In this Disney-themed game from Wonder Forge, players take on the role of one of six iconic Disney villains and compete to see who can achieve their objective first. The six villains included are: Prince John, Maleficent, Jafar, Ursula, the Queen of Hearts, and Captain Hook.
Each villain comes with his/her own pawn, board, guide, reference cards, fate cards, and villain cards. The game also includes a cauldron and power tokens.
- Board: Your game board, also called your “realm” contains four locations. Each villain will have distinct locations, which are all appropriately themed. Some villains have locked locations in their realms. These locations can be unlocked using certain villain cards or other effects. Each location in the realm has specific actions that you may perform when you are there.
- Guide: Your villain reference guide gives you details on your game-winning objective and other information relevant to your villain.
- Reference Card: A player aide that details each villain’s objective.
- Villain Cards: This is your draw deck. You use this to help achieve your objective.
- Fate Cards: Your opponent draws from this deck to prevent you from completing your objective.
Each player chooses a villain and takes her/his game board, pawn, villain deck, fate deck, and villain reference guide. On your turn, you first move your villain to a new location in your realm. You cannot remain in the same location for two consecutive turns unless you have a card that allows you to do so. Then you can perform all of the available actions in your realm in any order. Your opponent can play fate cards to cover actions in your realm making them unavailable. Then you may draw cards until you reach your hand limit of four.
Examples of Actions
On your turn, and depending on your board space, you can play a card, get power tokens, move an item, an ally, or a hero; play a fate card from your opponent’s deck, activate powers from cards that you have already played, vanquish a hero, and discard any number of cards.
You need power tokens during the game to play your cards. Most cards have a cost associated with them—ranging from one to three, and you will use power tokens to pay this cost.
Examples of Villain Card Types
The villains have heroes they must vanquish. The heroes are drawn from the fate deck and make each villains’ quest more difficult. Each villain has certain allies to aid them in vanquishing these heroes. In Ursula’s deck, her allies are Flotsam and Jetsam, and the heroes she faces include Ariel and Flounder.
The villains also have items that can assist them in vanquishing heroes or completing their objectives and condition cards that can be played at certain times during the game.
Five of the six villains have card-based objectives—that is, they must get one or more cards out of their decks and place them at certain areas in their realms. The exception is Prince John who must accumulate a certain amount of power tokens.
This game is heavily themed. Any Disney fan, or Disnerd as we are often called, will love the theming. The designers did a great job here. After playing the Queen of Hearts, I even started reading Alice in Wonderland again.
This game is just screaming out for expansions and the possibilities are endless. It seems the game publishers are way ahead here because their website includes a place where you can vote for which villain you would like to see next. You can choose from a list of 15 possibilities or choose ‘other’. Cruella di Ville? Scar? The Evil Queen? These are just a few of the listed possibilities.
Villainous relies heavily on luck. In fact, every character except Prince John requires certain cards to complete her/his objective. When a player is able to get these cards from her/his deck is almost entirely random. There may be instances where the other player can cause you to shuffle/re-shuffle your deck, making it harder to get your needed cards out, but getting them out at all is random. If the card you need to win is the last card in your deck, but the card your opponent needs to win is the fifth card in his, well his odds of winning just increased exponentially. There is definitely strategy involved in this game, but you simply cannot get around the luck factor. If you are a player that despises luck components in games, this may not be the game for you.
For example, in a recent game, I was playing as Ursula. For Ursula to win, she must get two specific cards to her Palace and have it unlocked. I had one card out already and was close to getting the other card out. I only had four cards left in my draw pile, which I had accomplished by continuing to discard my cards in an effort to get to the other card I need. (So, there is a luck component here that one of the cards I needed was on the bottom of my deck, or nearly so. However, my continual discarding of cards is a strategy you can employ in this game.) Then my husband played one of my fate cards that forced me to re-shuffle my entire draw and discard deck. (I may have uttered some not so family friendly words for him.) Thus, making it highly unlikely that I would win the game as I now had to get through my entire deck again.
After playing this game four times, and having played the same villain twice, I feel like the replayability of the game is limited. Once you have oohed and aahed at the theming of the cards and player boards and played each villain, you’ve seen everything there is to see. It’s not as if there are multiple ways to win. Each villain has one and only one way to win. If you play the game often, I am afraid you will start to tire of it.
A Husband’s Perspective
There is a good game in here. The villains are well crafted after their animated counterparts. Each one has a specific way to win, which is on par with what he/she was trying to accomplish in their respective movies. Captain Hook wants to beat Peter Pan while Prince John only cares about power.
Gameplay is card driven. You’ll spend power tokens to play allies, effects, and items to help you achieve your goal. The artwork on the cards are all ripped from the animated movies, so you know it looks good. The cards themselves are great quality and are all clearly denoted so you know which villain each set belongs to.
The hero deck for each villain is a fitting nuisance. The heroes cover up actions that you can take on your board. They can steal items and power from you. The pesky heroes can even bring out other heroes, making your goal even harder to achieve.
I mentioned earlier there is a good game in here. The problem is that it is surrounded by luck. Luck in board games is not necessarily a bad thing, but it rears its head way too much in Villainous so much so that it can take some of the fun out of the game. It can make the game drag on for way longer than intended, or the game can be over in a flash.
For example, while playing as Jafar, my objective was to unlock a particular location and then summon Genie to that location. The problem is that in order to unlock that location, I need a specific card. If that card is buried at the bottom of my deck, I’ll have to get through my entire deck just to unlock that location, then I’ll still need to get Genie summoned to that spot. That’s only part of Jafar’s overall objective. However, if I draw that card during my initial draw, I’m already part way to my goal and the game just started.
This type of situation can occur for every character except Prince John because his goal is to just amass 20 power. He is the only character that you would consider properly balanced based on how the game plays, but at the same time completely unbalanced based on the goals for the rest of the villains.
If you are a major Disney fan and/or you can overlook the large amount of luck for 5 of the 6 villains, then I would recommend getting this game. Otherwise, I would say stay away.