Gotham Showdown--A Double-Take Review of King of New York

Tokyo wasn't enough for the giant monsters--now they want to take a bite out of the Big Apple! King of New York is the sequel to the smash hit King of Tokyo, from IELLO Games, and designed by Richard Garfield. It's a dice-rolling, knock-down, drag-out battle for giant-monster supremacy, for 2-6 players.

If you haven't played King of Tokyo we highly suggest you check out our review--from waaaaaaay back when we started Theology of Games!

The Components

The components are very similar to the components in King of Tokyo:

There are 6 black dice, and 2 green dice, a player board, special ability cards and power cubes, as well as a mess of tokens for some of the various special ability cards, not to mention the sweet monster standees and HP/VP counters.

On top of all of that there are some new double-sided tokens: one side has a Building on it, and the other side features a military Unit. There are also two new cards, the Statue of Liberty, and the Superstar--a little more on those later.

The Gameplay

The gameplay is VERY similar to King of Tokyo, with a few exceptions: Roll dice. Apply dice. Move. Buy Cards. 

You'll notice the board has more on it than the original. Instead of it being the entire city of New York, it represents the five different boroughs of New York. Manhattan is the "Tokyo" of the game: When a monster is in there it attacks all the other monsters, and vice versa. Except that now at the end of each turn you move from lower to midtown to upper Manhattan, and the rewards you gain for starting your turn in Manhattan go up as well, until you top out at 2 VP's and 2 Energy cubes.

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You'll also place 3 stacks of 3 building tokens, in each borough, which you can destroy for the rewards on them--VPs, Energy, or Healing. 

The dice have three new icons on them, which replace the "1" "2" and "3" icons on the original game's dice.

The new icons are:

Celebrity, which looks like a star. If you roll three of these, you gain the Superstar card, which gives you 1 VP, plus a  VP for each star over three. But after you have the card you'll also gain a VP for every star you roll every turn. But the next person to roll three stars will swipe the card from you. 

Destruction, which looks like a broken building. Destruction allows you to destroy building tokens in the borough you're in or destroy a military unit. Whenever you destroy a building or unit you gain whatever reward is denoted on the token. If you destroyed a building, you flip it to the unit side, and now there's military breathing down your neck.

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Jeremiah--This is probably one of my favorite additions to the game. Instead of simply trying to destroy each other, you can do what giant monsters do, and tear up the city!

Firestone--Yeah, this gives you much more to think about each turn. Should I try to destroy buildings? Which ones? But that'll bring in more military. So should I move now? It's a great addition. 

Ouch, which is a giant monster skull. If you roll this all of the military Units in your borough attack you and do a point of damage for each Unit. If you roll two of them, they attack all of the monsters in your borough, and if you roll three Ouches, all of the military units on the board attack all of the monsters in their respective boroughs. You also get the Statue of Liberty card, which gives you an immediate three VPs, but you lose the card and the VPs once someone else rolls three Ouches. 

 The two goal cards

The two goal cards

Firestone--This one side of the die really creates some fun interactions. In our very first game, my wife was about to win, so my oldest son and I were desperately trying to roll three Ouches. Yes, it would hit each of us, too, but it will kill Mom! It was super fun and exciting, and I love the Buildings/Units mechanism. 

The game ends the same way as the original: If a monster hits 20 VPs, that player wins right away, or if a monster is the last monster standing, that monster is declared the winner!

The Verdict

Jeremiah--We loved King of Tokyo,, but we REALLY loved King of New York. It's meatier than KoT without bogging gameplay down. And it's the same quality components and artwork you'd expect after playing KoT.

Firestone--It's really easy to pick this up if you've ever played King of Tokyo. There are a few more things going on, so it's a good next-step after King of Tokyo. I'd probably still bring out King of Tokyo with nongamers, just because it's simpler--but I'd quickly hustle them toward King of New York.

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Jeremiah--It does add a little more to the game, and makes the decisions a little tougher when you are deciding to roll/re-roll etc. But I love having more options with each turn instead of half of the options being just trying to rack up arbitrary VP's. 

Firestone--Yeah, if King of Tokyo had one thing that felt...off, it was the 1,2,3 dice-for-VPs mechanism. It didn't make thematic sense, and since you're just as likely to roll a 1 as a 3, it was swingy. But that's gone, and the new sides and mechanisms make the dice 100% more interesting in King of New York than in King of Tokyo. I love that they kept the power cards, though, which are fun. 

Jeremiah--The way Manhattan affects the game is great. It makes it way more beneficial to stay in Manhattan, because you earn more each turn you stay in. Which in turn makes you more of a target when you're in Manhattan! It's an absolute brawl!! 

Firestone--The mechanisms seem to steer players toward destruction--whether that's direct attacks, or tangling with the military. That makes it seem even more like a fight, and that's fun.

The one thing I miss from King of Tokyo is the Power Up powers. I LOVE special powers, so it feels like a step backward to say, "Pick your character. There's absolutely no difference between them." But there's a rumor that a Power Up-type expansion is coming. I CAN'T WAIT! 

Jeremiah's Final Verdict--King of New York is the perfect sequel to an already great game! It adds meat on the bones of the original, but it still feels completely like King of Tokyo. It's great with my kids, and it's great with my gamer friends, and everywhere in between! King of New York is a fun dice roller with a unique theme--and a must-have for your collection! 

Firestone's Final Verdict--King of New York is a definite evolution of the series, while still retaining the fun bits we love. King of Tokyo used to be in my kids' Top 5. After just a few plays, King of New York may have taken over that coveted spot. It's very fun, and creates memorable moments--and isn't that why we play games? King of New York is a blast, and I can't wait to see where they take it. 

Theology of Games would like to thanks IELLO Games for providing a review copy of King of New York. This in no way affected our opinions of the game. 

Are you a fan of New York? Or do you still like Tokyo? Let us know in the comments. And thanks for reading!