Our 10 year-old player got more excited about “Villainous” as play progressed. When we finished he said, “That’s a fun game” When I asked why? he said, “It’s more fun per turn!” What an astute and accurate answer. At first glance the game play looks complicated to understand but as play progressed, it got easier and things clicked so the 10 year-old was playing his turn as well as the adult’s until the latter caught on! We each took on the role of a different Disney Villain, Captain Hook and Maleficent, with a unique board and Villain cards based on the movie characters, actions and settings. Every Villain has an objective to win, “Start your turn with a curse at each location,” in Maleficent’s case, and a Villain Guide that gives you details on how to achieve your objective. Each turn is rich with both offensive plays (Villain Cards–curse, item, condition, ally, effect) and defensive plays (playing hero, item and effect Fate Cards) based on action icons on the board where you land, while acquiring and spending power tokens. The Villain plays his cards along the bottom of the board while his opponent places fate cards strategically along the top of his opponent’s board to hinder him from accomplishing his objective, by engaging heroes from the Disney story against the Villain, such as Wendy, John and Tinker Bell against Captain Hook. Add items such as Pixie Dust or the Sword of Truth to add power to those heroes. Cards are played in sequence on top of cards to articulate powers and capabilities, producing a dynamic balance between the Villain and heroes, which creates an exciting tension around who is in control. Our young player observed that “You have to be strategic about when you play the cards, where you play them, and who you put them on.” We learned that it helps to be familiar with your Villain Cards so you might discard more readily to get to the cards that will help you to win. You need to circulate through your cards to execute your multi-step strategy. Peter Pan has to be moved to the Jolly Roger location to be defeated, with enough power, while Maleficent needs to have a curse at each of her four game board locations, having withstood attempts to be knocked out. Villainous is a fantastic game of higher level thinking, reasoning, logic, strategy and problem solving with players verbalizing and justifying their actions as they slap down cards on their boards and those of their opponents. Words flow, inspired by some intricate moves, while having fun playing the Villain!
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