Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Villainous (Wonder Forge)

Wonder Forge is a game company known for making great, branded family games. From Richard Scarry to Dr. Seuss to different Disney IP's such as Frozen and The Lion Guard, there is a great variety of games that your children will love! Recently, Wonder Forge released another Disney branded game called Villainous, and with this game, they made a giant splash in the family-friendly strategy level gaming world. Villainous is a game for 2-6 players, ages 10+. It takes just under an hour to play and retails for $40. In the game, you take on the role of an iconic Disney villain (Captain Hook, Jafar, Maleficent Prince John, Queen of Hearts, or Ursula) and attempt to rewrite those "Happily Ever After" endings to something more your liking. For example, Captain Hook would finally get his revenge on the boy who gave him the hook - Peter Pan! Let's learn how to play.
Setup
1. Have each player choose a Villain. Then give them their corresponding Board, Pawn, Villain Deck, Fate Deck, and Villain Guide. This is now your Realm.
2. Open your Board, and place your Pawn on the left-most location of the four locations.
3. Check to see if the right-most location has a lock-symbol in the corner, and if it does, place a Lock Token on it.
4. Shuffle your Villain Deck, and place it to the left of your board. Then, draw four cards, keeping them secret from the other Villains.
5. Shuffle your Fate Deck, and place it to the right of your board.
6. Fill the Cauldron with Power Tokens.
7. Finally, pick a starting player and distribute Power Tokens. Player One receives 0. Player Two receives 1. Players Three and Four each receive 2. Players Five and Six each receive 3.
Game Play - On your turn, you will do the following three actions:
1. Move your Villain - Move to a different location on your Board that does not have a Lock Token on it.
2. Perform Actions - Each location on your board has different actions that can be performed. You may perform any visible actions in any order you wish. (Note: All actions are optional) The various actions are:
a. Gain Power - Take Power Tokens from the Cauldron equal to the number on the symbol
b. Play a Card - Play one Card from your hand, paying the cost in Power Tokens.
c. Activate - Choose an Item or Ally in your Realm, and pay the Activation cost to perform it's ability.
d. Fate - Choose an opponent and reveal two Cards from the top of their Fate Deck. Play one and discard the other face-up.
e. Move an Item or Ally - Move one Item or one Ally to an adjacent, non-locked location.
f. Move a Hero - Move one Hero to an adjacent, non-locked location.
g. Vanquish - Defeat one Hero at any location, using Allies at that same location. Once vanquished, both the Hero and Allies are discarded to their appropriate decks.
h. Discard Cards - Discard any number of cards in your hand, you do not wish to keep.
3. Draw Cards - After performing all the Actions you can, draw back up to four Villain Cards in your hand.

Play will pass to the next person and continue going until a Villain completes their Objective on their turn. Evil has won!
Review
Where do I start with the review portion of this post, except WOW! A lot of thought and love went into this game. Let's start with the components. It would have been easy to do cardboard standees or trendy to do miniatures, but they made gorgeous chunky pawns in shapes representative of your evil. Those pieces alone give the game a good table presence. The box is a wicked green and black that lets you know that this isn't your ordinary Disney game of good winning. On a slightly negative note, I will ask Wonder Forge to start shrink-wrapping their games and stop using those horrible stickers that leave a residue upon removal.

The art in this game is custom artwork of famous characters, items, and scenes from your favorite Disney film. Every card you draw will take you back to your childhood and watching these iconic films...or in my case last Saturday with the wife and kid. :)

With all the eye candy this game offers, where it really shines is in the game play. Though each character essentially plays the same, there are different objectives to complete in order to win. Each player has two decks of cards that are unique from any other player's deck. This adds a little bit of asymmetry to the game and makes you learn not only the character you are playing, but the other characters as well. How you move around in your realm and play your Villain cards will only get you so far in this game. You also need to be able to control your Fate and steer the Fate of others as well.

The theme comes through very well in this game. Yes, what it boils down to is your gathering power to play certain cards to win the game, but it feels like so much more. It feels like you are actually trying to rewrite the script to the movie. I think that is what I like best about this game. It would have been so easy (and lazy) to make this a game about "misunderstood" villains who aren't actually evil. No, this game you are evil and you are trying to succeed in your plot.

It may feel weird to play that role, but it is actually a blast if you let yourself relax and have fun with it. With the ability to play six players, and there being an equal number of male and female characters, this is a game that is great for anyone and everyone. I would go so far as to say that this is in my Top 2 family games of the year and belongs on every family game shelf! I will play this game anytime and anywhere, and I hope that there is a future expansion which unlocks some more villains like Cruella de Vil, Scar, Gaston, Shere Khan, etc.