Aladdin is all my time favorite Disney movie. I couldn’t tell you why, only that I’ve spent my entire life absolutely adoring that movie, understanding that I could watch it over and over and never tire of it. Going through Aladdin’s journey is as much fun as watching Luke Skywalker or Harry Potter. But what about the villain’s side of things? We’ve recently fallen in love with the ideas of villains through excellent performances for the roles of Thanos, Joker, and a multitude of other villains from a variety of mediums.
So what about taking on the role of the villains from some of Disney’s greatest movies and trying to secure your place in history as the baddest of the bad? Disney’s Villainous does exactly that as it places you at the helm of a great villain from Disney stories in an attempt to overcome the heroes and achieve the ultimate treacherous goal as a bad guy.
Disney’s Villainous is for 2-6 players, takes approximately 80 minutes to play, and is for ages 10 and older.
Disney’s Villainous requires very little setup, but there is a learning curve to starting a new game with a new villain. The general set up for the game requires simple steps. First, put all of the power tokens in the cauldron in the center of the table where every player can reach it. If you’re playing with 6 players, take the Fate marker and set it in the center of the table. Now it’s time to choose your villain. In the base game, six villains are included. These villains are Ursula, Maleficent, Jafar, Queen of Hearts, Captain Hook, and Prince John. Choose your villain, and take the corresponding villain board and both decks of cards associated with your villain. There should be one color deck and one white deck. Shuffle the white cards and place them off to the right side of your player board. Shuffle the color cards and place them on the left side of your player board. It’s time to begin the game!
The objective of Villainous is to be the first player to achieve the specific goal listed for your villain. Each villain has a guide that gives you tips and tricks to playing, as each villain has a varying degree of difficulty and varied gameplay.
The first thing you do is choose a player to go first. Unfortunately, the first player doesn’t get any starting power (this game’s version of money). The second player gets one power. Three and four get two power, and the fifth and sixth players get three power. Each player draws four cards from the color deck, and it’s time to start the game.
There are three steps to each turn.
Step one: Move Your Villain
Step Two: Perform Actions
Step Three: Draw Cards
Step One: Move Your Villain
When it’s your turn, you will move your villain to one of four locations on your board. Some villains have a locked location which is indicated by a lock icon on one of the spots. You cannot enter into one of the locked locations unless specified otherwise on a card. Simply take your villain figure and move it into the location of your choice.
Step Two: Perform Actions
Each location has up to four action spots. Those spots are indicated by symbols in small circles. When you take actions, you may take them in any order as long as the action is available (more on this later).
Step Three: Draw Cards
At the end of your turn, draw cards until you have at least four in your hand.
The different actions listed on the board are as follows:
Play a Card
Move a Hero
Power is the equivalent of money in this game. The action space for gaining power will either contain a 1, 2, or 3. When you perform this action, you take the corresponding number of power from the cauldron.
Play a Card
The majority of your abilities to achieve a villain’s objective is going to come from playing cards. There are several types of cards, and most of them cost power to play. The card types are items, allies, conditions, and effects. If you have the symbol for playing a card, you can pay the shown power to play that card. I’ll discuss each card type later.
Some of the cards have an effect that can only be used by an activate action. When you use this action, you can choose any item or ally in your realm (on the board) and activate its action. Sometimes it costs money and sometimes it’s free.
This is where the main interference in other player’s strategy comes into the picture. Remember that white deck you set aside at the beginning of the game? This is called the Fate Deck. This deck is filled with heroes and effects that interfere with your villainous plans. When you use this action, you Fate another person. You take the top two cards from their Fate Deck. Look at them and choose one to play in their realm. On the top half of each player’s villain board is an indicated area to play heroes. Two of each player’s action spots reside on that top half. When you play a hero in one of those spots, it will cover up two of those actions, meaning the player will have to vanquish that hero before using those actions. If you can’t play either card, you don’t get to draw two more and look again.
If you have an item or ally in your realm, they have to stay in the spot in which you played them. However, if you play a Move Item/Ally action space, you can now move either to an adjacent location on your board. Much like your villain, you cannot move either into a locked location on the board.
Move a Hero
Just like items/allies, when another player puts a hero on your board, it cannot be moved unless a card or something else states otherwise. Instead, land on a location that has an action to move a hero and then move the hero into an adjacent location.
Vanquishing heroes is one of the only ways to get heroes off your board (some villains will have exceptions to this). When you use this action, you must use allies that are in the exact same location as the hero to vanquish it. Each ally has a strength number in the lower left hand corner of the card. The strength of all allies in the location of the hero is put against the hero. The strength of your allies must be equal to or higher than the hero’s. If it is, then you defeat the hero. Put the hero in the Fate Deck discard pile and discard all allies used to defeat the hero. As a final note, your allies/heroes don’t have to be on the spot where the vanquish action resides, and you can vanquish anywhere on the board.
Sometimes, you have useless cards in your hand that don’t serve much purpose or are making it so that you can’t play them. If you use this action, you can discard as many cards as you’d like from your hand. You’ll then draw back up to four when you finish your turn.
Here are the different types of cards and what they do.
Allies are villainous henchmen and sidekicks that provide different bonuses and strengths to your realm. These allies are mainly used to defeat heroes, but there are times when allies are used to help accomplish different goals. When you use the play a card action, you can pay the power and play the ally anywhere in your realm (with the exception of locked locations).
Item cards can be found in your villain deck or in the fate deck. Items are a lot like allies, but rather than having a strength, the items do something for you. They contain abilities or effects that help you in some way. Some items have to be attached directly to an ally. No limit exists for items on allies, but anything that happens to the ally (it moves or is used to vanquish a hero and is discarded) also happens to the item attached to the ally. Items will usually cost power to play. When you Fate somebody, or somebody Fates you, and an item is chosen, it always has to be attached to a Hero already in the realm.
Effects are instant actions that take place. These can also appear in both the villain and fate decks. Effects will almost always cost power, and you instantly resolve the card text and put it in the discard pile. If the situation arises where you can’t use the effect listed on the card, then you can’t play the card.
Conditions are different from the other cards because you usually only play them during another person’s turn. The card will tell you the requirements needed to play the card, and you don’t have to be on a Play a Card action space. As long as you or your opponent fulfills the requirement, you can play the card. You do not get to immediately draw a card when playing a condition. Instead, you have to wait until the end of your next turn to draw a new one.
Ending the Game
When one of the villains accomplishes his or her goal, the game is then over. That player is the winner! This can take little to no time to accomplish, or in some cases, it can be a very drawn out game that takes way longer than the estimated time listed in the rules.
The base game comes with six villains. There are three expansions, each containing three new villains with varying degrees of gameplay. All expansions can be intertwined with the base game at any time. We only own one expansion, but I would like to expand on the villains here a little bit.
Jafar’s objective is, “Start your turn with the Magic Lamp at Sultan’s Palace and Genie under your control.”
Queen of Heart’s objective is, “Have a wicket at each location and successfully take a shot.”
Ursula’s objective is, “Start your turn with the Trident and the Crown at Ursula’s lair.”
Captain Hook’s objective is, “Defeat Peter Pan at the Jolly Roger.”
Maleficent’s objective is, “Start your turn with a Curse at each location.”
Prince John’s objective is, “Start your turn with at least 20 power.”
The expansion Perfectly Wretched includes Cruella de Ville, Pete, and Mother Gothel. The expansion Evil Comes Prepared includes Scar, Yzma, and Ratigan (this is the expansion we have). The expansion Wicked to the Core includes Evil Queen, Hades, and Dr. Facilier.
Disney’s Villainous is actually quite fun because it finally puts you in the shoes of a bad guy with the intention of thwarting all of the things you see the heroes do in the movies. In terms of interpersonal play, it’s not the best game. Most of the gameplay involves each player spending a majority of the time figuring out strategy and styles to achieve the goal with very little interaction with other players. Being able to Fate another person is the closest you’ll come to interfering with another player’s plan, and while it does sometimes work, you often find it helps them find the hero they need to accomplish their goal. Figuring out the strategy for each character is actually quite fun and challenging. Ursula and Maleficent are by far the most difficult ones to figure out, but I’ve had a blast trying to win as them.
If you’re looking for something a little more casual and less stressful/competitive while holding some good nostalgic qualities, give Disney’s Villainous a try.