Sometimes it’s good to be bad, and the powers that be have obviously cottoned on to that with the Disney Villainous expansions. I’m glad they did; the Disney Villainous board game was excellent to begin with, so we won’t complain at getting an encore.
Or three, to be specific. A trio of Disney Villainous expansions have hit shelves so far – ‘Perfectly Wretched’, ‘Wicked to the Core’, and ‘Evil Comes Prepared’. These introduce three new characters each, some of which have been highly sought-after since Villainous’ release. Scar? Check. Hades? Check. They’re fine additions to what you could argue is one of the best board games around.
(Image credit: Ravensburger)
Time to play: 40-60 mins
Set-up time: 2 mins
Avg. price: $25 / £25
Do they live up to the original, though? It’s fair to worry that add-ons won’t be as clever as the OG Villainous. Luckily for us, you can set your mind at ease. The opposite is true here. If anything, the expansions are smarter. There are some pretty left-field character choices, too; I get the impression that most of them were selected because they add something genuinely unique to the game rather than for their fan-favorite status.
That’s the Disney Villainous expansions all over. It seems like a chance for the developers at Ravensburger to stretch their wings. Seeing as these sets are standalone games which only cost $25 / £25 apiece, that’s a win-win situation for us.
Just remember, they aren’t really board games for kids. In spite of what you might assume, the Villainous series is aiming for an older audience; if anything, these are strategic board games for adults that have plenty of depth to lose yourself in.
You can tell that Ravensburger is getting better at this with each new expansion, and Perfectly Wretched is another demonstration of this. It strikes the best balance of complexity and ease out of all the add-ons so far, meaning there’s something for everyone to get their teeth into regardless of whether you’re an old hand at this or a newcomer. That’s because each character – Cruella De Ville, Mother Gothel, and Pete – has a fresh, unique objective that’s still easy to understand. More importantly, they’re straightforward to learn yet difficult to master.
For example, Cruella has to gather 99 puppies to win… but she’ll need to draw them out first using special cards. Certain heroes can steal those dogs back, too. Meanwhile, Pete has a different goal for each part of the board and Gothel is trying to win Rapunzel’s trust (even as the latter slips away from her tower). It’s all pretty simple. Unlike certain characters in the first expansion, there are no confusing rules to wrap your head around. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend Perfectly Wretched for those who haven’t tried Villainous before – there are easier starting points – but it’s not too bad on the whole.
As always, the artwork is also superb. Every board and card features paintings that recreate scenes from the movies, giving a thoroughly premium feel to the game (and if you go to Target, you can even get a unique design). The movers are equally impressive. Cruella’s massive fur coat is front and center here, while Gothel’s token is the flower from Tangled. They definitely live up to earlier installments.
Speaking of Tangled, it’s cool to see more recent movies sneaking into the roster. It gives me hope that we could get characters from Moana, Frozen, Wreck It Ralph, and beyond in upcoming expansions.
Disney Villainous: Perfectly Wretched
US: If you’re based in the US, you can pick up Perfectly Wretched from Target and get a special, unique box and token design.
UK: Want Perfectly Wretched in the UK? You’ll find it on Amazon.View Deal
Evil Comes Prepared
Evil Comes Prepared is another winner. Out of the first two expansions (this and Wicked to the Core), I’d say that its characters are the most interesting to use. It also marks Ravensburger’s first foray into more unusual choices – who would have anticipated Ratigan?
In terms of what’s in the box, you’ll get Scar from The Lion King – the 1997 version, that is – Ratigan from The Great Mouse Detective, and Yzma from the criminally-underrated Emperor’s New Groove. They’re all great to play with, but don’t push the boat out too far in terms of complexity.
That’s not to say they’re dull, though. As an example, Scar’s Fate deck is different to everyone else’s. That’s because he needs to build a ‘Succession’ deck out of vanquished heroes, and he’ll only win when their combined strength makes 15. It’s a similar story with Yzma; her Fate deck is split into four piles. She’s got to defeat Emperor Kuzco with right-hand man Kronk, but because Kuzco is hidden in one of those four piles, that’s easier said than done (worse still, Kronk may turn against her if she moves him too much). Last but not least is Ratigan, all-round sleazebag and crime lord. He’s trying to build a robotic Queen to replace the real deal, but if he fails, his objective changes. He then transforms into the monstrous ‘Rat’ and must defeat Basil of Baker Street by any means necessary.
In other words, they’re all interesting enough to convince veterans of Villainous to return. Are they better than characters in the OG game? In some ways, yes. However, they’re definitely not as beginner-friendly. Instead, they’re a good way to shake up the existing dynamic – not to mention give players a new challenge to master.
Wicked to the Core
Villainous’ first expansion, Wicked to the Core, draws on almost 70 years of Disney history to give you the Evil Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Hades from Hercules, and Dr Facilier from The Princess and the Frog. All of them are solid additions to the roster, and each one has a fun twist of their own.
For instance, the Evil Queen must gather ingredients to create potions that are the only way of defeating her foes. At the other end of the scale, Hades needs to march three Titans from the Underworld to Mount Olympus… but because they move so slowly, he’ll have to juggle an onslaught of heroes and effects that trap them in place. Finally, Dr Facilier spends the game building a one-of-a-kind ‘Fortune’ deck that may contain the card he needs to win. Players can only draw and use three of these cards at random, so the trick is making this deck as small as possible (naturally, your opponents will try to pad it out with duds as well). This is something that really defines Wicked to the Core; the cards that are used against you shake things up almost as much as the playable characters themselves.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t always hit the mark. Namely, Dr Facilier is tricky to understand. I’ve been avidly playing Villainous for months, and even I struggled to get a grip on his rules. That’s a shame – he’s comfortably the most novel of the three, but he’s also the most complicated. As such, I wouldn’t advise picking Wicked to the Core as your first Villainous experience. Or giving Facilier to a newcomer, for that matter.
For those of you who feel you’ve mastered the original game, though? The expansion’s challenges will certainly keep you busy, and Hades is a delight to use (and to look at – his mover is a magnificent pillar of blue flame). It’s a strong start to the extended Villainous range.