King of Monster Island – Cooperative Kaiju Combat!

King of Monster Island
King of Monster Island

King of Tokyo, where the kaiju monsters battle for control of the city, is a modern classic in family boardgames. But now, a new threat has emerged, on a volcanic island rising from the sea. The monsters are going to have to work together to fight a big boss who wants to destroy the world!

King of Monster Island is a cooperative game set in the same universe. Richard Garfield designed this cooperative game for up to five people. The box says 45-60 minutes and ages 10+, but we’d plan for it to take longer, especially with younger kids.


Set up the island board, including the 3D volcano model in the center. Choose a Boss monster and difficulty, then set its health on the Boss board, get out its red dice (specified on the Boss sheet), and set the Boss figure on any of the six board zones.

Grab five Minion tokens from the bag, and place one in each zone of board, starting next to the Boss.

King of Monster Island - set up with just one player
Set up for a solo game.

Every player chooses their own Monster, taking their figure and matching board. Everyone places their Monster figure on a different zone.

Shuffle the Ally sheets and set out a few randomly for players to choose later. Shuffle the Power and Event cards together to make a deck, then reveal three Power cards to make the market.

Beginning of King of Monster Island game
Let’s go!

Each player’s turn happens in two main phases.

Boss Phase

During the Boss phase, the Boss does a special “before movement” power. Then roll any available Boss dice into the volcano, which will spit them out into the six zones.

Once the dice are all on the board, move the Boss to the nearest adjacent zone with the most bad stuff (red dice and minions). After the move, activate all Minions in that zone.

Finally, activate any red Boss dice in the Boss’s zone. This may add crystals (bad), minions (also bad), or increase the Boss’s Fame, which will let the Boss (or its Minions) do more bad stuff on future turns. Remove each die from the board after activating it to make it available for the next player’s turn.

Monster Phase

Now it’s finally the Monster’s (player’s) turn to strike back! Start by rolling six monster dice, re-rolling some or all of them twice, just like in King of Tokyo.

If some of the die results would be more useful on a future turn, you can Lock a die, placing it on a die/crystal space in your Monster’s zone. You can also Unlock dice that were previously set aside and add them to your actions.

Some actions are nearly identical to King of Tokyo:

  • Each Heart lets you (or another Monster in your zone) gain a health.
  • Bolts grant energy cubes for spending on cards (each Bolt spent together grants more and more .
  • Each Claw does 2 damage.
King of Monster Island - monster dice
Claw, Heart, Bolt – same as in King of Tokyo.
Foot, Star, Wrench – new actions in King of Monster Island.

The rest of the dice actions are new:

  • Stars grant Fame. Just like the Boss, increasing your Fame gives you access to more powers. Once you gain your first Fame, choose an Ally sheet and begin working your way up its Fame scale. You’ll have one power to start using right away, but more unlock with more Fame!
  • Wrenches help you buy Support ships. These ships can be used over and over again to boost a Monster in their zone.
  • Feet can be used to move your monster or attack!
Building a support ship with three Wrench dice
Use three (or four) Wrench faces to build a randomly-chosen Support ship.

Attacking is still simple – spend your Claws (2 damage) and Feet (1 damage) to attack. However, you can never attack the Boss if there are still minions in his zone.

At the end of your turn, you may buy Power cards from the market. But mixed into the deck are Events, which must be immediately resolved before discarding them and drawing another Power card to place in the market.

Power Cards: Paralyzing Bellow (6), Psychic Hammer (3), Pointy Spines (3). Event card: According to Plan
I hope that Power card you bought was worth it…

Winning or Losing

As with many co-operative games, there is one way to win – bring the Boss’s health down to zero – but many ways to fail:

  • If you ever start a turn with your Monster’s health at zero, all the Monsters lose.
  • The Monsters also lose if the Boss builds three crystal Pylons (build one every time you place the third crystal in a zone).
  • If you need to pull more Minions from the bag and there aren’t any left, the Monsters lose.

Can your Monsters cooperate long enough to bring down the Boss and save the Earth?


Despite its reputation among gamers, King of Tokyo isn’t popular in our house. Something about a free-for-all beat-em-up doesn’t work for our kids (at least not often).

King of Monster Island solves that by forcing us all to cooperate to take down the big Boss.

But in making a cooperative game, King of Monster Island loses some of the simple charm the rest of the series has. It’s more complex, with a lot more changing on the board between turns. Every turn bad stuff shows up in new places, and it’s often hard to do much damage to the Boss: either there are too many minions guarding it, or the Boss is too far away. Now you have to spend Feet simply to catch up.

Because of this complexity, I had to purposefully hold back when playing in a group. I really wanted to tell the other players what to do, but it’s more fun when everyone makes their own decisions. Unfortunately, “quarterbacking” is common in cooperative games, so keep this in mind for your group. There are usually many good options for a player on their turn, so let them make those choices!

In contrast, I really enjoyed playing King of Monster Island as a solo game. It actually becomes simpler when it’s just a single Monster chasing the Boss around the board, and turns go very quickly.

It’s Growing!

I appreciate the direction and scaffolding the game presents to players. As we muddled around, defeating minions and slowly gaining Fame, our Allies and their powers grew and grew.

Finally, we could rush in and deal huge, killing blows to the Boss! You can imagine a movie where the protagonists were just keeping their head above water while developing a power weapon. That was us!

Ally powers
Ally powers grow and grow as you amass Fame!

Volcano, Kaiju, Crystals, and More

Artistically, the King of… series has always hit a home run. The kaiju characters are fantastically drawn, the iconography is clear, and there are lots of fun little details to note.

King of Monster Island is an even bigger game than its predecessors, which means more art. And it doesn’t disappoint, at all. This is the kind of game that is targeted to a somewhat juvenile sense of humor, but it never crosses the line.

This Seems Familiar…

Structurally, King of Monster Island reminds me a lot of The Loop, a cooperative game that we reviewed a few years ago. If you’ve played that, you can imagine King of Tokyo mechanics overlaid on that structure, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of King of Monster Island.

If you think you and your family have what it takes to take down the Big Bad, you can get a copy of King of Monster Island from Amazon or from your friendly local game store.

King of Monster Island in play

The Family Gamers received a copy of King of Monster Island for this review from Iello, courtesy of Flat River Games.

This post contains affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.

King of Monster Island - Cooperative Kaiju Combat!
  • 10/10
    Art - 10/10
  • 8/10
    Mechanics - 8/10
  • 7/10
    Family Fun - 7/10


Number Of Players: 1-5
Age Range: 10+
Playtime: 45-60 minutes (longer with more players)