Play Time: 40 minutes+
Age Recommendation: 10+
Difficulty to Learn: 3/10
Mastery Curve: 4/10
Luck Variance: 5/10
Awards & Honors:
The Toy Association Toy of the Year Awards- Game of the Year (2019)
Theme and Overview
In Villainous, players assume the role of one of six classic Disney Villains (Jafar from Aladdin, Ursula from The Little Mermaid, Captain Hook from Peter Pan, Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, Prince John from Robin Hood, and Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland included in the base game) and compete against one another in a race to fulfill a unique goal before any other player.
Each villain comes with a unique realm (playing board with four different action spaces), a deck of Villain cards, and a deck of Fate cards specific to that villain. On each turn, players move their villain marker to a new space in their realm and can perform any number of the actions indicated on that space. This could include playing a card, gaining power (used to pay the cost of cards), activating a card’s ability, or a variety of other things that will come in handy in your quest to perform your evil deeds.
Along the way, pesky hero cards appear via Fate actions performed by your opponents. Hero cards are drawn from your own Fate deck (specific to your character) when an opponent uses a Fate action and can occupy the spaces on the top track of your realm board to block access to some of the possible actions available on that space.
Each villain’s victory condition is quite unique, ranging from having 20 power at the start of the turn to needing to vanquish certain characters at specific locations in your realm. In any case, the villain’s opposition, which comes in the form of the hero cards in their Fate deck, have been carefully designed to allow for others to properly hinder your progress with their Fate actions.
Each villain comes with a booklet that describes some tips and strategies specific to that build as well as giving the player an idea of what to expect to see in each of the Fate and Villain decks. This is especially helpful to players who are playing a villain for the first time.
Thematically, each player seems to exist in an independent universe from one another in which only the protagonists from their own movies may be played against them. Each game of Villainous is a a race to complete each villain’s ultimate evil plot and interaction with your opponents occurs while determining when and which heroes will appear in your opponents’ realms to make things difficult for them to do so (chosen from the top two cards of their deck each time you activate a Fate action).
Villainous contains 180 Villain cards and 90 Fate cards (both are 63.5x88mm)
Corey: Though the Disney branding initially made me a bit hesitant, there was a point where I couldn’t ignore the hype surrounding Villainous and we had to give it a shot. I’m really happy we picked this one up. Villainous, like the Kingdom Hearts series, is the unlikely mixture of fantasy gaming elements with Disney familiarity that seems to be the perfect middle ground for Nikki and I who are either adverse to learning how to play anything resembling Magic: the Gathering or have played competitively for many years. I’ll let you guess which one of us is which…
With each villain being pitted against its own deck of curated heroes in each game, it seems as if the game’s balance is relatively controlled and the interaction between the resources that each villain has at their disposal, the challenges they have to overcome, and the goal they ultimately have to complete seem well-aligned to make for an interesting and satisfying experience that doesn’t require the player to do much planning beyond deciding which villain they’d like to play with at the start of the game. On the flip side of that, I’d expect this to limit the replay value a bit as experiencing the same circuit on repeated playthroughs may lead to a villain feeling “figured out” sooner.
My biggest knock against Villainous is the fact that quite a few of the Villain’s goals involve finding specific cards in their villain decks to win the game and, as a result, rely on a strategy that revolves around drawing as many cards as one can in order to find those pieces. In those moments, it seems like you’re just left to fend off attacks and cause problems for your opponents while you wait to find what you need.
COREY POINTS: 7/10
Nikki: So far I have really enjoyed playing Villainous. It has been a fun challenge to learn about how each villain works and how they stack up against their villainous foes. Each villain has different mechanics and objectives that play off of their original Disney story, but sometimes it feels disjointed that everyone is playing to different “endgames” which requires an understanding of how your opponent’s selected villain works in addition to your own (which might require a few matches to see each villain in action).
NIKKI POINTS: 7/10
Corey: I addressed this a bit in the General Enjoyment response but I worry that the way that these decks are limited to interact with one another specifically may lead to some redundancy in gameplay and the feeling of a character being “figured out”. It would be cool to see how one villain might play off of another — say Peter Pan and the Lost Boys causing problems for The Queen of Hearts, for instance — as this could likely lead to some more diversity in gameplay but I can see why this could be a challenge for balance and cause some problems thematically.
COREY POINTS: 6/10
Nikki: Villainous has six different classic Disney villains to select which makes for a decent amount of replay value especially if opponents agree to not just play their favorite villains every match. The only negative is that each Villain deck and Fate deck remain unchanged (they are only “modified” by shuffling) so playing a specific villain repeatedly may get stale. If the game does seem to be getting stale or repetitive, there are a whopping three expansions available: Perfectly Wretched (featuring Cruella De Vil from 101 Dalmatians, Pete from Steamboat Willie, and Mother Gothel from Tangled), Wicked to the Core (featuring the Evil Queen from Snow White, Dr. Facilier from Princess and the Frog, and Hades from Hercules), Evil Comes Prepared (featuring Scar from The Lion King, Yzma from The Emperor’s New Groove, and Ratigan from The Great Mouse Detective).
NIKKI POINTS: 7/10
Corey: This game does a great job of this and it’s really brought home in each villain’s individual objective. It feels truly evil to bring Peter Pan to the Jolly Roger to try and kill him with an army of pirates. Mwahahahaha.
COREY POINTS: 9/10
Nikki: The game showcases our favorite villains, and everyone will recognize their beloved characters that appear on the Fate cards. It really brings me back to my childhood love of Disney and deepens my appreciation for how much time was taken creating interesting and memorable villains and heroes. To increase immersion, I highly recommend creating a special playlist with curated Disney songs from the movies in which our infamous villains made their on-screen debuts. Note that you may be told to “turn down the music” or to “stop singing so loudly” because it apparently makes it difficult for your opponent to make important game decisions. If this is the case as it was for me just tell your opponent that they are a “true villain” and keep the Disney smash hits playing.
NIKKI POINTS: 9.5/10
Quality of Components
Corey: The plastic “villain movers” are awesome includes. The cards are high quality and, not to mention, high resolution. The realm boards are great, too. They even fold up like a book which is a nice touch. The power tokens (cardboard disks) are housed in a plastic volcano-like bowl which is a helpful and neat looking but not the sturdiest of pieces.
COREY POINTS: 8/10
Nikki: The actual physical pieces in this game are of good quality but I did notice that the game box and each villain’s realm board appear to be susceptible to denting as we have not had the game for very long and there are already marks on the box and on a few of the boards. I think this can probably be attributed to the fact that the board material used to make both box and realm boards components seems to be a little softer than the board materials used in other games. The villain movers are very sturdy and arguably the coolest pieces in the box.
NIKKI POINTS: 7/10
Corey: Obviously, with Disney IP, Villainous really has no excuse not to score highly in this category. Fortunately, Ravensburger delivered big time here and, in addition to the incredible art from the films, the original art designed for the game including the card backs for the Villain deck card backs is waaaaaay cool.
COREY POINTS: 9/10
Nikki: As expected, this game is beautiful, and takes classic Disney scenes and characters that look like they came straight from the original animated movies. The box is iconic showing a silhouette of Maleficient against a rich green background with black text and gold inset decorative borders. Deep jewel tones are used well throughout the villain game pieces to provide an ominous atmosphere which provides a stark contrast with the light colors used for the hero cards.
NIKKI POINTS: 9.5/10
Our overall score based on the responses of both reviewers in five different categories (10 points possible for each).