Updated: Dec 21, 2021
The release last year of Disney Villainous was quite a novelty from publishers Ravensburger. When someone buys the rights to a Disney IP you usually expect them to focus on the heroes and (increasingly nowadays) the heroines of the stories. As the name suggests, with Villainous, however, the game focuses instead on the heroes' nemeses. Players each take the role of the main villain from an iconic Disney movie; including, in the base game, Captain Hook (Peter Pan), Prince John (Robin Hood), the Queen of Hearts (Alice in Wonderland), Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty), Ursula (The Little Mermaid) and Jafar (Aladdin). Rather daringly for a game ostensibly aimed at a Disney family audience, Villainous eschewed the more common roll&move family game route and instead delivered a gamers' 'take that' hand management game with asymmetric powers and objectives. And to cap it all, Ravensburger added highly stylised pieces that mostly gave an artfully abstract tho' nonetheless recognisable suggestion of the villain they represented.
In conjunction with designers Prospero Hall, Ravensburger have followed up on the success of the original Villainous game with two expansions. But, again, these break the traditional mould: they each introduce three new Disney villains that can be added to or swapped with the six in the original game but, unlike most board game expansions, these two 'expansions' are both playable out of the box as standalone 2–3 player games (ie: you can buy and play both or either one of these without owning the original game)!
Villainous: Wicked to the Core features the Evil Queen from Snow White, Hades from Hercules and Dr Facilier from The Princess and the Frog. Villainous: Evil Comes Prepared features Scar from The Lion King, Yzma from The Emperor's New Groove and Ratigan from The Great Mouse Detective. As Disney movies go, a couple of these titles and their corresponding villains may be relatively obscure but that doesn't detract from the game play. On your turn, you'll be moving your character piece on your individual board usually to play cards from your hand and to take the action(s) indicated at that location. You'll be trying to achieve your character's individual objective but you'll also be drawing cards from other players' fate decks to play to those players' boards to hamper their progress.
The Villainous games are unashamedly 'take that' contests where players will always be looking to throw a spanner in their rivals' works. That may be unusual for a Disney-themed game but it's entirely in keeping with the focus on Disney villains rather than heroes. There is, after all, no honour among thieves, witches, usurpers or gods of the Underworld!
One bonus of the fact that these two 'expansions' are each independently playable means that it's relatively inexpensive to buy one to try it and then maybe add the other one and the 'base game' if (when) you find you have a hankering for more. And with the Disney Studios having been so productive over the last 85 years, there are plenty more Villains for Ravensburger to deploy at some point in the future...