When comparing Carcassonne vs King of Tokyo, the Slant community recommends Carcassonne for most people. In the question“What are the best board games for beginners?” Carcassonne is ranked 2nd while King of Tokyo is ranked 7th. The most important reason people chose Carcassonne is:
The rules are pretty basic for Carcassonne, with first time players being able to grasp its concepts quite quickly, making Carcassonne a great gateway game. Every turn the player draws one tile from the pile. They then must place the tile adjacent to a tile that has already been placed in a way that the edges match. There are four types of terrain on the tiles – roads, cities, monasteries, and grassland. After the tile is placed the player can choose to put a player figure, a.k.a. a meeple, on the tile to potentially score points. If a meeple is placed on a road, then the player will score one point for every road tile until the road ends in an intersection or a city. If the meeple is placed on a city, the player will receive two points for every city tile until the city is fully walled off. If the player chooses to place the meeple in a monastery, then they will receive one point per tile until the monastery is fully surrounded by tiles. Lastly, if the meeple is placed on grassland, then it’ll only score points at the very end of the game, giving three points for every city in the field. The player with the most points wins.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Easy to learn for beginners
The rules are pretty basic for Carcassonne, with first time players being able to grasp its concepts quite quickly, making Carcassonne a great gateway game.
Every turn the player draws one tile from the pile. They then must place the tile adjacent to a tile that has already been placed in a way that the edges match. There are four types of terrain on the tiles – roads, cities, monasteries, and grassland. After the tile is placed the player can choose to put a player figure, a.k.a. a meeple, on the tile to potentially score points.
If a meeple is placed on a road, then the player will score one point for every road tile until the road ends in an intersection or a city. If the meeple is placed on a city, the player will receive two points for every city tile until the city is fully walled off. If the player chooses to place the meeple in a monastery, then they will receive one point per tile until the monastery is fully surrounded by tiles. Lastly, if the meeple is placed on grassland, then it’ll only score points at the very end of the game, giving three points for every city in the field. The player with the most points wins.
Pro Detailed with polish
The board game pieces are highly detailed and colorful, be it lush grassland, a fortified medieval castle, or a monastery in the middle of nowhere. The game is themed after southern France in the medieval ages and the actual fortified city of Carcassonne and the landscape around it. There is definitely some forethought put into the polish of this game that makes much of it intuitive and a pleasure to look at.
On a more practical note, the back of the tile with which the game starts is in a separate color, so it is easier to find when starting the game.
Pro Simple, but allows for lots of thinking if you want
The game is very accessible to beginners, but it allows for quite a bit of strategic play when you get more familiar with the concept. You can either go for long-term strategies with farms, or for quick point-grabs; you can build your own cities in peace or try to mess with your opponent whenever possible. A lot of tactics come in the form of cutthroat play – trapping other players’ meeples, stealing cities, and getting to share points.
Moreover, the last turns of the game can also influence the outcome a lot – players receive some points for unfinished creations as well.
Pro Quick to play
In a regular expansion-less game of Carcassonne it can take 30 – 45 minutes to blast through the approximately 70 tiles.
The gameplay is dynamic, and everyone’s constantly engaged, managing their meeples and calculating which part of the board is worth fighting over.
Because of the simple rules Carcassonne is very easy to get back into even after big breaks and it’s great to teach to other people. This means that the people you play with can change without any problems and you can play the game with anyone – children, your parents, your friends, or your partner.
Pro Near-endless replayability
Carcassonne will pretty much never feel dull, there are so many possibilities and variables in the game not only because of the randomness, but also because of the simplicity and the variation count.
Carcassonne is going to be a different game every time because of the tiles you and your opponents draw and where you choose to place them. There are over 70 tiles in the base set, which amounts to a lot of possible combinations.
Carcassonne has been around for a while, and this has led to the release of many expansions throughout the years. Each of these provides more tiles, rules, and other variables to the game.
Lastly, you can even introduce many variations that’ll change up the game without owning any expansions, for example, instead of drawing one tile and placing it every turn, have the players manage a hand of four tiles.
Pro Good for parties
The game’s whacky theme of different monsters battling it out in the city of Tokyo gives the game a silly and light-hearted feel that the players easily take over. There’s constant engagement between the players, be it trash talk, begging for mercy while in Tokyo, anger or delight for dice rolls, or persuading others to gang up on someone.
Pro Great artwork
King of Tokyo features some unique monster-y artwork, sort of parodying the movie cliché of huge beasts destroying urban environments. Everything is very colorful, cartoony, and highly detailed, from the box itself to the cardboard cutout monsters, the ability cards, and the gameboard with a burning Tokyo in the background.
Pro Very nice monster boards
The base game includes six different playable monsters and their matching cardboard cutouts and player boards. These monster boards are of great quality, feature the same wonderful artwork as the whole game, and are nicely designed. There are two spinable parts that show the monster’s health and victory points, so it’s a very easy way to keep track of what is happening.
Pro Simple rules
King of Tokyo is highly accessible to people of all ages because it’s very easy to learn but it still provides enough room for strategy because of the “being in Tokyo” part. The whole game revolves around rolling dice and trying to either reach 20 victory points or destroy everyone and everything.
On your turn you roll six dice. With the dice you can receive 1, 2, or 3 victory points (if you roll three of the same number), attack other monsters by rolling the attack icon, receive energy for ability card purchases, or heal yourself. After you’ve rolled you can re-roll any amount of dice two more times.
Rolling an attack icon lets you attack the monster that is currently inside Tokyo, or, if you are inside Tokyo, all monsters outside. The monster inside has the choice to retreat before the attack hits, forcing the attacking monster inside Tokyo. Why is being in Tokyo good? You receive 2 victory points if you’re inside at the start of your turn.
Con Risk of accidental tile moving
If the game is not played on a flat surface or if you accidentally apply more force to the tile when you're placing it adjacent to another, then everything can shift, which can be annoying to fix.
Con Small official scoreboard
The official scoreboard that comes with the base game only stacks up to 50 points, but proper games of Carcassonne go way past that mark – a game without any expansions can easily reach over 100 points. If you add expansions to the equation, then the points can stack up even past 400, but some expansions feature scoring tokens that help resolve this issue.
Con Highly random
As is typical for a game with a drawing mechanic, almost every action in the game is influenced by whatever tile is drawn and where a player has chosen to place it, so it’ll benefit him the most. The randomness is enhanced by the fact that the players only draw one tile at a time, so you must take what you get.
Con May be a little light for hardcore boardgame players
The game itself is not very deep in design or play, which may be a turn off for the more hardcore of boardgame players though can be good for newcomers.
Con Component design
Apart from the wonderful monster boards, the rest of the components have quite a few drawbacks. The special dice are large, so it’s very uncomfortable to throw six of them, especially if you have smaller hands. The energy tokens are small, dark green cubes that can easily be displaced with a small shake of the playing surface or lost if they drop down on the ground. The cardboard monsters and ability cards show wear quite quickly.
Lastly, the only purpose the gameboard serves is to have two spaces that represent being in Tokyo. This function could just as easily be replaced by just putting a monster in the middle of the table, making the gameboard purely aesthetic and otherwise useless.
Con Player elimination
As soon as a monster reaches 0 health it’s out, so you’re going to have to sit and watch the remainder of the game if that happens to you.
Con First edition is pricey
The first edition of King of Tokyo costs $62, which is two times more than the newer edition, though the only differences between them are in the artwork and in one very minimal rule change about entering Tokyo – you don’t need to roll a claw, you enter straightaway. A lot of people prefer the first edition’s artwork.
Con Some very powerful card combinations
King of Tokyo has a few quite overpowered ability cards. If a player pulls off a specific combination, then they might be unstoppable and create a long, drawn-out and frustrating game until they finally win. For example, the wings card lets you cancel all damage if you have more than two energy. This basically means that you can keep evading hits and just stack up on victory points. Some players recommend removing a few cards from the game for a better experience.
Con Highly random
Since King of Tokyo is a dice rolling game, it should be no surprise that pretty much all of it revolves around getting lucky with your rolls, so if you’re not a fan of that then this isn’t the game for you. The game tries mitigating the randomness a little bit by having the re-roll mechanic and ability cards in play, but there are still plenty of opportunities to come back from crushing defeats or drop down from being in the lead.