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A View from the Shadows: Disney Villainous, part I

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23 Mar 2021 09:10 #321068 by Jackwraith
I'm not a Disney guy, for the most part. While...

A deep dive into Disney's expansive, asymmetric card game.

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23 Mar 2021 10:42 #321069 by Shellhead
I've only played Villainous once, with the base game, but I agree with all your points about the overall game, both good and bad. I played the Red Queen, and due to the multi-player solitaire aspect of the game, I can't remember what anybody else was playing, or even if there were 4 or 5 players in the game. The translation of the theme and setting was fantastic, but the gameplay initially felt unintuitive and awkward. Partway through the game, I realized that the Red Queen looks almost exactly like Fred Flintstone, and I couldn't un-see that afterwards. If not for the low interaction, I would love to play more Villainous.
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23 Mar 2021 11:00 #321071 by Jackwraith
Ha! I can see it. The Red Queen even has that kind of Jackie Gleason thing going on: "To the moon, Alice!"

I think the low interaction can be countered by people willing to Fate more frequently, rather than just build their own infrastructure, but it takes a bit more freewheeling approach to the game than a lot of people have (i.e. more about having fun and enjoying the group than actually winning.) It's very story-driven, so if you're OK with just telling a story, as opposed to "succeeding", as it were, then it will usually turn out better. But that often takes people that are just geeked about being involved with their favorite Disney characters and if you're not a Disney person, then it's less of a draw.

As I mentioned, I'm still just kind of fascinated at the IP translation. I've watched a couple movies I've never seen (Princess and the Frog, Emperor's New Groove, Tangled) just so I can understand what the story of the respective decks is and they did a bang-on job every time.

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23 Mar 2021 11:04 #321072 by Shellhead
Prospero Hall is the new Gale Force Nine.
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23 Mar 2021 13:38 #321087 by the_jake_1973
The implementation of the IP for the game is amazing. Each character plays as you would expect their animated counterpart would. As far as the multiplayer solitaire aspect, some villains you want to Fate more than others. If a win condition for a villain means they need to search in the fate deck for something, like Jafar I think, no need to help them out. Conversely, not Fating a villain like Prince John early and often can hand them the game. Once the players are familiar with how each villain plays and the win conditions, the game gets better. It isn't deep and can last longer than you want a filler to, but my group finds it fun. I'm partial to the challenge of playing Ursula, but I love Prince John as I can quote the Robin Hood movie.
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23 Mar 2021 16:38 #321101 by Michael Barnes
It’s one of my favorite games- it blows my mind how this system takes in all of these characters and stories and spits out a game that totally captures not just the particulars of it all, but also the Disney-ness of it all.

And I like almost all of the characters, none have been an out and out failure. I love that they’ve dug deep (Ratigan?!) and really put a ton of love into each one.

Favorites are probably Pete, Dr. Facilier, Cruella, and Malificent.

Tick Tock can rot in hell.
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23 Mar 2021 16:58 #321105 by Jackwraith
Heh. Did you move Captain Hook to Tick Tock's spot?

I agree. I just wish I could convince more people around here of how interesting and innovative the game is. I have one friend who says she's always willing to play. If I could scare up two more (once everyone is as safe as can be), we'd be rolling. I talked in another thread about wanting to do a Root day or a Cosmic Encounter day or a 51st State day or any number of other games that I could play over and over. Villainous is on that list.

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24 Mar 2021 13:41 #321160 by Joebot

Of course, if your group has the patience and interest to get past that hurdle, the game will absolutely blossom for you.


Sadly, my family never made it over that hurdle. I bought this game mainly because of the rave reviews here on this site. This game bombed HARD with my family. The first time we played, my daughter was Jafar (I think), so she has to find one specific card to win. She spent the entire game churning and churning through her deck, trying to find that one card. She never found it, and then the game ended. She made 0% progress toward her goal, and that was the one and only time I ever got her to play this game. What's that old saying about "You only get one chance to make a first impression?"

Now, as you say, the game probably gets better with experience, but if you bounce that hard off the game in the first play, then you'll never get to that point unfortunately. I sold the game off and never looked back.
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24 Mar 2021 14:01 #321162 by ubarose
Yes, Jafar is hard, and I find him really not fun to play. Might not have been such a good idea to include him in the base game, as I could see someone bouncing hard off the game if Jafar was their first experience.

I've become fixated on trying to win with the Queen of Hearts, but haven't been able to pull it off yet. We have banned Al from playing King John, because we got tired of getting trounced by him.
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24 Mar 2021 14:07 #321164 by Jackwraith
That sucks. I totally understand, though, as I've seen people go through the same issues with it. I had a friend who insisted on playing Ursula for her first game because she loved the character and knew the origin of her design. I warned against it, telling her that Ursula was really tough, but she was adamant. A half hour later, while she's still trying to figure out if she can ever make a Contract actually do what it's supposed to, the game is over. Since then, I've pitched it a couple more times and she's not having any.

I guess you could say that's the risk of having such a wildly asymmetric game? Some characters like Maleficent and Prince John are going to be easy to latch onto (in fact, I've had a negative response from a Prince John player who felt that he "didn't really do anything" to win and it was boring) and others like Jafar and Ursula simply won't be. Unfortunately, the latter two (and sometimes Captain Hook) are also going to be someone's first experience with it and, like you say, that's often going to be tough to get past if it really goes awry for them.

I've been through it myself. Everyone here raves about Camp Grizzly. I played once and have no interest in ever touching it again. I found it tedious, obvious, and largely rote. I'm also not a fan of that genre of films, so I don't have the thematic attachment that some do and, similarly, how some would be willing to look past Villainous' rough points because they're huge fans of Disney or particular films.

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24 Mar 2021 14:11 #321165 by Jackwraith

ubarose wrote: Yes, Jafar is hard, and I find him really not fun to play. Might not have been such a good idea to include him in the base game, as I could see someone bouncing hard off the game if Jafar was their first experience.


I don't find Jafar that difficult, which is why I rated him a 2, but that's me and it's also because I have extensive experience with the game now. I can totally see someone not being interested if they failed to find the Pendant for the whole game (as with Hook and the Map and a couple other characters.) But that's what I was saying above about everyone playing differently. It's tough to present that design and still have everyone be able to have a good first game. Root is also often cited for this, especially with the Marquise and the Alliance.

ubarose wrote: I've become fixated on trying to win with the Queen of Hearts, but haven't been able to pull it off yet. We have banned Al from playing King John, because we got tired of getting trounced by him.


Similarly, I've long-since been banned from playing Slaanesh in CitOW by one of my regular groups. I appear to be naturally adept with the perv god...

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