Disney has a lot of villains, so evil that you can’t help but love them. These Disney villains are often just as popular as the heroes and sometimes even a tad more popular. Disney and Ravensburger previously played well into this popularity for these villains with the release of the board game Disney Villainous. In the card game Disney Villains the bad guys will take centre stage as well. Like a real villain, you can bully your opponents in this game, but sometimes you cannot escape helping the other players.
Villains is an amended reissue of the card game Heul doch! Mau Mau! (Cry But!), but with a lick of Disney varnish. In Villains, each player chooses a villain and receives a corresponding deck of cards. Each deck contains an identical, except artwork, set of numbered cards (with the numbers 1 – 6 in different colours), but each set also contains cards with a special power unique to each villain.
Each player plays a random numbered card face-up in front of them and takes four cards in hand. Each turn, a player plays one card. Cards can be played on your own discard pile (for possible victory points) if the number or colour is equal to the current top card of your discard pile. There is a but: if one of your neighbours also has an face-up card with the colour or number of the card you want to play, you must play this card to its neighbour. This requires players to puzzle cleverly which cards they want to play and keep. At the end of a turn, players replenish their hand to four, unless the personal draw pile is empty.
If a player cannot or does not want to play a card, he can choose to play a card from his hand closed on his pile. This card now counts as a hero and ensures that a player will score fewer points in the final count. When all cards are used up, this final count follows. Players count how many heroes they have. The amount played determines which cards no longer count towards the specific player’s final count, and then the player adds the points of the remaining cards in his discard pile. The player with the most points wins.
Special cards allow players to bully each other. Players play these cards next to their discard pile for a special power. These cards can be used to discard, flip, view or swap cards, among other things.
Villains is a simple card game that evokes the same feelings as card games like LAMA or Beaver Gang or other simple (especially German) card games. By this I am not saying that Villains is similar to the aforementioned games in terms of game mechanics, but they contain similar elements: a touch of luck, simple and colourful gameplay, short playing time and interaction. This makes Villains a funny snack, but what is amusingly done are the asymmetrical powers. This makes it varied to play with different villains and I haven’t often seen this asymmetry in such short card games.