written by Mikus Matiss
The lore of Godzilla movies has always been fascinating to me. The fear felt from watching a giant scaly monster smashing buildings and squashing dozens of people with every step --cuts a little deeper every time I fantasize about it. Pair that with the campy/goofy production quality of the movies released in the early 90s sends me on a roller coaster ride of emotions. But, now the tables have turned and we as board game enthusiasts finally have a quality simulation for being a kaiju. Even though the roles are reversed with Godzilla: Tokyo Clash, our primary threats are still the giant monsters that scared us as children. The only difference now is that those monsters are controlled by OUR FRIENDS!
Designed by Prospero Hall, and published by Funko Games, Godzilla: Tokyo Clash has finally scratched the kaiju simulation itch we all knew we had. By simply looking at the box, I was impressed by the layout of the hexagonal modular board filled with miniatures of monsters towering over miniatures of buildings. Before I even opened it, I knew I wanted to knock down all of those towers, and radar dishes.
I fell further in love with the art. Between the art on the player mats, the aliens depicted on the event cards, and the detail on the board tiles showing dark & gloomy streets just waiting to be destroyed. One time while playing Godzilla, I couldn't help but jump out of my chair and perform the victory pose from the art on the card. The last time I felt this triggered to act out like this was when I was a child watching PowerRangers and couldn't stop kicking furniture over. The mini’s representing the 4 kaiju are gorgeous as well. The detail would have been enough to satisfy me, but Funko had to add a weathered look to each of them, giving them the gloomy feel that has been splattered all over this genre.
Although this overwhelming feeling of dread brings people to the movies, it might also deter new players, or people not as enveloped into the board game scene due to the almost over complex rules. Seasoned board game enthusiasts shouldn't have much of a problem learning this game. The real challenge is teaching. The core mechanics of this game might scare off newer players, even after the teaching. Characters can throw vehicles and even other players into buildings to gain energy. But, converting melee attacks into ranged throws has its own friggin' page in the manual. So, I often skip over that until it becomes relevant; even though it seems to be such a core mechanic of this game. However, beyond that, this is a card game. I very much felt like I was back in my MTG days, reading every detail of my card over and over, and just being LOST once my turn came around. Not because I didn't understand how it worked but I knew that somewhere in the mechanical combos available to me was a perfect move.
This game is full of moments where I'm teased with perfect strategy being dangled in front of me. Sometimes I find it! And, oh boy is that satisfying. But, often I am thwarted by my opponents. And I hope they find the same satisfaction as me when they thwart my plans. I KNOW they feel the same way because I love thwarting them! The competition in this game feels so bloodthirsty. So violent that I feel myself wearing the proverbial lizard suit and just want to smash my friends into nearby buildings.
This may sound like a toxic mindset, or especially a vibe filled with poor sportsmanship, but miraculously it isn't! Somehow this game has found a way to give you the sweet dopamine release of hitting your friends, but it's almost like they don't have the pain receptors to feel it. This is done through some game mechanic genius. When a player gets damaged the attacking player gets to look at several cards from that player's draw deck. Then, they get to take only 1 card and add it to their trophies pile. Sometimes there's not even a card to take, (which is just some crap luck). But, this is where the genius is. The incentive to do high amounts of damage is to purely increase your chances of getting a better trophy in your pile. Because there are so many cards worth 0 trophies a player can never actually die. They might lose a few cards but most of them were repeats. If anything you just wanna hit back and hit back HARDER. WHICH IS AWESOME!!!!!!
Overall, I love this game. It may be tricky to teach it to your dad, but if you can manage it, you will be hugely rewarded. Between the art, the battle royal aspects, and the mechanics that just make you want to swing back harder, this game lands sweetly in my heart. Much like most Godzilla movies you will want to stand up and start kicking your furniture over.