King of New York: Power Up!
King of New York: Power Up! is the first expansion for King of New York. It adds Evolution cards unique to each monster, and a separate set that allows the King of New York monsters to be used in King of Tokyo. There's also now a Mega Shark!
Variable Player Powers
Designer: Richard Garfield
Category: Dice Game
Player Count: 2-6
BoardGameGeek Rating: 8.7(12 votes)
When King of Tokyo first became a hit in 2011, one minor complaint fans had was that the monsters did not have unique abilities or traits. Designer Richard Garfield rectified that with King of Tokyo: Power Up!, a set of unique “Evolution cards” for each monster, complete with a new “Pandakai” character. Garfield also revisited King of Tokyo’s overall design with the more advanced “gamer version”, King of New York, in 2014. That game still did not differentiate between the monsters, but that’s yet again fixed with King of New York: Power Up!, a release analogous to the original for King of Tokyo.
This time, though, there’s a twist! King of New York: Power Up! also includes Evolution cards for using the King of New York monsters in King of Tokyo, at the same price point as King of Tokyo: Power Up! ($19.99). So, the question is: if you only own one of the two games—or both—should you pick this up?
There are no language or sexuality issues, and no spiritual content. The game is cartoony and tongue-in-cheek, but still obviously quite violent as players are monsters trying to destroy New York/Tokyo and each other as well.
From here on, I’m assuming you are familiar with both King of Tokyo and King of New York. If you aren’t, there are lots of reviews and how-to-play videos out there, but here’s my brief take on them. I think King of Tokyo is an excellent game that’s relatively simple, though maybe not simple enough for first-timers. And it’s excellent because it is so simple, yet with a theme that comes through so strongly. It’s Yahtzee, but in doing so you are smashing up a city and beating up other Godzilla-like monsters. The game works really, really well.
King of New York, on the other hand, is a bit of a contradiction. It has considerably more rules than King of Tokyo and takes quite a bit longer. On the other hand, it’s still a game designed primarily around rolling dice Yahtzee style, so there’s a bit of a cap on how relevant skill is. It’s also just slightly more expensive than King of Tokyo, due to all the extra bits. I enjoy King of New York when I’m playing with friends who all know it well, but it’s a bit too difficult to teach for what it is and for how long it takes. I’d rather play two games of King of Tokyo or commit to a longer game with more meat to it.
Given that perspective, I was still very interested in King of New York: Power Up! If nothing else, it was a chance to get a bunch of Evolution cards (and a new monster, Mega Shark) for King of Tokyo. While I wouldn’t have the King of New York monsters, there’s also a variant for the Evolution cards where you mix them all together and draft them before the game begins; I would still have more cards for that variant. What I found with this expansion is that it really worked on both levels, as an expansion to King of Tokyo and to King of New York.
In terms of King of Tokyo, there were no real surprises. I was happy to have the Mega Shark and his set of cards, and even without access to King of New York the other cards could be drafted or used as a replacement deck for a similar monster (e.g. using Kong’s cards for The King). However, there are two rules that are new, but were variants in the original King of Tokyo: Power Up! The first is that whenever a player gets an Evolution card, he draws one, keeps one, and discards the other, instead of just drawing one. The second rule is that the players all begin with an Evolution card. These are both wonderful rule changes, and I’ll never play without them if I’m including the Evolution cards. So, if you only own King of Tokyo, I’d still recommend this.
However, what really surprised me was how much I liked using these in King of New York. It doesn’t lengthen the game significantly, but it gives you quite a few more interesting decisions. It adds just enough for me to find King of New York compelling enough to justify its complexity and length. Additionally, owning King of New York now gives me access to eight more monsters for King of Tokyo, which is awesome.
There is one subtlety with this release that’s understandable, but kind of annoying. They could have put the King of New York Evolution cards (for monsters from either set) in one package, and then done the same for King of Tokyo. Instead, this set contains cards for both games, and the upcoming re-release for King of Tokyo: Power Up! (to match King of Tokyo’s recent second edition) will do the same thing. This means that if you want everything for one game, you’ll need to get both releases. Or, you’ll use this release to convince yourself to buy both games. And I can verify that! Despite this being a review copy of King of New York: Power Up!, I find my wallet a little lighter after getting my own copy of King of New York. I can’t really blame IELLO for doing this; they’re a business after all, and their strategy worked (on me, anyway). It’s hard to make that gripe with a straight face anyway, considering this package contains almost twice as much content as the original King of Tokyo: Power Up! release for the same price.
Despite that unnecessary gripe, I think this expansion is an automatic recommendation for owners of either game. Just be forewarned that you might find yourself with the other game in your shopping cart pretty quick, if you don’t own it already!
Thank you to IELLO Games for providing a review copy of King of New York: Power Up!.
(Buy at Amazon [amazon text=here&asin=B01F7RPSUC])
+ More stuff than the King of Tokyo release, same price
+ Makes King of New York considerably more interesting
+ Tons of bonus content for King of Tokyo
+ Variable player powers!
+ MEGA SHARK
- Would have preferred all King of New York material as one release, and then all King of Tokyo material as another