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King of New York Board Game Review

W Updated April 29, 2019
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Game Information

There Will Be Games

A case for King of New York

First, a little bit of backstory to how I ended up with King of New York in my collection. In 2016, King of Tokyo was riding high at my household. The base game was getting lots of play and we were looking to enhance the experience. I told my wife to pick up the newly released 2nd edition of King of Tokyo Power Up. As I was headed out the door to work, she asked “This one?” and showed me a game box on her phone. “Yep, that's it.” A few days later, a box arrived and I opened it to find....King of New York Power Up. Oops. “Guess we have to buy King of New York now!” The look on my wife's face was not one of amusement. 

When King of New York arrived a few weeks later (again, to the distinct lack of amusement from my wife), we broke it out and played a few times. I mean, come on, it has a praying mantis with a chainsaw and a robotic dragon carrying a colossal gun. How could I resist that? However, it wasn't near the hit that King of Tokyo was. The general consensus was that the additional depth it offered did not pay off in added “fun factor.” It was gently relegated to “the game you get out and pillage kaiju from to destroy Tokyo.”

Fast forward to a few months ago: I was having a “I'm not sure what I want to play” night. So, we all decided to unleash King of New York and give it another go. And this time, the experience was different. Over the last few years, we've become intimately familiar with King of Tokyo. We know all the characters. We know all the individual evolution/power-up cards for those characters. We know if I pick Meka Dragon it is going to be a freaking blood bath. We also know that we still have no idea of the proper way to spell Meca Dragon. But with this round of King of New York, we felt rejuvenated and reveled in the way it played differently from King of Tokyo.

First of all, the Evolution/Power Up cards for King of New York are (mostly) different than those used in King of Tokyo. All of the subtle rule changes that were added with the first two expansion characters (Cthulhu and King Kong) are also a bit varied. However, the biggest change is that there are now buildings to smash, army units that can attack, and the monsters can lumber around the different boroughs of New York instead of politely queuing up in Tokyo Harbor. To enable some of these changes, the 1,2,3 on the King of Tokyo dice have been replaced with Star, Ouch (skull), and Destruction faces.

The Destruction and Skull faces use tiles that are stacked in each borough of New York (three stacks in each area). They start out on the Building (Blue) side. By rolling the Destruction face on the dice, you can destroy a building and reap the reward. For instance, an apartment building may have a single hit point and reward you with a single Victory Point for leveling it. A power plant may have two hit points and reward you with two Energy that you spend to buy cards. Once a building is destroyed, it is flipped over to the Unit (Red) side. This is thematically perfect: the more havoc you wreak, the bigger the military response. Now, instead of simply buildings to smash, you have a jet or a tank looking for revenge. Sure, you can annihilate them as well but this is where the Skull (Ouch) dice face comes into play. Normally, you want to avoid the Skull face. Rolling a single Skull allows the military in your area of New York to fire upon your monster (Three units revealed? Now you take three points of damage). Roll two Skulls and they fire upon EVERY monster currently located in your area. Roll the coveted three skulls and the entirety of the military in every, single area fire upon all monsters. Forget about that sigh of relief when you realize you are safe from damage for the rest of a round. That almost never happens in King of New York.

The replacement of the “point” die faces would lead you to believe that winning via the 20 victory point condition would be distinctly harder. Instead, it allows for accumulating Stars/victory points from smashing buildings and fighting over the spotlight/victory points via the Superstar card. Roll three “Stars” and you take the single Superstar card. This means you are the ONLY monster who can get Victory Points from rolling Stars...unless someone rolls three Stars of their own and snatches the card back. It's a constant back and forth, punctuated with muttered declarations questioning the legitimacy of the other monster's heritage.

Since you can now earn Stars AND Energy every time you “Move it on up, to the east side” of Manhattan, getting a monster out of center stage becomes paramount. This becomes even more immediate if you let a monster smash some buildings and grab some health to extend his residency. Keeping your head down and cowering in the 'burbs can quickly lead to a victory point savvy player dominating Manhattan and winning in a astounding short number of rounds.

King of New York is a true horse of a different color when compared to King of Tokyo. Yes, it is built on the foundations of the “horse” of King of Tokyo and it is essentially still the same equestrian (Alert!: Out of control metaphor!) . But it includes twists like the negative impact of the “Ouch” dice faces that can suddenly become a positive if you manage to roll three of them and let the Army unleash on every monster in every area, damaging everyone AND gaining you a temporary 3 victory point boost. KONY also has a more “complex” card selection for you to purchase with your acquired energy. The quotes around complex are intentional, as they can require a bit of reading instead of a quick glance to ascertain their usage. Some cards can only be bought if you took a specific action that turn or may be discounted if you are in a particular part of New York. The old adage “Location, Location, Location.” comes into play as well. Now, the “Movement” phase isn't a simple “Am I in Tokyo/Manhattan or not?” question. You can stir up a hornet's nest of military in The Bronx, when you are sharing it with another monster, then slink away to Brooklyn, have a nice cold pint and wait for it to blow over.

Finally, we come to The Big Question: Why (WHY?!) are there no New York Power Up cards for the King of Tokyo monsters? Not having them for the 1st edition version, I can almost understand. But after the updated characters and artwork of KOT 2nd edition, why in the world have there been no King of New York Power Up cards? I NEED those Evolution/Power Up cards. I have promo characters that regularly sit on the sidelines because no one wants to play them without the uniqueness that the Evolution cards add to the game. For the love of Godzilla, release a damn “Visas for Japanese Tourists” expansion and put the Evolution cards out already!

And there you have my case for King of New York. I dismissed it for years as the deeper but less fun version of King of Tokyo. A couple dozen recent plays have forced me to reconsider and it is in heavy rotation at my household. Now it truly is a toss up as to who reigns as the better “King” of the table top. Color me a convert to the Cult of the New...York. (Assuming I can eventually bring my Mecha Dragon).



Editor reviews

1 reviews

King of New York is the "power-up" version of King of Tokyo. While the additional layers of complexity may not elevate it above it's predecessor, it still stands strong as an alternate take on crushing, crumbling and chomping.
Wade Monnig  (He/Him)
Staff Board Game Reviewer

In west Saint Louis born and raised
Playing video games is where I spent most of my days
Strafing, Dashing, Adventuring and Looting
Writing reviews between all the Shooting
When a couple of guys reminded me what was so good
About playing games with cardboard and Wood,
Collecting Victory Points and those Miniatures with Flair
It’s not as easy as you think to rhyme with Bel Air.

Wade is the former editor in chief for Silicon Magazine and former senior editor for He currently enjoys his games in the non-video variety, where the odds of a 14 year old questioning the legitimacy of your bloodline is drastically reduced.

“I’ll stop playing as Black when they invent a darker color.”

Articles by Wade

Wade Monnig
Staff Board Game Reviewer

Articles by Wade

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ubarose's Avatar
ubarose replied the topic: #296291 30 Apr 2019 11:45
Interesting. I never got to play King of New York, but everyone I know who did dismissed it as not as fun as King of Tokyo. Therefore I never pursued King of New York or an opportunity to play it. After reading this I am reconsidering. I think I will have to try to find a chance to at least play it.
WadeMonnig's Avatar
WadeMonnig replied the topic: #296294 30 Apr 2019 12:15
With Josh working on "The Kaiju Project" and Al and yourself yourself providing feedback to that project, I think you could write off a few plays of King Of New York as research.
ubarose's Avatar
ubarose replied the topic: #296300 30 Apr 2019 12:38
I just have to remember who it is that has a copy of it.
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #296305 30 Apr 2019 12:52
I’ve only played it a couple times, but I prefer it to King of Tokyo. Yeah, it’s more complicated but it’s still a light, dumb game and feels way more like a Kaiju game (but still not enough, making The Kaiju Project still a necessity).
Jackwraith's Avatar
Jackwraith replied the topic: #296306 30 Apr 2019 13:00
I played King of Tokyo once and was kinda "Meh." New York sounds like it has a bit more depth to it, which is always more interesting to me, even with a "light, dumb game."
WadeMonnig's Avatar
WadeMonnig replied the topic: #296313 30 Apr 2019 13:43
It's easy for me to forget how the base game of King of Tokyo is a "Light, Dumb Game" simply because I haven't played JUST the base game in literal years. I always play KOT with Power-up, Halloween Expansion, and Cthulhu Expansion every single time. The key really is Power-up, which gives each character a "personality" and let's you try to set up combos or skew toward damage or victory points. Even King of New York is that way, since I had KONY Power-up before I had the base game, we have never played it without Power-up.
I've probably introduced the game to a couple dozen people of the years and never have even considered taking out any of the expansions, even for my daughters friends who have never played a single "board game" outside of DnD.
tl;dr = Play both "King of" titles with Power-up. It's the way it should be.
Colorcrayons's Avatar
Colorcrayons replied the topic: #296340 30 Apr 2019 18:01
I hate to sound like the retarded kid in the room, who likes simplicity for it's own sake.

But I can't stand the power ups. When a four player game of KoT sometimes lasts for over an hour, adding the power ups makes the game usually take longer to resolve.

For me and my patience level, I like base KoT just fine and even that overstays it's welcome more often than not.

I wish I liked KoNY more. Everything about it is better than KoT on paper. The replacement of numbers with symbols, moving into new areas, human military antagonists for take that action, etc. But each time I manage to play it, it lasts longer than I personally think it should. It makes the child in me sad that it doesn't scratch the itch.
quozl's Avatar
quozl replied the topic: #296341 30 Apr 2019 18:05
I'm with you, Colorcrayons
Vysetron's Avatar
Vysetron replied the topic: #296358 01 May 2019 08:25
I've never had either game take an hour, even with 6 players which I don't think you're even supposed to do.

We only ever play KoT with the power up cards. They add a whole one additional rule and so much personality to the monsters. KoNY just didn't take off the same way. We ended up combining everything into the KoT box, then as that got closer and closer to exploding we chucked the KoNY parts that weren't compatible with KoT. Not a bad game, just didn't hit the highs of KoT.
cdennett's Avatar
cdennett replied the topic: #296368 01 May 2019 13:17
King of Tokyo is one of my all-time favorite games, and I hate the Power Up cards with a passion. My group played with them twice and all collectively agreed to never use them again. It encourages you to roll for hearts...which serves to SLOW THE GAME DOWN. That's the last thing you want. Plus, we want to play with the monster we want to play with. Our long standing joke is tell new players the most important decision is which monster you want to play, and then follow up with it doesn't make a damn bit of difference. But it is objectively true that the Kracken rolls more claws then other monsters.

As for King of New York, I like it but no one else in my group really does. I rarely play KoT these days, so getting KoNY on the table is a rare event. The bigger problem is people want it to play like KoT, which means people start being reckless and killing themselves via military instead of being killed by others.
WadeMonnig's Avatar
WadeMonnig replied the topic: #296369 01 May 2019 14:28

cdennett wrote: Our long standing joke is tell new players the most important decision is which monster you want to play, and then follow up with it doesn't make a damn bit of difference..

I just picture The Rock at your game night. "Who do you want to play as?"

And, yes, you do roll hearts for evolutions but I think it balances out time wise since each evolution enhances a victory condition and can lead to some epic combo turns where all hell breaks loose... or someone focusing on them to exclusion allowing someone else to sneak to a win.