Time to play: 40-60 mins
Set-up time: 2 mins
Avg. price: $25 / £25
Sometimes it's good to be bad, and Disney has obviously cottoned on to that idea with the release of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil and two Disney Villainous expansions. I'm glad it did; Disney's Villainous is arguably one of the best board games out there right now, so getting an encore is very welcome. Dubbed 'Wicked to the Core' and 'Evil Comes Prepared', they each add three new characters that have been highly sought-after since the game's first release. Do they live up to the original, though? Thankfully, yes.
Wicked to the Core
It's fair to worry that add-ons won't be as clever or deep as the OG Villainous, but luckily, the opposite is true in this case. If anything, they're potentially smarter, and every bit as gorgeous due to brand-new artwork. There are some pretty left-field character choices here, 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, to be honest; it seems like a chance for the developers at Ravensburger to stretch their wings. Seeing as both sets are standalone games which only cost $25 / £25 apiece, that can only be a win-win situation for us.
The 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 example, the Evil Queen must gather ingredients to create potions that are the only way of defeating her foes. Meanwhile, 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 Fortune cards at random, so you ideally want to make this deck as small as possible to stack the odds in your favor. 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.
The only downside of all this is the fact that Dr Facilier is tricky to understand. I've been avidly playing the original game for months, and even I struggled to get my head around 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 getting Wicked to the Core as your first Villainous experience or giving him to a newcomer.
Evil Comes Prepared
The same is not to be said with the other expansion, Evil Comes Prepared, though. This is probably the better of the two, and I'd say that its characters are the most interesting to use. In terms of what's in the box, you'll get Scar from The Lion King (the 1997 version), Ratigan from The Great Mouse Detective, and Yzma from the criminally-underrated Emperor's New Groove. Happily, they're all great to play with.
Let's start with Scar. Much like Dr Facilier, his 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. At the other end of the scale is 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 straightforward but add enough magic and surprises to re-energise the game. And that's what you want from an expansion, really; they add cool features to make things feel new again without reinventing the wheel. Evil Comes Prepared certainly achieves this goal, and it's a good starting point even for new players as a result.
So, to sum up: if you're wondering whether you should grab the Disney Villainous expansions, I'd generally recommend doing so. As for newcomers, you can't go wrong with Evil Comes Prepared. It's Ravensburger's best take on the Disney baddies yet, and that makes me even more excited to see what might come next.
Want to play something new? We'll be here each week to let you know about a tabletop gem (like the Pandemic board game) that you should definitely try. For example, we recently took the Jaws board game for a spin before trying out the Gloom card game and Betrayal at House on the Hill in honor of Halloween.