Wednesday, May 29, 2013

King of Tokyo...A Smashing Good Time!

King of Tokyo has been out for a while now.  There's even an expansion.  I've played quite a few times now, and I completely understand why this game keeps flying off the shelves.

For those of you that don't know, King of Tokyo is a simple, fast paced game for 2-6 people in which players take control of a monster and battle other monsters for control of Tokyo.

When I teach the game, I tell people it's like Yahtzee, but I don't like Yahtzee and I love this game.  How is it like Yahtzee?  Well, you have six dice that you are trying to roll for sets, and you are allowed to roll the dice three times on your turn.

That's pretty much where the similarities end.

In KoT, the first player to reach twenty victory points, or the last monster standing, will be crowned the King of Tokyo and the games winner.  Monsters earn VP by rolling at least three of a kind of 1's, 2's, 3's on the dice, buy entering or starting your turn in Tokyo, or buy purchasing VP from the market.

Collecting sets of numbers not really your thing?  Well then, maybe you'd be better suited to go for the knock out victory.  Instead of collecting VP and rolling for numbers, you'll be keeping all the claws you can in the hopes of damaging your opponents.  Each monster starts with ten hit points...reduce that to zero, and it's so long King Kong.

Now, I know what you're thinking.  Six dice, ten hit points, should only take a couple of rounds to knock the scales off of Gigazaur (who is clearly not Godzilla...clearly).  Well, not exactly.  See, all the while your fists of fury pound away at your opponents, they could have the good fortune to roll hearts, healing themselves the whole time.  Then where will you be?

Unless, of course, they're in Tokyo.

Oh, did I forget to mention that you can't heal while your sitting there, racking up the VP in Tokyo?  Well, I'll mention it now.  You can't heal while your in Tokyo.

No problem, you say, I'll just use my claw dice to injure the weakest person.  After all, they can't all roll hearts.  Well, maybe that will work for you.  But good luck with that, you're going to need it.  See, the way attacking works is that the monster inside Tokyo attacks all the monsters not in Tokyo, while all the monsters not in Tokyo attack the one that is.  Which means, in a four player game, assuming no one has died, there is going to be a three against one battle all the time.

I know, I know, why would you ever go into Tokyo?  Well, that's how you earn VP, remember it's a race to twenty.  As I mentioned earlier, you get one VP for going in Tokyo, and two for starting your turn there, which means if your able to take and hold Tokyo for one game round you earn three VP.  Your almost there!

Yeah, you're thinking, but I'm going to die.  No, see, that's the thing.  Suppose The King (not King Kong) is in Tokyo and Gigazaur (not Godzilla) decides to unleash his scaley, clawy, fury on the King.  Well, the King then gets to decide whether or not he is going to stay in Tokyo, or relinquish his crown.  On the outside, he can heal, but he's going to have to give Giga those much desired VP.

Choices choices.  Like what to buy.  Segue...

So on the dice there are 1's, 2's, and 3's you can collect sets of for VP.  There are claws which hurt your opponents. There are hearts which heal you, unless you're in Tokyo.  And there are lightning bolts.  What are lightning bolts?  They're money.  Well, energy.  See, every time you keep a lightning bolt you get a little green cube which you can use to buy things in the market at the end of your turn.

The market is three face up cards.  All the cards have a price, energy cubes, and a power, ranging from extra damage, extra VP, extra healing, even earning extra money.

But here's the cool thing.  That seven energy cube power that is super powerful is staring you in the face, but it's the end of your turn, and you don't have enough cubes to buy it.  The guy to your left has six energy cubes, meaning if he rolls even a single lightning bolt it's his and your monster may as well sink back to the undersea volcano he came from.  All is lost!  Or is it?

It's not...

See, instead of buying something from the market, you can pay two energy cubes to wipe the slate clean.  All three cards in the market are taken away, put in the discard pile, and replaced with new cards from the market deck.  Now you may be able to afford something else terrific.  Or not.  See, it's random replacement so what comes out may be just as good or bad as what was there before.  But maybe it's just as good or bad in a different way, a way that helps you and not Captain Energy Cube to your left.  At least he doesn't have a rocket pack...

Rolling dice, buying powers, kicking tail and taking names, all in about 25 minutes...not bad.

Should you get King of Tokyo?  Only if you love fun.  Or even like fun a little bit.  Even if you hate fun...yes. Yes, you should buy King of Tokyo.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Hey, that's Tom Cruise! A review of Oblivion.

Now I'm not the biggest fan of science fiction in the world.  I think the last Sci-Fi movie I saw in theaters was Prometheus...and the guys at Red Letter Media pretty much sum up how I felt about that movie:

That isn't how I feel about all Sci-Fi, I loved the original Alien, the original Star Wars trilogy, and I'm a big fan of cyberpunk (but I love most things with a noir vibe), but I never give Sci-Fi the benefit of the doubt that I'm going to enjoy it the way I do other genre's.  Would I have seen this movie if my girlfriend didn't want to go?  Probably not.  Or at least I would have waited until it was on Netflix.  But she wanted to go, so I went, and...I enjoyed it.

Not a glowing review, I know, but I would recommend seeing it and would even see it again (though probably not in theaters as fewer and fewer movies seem to get me in a second time nowadays).

As far as an actual review goes, it's hard to talk about this movie without entering spoiler land, but I'll try and avoid actual plot points.

So let's talk about the plot in the most general terms.  It was both predictable and not.  What I mean is there are a few things that just don't sit right with you from the beginning.  Part of that may be because the trailer was awfully revealing (though possibly deliberately misleading), part of that may be because we have seen enough dystopian future movies to know not to trust what we're told at the outset.  For whatever reason, they feed you a bunch of information at the beginning and you don't buy it (none of us in our group of four did).

That being said, there were ways in which it wasn't predictable.  It's like if you were at bat in a baseball game.  You've seen a couple of fastballs, so you guess the next pitch is going to be a slider.  You get a curveball instead.  You knew it was going to be offspeed, you just didn't guess the exact pitch.  That's how I feel the plot twists came at you in this film.  You knew something was coming, and even had a guess that was close, but what really happens isn't exactly what you guessed.  I think that's a good thing.  It isn't enough to blow your mind, but it is enough to keep you engaged.  One thing I would like to point out is that I've heard people say the movie is confusing.  It's not.  At all.  It jumps around once or twice in an unexpected way and forces you to realize what you're seeing, but if you can't do that...go watch Avatar, I guess...

As far as the visuals go, the film is gorgeous.  No two ways about it.  There are a lot of visually striking scenes ranging from platforms in the clouds, flights through deep canyons, gorgeous desert wastelands, and lush forests (which I wasn't expecting but I'm not revealing anything major).  The scenes are pretty, the people are pretty, everything is pretty.

The people...the acting in this movie was...adequate, I guess.  At first it's all Tom Cruise being very Tom Cruise and letting you know Tom Cruise is in this Tom Cruise film.  Tom Cruise.  I didn't mind.  That's what I expect from a Tom Cruise movie.  As far as the rest of the acting, it's okay.  It gets the job done.  You understand what they're feeling, you understand what's going on, the plot advances.  Everyone does a fine job, but no one really adds anything special to their role, nor do they detract from the movie.  I guess what I'm saying is anyone, even Morgan Freeman, could have been replaced, but no one felt like they needed to be.  It was people reading lines and emoting.

So what I felt left with at the end of two hours was a film that did it's job telling an interesting story, one that I could even be bothered to see again, one that left me entertained, but not one that blew my mind or left me wanting more.  The group I was with didn't talk too much about the film after it was over, and not in the Star Wars Episode 2 kind of way in which we were struck silent with the horribleness we had just witnessed, but in a this movie is a neat little film in a neat little box with a neat little bow on top.  Enjoyable, just not much to talk about.  Like I said, I would recommend it as a fun summer flick, just don't expect it to change your world.