If You Like Strategy Games, and Ruthlessly Crushing Your Opponents, You Should Buy Disney Villainous
Growing up, my family played a ton of board games. In fact, I can’t think of a time board games weren’t part of my memories with the classic children’s games, in particular, being as ever-present as water or air during the 1980s and 1990s; playing HiHo! Cherry-O with my Aunt Donna, Sorry! with my mom, or dozens of other games with the twins (my brother and sister who were born only two years after me) – Candyland, Clue, Monopoly, Scattergories, and even a lot of games that are no longer manufactured and were products of their time. Going beyond that, the older relatives would often play card games with Rook being a particular favorite as we kids played either the original NES or Commodore 64 as the uncles and aunts battled it out while consuming copious amounts of sweet tea and peanut butter brittle depending upon which side of the family was over for dinner.
Seeing the re-emergence of board games as a major source of entertainment in recent years, especially for adults as a full-fledged, legitimate form of entertainment, has made me really happy. In some ways, it is just now hitting the mainstream after a combination of sites like Kickstarter made it possible for smaller, indie games to launch and corporate giants such as Target saw an uptick in board game sales and, as a result, decided to embark on a project to launch 50 exclusive board game editions over a multi-year span. I’ve always wanted to get around to studying the new landscape, especially because I used to study the board game companies and, for awhile, even dreamt of owning one, but haven’t had time with everything going on in my life and career.
That may need to change because of a recent experience. After writing about Disneyland earlier today, I realized now would be as good a time as any to share it with you. The discovery: a board game / card strategy game called Disney Villainous.
To say I’ve become obsessed with it is a bit of an understatement.
First, a bit of explanation: For the past week, we had family visiting. This meant Aaron and I had to re-shuffle our work schedule to the early morning and late evenings so we could spend several days traveling around Southern California, giving them an opportunity to see where we lived (and, maybe, someday, where they might live, too). On Wednesday and Thursday, we all went to Disneyland’s Magic Kingdom and California Adventure parks, respectively. This meant that Aaron and I were in the parks three days within the span of a week. In this case, we were able to enjoy the full out-of-town experience; e.g., we ended up walking 5 to 7 miles per day in an attempt to fit everything in before they had to leave. We rode the Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones, and the Pixar Radiator Springs Car ride, we saw the Fantasmic and The World of Color shows, etc.
Anyway, several months ago, the two of us had picked up a board game called Disney Villainous at our local Barnes & Noble when we were browsing through some of the different board games. Then, on a recent trip to Target after this Disney extravaganza, we spotted the newly-released expansion pack. We decided to buy it on the spot – I’m sure we were psychologically primed by the hours of brand equity reinforcement we had just received – even though we hadn’t played the core game, yet. (We did take it out of the box a couple of months ago but it looked too complicated to learn quickly so we figured we’d get to it at some point.)
That point turned out to be a couple of days ago. Cut to me, Aaron, and my youngest sister spending hours 1.) learning how to play this game and 2.) battling each other as we attempted to conquer our various realms. It was an absolute blast. I love strategy games that aren’t entirely a function of chance. I also love that it can bring out your inner ruthlessness, too, if you aren’t careful.
During one game, I won as the Evil Queen, finally taking out Snow White with my poisoned apples, which I had to mass manufacture in order to first rid myself of the meddlesome dwarfs due to various buffs she was receiving from them.
In another game in which I played as Jafar, I was one turn – one turn! – away from winning. All I needed was for Aaron to complete his hand and my victory condition would have been triggered. Instead, my husband had been secretly setting up a complex series of inter-connected moves that was so impressive, it was a joy to behold as it unfolded. It was so well-done, and so beautifully pulled off, that I think I was more excited about his victory than the fact I had just been bested. He announced it slowly, and deliberately, having pre-worked out the exact sequence necessary to achieve this last minute triumph. It was brilliant; absolutely brilliant to witness as he took down Peter Pan (he was playing as Captain Hook), clenching victory aboard the Jolly Roger.
In another game, my sister managed to best us both by playing as Prince John. She was able to use her “taxes, lovely taxes” ability to hoard power and ultimately defeat Robin Hood.
Part of the strategy involves knowing the rules for the other villain’s victory conditions. For example, Prince John has a conditional card that allows him to accumulate additional powers (the in-game currency) if and when someone accumulates a stored power reserve of [x] meaning you’d want to spend your powers if you didn’t need them were he competing against you. Meanwhile, Captain Hook cannot win until Peter Pan is revealed, meaning you shouldn’t use something known as a “fate” against him as you might inadvertently herald Hook more rapidly to victory.
Speaking of which, I am so excited to see the future expansions they develop. The in-game stats seem, at least at first glance, so well-balanced that I can’t imagine how complex the analysis was when the game designers worked out the various buffs and debuffs of each villain not only in relation to their own realm but the other realms controlled by competing players.
If you have a cunning and ruthless side that enjoys plotting optimal strategy, buy it. You won’t regret it.
The base game is called Disney Villainous – The worst takes it all. It’s in a larger, square green box and presently sells for $33.99 on Amazon.
The expansion game adds three additional villains, and is called Disney Villainous – Wicked to the core. You can get it for $24.99 at Target.
Combined, you’re talking about $58.98 plus tax. It is hands down some of the best money we’ve spent in years. I have the feeling we’re eventually going to get hundreds of hours of entertainment out of this, dropping the cost per use and on a per person basis to about the cheapest form of entertainment possible – a few cents per hour. It’s also a fantastic way to spend quality time with the people you love. Suffice it to say, we’ll be buying every future expansion of this series that is made available.