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Unleash your evil side with Villainy

By James Jester
Published: July 14, 2015
Product: Mayfair has joined the growing fray of superhero games with their own, focusing on the baddies. Villainy is a game for 2 to 4 players who attempt to bring their own villain up from inauspicious beginnings to complete their magnum opus and defeat the dreaded superhero Fantastiman. The game contains a lot of cards, a lot of cardboard pieces, four player boards with dials, a die (sorry, “Cube of Power”) for each player, and an eight-page rulebook.
The components and artwork are colorful and convey an old-timey comic style, complete with Comic Sans font on everything. The rulebook itself even has a layout similar to a comic book, albeit with a lot fewer pictures. The cardboard and cards are both on good stock, but the “dials” could have been greatly improved beyond the cardboard semicircles in stands that they included. These have a tendency to be easily knocked about during play.

Gameplay: The central goal of the game is to complete Evil Plans. Each plan has multiple roles to be filled, each requiring a different character having particular stats in Strength, Charisma and Intelligence, as well as specific specialties ranging from weapons to deception. Players will get their team ready to complete these plans by taking actions with their characters (their villain and henchmen). These actions range from committing crimes to improving a character’s stats; assuming alter egos to make money; buying the aforementioned specialties; fighting other players for a potential profit; or hiring new henchmen, each with their own special abilities. ­Once a player has characters with the stats and specialties needed for a plan, they can complete it, get a reward,and move on to the next, bigger plan.
Much can happen to thwart your preparations. Every once in a while, a free-for-all can break out between the villains, with the winner either getting a huge advantage like a lot of money or free specialties, or the losers taking a major penalty such as losing stats. And once your villain has moved on to complete his magnum opus, Fantastiman himself tries to stop you, forcing you to endure his attacks long enough to finish the job or risk failure. Both add a random element to the overall flow of the game, and the latter manages to add a bit of suspense at game’s end. Of course, it probably won’t go over well with those adverse to random chance in games.
The game plays smoothly and quickly, or at least would without the existence of the Readying system. Once a character has taken an action, they become exhausted and cannot be used again until a player chooses to “work their team” for an entire turn. Keep in mind that the characters being used to fulfill the roles in a plan must be ready before executing a plan as well. This gives the game a pretty uneven flow early on when you start with only a villain, but eventually evens back out later on once everyone has at least a henchman or two.
Overall, Villainy is a reasonably good board game with a few rule quirks that are smoothed over by the lighthearted nature of the superhero theming. All of the character designs vary from parody to silly,     all with good artwork. All of the text throughout the game conveys the feeling of becoming a supervillain, even if coming from some rather inauspicious beginnings. A nice little touch is the unique descriptor on each of the specialties, allowing you to give each of your characters that extra little spark, whether it is your Grizzly Bear henchman being loyal to you out of fear or your shark being armed with a freaking laser.

Marketing: The game is all but asking to be sold alongside and compared to other superhero-themed games on the market, such as Marvel Legendary, DC Deck Builder, and Sentinels of the Multiverse. The box art mimics that of a comic book cover and should easily draw the eye of aficionados of the genre.
Villainy distinguishes itself from much of its competition in gameplay, offering more of a standard Eurogame experience with a lighthearted style. It remains to be seen whether that will net sales, or if customers will prefer the licensed characters and more action-­oriented style of other superheroic games.

Product: Villainy
Maker: Mayfair Games
Stock number: MFG 4134
MSRP: $49.99
Availability: Alliance Game ­Dis-

• Supervillain-themed Eurogame
• Some rule quirks smoothed over by thematic elements
• Mostly quality components and artwork throughout
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