Since its launch in 2018, the Disney Villainous family has been growing at a steady rate and now includes five games and a whopping 18 wicked villains. The latest instalment to this beastly brood is the newest expansion, Despicable Plots, featuring the likes of the Horned King, Lady Tremaine, and fan favourite Gaston. Building on the same workings of the much-loved base game, these new fiends bring all-new mechanics to make them play in a unique way. As in the previous expansions, Despicable Plots has everything you need to start playing and can be mixed with villains from any previous game. So, let’s dive in and see what these dastardly characters have got up their sleeves.
Magic That Will Live Forever
The first of the three villains in Despicable Plots is the Horned King, the terrifying protagonist from Disney’s The Black Cauldron. One of the most ruthless of all the franchise’s villains, the Horned King seeks to rule the world as a god amongst mortals. To achieve this rather lofty goal the Horned King must have his immortal ‘Cauldron Born’ at each of the four locations of his board. This may sound simple, but first, he must claim the Black Cauldron.
This tile is a Relic, a new card type to Villainous that’s unique to the Horned King. This tile must then be powered up and then and only then can the fallen Ancient Warriors be transformed into mighty Cauldron Born. This objective is no mean feat and has a lot of steps to it. This adds a nice bit of crunch to gameplay and gives you a real challenge. Given the game’s asymmetrical nature, this means that newer and experienced players can enjoy a game together, and both feel challenged by their chosen villain.
The Horned King has cards that help him achieve his goal, such as allowing him to gain the Black Cauldron. However, players need to be careful as some Hero cards can have a particularly disastrous effect, such as depowering the Black Cauldron. This could spell the end for the Horned King’s plans. If the Cauldron is depowered then the Cauldron-born begin to revert to useless Ancient Soldiers. This adds a nice element of danger to playing the Horned King, it keeps players from feeling too safe at any time.
How Charming, How Perfectly Charming
Next up in Despicable Plots is Lady Tremaine, Cinderella’s wicked stepmother. Desperate that no one outshine her girls, Lady Tremaine wants to marry one of her two daughters to the Prince. Again, this objective is deceptively simple but is one of the hardest I have come across. With a level of complexity to rival that of actual ballroom courting, players have their work cut out to get the wedding bells ringing.
First, one of the two daughters must be played as an ally, but then they must get changed into their evening wear. To do this, a ball gown version of that daughter must be played, replacing the normal card. Then, the Ballroom must be unlocked using the Invitation from the King, and the Prince must be found from the hero deck. Finally, when the Prince and one of the daughters in their ball gowns are together in the Ballroom, the Wedding Bells card must be activated. Simple right?
Lady Tremaine’s objective is very deck dependant, but annoyingly there aren’t as many ways to cycle through cards as there are for other villains, like Jafar. This can make play feel frustrating and stunted, especially if your opponents are cracking on with their objectives. Lady Tremaine does, however, have an interesting new mechanic for dealing with heroes. Unlike on other villains’ boards, Lady Tremaine has no vanquish actions. Instead, she locks them away, placing a Trapped token on them and sequestering them in Cinderella’s room. This token renders their ability useless, however they still clog up your board preventing you from using actions. There are certain cards that, when activated, allow players to rid themselves of the named hero or item so watch out for these.
How Can You Read This? There’s No Pictures
Possibly one of Disney’s best-known villains, Gaston has been a speculated Villainous character since the idea for the game was announced. Gaston seeks to win Belle over, overcoming eight Obstacles placed in his way to prove to her he is the perfect man. Gaston’s Obstacles are a unique mechanic introduced by him in Despicable Plots. They can be removed by certain Allies and Effects, as well as vanquishing certain Heroes. While these cards are useful, they can also be very costly, and so players may find themselves having to replace Obstacles to get back power, the in-game currency. Finding the right balance here is critical for Gaston to succeed in his quest for Belle. At each of the four locations lie two Obstacle tiles. To win, Gaston must remove all eight of these, but as he works to woo his prize the Heroes can replace them, setting him back.
After waiting so long to see Gaston in Villainous, players shouldn’t be disappointed. With a difficult but obtainable objective, Gaston feels fun to play while remaining a challenge. Like the other two villains, this means he works wonderfully in games to give experienced players something to get their teeth into. The artwork is consistently of high quality and Gaston’s cards are some of my favourites. Gaston’s objective has a nice balance to it where players must find the best way to rid themselves of Obstacles without draining themselves of power.
A Trio of Evil
Overall, Despicable Plots is a superb addition to the Villainous set and all three of these characters add a more challenging set of objectives to the mix. With these villains, players who are more familiar with the game can give themselves an extra challenge. I must commend the quality of the components, in particular the player piece for the Horned King. The artwork is up to its usual high quality I am continually impressed by the quality of the game overall. The box itself fits beautifully with the previous expansions and looks fantastic. Seeing how far Villainous has come from its original six characters, it seems that there is a very exciting future for this game, and we shouldn’t expect anything less than the best in the next expansions.