When comparing King of Tokyo vs Charterstone, the Slant community recommends Charterstone for most people. In the question“What are the best board games for families?” Charterstone is ranked 5th while King of Tokyo is ranked 7th. The most important reason people chose Charterstone is:
Mechanically Charterstone is extremely simple, which makes it greatly accessible to people of all ages. The advanced rules are introduced to the players as the game progresses, but the basics are straightforward. On your turn you can place a worker on a tile or retrieve all your workers. You can go to any tile on any charter, each building has a different resource cost to use and a different purpose. There are five initial spots called the “Commons” that you can go to in order to gain money, score objective cards, construct buildings, or open crates. Opening crates lets players draw cards from the “Index” which adds new rules to the game.
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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.
Mechanically Charterstone is extremely simple, which makes it greatly accessible to people of all ages. The advanced rules are introduced to the players as the game progresses, but the basics are straightforward. On your turn you can place a worker on a tile or retrieve all your workers.
You can go to any tile on any charter, each building has a different resource cost to use and a different purpose. There are five initial spots called the “Commons” that you can go to in order to gain money, score objective cards, construct buildings, or open crates. Opening crates lets players draw cards from the “Index” which adds new rules to the game.
Pro Drop-in / drop-out system
Thanks to the Automa system that lets an NPC character take over one of the player spots, you can fill in for a player that, for example, couldn’t make it to a gaming session or doesn’t want to continue the campaign.
Pro Replayable after finishing the campaign
Charterstone is a legacy game, but you can keep playing it as a regular worker placement game after you’re done with the campaign on the map you’ve created over the 12-game campaign.
Moreover, if you want to play through the campaign again and experience what you missed in your initial playthrough, you can buy the official recharge pack for about $30 to get back all the components you used and use the other side of the double-sided gameboard that has the same map.
Pro Huge variability
Every game of Charterstone will be completely different due to card draw, personas, and strategies. Many campaigns end with situations where half of the deck is still undiscovered.
Pro Adjustable to player count
Charterstone is a balanced game when played with any number of players thanks to special rules that vary depending on the player count. Furthermore, the Automa system lets you introduce NPC players to the game that can fill in other players’ spots if you want to add more action to, say, a 2-player game.
Pro Amazing components
The parts that make up Charterstone are both aesthetically pleasing and well-made.
When first opening the box, you are already greeted by an organized view of the components– everything’s stored in labeled white boxes. When looking at the components themselves, there is no mistaking what they represent or what they’re supposed to be – a pumpkin looks like a pumpkin, etc.
The quality is top-notch, and the components should hold up to plenty of plays. The white boxes that store most of the components are made of thick cardboard, the player tokens and the resource tokens are wooden, the cards are made of thick cardstock, and the coins are metal, which feel exceptionally nice and valuable due to the heftiness.
Pro Satisfying progression
The game reveals itself as you progress, be it storylines, rules, buildings, etc. It feels nice to see your village grow and bits of the story unfold over the ~12 hours of gameplay. You get attached to characters, socialize with others, and create your own stories in the process, which creates another adventure on top.
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.
Con Potential information overload at the start
If the players choose to open a lot of crates in their first games, then they might suffer from information overload because of the number of new rules thrown in the game. Some users have reported that the rules are sometimes easy to misinterpret, so this can add to the frustration.
Con Quite long
There are 12 games in the campaign, so you must dedicate approximately 12 hours to finish the whole thing because a single game takes an hour or so. This might also be too long if you’re playing with kids because they could get bored or distracted.
Con Aesthetic won’t suit everyone
Though the art of Charterstone is quite detailed and colorful, it’s also very cartoony and the characters are happy-looking bobble heads, so while the aesthetic might be great for children and families, it might seem childish to others.
Con A bit pricey
Charterstone retails for around $45 depending on the site, which can be expensive for some. If you add in the recharge pack for new campaigns, then that’s an extra $30, but after your second campaign there’s no more room on the gameboard, so you’ll have to buy a new one for that if you want to start over yet again.
Con Requires a dedicated group
Charterstone suffers from a popular legacy board game issue - it might be difficult to gather the same people for a session to try and finish the 12-game campaign. Though the Automa system lets NPC’s fill in for other players, if it’s used in the middle of the campaign, then it renders the score tallying at the end of the campaign pointless.