FTW Staff Picks - Villainous
For The Win Board Game Cafe's Staff Picks is a weekly series where we take a quick look at some of the staff's favourite games, old and new.
Genre: Hand Management
Designer: Prospero Hall
Player Size: 2 to 6 Players
Game Length: 50 minutes
For fans of: Scythe, Munchkin, Smash Up
Over the last decade Disney has been building itself to become the dominant multimedia giant it is today. Disney has slowly collected and acquired major IPs like Thanos collects infinity stones. Nowadays we think of Disney and franchises like Marvel and Star Wars immediately come to mind. But before all that, Disney’s bread-and-butter was it’s magical world of animated classics led by the world’s most famous mouse. It’s only right that Disney has begun turning its attention to the tabletop in hopes to conquer yet another interactive medium. And they’ve begun their quest with an unlikely theme revolving some of their most iconic villains.
In Villainous, players take on the role of an iconic Disney villain trying to outwit one another in a race to complete their unique story-based objective. Players select a Villain and are given a unique player board and Villain and Fate decks. Each player shuffles both decks and draws 4 cards from their Villain deck to their hand. On the active player’s turn they begin by moving their Villain to a new location. They may then perform any location-based actions in any order. The active player then completes their turn by drawing back up to 4 Villain cards. Play continues until one player has successfully completed their personal objective. That player is then declared the winner of the game!
There is an inherent difficulty in balancing any game with unique cards and win conditions. There are many variables that can make certain matchups feel impossible to overcome. And while they’ve mostly done a good job here, there are still times when games can feel imbalance. Like most games with card draw, there’s an element of luck and because everyone has different objectives, it can lead to lopsided experiences. The challenge will only get larger as they add more villains, but it should also keep play fresh.
Disney’s first major foray in tabletop gaming is not perfect, but it has plenty of room for growth. Villainous offers a unique asymmetric experience that leans heavily on its theme. Anyone familiar with the characters and movies are sure to enjoy the different play-styles of each villain. Staying true to its title, the game’s strength lies in building diverse ways to play. And with one expansion already on shelves (and sold out in most places), Disney is likely to continue adding villains from their massive library of characters. Seeing how they’re able to balance all the different interactions will be the key to successfully bringing Villainous to reach its potential.