginner board game series pit monsters against one another for control of territory to terrorise, King of Monster Island has the kaiju working together to defeat an even bigger and badder monster threatening to destroy the entire planet. Imagine Suicide Squad, but with robots, crab abominations and giant aliens.

Meehan, Lolies and Wheels play the Dark Edition of King of Tokyo.

Players will need to work together to survive the various attacks and minions dealt out by whichever enemy they have chosen – with each available boss monster presenting their own level of difficulty and behaviours. The enemy monster will activate after every single player-turn, moving across the island to deal damage and spread mayhem. Players can lose King of Monster Island in one of three different ways: failing to stop the enemy monster from spawning three pylons, running out of minions to place on the board or seeing every allied monster fall in battle.

Players have a few more options this time around but they’re still following the same gameplay rhythms found in the previous entries in the series.

The number of allied monsters in play is balanced out by the fact that the enemy monster acts after every one of their turns, giving it plenty of opportunities to cause problems for the players regardless of how many there are. An enemy monster’s turn can vary depending on the results rolled and where the dice land on the board, with the volcano dice tower providing a fun method for building tension and further pushing the emphasis on luck that the King of Tokyo series has always had.

An image of the board of King of Monster Island.
The volcano dice tower is a fun visual and gameplay element unique to King of Monster Island.

Luck has a heavy sway on the players’ turns as well, with the main gameplay of King of Monster Island staying true to the franchise’s dice rolling foundations. Whilst they’re now working together instead of against each other, players still roll a pool of dice – with the option to re-roll selected dice up to three times – and perform actions depending on their results. Players have a few more options this time around, with the ability to lock dice to specific board zones for their allies to use on their turns, but they’re still following the same gameplay rhythms found in the previous entries in the series – rolling dice, spending energy and whittling down the health of an enemy.

Players who enjoy the dice-rolling and push-your-luck aspects of the King of Tokyo franchise will find more to love here.

However, there’s a lot more to consider this time around. Like any co-op game, players will need to share their ideas and strategies with one another if they want to achieve victory. Planning your turns around what your allies do is essential to surviving the attacks of the enemy monster and its minions, as well as getting in your own attacks. Whilst the enemy monster can take damage, minions cannot and must be killed outright if the players want to get rid of them – which requires both luck and planning. Players can heal each other by spending hearts whilst sharing the same zone, as well as gathering fame points that can be used to acquire help from various human allies who’ve joined the fight against the boss monster. Cards can be purchased using energy cubes, with the new deck being more focused around cooperative play – enabling players to share resources, benefits and buffs.

Wheels and Liv sum up the first day of Essen Spiel 2022.

All of these aspects come together to offer players familiar with King of Tokyo a more challenging experience that exchanges competitiveness for complexity. Not being able to butt heads with another player over who gets to stay in Tokyo or New York does feel like a loss, with the risk coming from the less-human threat of the AI-controlled boss monster rather than your opponents. Nevertheless, players who enjoy the dice-rolling and push-your-luck aspects of the King of Tokyo franchise will find more to love here. Those who don’t like King of Tokyo are unlikely to be convinced by King of Monster Island.

King of Monster Island will be released sometime this month.

About the Author
Alex Meehan avatar

Alex Meehan

Senior Staff Writer

Alex’s journey to Dicebreaker began with writing insightful video game coverage for outlets such as Kotaku, Waypoint and PC Gamer. Her unique approach to analysing pop culture and knack for witty storytelling finally secured her a forever home producing news, features and reviews with the Dicebreaker team. She’s also obsessed with playing Vampire: The Masquerade, and won’t stop talking about it.

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