When consuming different forms of media when it is based on something we love, it’s often hard to determine whether the media you are engaging with is actually good, or if you are looking and experiencing it with rose colored glasses. This was the worry I had when Ravesnburger first published Disney’s Villainous, but since the original release – and two stand-alone expansion – I can easily say that Villainous is one of the best games I’ve played within the last few years.
If you haven’t read our How to Play for Disney’s Villainous yet, you can do so here!
The original launch of Villainous included six fantastic villains to play as, and the two subsequent releases have added three villains each, for a total of 12. What makes Villainous so fantastic is that as an individual player, you could get at least 12 unique games before doubling up on a villain you’ve already played before. What makes Villainous unique in the board game universe is that each character has a unique objective, meaning no two villains play the same!
And I’m not talking about so many options that you can choose a different strategy each time. In other games, perhaps you can focus on hoarding and selling resources, or building specific buildings, or having more animals than everyone else. Villainous is entirely different, because each villain is different.
If you are playing as Prince John, you need to accumulate a certain number of power to win. If you are playing as Hades, you need to reveal Titans and move them to Mount Olympus. And if you are Scar, you need to defeat heroes to accumulate points. Each character is different, plays different, and feels different. The hardest thing for the development team to do, then, was to find a balance.
Between the dozens of games I’ve played, my family and I have had a good look at all the available characters. And for the most part, everything appears to be fairly balanced. While we’ve had a 4 player game where someone is way behind the others, there were always 2 or 3 a few turns from winning, when the first player completed their objective. I cannot even begin to imagine how hard it would be to balance 12 unique objectives, but somehow this was done.
I’ve begun to realize that a 2 or 3 player game is a little bit more enjoyable than a 4 player game, for one specific reason. If someone does pull out into a substantial lead, the other three players spend so much time using their Fate deck against them, which can be infuriating. Almost all the villain win conditions require them to have something somewhere, or have something done, “by the start of your next turn.” If all three players have a Fate option available to them, that first player is getting Fate at least twice (since you cannot Fate someone twice in a row). It’s not a major problem, but it does dampen the experience a tad for that one player.
With so many Villains to choose from, this inexpensive purchase will provide hours upon hours of entertainment, and this entertainment goes far beyond Disney fans. We took this out to play with friends who have only seen a handful of Disney movies in their whole life, and weren’t even sure who some of the villain were – that didn’t matter, as they had an excellent time playing, regardless.
Cheaper titles often come with cheaper components, and while Ravensburger is known for getting products to the shelf at an incredibly reasonable price, there are measures taken to ensure that the price stays low. Let me first say that this is NOT an issue with Ravensburger titles – they are not cheap, they just aren’t as high a quality of other games you can buy. Your games from them are not going to fall apart! This acceptable quality was very evident to me when playing their published title The Quest for Eldorado. The cards did not have a linen finish, and the melee characters were made of a very light wood (not color, but density). Many companies would up the quality of those pieces, and charge a premium for the game. My cost? 29.99, for a game that on the surface, would appear to cost $50-60.
I think perhaps because of their partnership with Disney, I did not find quality an issue with Villainous. While I am a bit worried that the folded player boards may tear after a few dozen play through, right now everything is in great shape. The most impressive aspect of Villainous is the artwork, which is all unique, as it needs to be. The amazing animations that first graced our TV screens when these movies were released has been excellently recreated on the boards. The development team did not try to re-invent the wheel here – they knew they were working with excellent animation, and built off that for the artwork.
Overall, Villainous is easily one of my favorite games of the past few years, and with more expansions likely coming, I’m guessing it will stay relevant for many board game fans going into 2020. If you love Disney, or if you love unique objective experiences, Villainous is a must own!