This King of Monster Island review was made after playing the game 10 times, with at least one game played at all (co-op) player counts.
What is King of Monster Island?
King of Monster Island is a cooperative dice-rolling fighting game in which you play as monsters who are attempting to defeat a big boss before it destroys the planet. It’s based on the competitive game King of Tokyo, but removes monster elimination and adds in some cooperative elements.
King of Monster Island Rules Overview
Your goal in King of Monster Island is to defeat the boss before it can activate a portal that will ultimately destroy Earth. Along the way, your monsters will gain new powers and allies, deal with different events, and fight the boss and his minions. There are three bosses you can face, each with a Normal and an Advanced difficulty level.
King of Monster Island is played over three-phase turns until you either win or lose. The three phases of a turn are:
During this phase, the boss uses his unique powers, moves to a zone, attacks your monsters, activates minions, brings new minions onto the board, and builds Crystals.
This is the phase when you drop the boss dice into the volcano dice tower in the middle of the map. Each die will go into one of the six zones on the board.
When the boss moves into a zone, it activates any minions and any dice in that zone. There are four minion types: two minions attack your monsters, one shields the other minions and the boss, and one builds Crystals. The dice can add more minions, give the boss more Fame (eventually giving it more powers), and add Crystals to the board.
Whenever you have to add a third Crystal to a zone, you add a Pylon to that zone. If you ever have to add a third Pylon to the board, you immediately lose.
During this phase, the active player rolls their dice Yahtzee-style (up to three times, saving dice they want to use) and then performs actions based on the dice faces they get. You can use these dice to gain Energy, move, attack, gain health, build Support tiles, and gain Fame. You can also save dice in your zone, which can then be used by any player on a future turn.
Energy allows you to buy Power cards, which can give you one-off abilities or ongoing abilities. There are always three Power cards available to purchase. Whenever you buy a Power card, you immediately replace it. If you draw an Event card from the deck (there are good and bad events), it immediately activates.
Support tiles act as extra dice faces your team can use for the rest of the game. The tiles are placed in zones and can be activated or recharged when any player is in those zones.
After your monster gains one Fame, you get to pick one of the Ally sheets to use for the rest of the game. Additional Fame gained gives you access to new abilities on the Ally sheet.
End of Turn Phase
If the current player has any End of Turn abilities on their Power cards, this is when they activate. After that, the next player takes their turn
You’ll win if you bring the boss’ health down to zero. You’ll lose if three Pylons are built, if any player begins the Monster Phase with zero health, or if you need to draw a minion and there are none left in the bag.
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King of Monster Island – Pros and Cons
- Once you get a handle on the turn structure, there is a great flow to King of Monster Island. The Boss Phase is quick, everyone’s engaged during each player’s Monster Phase, and then you move on to the next player. We never had people waiting for their turns to come around, even in our five-player games.
- There’s plenty of cooperation. You can save dice for other players, the Support tiles help everyone, and you need to come up with good team strategies to win, especially when facing the tougher bosses.
- Just like in the original King of Tokyo, the Power cards are what really make each game play out differently. I find it genuinely exciting to see the cards that pop up each game because I know that we’ll be able to tweak our strategies in different ways based on those cards.
- The Ally sheets were another cool addition. They give you even more powers, they let you cooperate in different ways, and they change how you approach each boss.
- The artwork is fantastic. It’s bright, it brings the world to life, and it does the job of making the game more fun than it maybe would have been with duller art. Paul Mafayon is one of my favorite board game artists.
- These are the same chunky dice used in the original King of Tokyo, and they’re still great. They feel good to roll and the icons are large enough to see from across the table.
- The volcano dice tower is very cool. It’s easy to set up and the dice do go in random zones on the board. Other than the dice tower in The Stygian Society, this is my favorite dice tower in a cooperative game.
- As expected, the dice randomness can throw off any game. If you’re really unlucky, as we were in a couple of games, you can just fail to roll the attacks you need to take down the minions and the boss. The cards and Support tiles help, but if you’re not rolling well, you usually won’t play well.
- While I do like the dice tower, the dice go off the board a bit more than I expected. Minor annoyance.
- I wish the monsters had one default ability to make them feel a little bit different than the others from the start.
- The dice tower is pretty loud, so the game isn’t going to be playable in all situations.
King of Monster Island – Final Thoughts
King of Monster Island is exactly what I expected it to be: cooperative King of Tokyo. And that’s a great thing because most of the people in my group are fans of King of Tokyo and we all (obviously) love cooperative games. We’ve had a blast playing this, especially once we started facing the Advanced versions of the bosses.
I think King of Monster Island is a great co-op game to get as a family game and as a game to play with casual or non-gamers. It has a theme that anyone can get into, most people like the Yahtzee mechanic, and it’s just plain fun to roll dice and fight monsters! I’d also recommend this to anyone looking for lighter five-player board games.
You should probably pass on King of Monster Island if you didn’t like King of Tokyo or you prefer more skill-based cooperative games.
King of Monster Island has already been added to our Best Family Board Games page!
King of Monster Island Links
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