RAVENSBURGER'S "Disney VILLAINOUS" is a superb family strategy game with 'hidden' tactics that core gamers can thoroughly explore. It has Six beautifully designed gem-plastic figures that give it a wonderful, visual, component to enhance the excellence of the cards and game boards. The game, at a cost of around £35.00, I thought was great value and open to be built on by the release of expansions.
VILLAINOUS: WICKED to the CORE, being in a half-sized box, looks like it is the first expansion but it is actually more than that. It is, as I said, in a half-size box and it also has half the components, 3 new and different figures along with their character boards and specific card decks. WICKED to the CORE is not only an expansion it is also a Stand-Alone game - it requires none of the components from the original base game!
The three new Disney Villain's figurines are of the same design and quality as those in the base game, each being vaguely representative of the animated film character rather than exact replicas of the villain seen on the screen; their colours are also different from the originals, not that it would matter as they are all of unique pattern.
Dr Facilier: aka the Shadow Man from the Disney film "The Princess & the Frog". A sneakier piece of degradation has ne'er been seen on a Disney screen.
The Evil Queen: from "Snow White & the Seven Dwarves", she is the epitome of wickedness, corruption and misery.
Hades: is the main antagonist of Disney's 1997 film "Hercules" where the featured vocal talent is the mighty James Woods.
Dr Facilier needs to Control 'The Talisman' (this is found in the characters game deck) and Rule New Orleans (discovering the card in their special 'Fortune' deck).
The Evil Queen has to deafeat Snow White. This can be easy but it can also be a right Royal pain as she has to come out of the Fate deck before you can beat her. The Magic Mirror card will allow the Evil Queen to locate Snow White herself.
Hades has to have three Titans at the board space named Mount Olympus.
With these three new characters you can turn VILLAINOUS into a 9-player game or you can play it with any number of players from two to nine and whoever your choice of Villain is the game will still be as much fun and enjoyable for everyone.
The game play is exactly the same as for the base game, there are no extra rules or variation of card types. Villain card deck and Fate card deck specific for each character. Effects (in Green), Allies (in Red), Heroes (in Orange), Items (in Blue) and Conditions (in Mauve).
If you haven't played the original the game setup includes each player, two or three in the case of this edition, takes a character piece, a character board and the two aforementioned decks. The character boards have four spaces, locations where the figure can move onto. Each of these spaces has four icons/symbols that relate to Actions that can be taken - the character on the space can (as in 'may') take ALL four Actions in any order, thus thinking about this order is very important as one Action may open the door for another.
Players are dealt a hand of four cards from their own Villain deck and make their hand back to four at the end of their turn, unless they have more than four cards then they neither discard nor add any cards - exception the 'discard' Action icon allows for any number of cards to be discarded (hands are still not made back to four until the end of the turn). These cards are played out of the hand to the underside of the player's board; however many of these cards have a cost which must be paid in Power Tokens - Power Tokens can be obtained from spaces on the Player Boards.
The game has a sweet Disney-style twist as each character's specific FATE deck is actually played against them. This is a brilliant idea because, unlike many games based on film or heroic characters, you do not have to have a specific deck to play against each Villain. For example the EVIL QUEEN is the nasty adversary of SNOW WHITE but if none of the opposing players had a deck that included Snow White and/or the Seven Dwarves, the game would still work against another character but the logisitical fun of having Snow White gaining revenge on the Evil Queen wouldn't occur.
In VILLAINOUS the Evil Queen's FATE deck contains Happy, Grumpy, Sneezy, Doc, Sleepy, Dopey and of course Snow White, all as Heroes. Thus she is going to come up against at least some of them during each outing when opposing players activate the 'Fate' icon on a space on their personal board. When playing a Fate card against a Villain it is placed so that it covers the top two icons of one space on that Villain's board. This means that until the Hero (or item - some items can be laid solo without the need for a Hero to wield, use, them etc) are removed - usually by an Effect or by being defeated/vanquished - the character only has two Action options on the affected space.
The movement of the figures is also a nice mechanic because there is no luck involved on where the character moves to as movement is free, the only space unavailable is the one the figure currently stands on - the figure must move every turn. Part of the game's strategy is keeping track of where you are and where you want to be to be able to use the cards in your hand to their best advantage.
Each character has their own agenda, an objective to reach by the playing of cards and the movement of the figurine. They are all different and they are all reachable within 30-60 minutes of play. The characters are quite well balanced as far as all possibilities are concerned, but it doesn't really matter because no cards that are specific to any character have any affect on any other character. Only their own specific FATE cards can affect them. Brilliant!
Disney VILLAINOUS: WICKED to the CORE can be found online for around £25.00. It is a great stand-alone game that can also be used to expand the original Disney VILLAINOUS game. It is always a pleasure to play.