When comparing Splendor vs King of Tokyo, the Slant community recommends Splendor for most people. In the question“What are the best board games for beginners?” Splendor is ranked 3rd while King of Tokyo is ranked 5th. The most important reason people chose Splendor is:
The basics of the game are very straightforward and easy. You can start playing in a matter of minutes, which is great for absolutely everyone – young and old, experienced and new. The game begins from the youngest player and continues clockwise. In their turn the players can perform one of three actions: take three different gems, take two gems of the same color, reserve a development card and take a gold gem, or purchase a development card. All development cards give permanent gem bonuses for later buys and some cards give prestige, which is required to win. Prestige is also gained from nobles, which can be attracted if specific conditions are met. The game enters the last round when a player reaches 15 points. The game is won by the player with the most points after this round.
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Pro Easy to learn
The basics of the game are very straightforward and easy. You can start playing in a matter of minutes, which is great for absolutely everyone – young and old, experienced and new.
The game begins from the youngest player and continues clockwise. In their turn the players can perform one of three actions: take three different gems, take two gems of the same color, reserve a development card and take a gold gem, or purchase a development card. All development cards give permanent gem bonuses for later buys and some cards give prestige, which is required to win. Prestige is also gained from nobles, which can be attracted if specific conditions are met.
The game enters the last round when a player reaches 15 points. The game is won by the player with the most points after this round.
Pro Fine-looking artwork
Splendor’s artwork is follows a Renaissance theme and is quite detailed and beautiful. The cards of the game feature depictions of ships, gem mines, and shops from the era. The coins are colorful and have stickers on them representing the type. There are also portraits of historical figures on the noble cards, for example, Henry VIII, Isabel of Castile, and Elisabeth of Austria.
Pro Good for beginners
The game’s rules are easy to grasp, but Splendor also features quite a bit of depth and strategy, which makes this a great gateway option for people just getting into board games, even children.
Pro Can be played aggressively or peacefully
The game is suited for both playstyles mostly due to the card reserving mechanic. This is great because you can adjust to the company you are playing with, whether they want to be fully competitive and try to deny each other’s plays or laid back and just watch the empires grow without interfering.
You can reserve a card to use it later or, even better, so your opponents can’t use it. You also get a “wild” gold piece, which can substitute any color required in buildings. You can have a maximum of three cards reserved at once.
Pro Scales well
The game plays very well in the designated 2-4 player range. It has some nuances that depend on the number of players, for example, the amount of coins and nobles in play.
It’s possible to go past the 4-player maximum by getting another copy for more coins. Another solution would be to add something like poker chips or other types of coins to the game.
Pro Satisfying to see progression
It’s enjoyable to watch your trading empire grow. The game starts slowly with you gathering gems to create some basic buildings and futureproofing yourself, by the end of the game there’s quite a lot of cards on the playing surface. You can also get points for attracting nobles to your side by getting a specific combination of gem cards, which gives you a building direction and a goal to work towards.
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 Very poor component quality in newer editions
The game used to be widely complimented on the great overall quality of the coins and other pieces, but the materials changed in 2014. All the printings since then have reduced quality – chips are very lightweight and sometimes the color seems off, and all the components have a cheap feel to them.
Con Luck of the draw
The building cards that are drawn from the decks are random, which means that the game can often boil down to top-decking a building that’s either very valuable or completely worthless to you or an opponent. The nobles are random as well, but they won’t impact the game as critically – they are there just to direct you to a goal.
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.