Podcast #23: Expansions and Submissions

ExpansionsIn this extra long episode of Games With Garfield, the gang discusses the upcoming King of Tokyo expansion and the design process and philosophies around expansion creation. In addition, Richard shares his thoughts on the submission process for games to publishers.

LINKS: Iello | Zman Games | The Game Inventor’s Guidebook |

EMAIL: info@threedonkeys.com



54 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Willi B,

    Glad to hear the podcast back. It sounds like King of Tokyo’s first expansion will be something worth waiting for and a neat take on both leveling and adding character/theme to the game.

    I think I’ve learned that I need to get better at identifying problems in game design… right now, it seems like a play whack-a-mole with each new iteration of the prototypes I make.

  2. Bruno,

    I just did the happy dance in my living room!

    Please, please, please, don’t let us starve like that again. :)

  3. Stephen"SMASH"Avery,

    Really interesting discussion. Good point about games starting simple and ramping up complexity also I’m glad to hear some one rail against overbalancing games. Better get on Iello to rerelease KoT. Gamers are a fickle bunch.

    “Extre head is always good.”
    True er words have never been spoken.

    Steve”Crass Act”Avery

  4. Erik,

    Great episode! Very interesting to hear about tough design decisions.

  5. looking forward to listening to this.

    king of tokyo is my favourite game, and such a perfect game.

    After playing it around 40 times this year, I’m excited to hear how you would go about tackling an expansion.
    As a aspirant game designer, this podcast is pure gold. thanks for sharing.

  6. Duncan,

    Any chance we could get a brief update concerning the new Netrunner game that just got announced?!?!

    • Fantasy Flight is publishing a new version of Netrunner, a stand alone game rather than a trading card game. I am not involved with the design – Fantasy Flight offered to involve me but the time frame seemed too tight. I have not yet seen the design though it has been described – and based on its description and Fantasy Flight’s excellent handling of many classic games, I am sure it is in good hands.

      • Thanks! I know that this game is receiving lots of buzz today, and as a fan that hasn’t been able to get their hands on a copy of the original, it’s very exciting. Between this and the King of Tokyo expansion, it’s been an exciting week.

  7. Hi Richard, it is Ludo,
    i’m sorry but i disagree with you …
    the just make old real NR cards uncompatible with the new one .. i’am not speaking in terms of layout but mecanically and balancing speaking …
    in fact that is not NR anymore but a new game wisely inspired by your game .
    i guess they removed the Trace/link that was a true jewel of your initial design .

    i really don’t know why they don”‘t ask in addition to you the true expert of this game … with all the expansions we created … ( the one i gave to you when we meet …)

    I am sincerely disapointed that FFG use the name Netrunner for a game that isn’t NR anymore .

    • If it is different enough then a new version of Netrunner classic is still possible sometime in the future, and the “netrunner” they have made may still be a good game -

      We will see – I can’t vouch for the design since I haven’t seen it but the designers are good, so independent of the original it has every chance of being good.

      Players of the original will probably not see it as a replacement but maybe it will be exciting for them to have a game with similar mechanics – the Mechanics of Netrunner have not been used very widely.

  8. Michael Pearsall,


    Any chance you could clear up a rules question in King of Tokyo?

    Can a monster in Tokyo use the heart symbol?

    The English rules say that it can’t be used, but the French rules apparently say that it can be used, except for healing.

    How do you play it?


    • I was just going over an FAQ that raised this issue – I wasn’t aware of it. I have always played the heart couldn’t be used for healing, or getting rid of bad counters but in the rare case where it is useful outside of healing it can be used (Complete Destruction). This seems more complex than just having it be that the heart is a ‘blank’ face in Tokyo, and the FAQ/next edition may move in that direction.

      This is an important issue for the expansion, since you will reveal monster evolutions when you roll 3+ hearts.

      • Michael,

        Thanks for the reply. I can’t wait for the expansion!

        Great podcast, too. I can’t believe I didn’t know about it before.

      • Hélio Andrade,

        Hello Richard,

        I suppose the FAQ you talk about is the one I sent Iello for revision (I tried to find your contact to send it directly to you but had no luck), so I’m happy that you are checking it and I’m eager to know your verdict.

        As for the expansion, it sure does sound exciting to give each monster a little more “personality”! Good work!

      • I believe it was your FAQ – thank you for your contribution to the game!

      • Michael,

        Hi Richard,
        I’ve got one last question concerning this point (using hearts in Tokyo). What about camouflage? Can the monster in Tokyo use camouflage?
        Thanks for answering all the questions.

      • Yes a monster can use camouflage.

  9. Andrew,

    I just wanted to say that I’m glad to see the show back for another episode, and in regard to the episode length, longer is better! I prefer podcasts in the 1.5- to 2-hour range, especially when we see episodes so infrequently ;)


  10. jmzero,

    King of Tokyo is such an interesting design: a multiplayer with wonderful interaction and minimal politics, memorable game situations, and so many interesting decisions spread out over the game.

    I very much appreciate your discussion of the decisions involved in the expansion. One of the things I’ve appreciated about Tokyo is the way you’re often rewarded for breaking with a strategy and “following the dice”; it’s clever how you’re preserving that characteristic in the new mechanics.

    A bit off topic: do you know when we might hope to see “Characteristics of Games” available? (Thanks!)

  11. Pelle,

    I too came here since I just found out about Android: Netrunner and left like I had christmas come early since I’ve been wishing for a reprint for years. But now I’m getting a King of Tokyo expansion as well? I must have been a good boy this year!

    Since you are not that involved in the new Netrunner design, lets stay on topic and ask some questions my play groups has had with King of Tokyo.

    1) Rooting for the Underdog says “At the end of a turn when you have the fewest VP gain 1 VP.” Does this include at the end of other players turns?

    2) Stretchy – Can a player use this power more than once in a turn?

    3) Burrowing – Does “Deal 1 extra damage on Tokyo.” mean “Deal 1 extra damage while standing in Tokyo.” or “Deal 1 extra damage to any player standing in Tokyo.”?

    4) Rapid healing says “Spend 2 energy at any time to heal one damage.” Does “at any time” mean even after another player has rolled a damage result that would kill you but before you take that damage?

    5) Telepath – Can a player use this more than once each turn?

    We’ve obviously already made rulings on each card to be able to get on with the game, but it would be nice to hear how they were intended to play.

    Thanks for making great games, today I’ve spent time I’ve enjoyed thinking of three of them even though I have not gotten any actual gaming in. Also thanks for making these podcasts, the design decision stuff is gold and the hobby game designer in me really liked to hear that my design process is so close to how you think it should be done.

    • Rooting for the underdog: No, it is only your turn. I am very sloppy with your turn versus any turn, but almost always I mean your turn only.

      Stretchy: Yes

      Burrowing: Yes – this is awkward wording – it means one extra damage against Tokyo.

      Rapid Healing: Yes, you can spend to save yourself.

      Telepath: Yes you can use it more than once a turn.

      If there are official FAQ that contradict these then I am overruled – these were the original intents, but sometimes changes get made later to make the game more consistent.

  12. OK so here’s a question:

    You said this expansion was “most requested”, which is not a bad source of inspiriations. But it also led to a couple mechanics which would have made the game worse. With that in mind, do you think it’s better to start with a mechanic you know will be fun and then create a justification, or to take a concept and flip through mechanics until you find a good fit?

    • I know designers that favor one way or the other but I like both and use both. I think I most commonly work from mechanic –> Find a fit however. For me, when working this way, the secret sauce is being willing to completely rework elements of the mechanics once you have a flavor you like. For example, the first drafts of King of Tokyo as a monster themed game were much dryer than after I started thinking about how to get more ‘monster’ flavor in the game. Many cards that worked well in the original version were mechanically fine but didn’t really fit the theme, and the theme really enriched the cards with new possibilities. If I don’t go back and redesign with a theme in mind the game often feels dry.

  13. Sjap,

    Hi Richard,
    King of Tokyo is a favorite in our household as well as in our gaming group.
    (where we also play Filthy Rich and RoboRally).

    Anyways, we’ve lately been playing King of Tokyo with 5 face up cards, instead of 3, and that’s more fun for us: more choice than the 3 card version…

    This variant may already exist, just letting you know.
    Take care,

  14. David D,

    Hi Richard,

    Huge fan of the game. A coworker and I got into a bit of a quibble about card resolution during our office games day. He wanted to resolve a “Keep” card effect immediately on his turn (Dedicated News Team: +1VP for every new card purchased) and then immediately buy an additional card, giving him 1VP for the win. We took issue with this, as we always played the game where your “Keep” cards did not resolve their effect until the next turn. Could we get a final verdict on this?


    • Your friend is correct though the confusion is understandable. Purchases take place in the purchase phase which takes place after the majority of the turn is finished, so most cards won’t affect you because they allow, for example, a reroll but your rolling is already cashed in. The cards are immediately in play – but in practice they won’t be useful till your next turn.

      There are a handful of cards however that are immediately useful since they used during your buy phase or on completion of the buy phase – Secret Lab and Solar Powered would be two more examples. I will try to make this clearer in reprints…

  15. Einsiedler,

    Resolve order of Psychic Probe & Laboratory question

    have two questions about the King of Tokyo rules.

    1. Psychic Probe & Stretchy or Herd Culler:
    Which is resolved first?
    Can Psychic Probe wait until Herd Culler is used and then reroll a dice?
    Can Herd Culler wait if Psychic Probe is used or not, then be activated and be sure that Psychic Probe cannot be activate afterwards?

    2. I don’t know the English card name: Laboratory, 2 Energy, let you preview upcoming cards

    The German translation is unclear.
    Can you just preview the next card or are you forced to buy on of the 3 cards or the previewed card if you activate it?

    • Timing: You can use psychic probe after or before herd culler. A reaction system is used, that is, if neither player chooses to use their power the roll stands. If the psychic probe is used the other player can respond by using herd culler (after the probe is resolved.) If the herd culler is used the probe can be used afterwards.

      Most of the time this is adequate for resolution. If your group gets stuck (neither player wants to commit), have the players use a power or pass in sequence – starting with the player whose turn it is. If you pass you cannot act again – unless something changes. So, I can pass on my herd culler and if you pass on your psychic probe I can not say “well then I want to use the culler.” But if you USE the psychic probe I am back in business!

      Laboratory: You can peek at, and purchase the top card of the deck on your turn. You are not obligated to make a purchase if you use the laboratory.

      Plot Twist: You can use this on other player’s rolls.

  16. Einsiedler,

    a Plot Twist question: can I use plot twist to manipulate other players dice?

  17. Einsiedler,

    Another question to “It has a child”:

    I assume the child starts:
    1. outside Tokyo (even if dead parent was in Tokyo)
    2. without any poison an shrink chips (as it is a new monster)
    3. with all energy cubes from its dead parent (somehow different logic than 1. + 2.)

    Is this correct?

  18. Stephan,

    Can the Metamorph card be used to discard itself to gain the 3 energy back?

  19. Stephan,

    Do Metamorph and Alien Metabolism combine?

    As Metamorph says “receive the energy they were ourchased for” – do I have to remember the real costs I paid for the cars or do I just get the energy printed on the card back?

    • You receive the purchase price, not the price they were purchased for – that is – the number in the upper left. That is not at all clear from wording. So they combine in the best way possible for the player – they can purchase cheap and sell expensive.

  20. Stephan,

    Removal of shrink and poison tokens is considered to be a healing and therefore they cannot be removed with hearts if you are in Tokyo.

    What’s about the other way round?
    Can any healing “effect” remove shrink and poison tokens?
    For example can a healing card like the Nuclear Power Plant, Rapid Healing or even Healing Ray remove such tokens?

    Thanks in advance, Stephan

  21. I recently discovered this podcast and I’ve been listening to the past episodes and enjoying them greatly. I just posted a link to the Card & Board Game Designers group on Facebook. Thanks for sharing with us what you’ve learned, and I’d love to see more.

  22. Bob,

    Can Healing Ray be used to heal another monster who has zero energy. It is an odd situation (wanting to heal an opponent who has no cubes to give you), but there could be times where you want to keep an opponent barely alive as a “human shield” to keep a more dangerous opponent occupied.

  23. Brian,

    Can The Jet Card Be Used To Yield Tokyo Even If The Attacking Player Has rolled Enough Dice For Lethal Damage?

  24. The Dragon,

    I have a question regarding Metamorph. Can you use Metamorph to sell a card and then use the cubes gained from the sold card to buy another card on that same turn?

  25. On Monster Batteries. This is another case where the definition of turn is unclear. It says on the card you get 2 cubes on each turn. Your comments on Physhic Probe would seem to indicate it means on your turn only. This would seem to make this card nearly worthless. You could turn 8 cubes into 12, but it would take 6 of your turns to get them all and not likely to be worth the investment. Whereas, if you remove 2 on each players turn there is a much more reasonable wait time and the card is worthwhile. Your clarification on this would help. We will probably use each turn unless you tell us otherwise.

    • The intent is only on your turn. It IS a pretty bad card though it is so cheap it sees purchase in interesting times – for instance when you are getting a victory point for purchases, or have a discount of one. But – for the most part – it is a sucker card.

      If you wanted it to be more powerful I wouldn’t use your change though – the idea of the card is investing time to get money – and 2 energy per player turn is too fast. You might change the cost to 0 or have it triple your energy instead – either would make the card closer to its intent and more reasonably powerful.

  26. Scott Hill,

    Regarding the use of hearts whilst in Tokyo, can one use them to power Healing Ray?

    • No, you can’t use heart results in Tokyo. You can HEAL in tokyo if you get a card result that heals you but the hearts themselves are not useful.

      I say that with the caveat that the game can stand up to house rules – if a group wants more flexible healing in Tokyo as long as it is understood by the players – go for it!

  27. JT Booth,

    You said above that you can use healing ray between damage being rolled against you and dying to that damage. Does that also apply to Discard cards that damage you?

  28. Mahali,

    Can we still ask questions in this thread? Friend just sent me the link.
    Monster Batteries + Fuzzy Logic (Cyber Bunny) “Discard to gain as much energy as you have already gained this turn.”

    If you buy Monster Batteries and use Fuzzy Logic do you get the amount that went on the card?

    • No, because you haven’t gained the energy on Monster Batteries. The energy on monster batteries is ‘gained’ when it comes off the card, so you could use it to double the 2 you gained off of it on any particular turn.


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