Godzilla: Kaiju World Wars is a 2-4 player competitive board game based off of the Godzilla franchise made by Toy Vault. Players take on the roll of four fan-favorite giant monsters, the titular Godzilla, Rodan, Gigan, and King Ghidorah, as they battle across different cities in a race to cause the most destruction.
While the game is far from perfect, it has a unique and striking sense of aesthetics that the players are immersed in from the time they open the box. Everything about Godzilla: Kaiju World Wars is well-designed from a visual perspective. Regardless of any other aspects of this game, hard core fans of the series and some of the more dedicated board game enthusiasts might find Kaiju World Wars a worthwhile buy just because of how neat looking everything is.
The first thing a player is going to go for when they unpack the box is also the crown jewel of the design: the monsters themselves. The four figurines are probably the best looking mass-produced pieces in any board game out there. There’s something viscerally juvenile about the figures that forces people to click them together while making roaring sounds. The cartoonish qualities of the monsters plays very well with the rest of the game’s aesthetics.
Destroying the board is a fundamental mechanic of Kaiju World Wars. The game provides several “scenarios” with different goals and victory conditions. But, in all rules of play, crushing buildings and setting the scenery on fire is necessary to achieve success. Wanton destruction is very satisfying when combined with the game’s visuals. A destroyed building can be flipped over to indicate that it is now “rubble” and, on the rubble side are footprints that the monster can stand in, meaning players actually act out the trampling of buildings.
The rubble feature is just one of many beautiful details that make the game have a high fidelity look and feel.
For a game with such an eye for detail in the aesthetic department, the rules and the way the game teaches players are highly slapdash. Actually figuring out how to play is a long and confusing process even for veteran board game enthusiasts. Kaiju World Wars is not in any way friendly for casual players.
The problem isn’t that the rules of the game are terribly complex, but the game itself gives the player no help in figuring them out. The instruction manual seems to gloss over major points while belaboring details that seem unimportant. This is largely because most of the rules and mechanics of Kaiju World Wars are printed on a deck of “info cards” kept with the game pieces. The information the player needs to know is scattered between the manual and the cards without rhyme or reason, and the info cards are not packaged where the player has to look at them, first. It’s easy to get thoroughly frustrated with the game before even noticing that the cards have vital data on them.
The combat rules in the game are broken into “Basic” and “Advanced.” Presumably these two sets of rules are to allow an easier transition for players trying to learn the game. But, in practice, Kaiju World Wars is hard to figure out, no matter what. The Advanced rules simply provide a greater amount of differentiation between the monster characters. There will never be a reason to play the Basic rules.
Once the players have the game sauced out, Kaiju World Wars works best four players. As previously mentioned, the game book provides different scenarios with different rules, goals, and number of players. But the most generic scenario, which also happens to be the most fun, will get the most use and runs best with four.
While the more specialized scenarios have pre-designed city setups to play the game with, the basic scenario allows the players to redesign the board each time. The buildings, parks, icons, and military vehicles are split between the players who are allowed to place them down wherever they like.
The board-building process is a huge and unexpected bonus of Kaiju World Wars. The building pieces are each single levels that fit on top of one another, with complete buildings between one and four stories in height. Since any player can build up on what any other player has put down, one person can turn a one-story building into a four-story building and greatly alter the strategic importance of that part of the board before the game begins.
Once players start to get a feel for what to do in the game, the building of the city becomes the most engaging part of play: making the city’s imminent destruction all the more cathartic.
Even with the entertainment involved in building the board, Kaiju World Wars does not have the same infinite replay value of a game like Carcassonne or Settlers of Catan. Hard core board game enthusiasts who are not specifically Godzilla fans will likely only bust this game out every now and then when they meet a friend who has never played it.
The level of complexity in figuring out the game generally doesn’t make it good for the younger end of its target audience. It’s hard to imagine anyone under 14 actually having the patience to play by the rules. So, while younger kids may appreciate how good the game looks, they’ll probably get more use out of a toy.
Kaiju World Wars has some great ideas and is a fun game to play once it gets started, but it lacks mass appeal. Consider this a game strictly for Godzilla fans and avid board game players.