‘If you only knew the power of the Dark Side…’
In 1980, Darth Vader, in his attempt to turn Luke Skywalker, uttered the words that would leave many wishing they could have a taste of the Dark Side. Wondering if they too could become as powerful as Lord Vader himself, if only they had the means…well now they can in Star Wars Villainous: Power of The Dark Side.
In Ravensburger’s latest addition to the popular franchise, players can take control of everyone’s favourite bad guys from the Star Wars universe and crush their foes with a great big grin on their faces as they go.
A Long Time Ago…
For those that might be new to the Villainous franchise, here’s a quick run through of how it works. Each villain, using their own location boards, has a particular goal that they must achieve to win. This goal is completely unique to them and thematically fits into their story within their own franchise. Using your chosen character’s Villain Deck, you must strategically play your cards to achieve this goal. In each Villain deck you will find cards that will allow you to obtain resources, allies and bring certain effects and conditions into play that will help you on your quest for victory.
However, there is a catch. Whilst each villain comes with plenty of tricks up their sleeves, they also come with their own Fate Deck. This stack of cards is made up of heroes that your opponents may draw from and use to get in your way as you play. They may remove some of your allies, play heroes to block you from gaining certain benefits from a location on your character board or take away some of the resources you’ve managed to acquire. Put simply, they are decks designed to block your path to success. Of course, depending on the villain you’ve chosen, certain goals may require you to come face-to-face with the heroes in your Fate Deck and defeat them so they can also be a key part of your strategy to win.
Currently there are many versions of Villainous available including Disney Villainous along with its multiple expansions and of course, Marvel Villainous. Different incarnations of the game seem to have their own twists and differences which make for a refreshing experience each time you play. The list of additions only continues to grow as Ravensburger is showing no signs of slowing down in adding to this fantastic franchise.
Choosing villains from the Star Wars universe for this introductory game must have been by no means an easy feat. There are just so many wonderfully evil bad guys to choose from! Thankfully, Ravensburger did a great job with their choices.
Players can choose from:
- Darth Vader
- General Grievous
- Moff Gideon
- Asajj Ventress
- Kylo Ren
I was pleasantly surprised to see a range of villains from different eras in the Star Wars universe in the line-up rather than just the more well-known characters that we might have expected to see. Each villain comes with their own objectives and unique ways of achieving their dastardly aims and in Star Wars Villainous there is a great variation in the types of aims each character has. Some of these characters, such as Ventress, have multi-part objectives that require a selection of smaller goals to be completed to achieve their bigger task. These villains may require more strategic planning in their gameplay whilst others, such as Grievous, encourage the player to flood their board with heroes from their Fate Deck to defeat as many of their enemies as possible. This variety in the game will certainly keep players coming back to the table for another round.
A new feature added specifically for the Star Wars Villainous: Power of the Dark Side franchise is the introduction of vehicles. On each character board players will find an extra location labelled ‘Deep Space’. In this slot, players may put starships as well as other memorable vehicles they may find in their villain decks to expand their location choices and give them further advantages during the game. Each vehicle also comes with its own unique ability which is triggered each time a player visits that space.
However, vehicles may also appear in a character’s Fate Deck and when played against a player’s vehicle they become ‘engaged’. Being engaged with a Hero Vehicle will inhibit the use of some of the Ally Vehicles abilities. It’s possible to remove the Hero Vehicle by taking a vanquish action but, in true Villainous form, you will lose your own vehicle at the same time. Hero vehicles that are played and not engaged with an Ally Vehicle, will reduce the players hand size by 1.
Other new features include the use of credits and ambition as forms of currency. Credits are often used to play cards from a player’s hand whilst ambition allows players to use more powerful abilities in the game. Each turn players will gain 1 ambition token and can earn more through cards in their hand. Some villains will require lots of ambition to reach their objective, so it is a key element of this game.
Finally, Ravensburger have added new +1 and -1 tokens to the game to signify strengthening and weakening certain allies. These tokens are brought into play through certain cards that are drawn from both Villain and Fate Decks and can be a complete game changer when played at the right time.
Are These The Droids You’re Looking For
The components in each Villainous game have always been done to a very high standard. The artwork on each of the character boards, Villain Guides, and the cards themselves are beautiful and quite often can give the player a real sense of nostalgia. Of course, the most striking component of any Villainous game are the villain tokens themselves. Beautifully sculpted to reflect the essence of the character they are emulating, these hefty playing pieces are made with great care, attention to detail and are often the visual focal point of the game.
For Star Wars Villainous: Power of the Dark Side, Ravensburger hits the mark for the most part once again. There are some stunning visuals in this game, particularly within the Villain and Fate Decks. The cardboard tokens used for credits and ambition are well made and easily identifiable and of course the character boards are all unique and feature great artistic interpretations of some well-known locations within the Star Wars universe.
The figures for the game are again very well made with lots of care and detail going into each of the characters designs. However, Ravensburger have given a unique twist to these figures by adding a slight swirl to the moulds to give them a battle-worn look. For some of these figures, such General Grievous and Kylo Ren, it works very well and really adds a lot of depth to their designs. For others, such as Darth Vader, it is less effective and, in my opinion, takes away from the overall menacing look these characters should give. It’s worth noting that these designs are completely random, so whilst one set may have a more noticeable swirl design, another set may be more subtle. The figures are still, however, very impressive and will look great set up on any table.
May The Force Be With You
Overall, I was incredibly pleased with this latest instalment to the Villainous franchise. I’m a huge fan of both Star Wars and Villainous, so when I heard Ravensburger were developing Star Wars Villainous: Power of the Dark Side, you can imagine my excitement. I’m pleased to say it did not disappoint.
I’ve played quite a few games now with varying numbers of players and I can safely say that the game feels very well balanced, though I do think that a 2-player game can perhaps tip the scale in favour of certain characters on occasion.
The objectives are fun to play and ensures that the new ambition tokens are brought into the game quite frequently. I will say that, during a 4-player game, we ran out of the ambition tokens and had to substitute with credits for a while. As well as the tokens, I have not yet played a game where the vehicles have had a large impact on the game which is a little disappointing.
Although, in the games I have played, I often didn’t draw any vehicle cards from the deck until nearing the very end so by that point I was already quite close to achieving my goal and didn’t necessarily need the extra abilities or location. It is safe to say however, that when the Hero Vehicle cards are played against you and your hand limit is reduced it certainly causes some problems, so when the cards are played, they do their job well!
Regarding the new design for the figures, it is in no way a game changer (excuse the pun). The gameplay is not affected by the character designs, it is purely cosmetic, and I would not let that stop me from recommending this game to any Star Wars or Villainous fan. It should sit proudly on everyone’s shelf.
The Star Wars universe is vast and so there are countless characters that Ravensburger could give to us in this format with further expansions (personally, I’m hoping for Jabba!). It’s an exciting time to be a Villainous fan, and I can’t wait to see what they give us next.