Disney Villainous Board Game - I am flabbergasted

Hot
MB Updated
Villainous board game first impressions
Follow Us
 
There Will Be Games

Just played Villainous with my kids. I am flabbergasted. Saying that this is Wonder Forge’s best game doesn’t do it justice because it stands up with the best designs out there. It’s a beautifully executed, completely unique game and if you love Disney...they pulled out all the stops to make it FEEL like classic Disney.

Every player had a completely different set of cards including ally/item/effects and another of Fate cards, which are the good guy stuff that goes with that villain. We played with Prince John (start a turn with 20 power, my pick), Captain Hook (a more complicated objective of beating Peter Pan at the Jolly Roger, my son), and Ursula (get the crown and trident to her lair, my daughter).

Narrative beats and mechanics are pulled straight from the stories. One of Ursula’s locations, the Palace, is locked until she changes form. Prince John had a special prison space where he can lock up heroes. Captain Hook has cards that help him pursue his vendetta against Peter, teasing him out to Hangman’s Rock. There were so many moments where my kids and I were like “yeah, just like the movie!”

It’s kind of an SUPER stripped down worker placement/action selection core. You have one piece, and you move it to one of four locations. These have four action icons, you do any or all of them in any order. The Fate (hero) cards are brilliant. If you get to place one, you choose a player and draw 2/pick one from their deck, placing it over the top half of one of their locations. This blocks half the actions there until they can defeat the hero with allies or other card effects.

It’s quite a bit heavier than I expected- it’s around middleweight Euro. I actually am surprised that it is as complex as it is, and with six totally different characters with unique objectives and cards. It very smartly comes with a little guide sheet for each character to brief you in what they are trying to do, how they do it, and what is in their decks. My kids had a little difficulty with it, I helped them through some of the tougher choices and combos. Scarlett won with Ursula but it was super close- I would have won if she didn’t, and River was in position to beat Pan- but Mr. Smee was hit by a headache and dropped his cutlass!

The graphic design has to be mentioned. Quite frankly, it blows just about everything else on the market today out of the water. It’s beautiful. Every card is lightly, subtly foiled. Each character has unique heraldry on their cards. The movers are lovely little abstract acrylic sculpt. Colors and fonts are totally on point, masterfully selected. The illustrations are stunning and authentic to the source materials. It makes garbage art like Legendary look even more egregious than it did before. The only whiff is that the cauldron for power points is kind of flimsy.

Totally floored by this game. I am a huge Disney fan so that certainly doesn’t hurt my opinion of it, but this is a great design regardless.

It is also worth noting that 3 out of the 6 characters are strong, independent women! Villainous, yes, but better than Red Scorpion!

There Will Be Games Villainous board game first impressions

Villainous board game first impressions
Michael Barnes (He/Him)
Senior Board Game Reviews Editor

Sometime in the early 1980s, MichaelBarnes’ parents thought it would be a good idea to buy him a board game to keep him busy with some friends during one of those high-pressure, “free” timeshare vacations. It turned out to be a terrible idea, because the game was TSR’s Dungeon! - and the rest, as they say, is history. Michael has been involved with writing professionally about games since 2002, when he busked for store credit writing for Boulder Games’ newsletter. He has written for a number of international hobby gaming periodicals and popular Web sites. From 2004-2008, he was the co-owner of Atlanta Game Factory, a brick-and-mortar retail store. He is currently the co-founder of FortressAT.com and Nohighscores.com as well as the Editor-in-Chief of Miniature Market’s Review Corner feature. He is married with two childen and when he’s not playing some kind of game he enjoys stockpiling trivial information about music, comics and film.

Articles by Michael

Villainous board game first impressions
Michael Barnes
Senior Board Game Reviews Editor

Articles by Michael

Log in to comment

drewcula's Avatar
drewcula replied the topic: #278403 26 Jul 2018 07:39
Can someone gently explain the Red Scorpion reference?
ChristopherMD's Avatar
ChristopherMD replied the topic: #278404 26 Jul 2018 07:44

drewcula wrote: Can someone gently explain the Red Scorpion reference?


lj1983's Avatar
lj1983 replied the topic: #278407 26 Jul 2018 08:46
sweet. always looking for games my kids might enjoy. going on the list.
the_jake_1973's Avatar
the_jake_1973 replied the topic: #278409 26 Jul 2018 09:02
I am definitely buying this game.
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #278412 26 Jul 2018 09:09
What age is appropriate for this game please?
SebastianBludd's Avatar
SebastianBludd replied the topic: #278420 26 Jul 2018 10:49
I never realized that Rob Liefeld illustrated for FFG back in the mid-2000's.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #278421 26 Jul 2018 11:17

Sagrilarus wrote: What age is appropriate for this game please?


My kids, who are pretty savvy about games, struggle with it a bit. They are 6 (7 in a month) and 8. Some of the card effects and coordination of combos is pretty advanced. And it has some unusual concepts like playing the Fate cards against other players to block their actions. I would think that a kid that is able to play Magic without assistance can handle it fine. So maybe 9-10ish and up?

Red Scorpion is just about the most sexist, immature representation of a female in a modern board game...seriously, who greenlighted that.
Motorik's Avatar
Motorik replied the topic: #278423 26 Jul 2018 11:27

drewcula wrote: Can someone gently explain the Red Scorpion reference?


I assumed he was talking about the Dolph Lundgren movie. Dolph is a great role model for young women, he has a master's degree in engineering.
the_jake_1973's Avatar
the_jake_1973 replied the topic: #278426 26 Jul 2018 12:16
Red Scorpion routinely and her +2 <ahem> Diplomacy gets made fun of at our table.
GorillaGrody's Avatar
GorillaGrody replied the topic: #278427 26 Jul 2018 12:16

Motorik wrote:

drewcula wrote: Can someone gently explain the Red Scorpion reference?


I assumed he was talking about the Dolph Lundgren movie. Dolph is a great role model for young women, he has a master's degree in engineering.


If I'm not mistaken, MB is talking about this lady, who seems to appear periodically in various Fantasy Flight Terrinoth settings. I agree, she's really pretty gross.


Edit Whoops! Should have looked more carefully at the thread--already cleared up.
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #278430 26 Jul 2018 13:08

Michael Barnes wrote: Red Scorpion is just about the most sexist, immature representation of a female in a modern board game...seriously, who greenlighted that.


The same pepeople who thought Runebound was a game good enough to publish.
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #278431 26 Jul 2018 13:11

Motorik wrote:

drewcula wrote: Can someone gently explain the Red Scorpion reference?


I assumed he was talking about the Dolph Lundgren movie. Dolph is a great role model for young women, he has a master's degree in engineering.


Can someone with some photoshop skills make us up a character card where I can play as a DVD copy of Red Scorpion? If I had that and a mini of a DVD copy of Red Scorpion, I would actually consider playing Runebound 2nd edition again. “Consider” being the key word.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #278434 26 Jul 2018 13:36

Josh Look wrote:

Michael Barnes wrote: Red Scorpion is just about the most sexist, immature representation of a female in a modern board game...seriously, who greenlighted that.


The same pepeople who thought Runebound was a game good enough to publish.


Ha ha! Runebound is one of those games where people play it and are like “This is good, right? Isn’t it? Maybe if we add a bunch of cards and stuff? It’s good, huh?”
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #278437 26 Jul 2018 13:50

Michael Barnes wrote:

Josh Look wrote:

Michael Barnes wrote: Red Scorpion is just about the most sexist, immature representation of a female in a modern board game...seriously, who greenlighted that.


The same pepeople who thought Runebound was a game good enough to publish.


Ha ha! Runebound is one of those games where people play it and are like “This is good, right? Isn’t it? Maybe if we add a bunch of cards and stuff? It’s good, huh?”


The excuse I’ve heard made for it is “It’s like Talisman, but smarter!” And I want to play that because....?
ChristopherMD's Avatar
ChristopherMD replied the topic: #278438 26 Jul 2018 13:58

Josh Look wrote: I'm going to shit all over anything I don't like as usual.


We know.
mads b.'s Avatar
mads b. replied the topic: #278439 26 Jul 2018 14:02
Runebound 2nd ed is fucking great. No, you should not play with more than four at the most, but that goes for a lot of adventure games.

3rd edition is even better. Really smart character progression system, and the diceless combat works really well.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #278443 26 Jul 2018 14:58
Of course it is Mads.

Second game today. I was Maleficient, River was Jafar, Scarlett the Queen of Hearts. Against my protestations, they wanted to play new characters rather than apply what they learned last night.

Still awesome, completely different interactions and strategies. Maleficient is kind of tricky- you have to get a curse into each location, but things take them away- like if Maleficient goes to a location with a certain kind of one. You really have to have the raven out to help mitigate that, but I didnt draw him until too late. The kids pounded me with Fate cards. I had Flora, Fauna and Merriweather on me AND King Stefan.

Jafar has to open the Cave of Wonders with the Scarab, and play the lamp. This calls Genie there. Then he has to hypnotize Genie and take him and the lamp to the palace. River did some pretty fun stuff like hypnotizing Aladdin to beat the Sultan. Abu turned up late in the game as he was trying to move the lamp and he stole it. So he wound up hypnotizing the monkey to get it back.

The Queen of Hearts has the most fun victory condition. You have to play Card Guards into each location and the pay to turn them into Wickets. Then, you need a Take the Shot card. You reveal the top five off your deck and if the total cost is less than your total wicket strength, she wins. Scarlett did really well in her own and actually won. She was waylaid early on by Dodo and Caterpillar, but beat them and then took the shot one turn before River would have won. QoH’s Fate deck has cards to enlarge Heroes, causing them to cover adjacent symbols but her actions card let you shrink them so they only cover one. Virtually every effect and mechanic is like that.

It’s about an hour. I think it will go 45 usually, probably 90 minutes with 6.
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #278444 26 Jul 2018 15:15
Aside from the Fate cards, it sounds like there is no interaction between the players. I suppose it makes thematic sense that each character is immersed in their own story.
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #278446 26 Jul 2018 15:24

ChristopherMD wrote:

Josh Look wrote: I'm going to shit all over anything I don't like as usual.


We know.


I don’t come here to handle garbage games with the kid gloves on. This is a better discussion for a Friday Flashback, so perhaps tomorrow I’ll be back to shit on Runebound 2nd edition and talk about how much I like 3rd (cuz I do, it’s really great).

Villainous sounds really cool. We don’t have kids but we seen Disney fans in this house, so I’m sure we’ll be picking it up at some point.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #278448 26 Jul 2018 15:30

Shellhead wrote: Aside from the Fate cards, it sounds like there is no interaction between the players. I suppose it makes thematic sense that each character is immersed in their own story.


This is correct. However the catch is that other players COMPLETELY control the opposition- playing heroes, choosing what actions to block, putting items on heroes, playing effects...I had two players completely set on sinking me in heroes and it seriously impacted my efforts. There are also cards in every character’s deck that you can play on another player’s turn based on a condition- like if they have X number of Allies, Items, Power, etc.

It is “siloed” to some extent, but it does not feel like solitaire at all.
ChristopherMD's Avatar
ChristopherMD replied the topic: #278450 26 Jul 2018 16:26
I still think a Batman board game where everyone plays the villains similar to this game would sell like ice cream on a hot summer day.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #278453 26 Jul 2018 17:00
You’ll never make a dime kid. Zombies fighting Cthulhu in a dungeon on Mars. THAT is what sells boxes these days.
CranBerries's Avatar
CranBerries replied the topic: #278477 26 Jul 2018 21:46
I would like to purchase this when Barnes sells it, thank you.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #278478 26 Jul 2018 22:53
Not likely on this one. Already a family favorite.
jay718's Avatar
jay718 replied the topic: #278498 27 Jul 2018 08:50

ChristopherMD wrote: I still think a Batman board game where everyone plays the villains similar to this game would sell like ice cream on a hot summer day.


This game already exists. It's called Batman: Gotham City Strategy Game and aside from Josh Look, I think it went widely unnoticed. I played it two or three times with him and other assorted F:ATties at Trashfest. It's not bad. Not bad at all.