Leisure · personal

Participant Observation and Conflict Theory – King of Tokyo Board Game


The Appraisery, located at the Cubao Expo, is a mix of tabletop gaming place, a collectibles store, and a coffee and sandwich shop. It opens at 3:00 p.m., where you can play board games if you order something from their menu.

Our group arrived at the place at 2:40 p.m. The cashier guy told us that they will open in just a few minutes. I seated at one of the chairs outside the place and observed through the glass that aside from him, there was a man in his 30’s-40’s seated in a small table that was already inside. A few minutes later, he went outside at exactly 3:00 p.m. and told us that we can come in. The cashier guy was just silent when we came in, and the whole place was awkward. I immediately wished for some music to break the silence in the air. Our group just went at a long table and placed our orders. I ordered for a Wreck-it-Ralph panini that costs 165 pesos. Abbie, one of my groupmates asked if we can look at the second floor for more board games. The cashier guy said yes, but we should just occupy the table at the first floor because our group can fit in the table there. We all went up the narrow-winding staircase, and what we saw there are some hangers of t-shirts, a long table, an art wall, and about 100 board games on the side. I left some of my groupmate upstairs and proceeded downstairs to relax and wait for my order. A man, also in his 30’s-40’s arrived and sat down across the man already inside. They played Game of Thrones, and I can tell that they were professional players because of how they act and speak. About 3:15 p.m., some of my groupmates went down carrying about five board games and those of us who were downstairs said to them that we can just only play one at a time, so they went back upstairs and brought down with just one, which is called Small World. We set the game up, and the last of my groupmates, Franco, just arrived at the place.

Some of my groupmates and I which were Ayra, Janessa, and Junius decided to occupy another table, and then proceeded to set up the game again at about 3:25 p.m. I asked the cashier guy if he knows the game and if it is recommended for newbies, and what he did was ask one of the men playing Game of Thrones if it is. The man said, “We have never played that before,” so we decided to abandon it and just play Dixit. After a few minutes of discussing, we decided to just play another game because we already know it and should explore other games, so Janessa and Junius went upstairs and came down with King of Tokyo. Again, I asked the cashier guy if this is a fairly easy game, and he said yes. He also apologized because the tutor will not be around until 4 p.m., and when I looked at the clock, it read 3:50 p.m. My order also arrived at about that time. He said that when the night rolls around, there would be many players and the regulars would come in. I thought that the tutor would be around sooner or later, so we decided to just read the rules and try to play it on our own.

Ayra, Janessa, and I decided to play, and as we read the rules, I realized that it was a pretty cool game because I like attack-and-heal fantasy games. King of Tokyo, a 30-minute or more game can be played by 2-6 players in which you will play as monsters, robots, or aliens, attacking each other to become the King of Tokyo. It contains 66 cards, 6 monster boards, 6 monster tokens with plastic stands, 8 custom engraved dice, 50 energy tokens, 28 card effects tokens, and a rulebook. When it is your turn, you throw six dice which bears the symbols: 1, 2, 3 Points of Destruction to earn Victory Points (VP), Energy to obtain Energy Cubes (EC), Heart to gain back Life Points (LP), and Whack to Attack monsters not in your area. In three throws, you can choose whether to keep or discard each die to come up with combinations. Three similar numbers earn you the points of that number, and an additional similar number will earn you a point each. You can also purchase special cards, where three would be dealt at the start of the game, with EC that has a permanent or temporary effect. Every monster shall start with 0 VP and 10 LP. To win the game, you must either destroy Tokyo by accumulating 20 VP or be the last monster standing.

When we had read the rules enough to know the basics, we started at around 4:15 p.m. We chose our monsters and Janessa chose Meka Dragon, Ayra chose Pandakai, and I chose Kraken. The first player is the one who can roll the most Whacks, and the next player would be on the first player’s left side. Janessa as the first player who rolled two Whacks occupied the Tokyo City first and attacked Ayra and I. She also gained an EC and 5 VP, which is a good start for rolling five 3’s. When it was my turn, I rolled a Whack, two Hearts, and two Energies. One of the Hearts was gone to waste because I only need one LP to gain. Janessa had the option to stay at the Tokyo City or yield. She chose to yield and I occupied Tokyo City in her place. When it was Ayra’s turn, she rolled a Whack, two Energies, and a Heart. I chose to yield because I thought that if I was occupying Tokyo City, I can lose so many life points because I got two who were attacking me. After I yielded and it was Janessa’s turn again, I read in the rule book that a monster can gain two VP if he occupied Tokyo City in a full turn. That was when Ayra did not choose to yield to anyone on the course of the game. It seemed that Janessa and I were allies and Ayra was our foe because she was the one who we were attacking. I purchased two cards over the course of the game. Poison Spit, a permanent card, can deal damage on the ones who are not in the same territory as yours’ LP in his turn, if he cannot roll a Heart. Another one is the Camouflage, which can grant me a chance to roll a die if someone attacked me and if I rolled a Heart, I would receive no damage. I was focused on hoarding Energy and LP that I have not strategized to accumulate VP than can enable me to win. Ayra won the game at about 5:15 p.m. with 5 LP, Janessa with 15 VP with 10 LP, and I with 4 VP and 10 LP.

As we decided to play another round of the game, the tutor, Mr. Joscar that we have learned is taking Master’s at the University of the Philippines – Diliman, had arrived at about 5:20 p.m. The cashier guy said that we were newbies and asked him to enlighten us, but we said we just finished the game and already knew the rules. He said that if we can go again there next time, we can give the place a call so that he can be there as early as possible. He also shared that the men playing on the other table were preparing for a national tournament on November 8, 2015, and they were practicing that time.


  • The Appraisery, Cubao Expo, Quezon City
  • November 7, 2015, 4:15 p.m.
  • 2 tables outside, 3 tables in the first floor, 1 in the second floor
  • 25 people, (60% in their teens, 10% in their 20’s, 30% in their 30’s and up)
  • 50% males and 50% females


  • Ayra – female, college student
  • Janessa – female, college student

Game (King of Tokyo):

  • 66 cards, 6 monster boards, 6 monster tokens with plastic stands, 8 custom engraved dice, 50 energy tokens, 28 card effects tokens, and a rulebook
  • The monsters are beautifully printed, imaginative that can be played by the family
  • The cards are colorful, with rotating devices that can keep track of your score
  • The board is small that just fits two monsters who can be King


Sears (2008) said that societies are defined by inequality that produces conflict, rather than which produces order and consensus. This conflict based on inequality can only be overcome through a fundamental transformation of the existing relations in the society. He expanded that the disadvantaged have structured interests and once they are assumed, will lead to social change.

Aureli & Waal (2000) said that Conflict theory is the study of how humans begin, maintain and end conflicts. If we combine board games with conflict theory, it can lead to people allowing face-to-face conflict change, thus altering the game’s rules. There came a time when we did not seem to understand the purpose of one card, so we just tweaked the rules and discarded it. Games revolve around conflict, but it can be different based on how the players interact with one another.

In the game King of Tokyo, the images of domination, conquest, and power come to mind. The one who is in the position occupying Tokyo City can have many privileges that can help him over the course of the game. Inequality exists because those in control actively defend their advantages, as to what happened in our game. Whatever attacks we gave Ayra and how Janessa and I interacted with her towards the game to yield her position, she would not yield because she knows the advantages of holding it, whatever communication tactics we try. This led to the chance of the disadvantaged teaming up because of their interest to try to and grab the position because they once held it. We want change, and the only way to change is to have her yield her position to either of us.

Another example is that it can offer implied experiences. We three knew one another, so conflicts can arise both on the game’s mechanics and our personal relationships. All of us knew how to act around each other to avoid conflict outside the game.

Learning a new game on our own put pressure to us because we were left without a key informant. Fortunately, after many conflicts and much discussion on the rules, we all agreed on what we were doing as we go about the game. After one round, we decided to play another but the arrival of the tutor led us to play just another game.


Aureli, F. and Waal, F. (2000). Natural Conflict Resolution. Ed. Aureli, F. and Waal, F., University of California Press Berkeley, CA.

Sears, Alan. (2008) A Good Book, In Theory: A Guide to Theoretical Thinking. North York: Higher Education University of Toronto Press, pg. 34-6, ISBN 1-55111-536-0.

Photo taken from: http://www.boardgameauthority.com/king-of-tokyo-momocon/


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