Disney villains are almost as iconic as Disney heroes. Who can forget Ursula’s cavernous lair or Jafar’s turn as an evil sorcerer? These compelling characters provide a powerful foil and often have a rich story of their own. Published by Wonder Forge, Disney’s Villainous lets you step into the shoes – or tentacles – of these memorable malcontents. Will this be the time they finally win the day?
Each player takes on the role of a different villain. The box comes with 6 options and Wonder Forge held an online poll asking who they should develop next, so it seems safe to assume we’ll be seeing more soon. Once you’ve decided whether you’ll be King John or Maleficent it’s time to grab your two decks. Each villain has two asymmetrical decks. One is full of the allies, items, and actions that you need to pull off your wicked schemes. The other is full of the heroes from your movie and it’s how your opponents will mess with you.
This set up is easy. In fact, getting into a game of Villainous is made easy in many ways. There isn’t deck building or modifications to worry about, the core systems and actions are shared across all players, and each villain comes with a little strategy booklet to help you in play. This is very useful for new players and will be referenced any time you grab a new character. Each Villain has a unique victory condition which allows you to inhabit their world, and these booklets make it easy to understand what to do.
For example, Prince John is concerned only with the accumulation of wealth. A victory with old PJ is accomplished by taking as many actions as possible to gain money and by locking Robin Hood and his Merry Men in jail. Slowing him down is a tough proposition for the other villains. Putting Robin into play will allow you to rob Prince John’s stash of coins, but if defeated Prince John gets powerful bonuses.
On the other side of the table, Jafar is executing a more complicated scheme. He first needs to unlock the Cave of Wonder space on the board before taking control of the Genie and moving the Lamp over to the palace. This is done by leveraging items and actions in a tactical way that is wholly different than Prince John. The heroes behave differently. Towards the end of the game, Jafar’s opponents are frantically throwing Aladdin, Jasmine, and the rest of the crew out on to the board to attempt to take the lamp. Jafar is using Iago and his henchmen to take it back and move it to the palace. The physical relocation of the Lamp card mirrors the frantic dash for the lamp in the movie in a wonderful way.
Villainous is among the best of 2018 list for many reasons. The familiar theme and consistently simple mechanism make it eminently approachable for families. Young kids will flock to the table due to their familiarity with Disney animated classics, and older players will enjoy tackling the tactical puzzle that must be solved to win. Whether you’re Captain Hook or Maleficent, you’ll relive the magic of your favorite movies while reveling in the fun of tabletop gaming.
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Image Credits: Teri Litorco