Disney Villainous turns the happily-ever-after that you'd expect from Disney on its head and gives the villains a chance to FINALLY complete their evil schemes. Playing as one of six characters, you are tasked with completing their story-based objective - if you can get past the Disney heroes lurking to thwart you and, more importantly, the other players trying to back-stab you at every possible opportunity.
Setting up the game
Each player chooses a villain from Captain Hook, Jafar, Maleficent, Prince John, Queen of Hearts, or Ursula. Once you've chosen your villain, you pick up the corresponding:
- Player Board.
- Mover (the plastic game piece representing your villain).
- Villain Guide, which tells you more about that particular villain's objectives and special powers.
- Villain Deck.
- Fate Deck.
- Generic Reference Card.
That sounds like a lot, but it makes a lot more sense when it's all in front of you - everything is colour-coded and has the character's name printed on for easy reference.
Lay out your board in front of you, placing your mover on the location on the far left. As I found out too late, you're going to want to leave a lot of space around your board to account for all the cards that can be laid on the board as the game progresses.
If you're playing as Captain Hook, Jafar, or Ursula, you'll need to take a Lock Token and place it on the location on the far right to signify that that location is locked, for now.
Next is the most straightforward step - shuffle your Villain deck and place it face-down on the left side of your board, leaving space for a discard pile. Shuffle your Fate deck and place it face down on the right side of your board, again leaving space for a discard pile.
Draw four cards from your Villain deck to make your starting hand, making sure only you can see your cards.
Tip the bag of Power Tokens into the Cauldron and put it in the middle of the table, or in easy reach of all the players. Whoever goes first (there aren't any rules in the guide for picking whoever goes first, so make up something suitably villainous) does not pick up any Power Tokens, the second in line takes one Token, the third and fourth players take two Tokens, and the fifth and sixth players take three Tokens.
Finally, you are ready to begin!
Playing Villainous (published by Wonder Forge) requires a balancing act of focusing on your own objectives while keeping an eye on your fellow villains' progress to make sure they're not getting ahead. Each villain has a different objective, which you may recognise…
- Captain Hook - Defeat Peter Pan at the Jolly Roger.
- Jafar - Start your turn with the Magic Lamp at Sultan's Palace and Genie under your control.
- Maleficent - Start your turn with a Curse at each Location.
- Prince John - Start your turn with at least 20 Power Tokens.
- Queen of Hearts - Have a Wicket at each location and successfully take a shot.
- Ursula - Start your turn with the Trident and the Crown at Ursula's Lair.
On your turn, you:
- Move your villain.
- Perform actions.
- Draw cards.
1. Move your villain
You can move to any of the four locations on your board, as long as that location isn't locked. Moving is mandatory; you can't stay on the same location (unless you have certain cards that overrule this, as is the case with Maleficent).
- Perform actions
Each location has a series of symbols (maximum of four) printed on, which correspond to actions:
Gain power: take Power Tokens from the cauldron, equal to the number printed inside the symbol.
You need Power Tokens to play cards and Activate abilities. Prince John needs a large amount of Power Tokens to fulfil his objective.
Most cards have a Power Token cost, shown in the upper left corner of the card, which you must pay to play the card. Your Villain Deck contains:
- Allies - Henchmen/women who you can deploy to locations and use to Vanquish heroes (see below).
- Items - Can be attached to Allies to boost their abilities.
- Effects - Extra actions played during your turn.
- Conditions - Extra actions played during an opponent's turn (so you don't need the 'Play a card' symbol for these ones).
Activate: activate a feature of an Item or Ally card.
Some Allies or Items do not have their abilities available until they are activated. You must land on a location with an Activate symbol and then pay the activation Power Token cost (if relevant). The Queen of Hearts' objective involves Activating her Card Guards to Wickets, so that she has an activated ally on every one of her four locations.
Fate: choose an opponent, draw the top two cards from their Fate deck and choose one to play.
Your Fate Deck contains Heroes (the Disney good guys - or, to you, the bad guys), Items, and Effects. All are designed to significantly hinder your progress and are equally annoying. I can guarantee that you will experience the very strange occurrence of hurling abuse at a beloved Disney prince or princess.
In games of five or six players, if you've been Fated you receive a Fate Token, which grants you immunity from being targeted (passed to the next player who is Fated, and so on).
Move an Item or Ally
You can move Items/Allies to use their abilities in different locations, or in readiness to Vanquish a Hero. Five of the six villains' objectives involve moving items or allies in order to complete their goals (e.g. Ursula must move the Trident and Crown Item cards to the location of Ursula's Lair).
Move a Hero
You can move a Hero to an adjacent location, as long as it's not locked.
Vanquish: defeat a Hero using your Ally/Allies
Each Ally and Hero has a strength, indicated by the number in the bottom left corner. To successfully Vanquish, the Ally's strength (or combined Allies' strengths added together) must be equal or higher than the Hero's strength.
Ursula has a slightly different way of vanquishing Heroes: you must draw a Binding Contract Item card and assign it to the Hero. The Binding Contract is location specific - you must attach it at a location that is NOT mentioned on the card. You must then move the Hero + Binding Contract to the location specified on the Binding Contract card to Vanquish them.
You can discard as many cards as you want.
As you'll have noticed, considering each location only has a maximum of four actions out of these eight, moving to locations can become more about what you need at the time. Do you need more Power Tokens to play a certain card? Do you need to Fate a player who's nearly winning? Do you need to move an Item to finish your objective?
At the end of your turn, if you've used/discarded any cards, you draw from your Villain Deck to give you four cards in your hand.
Winning Disney Villainous
When a villain has achieved every step of their objective (some have more than others), they are victorious. Four of the villains must start their next turn with the objectives fulfilled, so sometimes you have an anxious wait through everyone else's turns, hoping that they don't mess up your carefully laid plans (spoiler alert: they definitely will).
Go forth and scheme your way to villainous victory! Read my review to learn more about the game.
Editors note: This post was originally published on June 18th, 2021. Updated on August 3rd, 2022 to improve the information available.