Disney Villainous from Wonder Forge pits the most famous evil-doers from animated film against one another to see who is the best at being bad. Usually board games inspire players to take on the roles of heroes, but Villainous takes a different direction. Instead of vanquishing evil-doers, players do the evil, as well as a little good to frustrate their malevolent rivals.
To begin, players choose from the six of the wickedest, most fearsome enemies in the Disney universe. The choices stretch from the early days of Disney with the dark fairy Maleficent and the murderous Captain Hook. Players may also choose from the classically selfish Prince John and Queen of Hearts. Younger Disney fans might find their favorites in sea-witch Ursula or the plotting Jafar.
Each choice in Villainous comes with its own strengths and unique gameplay. Rather than the aesthetic being a simple skin over the same base characters, these villains have their own decks of cards that determine individual methods of play. For example, Maleficent focuses on brute power with straightforward cards in her own actions as well as her underlings. The Queen of Hearts, meanwhile, uses roundabout attacks that weaken and power-ups that strengthen. Jafar, on the other hand, is connivingly complicated with cards that interact with other ones, a perfect choice for players who love to strategize.
Once players have chosen their villains, gameplay in Villainous begins with each player unfolding their character’s board of locations. Relating to the famous stories, these locations serve as battlefields for villains to gather their strength. Players move their villains between the locations to perform actions printed upon them. In a wide range of actions, players might play cards to gain powers or sabotage their opponents, move cards already in play, or defeat a hero standing against them.
Rather than all villains racing toward a single goal, Villainous gives each player an individual goal. Some goals are collecting, such as Ursula gathering Triton’s trident and crown or Maleficent spreading curses to each location. Others are more instance-based, like Captain Hook defeating Peter Pan. Players will not only have to keep after their own goals, they will also need to be aware of their opponents’ progress and work to block them by playing Fate cards.
Along with the villain cards, Villainous gives each player a deck of Fate cards that work against them. Other players use actions to draw from these, playing them to hinder each other’s fiendish plots. Many Fate cards are heroes, who block the villain’s path toward their goal, like Aladdin stealing an item from Jafar. Others frustrate villains’ plans, such as Robin Hood wearing a Clever Disguise and being unable to be defeated by Prince John until the disguise is removed. Fate must be dealt with by removing the cards before the villain can move forward to meet their goal.
Disney Villainous is a board game for two to six people aged ten and up. With each villain having their own decks with heroes to defeat and schemes to carry out, the story component is very strong. Yet the stories are never quite the same, giving Villainous high replay-ability even with the same character. Games last only about an hour depending on the number of villains, so players will eagerly return to their iniquitous ways time and again.