Learning to play King of Tokyo may be one of the easier games to play. You have a handful of options and ultimately the luck of a dice roll is going to decide everything, but there is just enough strategy to make it worthwhile. In this king of the hill combat strategy game, you are either trying to get the most points or take everyone else out leaving you the last monster standing. The game is well made, it was designed by the great Richard Garfield (Magic the Gathering, Keyforge, Bunny Kingdom). This is your guide to how to play King of Tokyo board game.

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King of Tokyo is a game for 2 – 6 players where you play as mutant monsters, rampaging robots, or even abominable aliens battling in a fun, chaotic atmosphere. Roll dice and choose your strategy: Will you attack your enemies? Heal your wounds? Improve your monster? Stomp your path to victory!

You are a gigantic Monster willing to do anything to become the King of Tokyo. Your rampage brings you glory in the form of victory points. To win, be the first Monster to gain 20 Victory Points. Or, get your claws out and eliminate your enemies. The last one standing claims victory!


Time Needed: approximately 15 – 20 minutes.

This is a step by step guide for how to play King of Tokyo the popular king of the hill combat strategy board game. Additional notions and special rules can be found below the list. These will be referenced for your convenience.

1. SETUP | Put Out Gameboard
To kick off how to play King of Tokyo take out the very important game board. It may be the smallest board in game history. It is a small square that is basically a holding space with a small circle to one side to represent Tokyo (as well as a circle for Tokyo City in a 5 or 6 player game). Put it out.

2. SETUP | Players Take a Character and Card
There are six characters to choose from in the base game. Make your selection and take the corresponding character card. Your cardboard figure should have a black plastic base to go in so it stands up on the game board.

3. SETUP | Put Out Dice
There are five main dice that players need to roll throughout the game. Put those out now. There are also two bonus dies (and tokens as well) that may come into play if the energy cards you use say so, but leave these in the box for now and only grab them when you need them.

4. SETUP | Shuffle Energy Cards and Put Out Three
There is a deck of cards. These are items that you can buy with the energy cubes you acquire from your rolls. They are also the only thing that changes from game to game. To start, you put out three communal cards everyone has access to. Any time a card is bought or removed, draw a new card from the top to replace it.

5. SETUP | Put Out Energy Tokens
The green semi-transparent cubes represent energy. Put out a communal pile of these so players can grab them as needed if their dies will it.

6. SETUP | Players Set Health to 10 and Score to 0
On each player’s square player card there are two wheels that allow you to set your character’s health and your score. To start put the health to “10” and the score to “0”. As these change throughout the game, you will adjust.

7. SETUP | Decide Who Goes First
Randomly decide who goes first or rotate around the circle as you play many games (they are very quick). It does matter so choose wisely. This is the last step of how to play King of Tokyo before gameplay.

8. GAMEPLAY | Phase 1 | Roll Dice
On your turn you roll the five black dice Yahtzee style. That means that you have three rolls to get to a final result where each roll you can choose to keep or reroll as many of the dice as you want. The six sides of the dice have victory points (1, 2, 3 numbers), energy (lightning bolt), health (heart) or attack (paw). Each one has a different effect.

9. GAMEPLAY | Phase 2 | Resolve Dice
After you have completed your three dice rolls and finalized your selection of dice, their effects happen. The heart heals your monster 1 heart, this is adjusted on your player card and cannot go over 10. You also cannot heal if you are in Tokyo. Attack does one damage to everyone in the place you are NOT. If you are outside Tokyo it hits everyone IN Tokyo (only one person) and if you are in Tokyo it hits everyone outside of Tokyo (could be multiple people). The lightning bolt gets you a green energy cube, you use these to buy cards. The numbers give you victory points if you get groupings of 3 or more.

10. GAMEPLAY | Phase 3 | Move Into Tokyo
If no one is inside Tokyo at this time, you may enter. You get 1 victory point for the act of entering. Adjust the blue number on your board by adding 1. A player can only leave Tokyo when they lose at least one health. At that stage they can choose to stay or go each time it happens. If you start a turn in Tokyo you get 2 points, but you can’t heal there. So it is all about hanging on for points and big attacks on others before having to get out to heal.

11. GAMEPLAY | Phase 4 | Buy Energy Cards
Here is where you can trade in those green energy cubes for any of the showing energy cards. The cost on the cards represents the number of energy cubes you need to trade in to get it. You can play energy cards whenever it makes sense and the cards are either used right away or they stick around. When thinking about how to play King of Tokyo, do not discount these, they can win games.

12. GAMEPLAY | Phase 5 | Turn End
Pass the dice to the next player and repeat, until the game ends. If a character’s health ever reaches 0, that character dies, is removed from the game immediately and no longer takes turns. See, learning how to play King of Tokyo is easy.

13. GAME END | Score of 20 or Everyone Eliminated
Once a player either hits 20 victory points or eliminates all other characters, the game ends.

14. WINNING | There Can Be Only One
Whoever reached the winning point total first or is the last person standing, wins. You should now know everything you need to know for how to play King of Tokyo and how to crush your opponents.



Being in Tokyo (City or Bay) has advantages and disadvantages:

  • (+) You gain one victory point for entering Tokyo
  • (+) If you start a turn inside Tokyo, you gain two victory points
  • (-) You cannot heal from dice while in Tokyo (power cards still work)

For attacking it depends on where you are, if you are in Tokyo you attack everyone outside of it and if you are outside you attack everyone inside.

You can only choose to leave Tokyo after you have lost at least one health and in that exact moment. You can not choose to leave whenever you want because you have suffered at least one damage, it happens in the moment and once you stay you stay.


  • 6 Monster Boards
  • 1 Tokyo Board
  • 6 Black Dice
  • 66 Power Cards
  • 6 Cardboard Figures
  • Energy Cubes
  • 28 tokens (1x mimic, 3x smoke, 12x shrink, 12x poison)
  • 2 Green Dice


We hope you can now say you know how to play King of Tokyo. This fast-paced combat strategy game has room for only one champion and it could be you. The combination of quick games and only a handful of decisions to make, but all-important ones, make for an intense on the edge of your seat cage match. Only one can survive. This may come across as a kids game because of the cartoonish vibe and the all-on-the-surface gameplay, but its not. King of Tokyo tickles a bone for everyone out there.


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