Review: Disney Villainous (Ravensburger) – English

Life confronts you with difficult existential questions… “What is your favourite Disney film?” is such a question. My favourite Disney villain is a more clear cut question and answer: Gaston. The obnoxious yet beloved bastard from Beauty and the Beast. Gaston still has one of the best villain songs (honourable mention for Jafar) and ironically meets his fate stumbling down a large imposing structure. Fortunately, Gaston will soon reappear as one of the playable villains in one of the expansions of Villainous: a card game by Ravensburger in which players take on the role of their favourite baddy in order to be the first to complete their nefarious plans. Will you be the first to dognap 101 Dalmatians and skin them for a nice fur coat as Cruella de Vil or will you, as Hades, command the titans to destroy Mount Olympus?

In Disney Villainous, each player takes on the role of a well-known villain, baddie or annoyance from the best-known and lesser-known Disney cartoons. Play with Maleficent, Pete, King John, Jafar and a host of other characters and try to be the first to complete your evil exercises or psychopathic plans. Each player picks their favourite, the corresponding player board, a deck of cards and a sturdy plastic pawn. Each player also receives their own deck of Fate cards with the heroes from the relevant film to stop your evil deeds in their tracks. The power tokens (the money) are placed on the table. The players are now ready to play.

Each villain has its own goal. With Cruella de Vil, for example, you have to lure 101 Dalmatians to sow a nice warm garment. Each villain has its own goal and each offers a completely different playing experience. This makes every game of Villainous feel unique.

How do players accomplish these goals? Each player has a personal deck of cards and a player board that depicts actions. Each turn, a player moves his/her pawn to a different location on the game board and performs the corresponding actions. Often, this allows you to play cards or use card effects. There are different types of cards. Among them are allies, which you can play for their effects and to defeat good guys, and items, to improve allies or effects. By taking turns performing different actions and playing cards, you slowly creep towards your goal. The player who achieves his or her goal first wins.

Fortunately, in Villainous you can thwart each other’s plans to make sure that one player at the table does not reach his or her goal first. When a player performs a fate action, he/she may take a card from this deck and often use it to the disadvantage of his/her opponents. Each villain has unique heroes and items that try to stop him or her, and each villain has to get rid of these heroes in a different way.

Villainous is a very thematic and diverse game. Because of the many expansion sets and different villains, the game is more than varied. Because each player controls a different villain, it sometimes seems like each player is playing a different game. This asymmetrical aspect sometimes makes that not every game feels equally balanced, but that does not make the game any less strong.

The artwork of the game is beautiful and richly illustrated. They did not just take screenshots from the film and edit them, but actually created new artwork inspired by the original films and art styles of these films.

A big advantage of this series is that the expansions can be played independently from each other and even the base game. Villainous fun!