02836: When It's Good to Be Bad

Upon my return to Manila Tobie surprised everyone at the gaming table with a delivery of the game Villainous, which is a unique game that allows you to play one of six Disney villains and attempt to gather power, summon allies, find items while doing their best to pursue their individual agendas while stalling other villains. At first it was easy to dismiss the game as yet another effort by a major franchise to tap into the board game market. But this isn't some reskinned game - it's an original creation with a brilliant core mechanic and some beautiful art to boot.

On one level, it's easy to think that this is really a solitaire game that has each player trying to achieve their own goals within their specific realms. There's a cardinal rule that a player's cards cannot affect the realms of other villains and thus you don't get crazy crossover scenarios like Maleficent's goons attacking Captain Hook and his pirates. Instead each villain has a fate deck that consists of the heroes and their efforts to stop their respective villains. Each villain will have action slots that allow them to trigger the fate decks of other players in order to complicate things.

As far as thematic games go, Villainous is pretty AMAZING. They found a way to develop a smart card game that manages to celebrate the individual stories of each Disney movie and yet have you celebrating being the bad guy. The decision to give each character a unique goal makes for compelling asymmetric play and is the main driver behind making sure each movie experience remains intact. It's quite a number of plates to keep spinning in the air but somehow the game designer found that balance to keep the game fluid and fun.

Interestingly enough, a lot of the villain abilities rely on the heroes being active in their realms, thus brilliantly stressing the point that a villain is not as effective without heroes in play. And so as much as triggering the fate cards of other villains is the primary PVP aspect of the game, it's one that can still help them to some degree. It boggles the mind how they came up with this game.

So yeah, just taking today to celebrate this great new game. I'm glad that Tobie managed to get us a copy so quickly.