Tokyo Ghoul: The Card Game is an excellent deck-building game based on the equally excellent Tokyo Ghoul anime. Recreating a turf war between players, Tokyo Ghoul is about recruiting allies, taking on your enemies through combat, or through controlling a number of locations. With art straight out of the anime and easy-to-follow instructions, Tokyo Ghoul is an excellent addition to any board gamer’s library, fan of the anime or not.
The primary goal is to control three Wards (locations) in Tokyo and in order to do that, one must gather and spend influence. Influence is gained via the Allies that you have on the board every turn and each Ally has a number of influence that they provide. The higher the influence the better the chances to win. Allies will stay on the board until they are wounded, so targeting an enemy’s highest value influence is a good way to stunt their growth. When you have enough influence you can then buy newer, better allies but rather than purchasing those cards from a shared deck, like most deck builders, you purchase them from your own hand/deck. Once you purchase an ally, it will be immediately placed in your discard pile, for use later (similar to how Xenoshyft works).
Allies are not the only thing influence can be used to purchase and if you are daring enough, you can gun straight for spending influence on the winning conditions, which are to control multiple Wards/locations. Though difficult and risky, it may be a worthwhile tactic if you are a veteran player and are playing with new players (though that is a cheap move). That said, there are boons to controlling locations as the controlling player will get a bonus (listed on the location card itself).
A nice little feature is that a location can be stolen from the controlling player if the controlling player has no allies in play. This can introduce an interesting dynamic, forging temporary alliances between players as they try to steal, or prevent others from stealing, a particular player’s locations. Eventually though, it will become a free-for-all and a race to gather the most influence to purchase the victory condition. There were a few times that there was something of a windmill effect happening, where player on the left would attack the player on the right to reduce allies / steal locations and the behavior would go around the table a few times before someone is unable to move forward; it was fun, if tense due to tempers.
The other players are not the only threat though, as there are enemies that will be drawn. Those enemies, though recruited similar to Allies, will instead be placed into the play area and before that player can take any other actions, the enemy must be defeated. Once defeated it rolls back into the discard pile which means you have the potential to redraw that enemy in a later hand, thus halting your advance. This dynamic ensures your games last more than 15-20 minutes and once you draw an enemy card, adds an additional layer of tension (the good kind).