The expansions for Ravensburger’s Villainous line of games seem to be coming out at a steady clip. One thing I like about them, other than being themed around some of my favorite movies, is that the villains feel pretty unique from one to another. The designers have done a great job of making the characters feel asymmetrical enough that this isn’t just an art swap, and that they are actually trying to build a character based on their theme.
So with that in mind, let’s dive into the newest expansion for Villainous, Despicable Plots. This stand-alone expansion gives us Gaston, Lady Tremaine, and the Horned King to control.
If you already own one of the Villainous expansions, you can probably skip this section as you know what you are getting. For the rest of you, this expansion adds three new villains to your lineup. Gaston from Beauty and the Beast, Lady Tremaine from Cinderella, and The Horned King from The Black Cauldron. And just like the other expansions, this one is a standalone one, so you don’t need to own base game to play it.
Game Experience with the Expansion:
This was probably the Villainous expansion that I was looking forward to the most because it contained three characters from movies I all enjoy. I used to watch Beauty and the Beast with my sister growing up, and have seen the movie so many times that I can probably recite the whole movie from memory. And my kids now are obsessed with Cinderella, so that movie is just about on a constant loop at my house. And the Black Cauldron was a series I read a ton in my youth, so again, solid nostalgia here.
But let’s start with Gaston, a hero I was most excited to play. The good thing about him is that he’s pretty straightforward for what you need to do. He has 8 obstacle tokens in his realm and you win if you get rid of them all. What are the obstacle tokens? I’m exactly not sure. They represent… something. To be honest, it was actually pretty disappointing how generic he felt. In the movie, Gaston went from trying to get Belle to marry him to leading a mob to destroy the Beast. But that feeling is lost here. It’s just remove tokens… and then watch them get put back. Unfortunately, Gaston has very much a “two steps forward one step back” feeling to him. Your tokens will constantly be returning due to his fate cards. In fact, it’s not uncommon for almost all of your progress to be lost via his fate deck, which can be kind of frustrating.
Then there is Lady Tremaine. She is probably the most interesting and thematic of all the characters in this expansion. However, she is also the most complex. Her goal is to get one of her two daughters to marry the prince. Yet to do that, she must first unlock the ballroom (by playing a specific card), get the prince there, get her daughter there, then upgrade her daughter’s dress to a ball gown, and then play and activate the wedding bells card. There is a lot going on with this one.
Yet she’s also kind of fun to play because she is so unique. She has trap tokens for dealing with allies (which remind me a bit of Ursula’s contract tokens), but she also has to be mindful of her fate deck that can undo her progress. Cinderella herself or the glass slippers are particularly pesky. The biggest drawback of Lady Tremaine is that she feels a bit scripted. She has a lot of specific things to do and has to do them in that order. So she’s going to lose a bit of her excitement on repeated plays.
The final villain is the Horned King. He falls in between Gaston and Lady Tramaine on the complexity scale. He needs to first get control of the Black Cauldron, then power it up, and finally use it to convert his soldiers to cauldron-born and get one in every location in his realm. Getting control of the cauldron isn’t too hard, but you have to watch out for Gurgi who can set you back pretty solidly. You can only make a cauldron born once the cauldron is powered up, but if it ever becomes unpowered, you will lose a cauldron born each round, setting you back. That almost feels like the overall theme of this expansion–progress loss. The Horned King isn’t as bad as Gaston, but you’ll definitely be fishing for your cauldron born warrior cards a lot in this one.
Despite having three of my favorite Disney characters, Villainous Despical Plots was just OK in my book. Gaston can be frustrating to play and doesn’t feel very thematic. But at least he’s easy to use. Lady Tremaine falls on the opposite end of the spectrum for a villain that feels really unique but is somewhat complex to control. The Horned King falls in the middle of the two and hits the sweet spot for me. He’s definitely my favorite villain in this expansion.
Whether you need Despical Plots or not probably depends on what you have already. The characters aren’t the strongest in the Villainous lineup, but they are petty thematic. And being a standalone expansion is always a nice thing. It’s worth picking up if you are big fans of any of these characters. For those new to Villainous, I’d probably start with one of the other expansions.
• Gaston feels generic
• Lots of progress loss during gameplay