Updated: Aug 26
At a certain point in our journey into anything that we love—and dedicate a large amount of time and energy—such as a hobby or interest, there can unfortunately also come a feeling of superiority to certain aspects associated to said hobby or interest.
When I first got in to board gaming, I was blown away by just how much more there was out there than just the standard copies of Monopoly and Clue that collect dust in the closet of just about every family member’s closet. I was introduced to the classic gateway games of Catan and Ticket to Ride and instantly was hooked and excited that games like this existed. I sunk my teeth into board gaming shortly after and have not looked back since. I looked for games with new mechanics, deeper strategy, more components, etc.
Through my journey into the depths of board gaming, there eventually came a time where I began to feel almost elitist about the hobby and that I was suddenly above certain games. There were times when people suggested playing games like Catan and Ticket to Ride, the very games that got me in to the hobby, but I looked down on those games and would almost instantly suggest another game that I felt was a better game.
It was around this time that I started to date my now wife, and I wanted to share with her the things that I enjoyed—one of which was of course board gaming. However, I knew I couldn’t just bring her in to a night of Arkham Horror 2nd Ed. or a day (cough cough weekend…) of Twilight Imperium 4, so it was with some reluctance that I tracked down those gateway games that I now considered second tier.
By the end of night—in which I taught my girlfriend and friends these gateway games and played a few rounds—I was quickly brought back to why these games existed and why they are considered evergreen. It was an awesome experience to see these people who were close to me find enjoyment and excitement in something new.
For me though it was a great reminder that I had built up this false sense of superiority and that I was only doing myself a disservice by excluding so many great games from my game shelf and play rotation. There is so much enjoyment and variety to be found out there in the world of gaming and I am glad to have been proven so very wrong in this regard.
This experience echoes through my mind many times now when I am looking for new and different games. I still have my core group of “hardcore gamers” that I play my deeper games with like Gloomhaven and Kingdom Death, but I am always looking for fun games to bring out with family and friends who may not enjoy heavy gaming as much as I do. One of the better games that I have found recently that checks the boxes of being accessible enough to a wide variety of new and experienced gamers (but also gives me enough of a game to feel invested and challenged) has been Villainous.
This game is exactly the type of game that years ago when I was in that weird phase of “gamer elitism” would have totally been written off as a game not worth my time—and would not have given it a second thought—but man has it become one that I love to take with me everywhere now.
The game of Villainous centers around choosing one of the Disney Villains to play with and accomplishing a specific task in order to win. The core game comes with 6 total villains, each of which play totally unique, which adds a lot of fun content and styles of play right out of the box.
On your turn you take your Villain marker and move it to one of 4 locations on your unique villain board and then do the actions listed on the space you landed on. These actions can be as simple as drawing a card, taking a power token (essentially the currency of the game) or playing cards on yourself or opponents. The game really is that simple, but where the strategy and competition come from is the cards you can play to power up by bringing in your henchmen, putting curses on locations or by playing a card in order to hinder your opponents.
It is so much fun to see the Queen of Hearts close to accomplishing her victory condition but then having someone draw a card from her Fate Deck and playing the Cheshire Cat on her board stopping her plans, or stopping Captain Hook from defeating Peter Pan by bringing in the Lost Boys last minute to no longer let Captain Hook’s pirates win.
The theme here is pretty straightforward—Disney all the way. The art on the cards comes directly from the films that each villain is in so its fantastic to have that. Obviously if you are someone who enjoys Disney, and why wouldn’t you, then the theme here will be a big plus for a lot of people.
LEARNABILITY & DIFFICULTY
I could see how there might be some struggles if a group of brand-new gamers sat down to learn and play this game. The game uses just enough of a level of higher tier gaming understanding to smoothly jump right in and start playing.
For most gamers this is a straightforward, action-selection game where the only extra decipher is with how a few of the cards may interact with each other. I would say that for me I would feel confident in bringing this game with me to just about any event with new gamers and being able to teach it to them fairly quickly without much mishap.
What is also great is that each villain comes with a small guide to help you get a better grasp on that villain’s specific victory condition and how best to go about it. This guide will also offer some tips and tricks in regard to your more powerful cards and locations.
The core box offers 6 villains and each of the two current expansions brings in 3 each, for a total of 12 villains if you own everything. There is a great amount of replayability since you have play the game a total of 12 times to experience each villain and how they play. Each villain comes with a unique location board, two unique decks, and a different method of play and victory condition. I think this is a major plus for the game.
Weird as it may be to say that I am glad I went through that ridiculous phase of thinking I was better than some games, I am glad it happened. It has taught me to appreciate and not overlook games without giving them a chance. A game like Villainous would have slipped through my radar without a second thought, and I would have kept on only playing and buying games that had a much higher entry point for being able to play— thus further limiting myself to fewer people to play with.
I really do enjoy this game and am always excited when I get a chance to use it as a possible gateway game for family and friends who didn’t realize there were more games than the ones they had growing up. Plus the Disney theme really helps in getting people to check it out. So, whether you are new to gaming, or a veteran, check out Villainous. I think you will be surprised in the enjoyment you will get out of playing this game.
SUGGESTED SAND BOX GAMING PRODUCTS
1 Short Sand Bar ($6.00)
2 Single Card Insert ($8.00)
1 Single Drawer ($5.50)
Bundle Price: $17.00