King of Tokyo

10 06 2015

King of Tokyo box

King of Tokyo is a dice rolling game for up to 6 players released by IELLO and designed by Magic: The Gathering creator Richard Garfield. In King of Tokyo, players take on the role of one of several giant monsters (who happen to not look like any other monsters in particular) who are fighting for ultimate control of Movie Monster paradise; Tokyo City. The first monster to reach 20 points, or alternatively, be the only one with any remaining health, wins to become the true king of Tokyo (but not King of the Monsters, that title has already been claimed).

King of Tokyo bits and bobs

The game comes with a large collection of components including a small board, power cards, character cards, character pieces, stands, tokens and little green cubes. The game is set up with the small board (a picture of Tokyo with the locations Tokyo and Tokyo Bay on it) placed in the middle. Players then choose which monster they want to be: Giga Zaur, The King, Cyber Bunny, Meka Dragon, Kraken, Alienoid, and take the corresponding character card/board, piece and stand. The character boards themselves have two rotating dials on them. One representing health (starting at 10) and the other representing point score (starting at 0). Players then put their character pieces in the stands and place them near the board. The way the game works is mainly through its dice. 6 black ones with green symbols on them (and 2 extra green ones with black symbols on them). On a players turn, they roll all 6 dice, and compare the results. If they want to they can re-roll any number of dice, if still not happy, they can re-roll one more time. After that, they are stuck with what they whether they like them or not. If players roll a claw, this counts for an attack. If a player is the first one to roll a claw, they take Tokyo. If players roll a heart, they can heal themselves. If they roll a lightning bolt, they get some energy. If they roll 3 of any number, they score points equal to that number (so 3 3’s equals 3 points), plus any extra of that number equals one extra (so 4 2’s equals 3 points). Simple right, well yes in theory, but it’s a little bit trickier than that.

King of Tokyo dice

You see, when a player’s monster is in Tokyo, they can’t heal, so rolling hearts is pretty pointless. Also, when someone is in Tokyo, if they roll a claw or any number of claws, then they deal that much damage to every monster outside of Tokyo, however, monsters not in Tokyo that roll claws, only deal damage to the monster currently in Tokyo; so if you are in Tokyo and are taking too much damage, you might want to yield Tokyo to the monster currently attacking you. If you decide to do so, you still take that damage. Yielding Tokyo though presents another problem. When you take Tokyo you get a point, and every time it comes round to your turn, you get an additional 2 points if you are still there. So players (or monsters) will have to decide when they have taken enough damage to yield or to hold Tokyo for a bit longer to attain more points.

King of Tokyo energy cubes

Monsters though do have options and opportunities. When a player rolls a lightning bolt they get a little green cube. These can they be used to buy power cards. Power cards have special abilities, some more complicated than others which can help you, or hinder you if someone else buys them. Some cards are permanent, while others are one use only. These power cards range from things like dealing additional damage, poisoning, growing an extra head, getting bigger, get bonus health, reduce other player’s points, coming back to life and deciding to become an omnivore. Alternatively, players have the option to spend 2 energy to wipe out the current selection of three cards to reveal three new ones and then choose from them.

King of Tokyo power cards

King of Tokyo is a nicely designed game. The monster character cards deliver a nice way to keep both score and keep an eye on the health statistics. The use of dials is also more aesthetically pleasing and easier to use rather than having a card and using a small wooden cube. The artwork for Tokyo and the Monster characters is simple but effective. The little cubes are a wonderful addition. Their clear plastic see-through look makes them that little bit more special and thanks to them being all the same, there is no need to worry about general currency values. The power cards are also cheap which means they can be bought relatively quickly if the right dice are being rolled. The power cards also deliver an extra dimension to the game meaning that those who want to bide their time to get stronger can, while those who just want to roll point numbers and claws can too. It is also very easy to understand and does not rely on confusion between hit points and defence points when rolling claws, instead just saying you get hit, and how much health you subsequently lose. Additionally, I also like the many references to Monster Movies, many a time I have played this and have gotten into noting the references from the creatures and power cards and just enjoy reliving the memories of watching them. I am also always discovering new things. The power card deck is so big and has so many different cards in it, that every time I play it I am discovering new powers and abilities. I like that.

King of Tokyo monsters

The game though I find does have one little disadvantage. It’s more of a rule that I still don’t understand no matter how many times I have played it; that being the area of Tokyo Bay. Tokyo Bay is used when playing with between 5 and 6 players. The idea is that there is another area of Tokyo, but I don’t understand why it is there, what the advantage of it is, how you get there and how you stay there. I can see the advantage of having two monsters in Tokyo, but this just leads to which monster attacks who when rolling dice. Having a second monster in with more players would also mean two monsters gaining points, but then how does one remain in Tokyo Bay if they are ousted by someone fleeing Tokyo. I just don’t understand the point of having it on the board, and subsequently since, don’t include it when I play it. I also find it hard to understand the part of the rules booklet that explains it.

King of Tokyo board

While I do find the inclusion of Tokyo Bay confusing and or somewhat disappointing, it is a minor glitch in what is generally an easy, and very fun game. I just like the idea of being a Giant Monster and fighting for control of Tokyo (like a certain Giant Monster of whom I am a massive fan of). The game’s mechanics of dice rolling are nice and easy to just pick up and play, the character/monster cards are very easy to use and the addition of power cards are easy to understand and acquire (except for the batteries one). The artwork is terrific and the use of the monster stands are brilliant. The designer could have just used the cards as counters, but instead provides the stands to give a third dimension to both look and gameplay. When added to the board the monsters look huge. King of Tokyo is a game I rank among my favourite board games and is one I feel that everyone should try at least once. It’s not just its theme, but also how easy it is to play and how much enjoyment I have always managed to get out of it. I just can’t get enough out of being a Giant Monster and thrashing Tokyo, it’s so much fun.

Cyber Bunny vs Giga Zaur

GENEPOOL





3 Years To Go

8 06 2015

Godzilla (Legendary Pictures - 2014)

GENEPOOL





Do You Like My Picture?

13 05 2015

Loch Ness Monster Thunderstorm

This past Sunday, just before and after a Fellowship Meal at church, I drew a picture of the Loch Ness Monster in a Thunderstorm. I was basically just standing around near what is now the former bookstall, and I saw some paper, felt tip pens and a clipboard. Just out of the corner of my mind I wanted to draw a picture. So I took my writing pen and used it to draw the picture at the top of this post.

Loch Ness Monster

I did not originally intend to draw the Loch Ness Monster. What was going through my mind at the time were those excellent shots during the opening and early to mid-parts of the 2014 Godzilla film, with Godzilla’s spines protruding out of the water like a shark fin. I actually quite like that effect and the accompanying soundtrack, and since the film’s release have watched those scenes every now and then. When I was about to draw the picture, that was what I wanted to draw; a landscape picture of the spines rising out of the water and moving along. However I could not figure out how to do it.

I had an idea, but to get the right impression, it needed some kind of form below the spines, but still risen out of the water. Instead I just drew the neck, body and tail of the Loch Ness Monster rising out of the water, just because really; and then added spines on the back. I decided not to give the Monster a face as I did not know how to present it. While the Monster has not necessarily been presented with spines in the past, I thought giving it some in my picture would give the creature a much darker look. The thunder-storm came as wanting to have something more in the picture while still presenting it as dark as possible. As for providing colour, I decided in the end to keep it minimal, just have a water effect and colour for the creature’s body. That was still rather simple though. The neck, tail and body of the creature was done using a standard pencil, while the water was a blue, brown (because I thought it was black) and purple felt tip and my drawing pen. While it is still very minimal, I think it works.

Nessie

I actually quite enjoyed drawing my little picture. I already have some ideas for other pictures, although I am not really considering becoming an artist. I just fancy drawing some more pictures like this, ones with monsters in of course, but possibly with some other things going on. I quite like the idea of having a creature hiding behind a Nuclear Explosion (not necessarily Godzilla, but that could be an option). I still fancy producing Godzilla’s spines rising out of the water at some point; but I am not going to rush it. Instead I am just going to enjoy my picture, and enjoy the next time I produce one.

Godzilla Beach

GENEPOOL





The Regional Mothra Mismatch Problem

8 04 2015

Rebirth of Mothra (Toho Co. Ltd. - 1996)

Recently I moved my PS3 back into my bedroom from its home of many years; the front room. I decided to do this because it’s hard to play on it standing up, and I hardly go online with it anymore other than to download the many updates for the machine/games as well as to post my trophy winnings on Facebook. By moving it back upstairs however, I am more able to get into the games I play plus I am now more able to watch my small collection of Blu-ray discs (I still prefer DVD’s). Why am I talking about this, well, the other day I discovered a problem.

PS3 Logo

Back in about 2011 I managed to purchase a copy of the first two Heisei Gamera films on Blu-ray. I already had Gamera 3 on DVD, but had not seen the first 2. The opportunity to watch the first 2 was a big one, but also a very risky one. For a number of years now, I have collected Region 1 Godzilla films. Why region 1 in particular? Well that answer is rather simple: DVD Region Codes. Basically, there are very few Godzilla films released in the United Kingdom (and probably most of Europe), at all. Thanks to the BFI though, I have a copy of the 1954 film on DVD. King Kong vs Godzilla  meanwhile was released in about 2006 to coincide with the home media release of the 2005 King Kong. And of course the 1998 and 2014 films have been released also. But apart from those cases, no other Godzilla films have been released. It was once the case that channels like Channel 4 used to air them, and as such is where most of my fandom of growing up with Godzilla came from. But for some unknown reason, not a single classic nor recent Japanese Godzilla film has really been shown (other than KKvG, 1998 and 2014) on UK television for some time now. It really does surprise me that these films are not shown on channels like Film4 or even more bizarrely; SyFy.

Godzilla 2014 (Legendary Pictures - 2014)

When a Japanese Godzilla DVD/Blu-ray does get released, or re-released, The UK (and probably most of Europe) is seemingly ignored from the release, and no plans for a Region 2 release are announced. It is possible to purchase the Region 1 films through places like Amazon UK, but in order to watch them; I need to have access to a machine that can play Region 1 films. The first time I tried I discovered my PC could; so no problem there; but the problem is just escalating. With the approaching dawn of more and more Blu-ray’s being produced, eventually it will become the standard format; much like DVD’s did for VHS. So in order to counter this issue I will need to locate a device to play Region 1 Blu-ray discs. But then; with the likelihood of Internet streaming taking over, I will need to find a way of accessing them from there, but as is the case; many internet sites prevent some countries, from looking at things from other countries (as is the case sometimes with YouTube), so it will either be the case of finding one website that allows the opportunity of watching such films in the UK, or, (more likely) not watch them at all.

YouTube

The only way around this problem really, is to have a UK/European release of these films (which could bring the possibility of a box set, maybe, but not likely at this rate) from companies who have produced Region 1 releases of the films, from Toho themselves or from a UK/Europe based home media company. One other option, is that Japan has the same region code as the UK (and possibly most of Europe) so a UK release or imported copies might not be too much of a problem, however, I don’t know if they will come with  either English Subtitles or an English Dub (or, I suppose I could learn Japanese).

Toho Logo

I am trying really hard not to turn this into a rant.

Biollante

Anyway back to the Mothra problem; my PS3 does act as a multi-regional Blu-ray player, and so I was able to watch that Gamera Heisei box set, plus the recent Godzilla vs Biollante release, as well as region 2 Blu-ray coded films. The other day however, I discovered a problem. Back in October time I managed to get the Rebirth of Mothra Blu-ray set. Finally an opportunity to watch the Rebirth of Mothra films and get to see Desghidorah in movie form. The other day I loaded it into the PS3, and I got a message saying there was a mix-match/miss-match problem involving the region coding. I went back to the PS3 menu. It recognised the disc as the film, but just would not play it. I reloaded the disc, same thing again. I loaded the second disc, same problem. I then decided to load my Blu-ray copy (region A) of Godzilla vs Biollante just to make sure it wasn’t the machine. It loaded fine. I then tried the Gamera disc, fine too. What it meant was that despite being the same region as the two other discs, I am unable to watch my copies of Rebirth of Mothra (at least for the time being). I have no idea what to do, so for now I am just letting it gather dust in the hope that one day I may get to watch it (unless the problem I stated above persists, in which case I may never get to see it).

Aqua Mothra

For now, I don’t know what to do. My hope is that someday, someone may finally release Region 2 copies of the Godzilla, Gamera, and the Mothra films (some Ultraman might be nice too) for people in the UK and Europe to watch in a Region 2 format. Until then it remains a constant struggle of hoping something will work on a machine, and coping when it doesn’t.

Desghidorah

GENEPOOL (This is pretty much the same reason why I am not all that much looking forward to the new Japanese Godzilla film in 2016, as I highly doubt it’s going to get released in the UK, either on DVD/Blu-ray, or in cinemas).





When I Think Of Orange, I Think Of Cockroaches

17 12 2014

Cockroach

Yes, it’s a bit of an odd statement, but true. You know how certain colours trigger in the mind as certain objects; so Blue is water, Green is grass, Red is blood and Pink is lipstick. Well for me, Orange is Cockroaches. So when I see orange or do something which involves the colour of orange I immediately think of Cockroaches. I was playing a game of Perudo 2 or 3 weeks ago and when the choice of colours was either Orange or Yellow, I chose orange and mentioned Cockroaches. So, you are probably wondering why I think of Cockroaches. Well, it is  rather easy to explain.

Perudo

Basically back in the mid 1990’s, when Channel 4 used to show Godzilla films every now and again (which they sadly have not done since about 2001/2002 and no channel in the UK seems to air the original Japanese films), one night they had a triple bill of films from the 1970’s. Godzilla vs Megalon, Godzilla vs Gigan and Terror of MechaGodzilla. The first one I watched was Godzilla vs Gigan, quite a dark and terrifying entry in the series. The plot goes along the lines of a children’s based theme park is constructed with the centrepiece being a tower that looks like Godzilla. An artist is hired to work for the company that owns it but is drawn into a conspiracy involving some missing tapes and the owner’s attempts to make world peace. After getting the tapes back, the owners use them to call and control King Ghidorah and Gigan to destroy the world. All of this however has not gone unnoticed by Godzilla and Anguirus who arrive in the nick of time to defeat the galactic threat and save the day.

Godzilla vs Gigan (Toho Co., Ltd. - 1972)

By this point you’re still probably wondering what all this has to do with Orange and Cockroaches. Well, the owners of the children’s based theme park are Alien Cockroaches from another world who have taken the form of humans as a form of uniform, and on top of that, they both wear orange suits. Even the henchmen have orange neck chiefs. And it wasn’t like a general orange, no; it was the same shade, striking fiery orange. Since then, when I have thought about or have seen the colour the colour orange, my mind has instantly drawn a connection to that film and the villainous, alien cockroaches from Godzilla vs Gigan. Now I don’t actually know much about why it was the colour orange. It has been a number of years since I last saw the film, so there may be an explanation in there somewhere. I wonder if Cockroaches actually have an affinity with the colour orange, who knows? But thanks to that film, for me anyway, I instantly think of Cockroaches when I think of or see the colour orange.

Oranges

GENEPOOL








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