Type: Push Your Luck

Time to play: 20-30 minutes (Teaching: 5 minutes)

Best played with: 3-5 Players (2 – 6 Players)

Looking forward to the upcoming Godzilla movie (written in 2019!), then yes this is the game for you. A chance to take a number of monsters to the heart of Tokyo and become “King”!

In this game take your traditional super monsters, one per player,and smash them against each other using a dice chucking mechanic with a limited but important bit of player agency. Now, before I go too far in bringing out some of the positives from this game I have to stress that this is what it says on the tin – it’s fun but it’s light. There’s no deep strategies to be found in this game, and there is a lot of luck.

I like this game because for enthusiastic gamers this allows a really story driven game to emerge out of simply throwing some dice and re-rolling the ones you want. The game has a sense of combat, with players being injured, and a king of the hill mechanic where the player in the middle will always be targeted (because they are scoring points!). Two sides then of the same coin – keeping it pure and simple for people to engage in and enjoy quickly, but therefore losing the option to build deep and meaningful strategic play.

All that said, there are plenty of games that are designed for this market – so perhaps the more interesting question is why this one is a success and why new editions keep finding new audiences.

Simply put, my view on this game is that it has three core mechanics. One, the dice. The dice from a yatzhee style mechanic offer you a way to score points, hit other players, recover or draw cards. Two, the cards. Every game of this is different because of the cards that come up and these give you special powers that help to win the game. Three, the king of the hill. There is always a way to score points – stand in the middle and get hit.

Simply put the balance of power between the King of the Hill and the cards depends on what cards get drawn and how many times you get hit whilst in the middle. If you push your luck for the win on the next turn (standing in the middle and being hit by every other player), then you victory is determined by the luck of the dice. If, however, good cards have come up which shield damage, set dice or give points in other ways then these quickly become your route to victory. Skilled play is with the cards, but when the cards fall short you have to know when to risk the stand.

The dice then switch in importance during the game. There to attack the player going for the win, or to heal if you are hiding in the side lines. The dice also provide power to draw cards. Lastly, they are an ever present way of scoring a low number of points which can occasionally be much higher. One lucky dice roll can catapult a player to the finish even when no-one was expecting them to win.

These dice also mean that whilst player agency is limited, the narrative gets more important. The story of when you took the stand in Tokyo and no-one rolled a hit. The story of the time you got all 3s! The story of the time where you couldn’t roll to heal! These are all the stories created by the significant chance in the game.

For me this game is a great one to share with friends less interested in big war games or 2 hour euro games, but it’s one of the fun light games that has enough agency for me to enjoy.

Last notes,

  • If you want a short laugh out loud game, this is a great choice
  • If you hate the luck of the dice, steer clear
  • If you win, you probably have the hang of it, but the cards will play out differently each time