Halloween is nearly here, and what better way to get in the spirit than to embrace your inner villain? If you consider yourself a huge Disney fan and you haven’t played Ravensburger’s Villainous, you’re missing out on a devilishly good time.
Please note that we are not sponsored by Ravensburger – we just love their game!
Conceptually, Villainous is the best opportunity to become your favorite Disney villain. Your goal in this board/card game hybrid is all your own, as it’s exactly what the villain of your choice worked towards in their respective film. Playing as Captain Hook? Then your goal is to find Peter Pan’s hideout, capture Peter, and put an end to him once and for all. No two villains have the same goal, which is what makes Villainous so refreshing, and at times, immensely challenging.
A game like Villainous requires a considerable amount of strategy. Given that no two villains share the same goal, players not only need to focus on achieving their own sinister success, but they must also make every attempt to thwart their competitors. To do this effectively, you must know the other villains’ goals just as well as your own. Anticipating your opponent’s next move is just as important as setting your own plot in motion. This isn’t terribly difficult in a one-on-one game, but in a group, things can get dangerously complicated.
There are many layers to Villainous that can make the game feel overwhelming for first-time players. To help you learn how to play and win, the folks at Geek & Sundry have put together an excellent tutorial on how to play Villainous.
The base pack, “The Worst Takes It All,” released in July 2018 with Maleficent, Captain Hook, Jafar, Prince John, the Queen of Hearts, and Ursula as playable villains. Since then, several expansion packs have been released:
"Wicked to the Core" debuted the Evil Queen, Hades, and Dr. Facilier.
“Evil Comes Prepared” debuted Scar, Yzma, and Ratigan.
“Perfectly Wretched” debuted Cruella de Vil, Pete, and Mother Gothel.
"Despicable Plots" debuted Gaston, Lady Tremaine, and the Horned King.
"Bigger and Badder" debuted Syndrome, Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear, and Madam Mim.
The current lineup of Disney villains is quite impressive, and with such fan-favorite inclusions as Yzma, Pete, and Ratigan, it balances some of the most well-known villains with several somewhat obscure picks from otherwise underrated Disney movies. Needless to say, there is still plenty of room to add more baddies to the roster. Counting down to my number one choice, here are the top 5 classic Disney villains that Villainous is desperately missing.
The Headless Horseman
Starting off our countdown with the perfect choice for the Halloween season, the Headless Horseman is a classic villain whose popularity spans generations. Introduced in Washington Irving’s 1820 novel, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the Headless Horseman is a mysterious entity that appeared in Walt Disney’s 1949 film, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.
In terms of an objective, the Headless Horseman’s is simple: find a new head. This would certainly make for one of the more macabre objectives that could be added to Villainous. It also has the potential to be one of the more challenging objectives to achieve, as one of the four locations on his board, the Bridge, could be permanently locked to him and his ghostly allies (which consist of sights and sounds as opposed to actual people or creatures). If any heroes are played to the Horseman’s realm, particularly Ichabod, the bridge would serve as their sanctuary. The Horseman would need to rely on "Move a Hero" actions to lure them out.
It should be a no brainer that the Headless Horseman’s Realm would be Sleepy Hollow, which is in fact a real place located near Tarrytown, New York. The four locations would include the Schoolhouse, the Van Tassel’s Estate, the Old Dutch Church Cemetery, and, as previously mentioned, the Bridge. I find the art style that Disney used to capture Sleepy Hollow and the surrounding Tarrytown to be especially beautiful, and I would love nothing more than to see Sleepy Hollow itself as a realm in Villainous.
Step aside, King Louis. Shere Khan the tiger is the true king of the jungle! Not only do we need more animals in the game, but Shere Khan’s entire playstyle could be based on his predatory stealth.
Imagine that your objective is to find and kill Mowgli the mancub, and as a unique feature of your board, there is a separate spinner included that has equal sections for day and night. Since you need to be stealthy, you can only attack heroes if you spin and land on “night,” meaning you are under the cover of night. Given that Shere Khan is somewhat of a lone wolf, he doesn’t have any allies and can only attack heroes himself!
Shere Khan’s unique playstyle doesn’t stop there. To make things trickier, your fate deck includes a card called “The Red Flower,” which of course means fire. Having an opponent draw “The Red Flower” from your fate deck would cause you to automatically lose the game as you run off into the distance with your tail between your legs.
Shere Khan’s realm must be the jungle – specifically, a jungle in India. The four locations on his board would include the River, the Ancient Ruins, Kaa’s Tree, and the Man Village. Just like the Bridge in Sleepy Hollow, the Man Village is a permanently locked location for Shere Khan. If Mowgli is played to the Man Village, Shere Khan will need to rely on certain cards to lure Mowgli out.
Pinocchio, my favorite Disney movie of all time, also features one of my favorite Disney villains: the Coachman. While Pinocchio quite literally has villains around every turn, I made a conscious effort to only choose one, as the makers of the game have only ever included one villain per movie.
I had a tough time deciding between Stromboli and the Coachman, as I frankly find Stromboli equal parts hilarious and cruel. Despite Stromboli’s kidnapping of Pinocchio, forcing him to perform without any real compensation, locking him in a birdcage, and threatening to chop him into firewood when he gets too old, the Coachman is unquestionably the foulest of the two. In case you didn’t know, the Coachman has made a fortune out of tempting young, mischievous boys with the promise of a permanent holiday at Pleasure Island, but once the boys get there, their bad behavior turns them into donkeys. With the help of his demon-like goons, the Coachman then rounds up the boys-turned-donkeys and ships them off to work in either salt mines or the circus for the rest of their short-lived lives.
The Coachman has the potential to be an incredible addition to Villainous. Not only does he have allies to boot with the likes of Honest John, Gideon, and his Pleasure Island goons, but his goal of capturing boys makes his objective arguably the most evil of all of the Disney villains featured in the game. Capturing the boys would be similar to how Cruella captures Dalmatian tokens in Villainous, except with the added twist of needing them to first become donkeys. This could mimic how the Queen of Hearts needs to create wickets out of the Card Guards before she can take her shot in croquet.
Set in Italy, the Coachman’s realm would include the Village, the Red Lobster Inn, Pleasure Island, and the Seaside Caves.
Who could possibly match the Coachman’s evil scheme? If you’ve seen Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, you know exactly who. You’d be hard pressed to find any redeeming qualities in Judge Claude Frollo. After all, he killed Quasimodo’s mother, nearly drowned Quasimodo when he was an infant, plotted to commit genocide against the Romani community, lusted after a non-consenting Esmerelda, and said the word “Hell” multiple times!
Frollo’s objective would require him to locate and unlock the Court of Miracles, capture Esmeralda, and set all four locations of his realm aflame. Setting the locations on fire would be similar to how Maleficent needs to lay a curse on each of the locations in her realm, except Frollo can only do this once he has captured Esmerelda. If a location is set on fire, Frollo cannot move to it.
Frollo’s realm is Paris, France. The locations would include the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Dungeon, the Town Square, and the Court of Miracles.
Honorable Mention: Oogie Boogie
There's no denying that Oogie Boogie is a perfect fit for Villainous. Just look at him! This sack of bugs is hungry for a good batch of snake and spider stew, mixed together with the one and only Sandy Claws.
Kidnap the Sandy Claws and gobble him up! Oogie Boogie's playstyle naturally should involve some level of gambling, and because he's the boogeyman, you know he won't play fair. Unique to Oogie Boogie is a pair of dice that you will roll on each turn, and depending on what number you roll and what card you play from your hand, you may be able to duplicate an action on the location you move to or collect extra power. Just don't roll snake eyes or you'll lose a turn!
Halloween Town is home to all of our monstrous friends, and its locations include the Town Square, the Cemetery, Oogie Boogie's Lair, and the Hinterlands. Oogie will need to play all three of his allies, Lock, Shock, and Barrel, to the Hinterlands in order for them to kidnap Sandy Claws from Christmas Town. With Mr. Claws in tow, his allies must bring him to Oogie Boogie's Lair, where his fate rests in Oogie's cards and a roll of the dice.
Frollo embodies just about all of the seven deadly sins, so the only villain that can top him is the devil himself. Chernabog hails from Walt Disney’s 1940 musical film, Fantasia, and is quite literally the manifestation of pure evil. Not to mention that he’s the absolute coolest-looking Disney villain there is! Chernabog’s sequence in Fantasia is set to Leopold Stokowski’s arrangement of “Night on Bald Mountain,” where he awakens the spirits of the dead and beckons them to his pedestal atop Bald Mountain.
Given his limited screen time in Fantasia, it may seem reaching to create an objective for Chernabog. However, we know that Chernabog is set on luring restless souls directly into his evil clutches. Like Cruella with Dalmatian puppies and the Coachman with young boys, Chernabog is intent on possessing as many spirits as he can before the Angelus bell rings and the sun begins to rise. However, unlike all other villains in the game, Chernabog is confined to Bald Mountain. Bald Mountain contains two actions: draw 3 power and play a card. Thankfully, Chernabog can perform the same actions on Bald Mountain once a turn.
Similar to the Evil Queen who collects ingredients to brew poison, Chernabog collects souls by playing the “Summon” card. Souls take the physical form of power tokens but are not a substitute for power. If Chernabog plays the “Possess” card, he can possess one soul from his pile and use that soul to traverse around the other three locations on the board in order to perform fate actions, move an item or ally, move a hero (the heroes are the monks that appear during the “Ave Maria” sequence that follows “Night on Bald Mountain”), discard cards, or vanquish a hero. Moving a possessed soul means that Chernabog forfeits taking the actions on Bald Mountain. However, each time a possessed soul is moved, Chernabog must sacrifice a soul from his collection. In order to win, Chernabog must start his turn with 13 souls in his possession.
While Chernabog’s realm is somewhat of a mystery, the locations would include Bald Mountain, the Village, the Graveyard, and the Woods.
There you have it! Only the worst are worthy of Villainous, and these classic Disney villains have more than earned their spot in the game. Here's hoping that Madame Leota sees them in our future...