Disney villains are perhaps one of the best things about their movies, they are always so interesting and so varied. From the Evil Stepmother in Snow White to Jafar in Aladdin, all have their unique style, personality and vendettas; and this is the route Disney has gone down when creating their new board game, Villainous
Villainous is a highly strategy-based, asymmetrical card game. Each player can choose to play as one of six famous villains: Jafar, Maleficent, Prince John, The Queen of Hearts, Captain Hook and Ursula. As well as being given a fate deck, realm board and hero deck, each villain gets a guidebook, explaining the unique cards and abilities each villain has; this also outlines each villains objective. When a villain reaches their assigned objective, the game is over. However, they must be able to maintain their objective for one more round.
The game at its core is simple, the players take it in turns to a) move their villain to a new are in their realm b) perform any actions in the chosen location, and c) draw 4 new cards to end the turn. The actions that can be taken by villains can either be beneficial to the player, or you can mess with other players, to prevent them from reaching their objective.
The premise of Villainous won me over immediately, a board game based on Disney villains, what could be more up my alley. But then I saw the board and pieces and fell in love. The whole art style of the game is beautiful and well thought out. The markers for each villain are absolutely beautifully designed, in a minimal style, whilst being extremely recognisable.
The cards are lovely, each one having some fab new artwork for beloved objects and characters from the movies. I loved how each deck was so unique to each villain, which entices you to want to play the game over and over with different villains. But also, when you get the hang of one villain, there is an urge to play again now that you have mastered the tactics. Both of these things give the game such great re-playability.
The gameplay did take a bit of getting used to there was some confusion about certain actions we could take, and I think this is down to each villain being slightly different, but with a few more glances at the rule book things did become clearer. But I do think this is where it falters slightly, some villains have more straight forward boards than others, however, I think with another play-through then it would be easier to get the hang of it.
Villainous does a cracking job at putting you in the mindset of each villain, being able to mess with others as well really enhances this and the competitiveness does escalate. It also makes sense narratively, think if all these villains were in a room together, attempting to wreak havoc upon their heroes, but then also being thwarted by other villains, it would get messy. With this in mind, I would perhaps give the game a miss if you hate conflict in games!
One thing I will say about this is that the game can go on for longer than expected, the ability for the other players to have their turns as the other player has reached their objective leads to meddling and can make the game go on for a long time. But if you have the time for it, this element does build the tension, whereas in some games, you can reach your objective and it feels slightly anti-climatic just announcing…‘I’ve won’.
Overall I fell in love with Villainous, with some minor hiccups with some of the rules at first, I ended up having such fun. I can’t wait to play it again with a different villain but I also can’t wait for the next instalment The Worst Takes it All which introduces Hades from Hercules, The Wicked Stepmother from Snow White and Dr Facilier from Princess and the Frog. There are so many villains that I would love to play as and I think this is where the game has its biggest strength, the characters and how each time you play it will be an entirely different experience.