VILLAINY is one of the latest publications from MAYFAIR Games.
It is for 2-4 players aged 12+ and is designed by Nicholas Trahan.
The cover is a brilliant parody of numerous Super-Hero comic books and immediately tells you that this is going to be a fun game.
The artwork is credited to Jay Stephens, the superb Canadian comic artist who also drew the cover art for the first edition Nocturnals
sourcebook for Mutants and Masterminds.
VILLAINY is the game where you aspire to become the most famous Super Villain by defeating the city's super-hero Fantastiman after
completing three "evil" plans. As you would imagine, there is plenty of scope for an enjoyable and amusing entertainment, and Villainy
doesn't let you down.
To begin with, even before you start to play, take some time to have a bit of fun with the 102 double-sided (thus 204) Super Villain name
tiles. First sort out the 4 villain cards which are also double-sided thus giving the choice of 8 villains. All Villain cards have the character
name and three statistics, each character having the same, 3 Strength, 3 Charisma and 3 Intelligence. The character names are supposedly
amusing - Cassie Oh, Eye Carrumba, Rat Lady, Doctor Loom, Rex Roofer, Allie Gator, Ms. Tikal and The Craig - but although they are
mostly obvious parodies on real-life-comic-book super-villains they are not particularly funny, at least not to my sense of humour. This is
where the villain names on the tiles come into play. I'm not going to list every one of the 204 words but I will now, as I write this,without
any planning pull a few out of the bag randomly and see if I can improve on them (to my mind). I took a small handful and got 11 tiles: in
order of removing from the bag: Mixer, Patron, Tron, Buzzard, Jefe, Lord, Walrus, Master, Gold, Uber and Girl. A little time rearranging
them gave me two groups of 4 and one of 3. Jefe Walrus (the) Gold Buzzard, Lord Tron (the) Master Mixer and (the) Uber Patron Girl.
On with the game and I was dealt Ms. Tikal as my wannabe-super-villain. I pulled four tiles and suddenly I was Ms.Toucan-Tamer-Woman Jnr.
Now I was ready to take on the other players and defeat that goody-two-shoes Fantastiman.
Each player is given a command control card which has numbered circles for each of the three abilities, Strength, Intelligence and Charisma.
These 9 circles are in the form of "stat" dials, 3 for each ability and each with a base-pointer that can be turned to adjust the values as you gain
or lose points during play.
The Evil Plans have three segments and you require one character for each segment - thus a Villain on their own cannot win the game; like all
super-villains they need Hench-people to do their dirty work. Above each dial, on the command control card, there are markers where players
can place their character card and up to 2 hench-people cards - these can be hired from the general pool. Once hired the dials beneath are adjusted
to the stats shown on the card. Henches also have a special skill which can be activated during the phase or turn (etc) as described in the text. The
better skilled Hench costs more gold than the Hench with a fluffy skill but even those skills that are not so powerful can be useful. Henches and
Characters should also be given Alter-Egos who have regular jobs for when they are not out being villainous - this is how the Villains gain the
Gold they need to hire other Henches etc.
To win the game and become the world's best super-villain three Evil Plans have to be completed. each player (sorry, Villain) is dealt a random
level one (Origin) plan and they have to collect their gang together and be able to match the required stats and abilities shown on the Plan to
succeed. Once they have the first Plan safely tucked away it is on to the second - the Villainous Act - which is similar but harder than the Origin.
Finally they need to complete the Magnum Opus plan.
The Magnum Opus plan coincides with the fighting of the City's Super-Hero Fantastiman. You have to defeat Fantastiman whilst maintaining
all of the necessary statistics/abilities to complete the Magnum Opus and this isn't easy. What it means is that you cannot win totally by luck,
even though Power Cubes (dice) do come into play during your attempt at conquest. You have to be cunning, skilful at purchasing, hiring new
Henches when you can afford them and their skillset is better than that of the current hireling and having a little luck.
If the game has one fault it is that it goes on a little too long - the box says 90 minutes and even without the playing the name game at the start
this is optimistic. It isn't addictive but because of its genre it does have the X(Men) Factor that draws you back to play it again, but generally
after a few days break: it isn't a game to play over and over, day after day as you will soon tire of it.
There are always decisions to be made when it is your turn. The positioning of the Hench-people on your side is one, for depending where they
are they get a bonus ability. Then you have to ensure that all of your characters are ready for action - if one or more isn't then you may need to
spend a turn sending them all out to work to gain some Gold and also to have them all on the same page for your next turn. You can operate an
action with less than a full compliment of characters and there are times when this is either necessary or simply an opportunity has arisen that
shouldn't be squandered, but generally it is best if you can keep your super-team together.
Characters or Henches can also start fights or be the victims of an attack by an opposing Character or Hench. This is a simple die roll (sorry it's
a Power Cube response) with Rewards for starting fights and winning, or for not losing. Fights usually occur when the player at turn hasn't planned
anything or feels like being a little mischievious - they are not particularly deadly to anyone but they can bring a required reward in the shape of
a speciality token. Players can also buy speciality tokens for their characters and Henches, all of whom may each own 2 of each type - weapons,
gadgets, science, technology, deception or loyalty - all of which are required to complete Plans and win the game.
There are a heck of a lot of high quality components and cards which give the game bulk and substance but apart from the excellent, pre-mentioned,
artwork, the best component of all is the Rules Booklet which is published in the format of a 60's style super-
hero villain comic.