Monster Dice: First Impressions of Elder Sign and King of Tokyo

Have you ever played Yahtzee? Of course you have. It’s a simple game mechanic, roll some dice and choose which ones you want to re-role, whatever you’re left with is your result. In this First Impressions I look at two games that use this basic mechanics but make games much more monstrous than Yahtzee.


Elder Sign

This guy is a complete git!
Elder Sign can best be described at Arkham Horror’s little brother. I like Arkham Horror, I like it a lot but Elder Sign isn’t really that game. The premise is similar, squiggly god like alien is trying to break apart reality and spew forth into the world, as a group of plucky investigators you have to seal the holes in reality and stop said squiggly monster. The difference here is that in Elder Sign the events all take place in a museum and to complete tasks and gain the elder signs to complete the game you have to succeed in a series of dice matching challenges. There are all kinds of skills and bonuses that allow you to lock dice, re-roll dice or even add more dice to the pool but in the end you’re using the Yahtzee system. Elder Sign takes a lot of elements from Arkham Horror and players will identify the characters, locations and ancient ones.

The problem is it’s not really a light enough game to act as a substitute to Arkham Horror. The first game I played took around two hours. Now I know Arkham Horror can run into six hour slogs but I’ve completed the game in three hours so the question has to be asked would you rather spend the extra hour or two playing Arkham. If Elder Sign played in an hour or less I would enjoy this game a lot more but when its steals so much directly from Arkham Horror it feels too much like a cut down version. I think I need to play this game again; it deserves a second chance and but currently isn’t a game I’m going to add to my shopping list soon.

King of Tokyo 

The components are simple but this game is fun.
Whereas Elder Sign is very serious in tone King of Tokyo couldn’t be sillier. Each player takes the role of a giant monster, or robot, or even a bunny piloted mecha and vies to be King of Tokyo by either killing the other players or claiming enough victory points. Players do this by rolling a pool of dice that can be used for victory points, healing, damage to their opponents or energy that can be used to buy power ups. Only one player can occupy Tokyo at a time and that player cannot heal but damages every other player and in turn the other players can only attack the current occupant of Tokyo. There’s a victory point bonus for being in Tokyo but is it worth taking a beating from all the other players. Players can buy power ups for their monster from a random set of power up cards which mean that every game is different.

King of Tokyo is quick and enormous fun. The game does have the dreaded player elimination but when the game only takes 20 minutes to play that’s not really a problem.
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