I’ll be honest, I was a bit skeptical when I was asked to play this game yesterday. Mainly because of the big ‘Disney’ logo on the front of the box. I’m always up for trying new games though, so I gave it a shot – and boy, was I pleased!
Disney released a new board game called Villainous the beginning of this month. It’s a game where you and the other players choose a famous Disney villain and are competing the complete your dastardly objective before anyone else. My first game of this, I played as Price John from Robin Hood, and the other two players chose Ursula and Jafar. The thing that makes this game quite interesting, is that everyone’s win condition is different. For instance, Prince John needs to start his turn with 20 power. However, Jafar needs to get the Magic Lamp to the palace, and have Genie under his control. But things aren’t always as easy as they seem. Your opponents will have opportunities during the course of the game to send heroes – specific of your realm – to counter your progress.
Let me just say first, this game is super thematic. Each player board has 4 different locations specific to the movie/realm they are from. Each player will also have a token piece that represents their villain. Players will move their token to a different location within their realm each turn to use actions. The image above, is my Prince John board, and Jafar’s board after turn 2 of the game I played last night. Each location will have a specific number of available actions (Usually 4+/-). The actions allow you to; gain power, play a card, activate an ability, fate an opponent, move an item or ally, move a hero, vanquish a hero, or discard cards.
You’ll have two decks, one with all your evil tricks, items, and allies, and another deck containing heroes specific to your realm. Most of the abilities are self explanatory, so I’ll just be covering Fate and Vanquish. Fate allows you to draw the top two cards of your opponent’s Fate Deck (the deck of heroes). You will then choose one of those two cards to play. Sometimes it’s a hero, sometimes it’s an ability that affects a hero or negatively affects the villain in one way or another. If you choose a hero, you send that hero to a location in that Villain’s realm. The hero then covers the top two actions, preventing that player from using those actions at that location. Heroes can become quite annoying.
So how does one deal with a hero? You vanquish them of course! The vanquish action allows you to compare strength values of your allies against the hero(es) of the same location. If your ally’s strength meets or exceeds that of the hero’s, the hero and any allies used to accomplish that are discarded. That spot the hero was occupying is now has the actions available for use again.
The concept and rules are very simple, but the strategy is definitely there. Knowing when to play a card, or what cards to discard to draw something better is very important. At the end of every turn, you will draw back up to 4 cards (standard maximum hand size). I lost to Jafar by 2 turns last night, making it a very close game. For quite a while I was combating heroes and having to spend my precious power in order to play cards. At the end of the game, I had 19 power – 1 short of what I needed to start a turn with.
My Thoughts: Absolutely surpassed my expectations. I went into this game thinking it was going to be some cheesy simplistic game – with the hopes it wasn’t. The rules are indeed simple, which is great, but there are definitely important decisions to make. When do I play this card instead of the other one? Should I discard this card this round? Which location should I move to where I can get the most use out of the actions available? You’ll be asking yourself these questions almost every turn. The thematic elements are amazing as well, and the components are great (beside the cheap power token bowl) with great artwork on the cards. With 6 different villains to choose from, and each having their own unique win condition or objective, the replay value on this game is huge. Also, being that there are only 6 villains, you can be sure future expansions with new villains will be coming out in only a matter of time. They already have a site you can go to and vote for which villain you’d most like to play as. I give this game a solid 9/10.
- Rating: 7.6
- Playtime: 50 Min
- Complexity: 2.22 / 5
- Mechanisms: Hand Management, Take That, Variable Player Powers
- Category: Card Game, Movie Theme, Family
- MSRP: $40