Release Date: July 2023
Creators: Mike Mulvihill, based on the Villainous system designed by Prospero Hall
Format: Boxed, 20 minutes per player, 2-3 players stand-alone, 2-4 as expansion
Age Rating: 10+, per manufacturer
ICv2 Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5
There are a few very minor flaws with this game, and so let's get those out of the way first. The box says two to four players, but as a standalone it only plays two to three players. You need the core Star Wars Villainous to play with a fourth player, and also the nice little container for the various tokens is only in the core set. Also, like the other Villainous games, players may find some of the characters to be more difficult to play than others. Guidelines on that would have been useful. For example, Boba Fett is a lot of fun to play, but his victory conditions make his victory a slow thing, unless the player figures out how to speed up going through his deck. There are ways to accomplish this, but the learning curve is there, and the learning curve for each Villain is different.
The Star Wars Villainous system is based on Villainous, but the base set added things, largely the second “currency” of the game (Ambition). Thus, some cards in your deck can be played by spending Credits, while others can only be played or empowered by spending your precious Ambition points. Since some of the characters need to spend Ambition points for their victory conditions, this makes tough choices necessary.
Like with earlier Villainous sets, the playing piece is a bust of sorts, like the king or queen in a good chess set, but with Star Wars art and made of a translucent plastic. You move these back and forth between locations on your own Sector, and take up to four actions, based on what is available there. Star Wars Villainous also adds vehicles, and going to those might give actions or effects as well.
The Villainous system depends on each player having two small decks of cards. The bigger one, 30 cards, is the set of things you can play to benefit yourself. This can include allies, other bounty hunters, or circumstantial advantages, such as cards that you can play for your own benefit if triggered by an opponent. The other deck is your Fate deck, and that is what your opponents can use to thwart you, as this requires an action on their part to play cards that range from minor obstacles to Luke Skywalker paying your operations a visit.
Three Star Wars villains are in this expansion/standalone set. Boba Fett is a bounty hunter, so that is his goal. Cad Bane feels more like an assassin for hire, and Seventh Sister is just a force of chaos. Boba Fett is clearly the selling point, but may also be the toughest to play well, as his victory conditions are complex.
Played separately, this is a good game that feels like it allows players to play the bad guys whose powers and abilities are not dependent on using a light saber to solve things. Combined with the core set, things get more complicated, but the rules actually do permit Boba Fett and Darth Vader to be in the same game, as their victory conditions are so different that the game still feels balanced. The trick is that each player in the game has to watch out for other players and their status in relation to victory. If you don’t slow down the villain who is about to win, they will win, and you won’t. Just because you’re all villains doesn’t mean that you’re all on the same side!
Who is the intended audience for this game? Any Star Wars fan who would like to play a good Star Wars game in a shortish time. The estimate of 20 minutes per player is based on knowing the mechanics, so it will take longer for beginners, but turns are still fairly quick. Every turn permits each player to do something, but winning the game is about making those somethings efficient in terms of your goals.
Fans of the earlier versions of Villainous who want something just a tiny bit more complex will find the minor changes in this very reasonable, as long as they’re enough interested in Star Wars. The division of Villainous into three separate intellectual properties is both a selling point and a drawback, as not all Disney or Marvel fans are also Star Wars fans, but the game is good enough that it should bring some Star Wars fans into the Villainous evil web, spending their hard-earned credits on new ways to be bad. After all, if you’ve proved that you’re good at being Boba Fett, wouldn’t a Disney or Marvel villain be just a little tempting?