Welcome to another expansion to the Disney Villainous game - Despicable Plots, where 3 more Heroes Villains need you to help them achieve their goals. As with the others, this set can be played entirely standalone or mixed with any of the other sets. This time we are championing the causes of 2 quite well known characters and 1….more obscure one. Namely, Gaston, surely a Hero to his friends, but to us he is well known as the Villain in Beauty and the Beast. Lady Tremaine, the evil step-mother from Cinderella (nope, I had no idea that was her name either, you’re not alone), and the Horned King. This last one I confess was a mystery to me, but is from a 1985 animated movie called The Black Cauldron. While he might be obscure, he was voiced by John Hurt, so he has that going for him, and some interesting mechanics.
So without further ado, let’s begin!
I’m not going to go into depth here about the core concepts around Disney Villainous and how to play, we already have a great review for that. But I will summarise and review the crucial points.
Each Villain has their own goal they are trying to achieve. You can disrupt other players' progress, but you can only win by completing your specific objective.
Each Villain has a player board, Villain token, Villain guide, fate deck and a reference card. Always pay attention to the Villain guide as it can really help you understand how to play that specific Villain.
Some Villains have specific tokens to set up, including some in this box, but we will cover that later.
When it is your turn in a game of Despicable Plots you can move your Villain mover token to any location on your player board (you have to move to a different location), and then can perform any actions on that location not covered up by Heroes.
You start the game with 4 cards and at the end of each turn draw until you have 4 cards in your hand again.
The first player to achieve their goal, wins.
Got all that? Like I said, I would recommend reading our thorough original How To Play article to really get to grips with it. For now we shall move onwards, to our Villains!
Charming maybe, but he still has the beast as competition, which is no small obstacle to overcome. Before you start the game of Despicable Plots, place 2 obstacle tokens in each location on Gaston’s board. Your objective from here is straightforward, remove all the obstacles and Belle will be yours! (Oh and you win the game).
In some ways he’s an easy character to play, you fight whatever Heroes are thrown at you while using card abilities to remove obstacles. There are no movement actions on his board however, so be careful where you place your allies, as there are only a few cards in his deck to help with this. It’s also wise to take a look at his fate deck to see how the obstacle you thought you had removed for good, can return. One common way they return is 1 per location, so it’s wise to fully clear locations before moving onto another one. And the Beast’s Castle can be cleared by defeating the Beast, so if you think that’s in the cards maybe leave that until last. And finally, the other key card is Monsieur D’Arque, who has an activate ability to remove an obstacle if you pay 2 power. Costly, but useful.
Now onto the despicable, I mean loving, step-mother of Cinderella, Lady Tremaine in Despicable Plots. While her name is hard to remember, her goal isn’t. She wants to marry one of her daughters to the Prince. To do this she must 1) Unlock the Ballroom (it starts with a big lock token on it and you cannot move there), 2) Have the Prince in the Ballroom, 3) Have one of her Ball Gown clad daughters in the Ballroom, and 4) Activate the Wedding Bells card. That sounds like a lot, and it is, but she can actually achieve it at quite a pace if nobody slows her down.
More than anything with Lady Tremaine you’re looking for specific cards, so don’t be afraid to discard heavily in search of the right ones. Getting cards like ‘Invitation from the King’ (which unlocks the Ballroom and summons the Prince there) early on, gives you a great head start. On the other hand, if this card is at the bottom of your deck you’re going to want to keep discarding while getting everything else in place. You must play the normal card for one of the daughters before you can play the Ball Gown version, and then finally find the Wedding Bells card. That’s a lot of cards to hunt down before we get into preventing Heroes messing up your day.
So what can go wrong? Well, quite a lot. Cinderella and the Fairy Godmother will stop you moving allies into the Ballroom, which is essential, so these need to be dealt with. But even if you do, those pesky slippers still stick around, and you can’t win the game while they are in play. So if other players manage to get the main fate cards played against you, it’s going to significantly slow you down. And we haven’t even mentioned Jaq, who can discard items, like your precious Wedding Bells if you play them early. The way you deal with these threats is a bit unusual. There are no vanquish actions on the Lady Tremaine board. Instead she uses specific items to either A) Lock up Heroes (disabling their abilities), B) Move them to Cinderella’s Room (uncovering hidden actions) and finally C) Vanquish them. It’s worth noting though that the only activate action is in the Ballroom, therefore you really do need to race to find that invitation so you have more ways of dealing with what fate throws at you, although there are a few cards which can trigger an activate action as well.
So be aware, Lady Tremaine is a strong character who can race to her goal in no time at all, but many fate cards can slow her down dramatically. Consider your plan carefully.
The Horned King
And last but not least (even if a bit unknown), we have the Despicable Plots character, Horned King. I honestly can’t decide if the ‘The’ is part of his title, ‘Horned King’ just sounds like a description…but I digress. This guy has some despicable plans indeed, all focused around the Black Cauldron. His goal is to use the Black Cauldron to create ‘Cauldron Born’ warriors. Once he has one of these in each location, he has conquered the world and wins the game. The Black Cauldron itself is not a card, it’s a special relic tile that can be claimed by the player during the game.
That’s your first step, you need to claim the Black Cauldron by finding the ‘Show Me The Black Cauldron’ or the ‘We Have Made a Bargain’ card, or by vanquishing Hen Wen. You then need to flip the Black Cauldron to the side marked ‘The Power Of The Black Cauldron’, which can be done by either using the ‘Our Hour has Arrived’ card or by using the activate ability on the Black Cauldron. Be aware, every turn the Black Cauldron is on its original side, you have to discard a Cauldron Born, so it can set you back very easily. As there are no activate actions on the Horned King’s board, you have to play the Ancient Soldiers item to add it to a location. Then finally, with the Black Cauldron on the right side, and with Ancient Soldiers in a location, at the start of each turn you can play 2 power to replace an Ancient Soldier item with a Cauldron Born. Quickly get one in each location to win.
Alas, forces marshal against you however. The ‘Gurgi’s Sacrifice’ card will flip the Black Cauldron back over and you’ll start losing those Cauldron Born fast. It can be especially dangerous if you’re low on Ancient Soldiers as it won’t be easy to flip it back. Other than that, there are various Heroes that will slow you down, many of which can be easily moved around (or move your allies around!) and one that can block Ancient Soldiers being played, but you have a fair amount of allies to help vanquish them. There is also a card which forces you to discard your hand, so don’t hang onto crucial cards too long.
In general his plan isn’t the hardest to pull off, but it is a slow and steady build that can suffer badly from setbacks later on in the game if the wrong fate cards come up. As you can only create one Cauldron Born per turn, there is no way to rush his win condition, plus you have to get all the Ancient Soldiers in place first. I recommend settling in and playing smart for this Villain.
Despicable Plots certainly lives up to its name, everything the Villains are planning is pretty despicable (although one could argue Lady Tremaine just wants the best for her daughters…but she’s mean to Cinderella, so still despicable). I confess to not being super excited for some of the characters when first looking at the box, however they grew on me as I learned more about them and played several games. I think Gaston has to be my favourite from the box, he’s easy to play and just overall a fun themed character (the bar song won’t stop playing in my head, send help). Lady Tremaine mixes things up quite a lot from the normal formula, and even the Horned King surprised me. I might even have to track down this mysterious 80s movie and discover why it seems to have been forgotten to time.
Another great entry in the Disney Villainous series and I hope my pseudo How To Play guide for Despicable Plots gave you a good idea how to start playing these characters.