Even bad guys need a break now and then, and they’ve been hearing about those epic beachside resorts that the heroes keep talking about. It’s time for a Villain’s Vacation.
At a glance: Villain’s Vacation is an expansion to Epic Resort, a game for 2 to 4 players, ages 12 and up, and takes 1 to 2 hours to play (depending on number of players). The expansion is just launched yesterday on Kickstarter and has already reached its funding goal, with a pledge of $15 for a copy of the expansion or $60 for the base game and expansion. I think the 12 and up age recommendation is about right; the game is not too complex but it can take a long time to play, so you need players who have the patience for longer games.
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Note that this list of components is not final; depending on which stretch goals are hit, there may be additional attractions or other things added to the game.
- 12 Villain Cards ( 2 each Corrupt Vizier, Crazed Alchemist, Reckless Wizard, Vampire Lord, Vile Necromancer, and Wicked Witch)
- 28 Worker Cards (4 each Draftsman, Dragon Keeper, Ghost Hunter, Igor, Organ Grinder, Stonecutter, War Admiral)
- 16 Tourist Cards (4 each Brood, Cultists, Fire-chasers, Grave Robbers, Groupies)
- 6 The Kraken Strikes Cards
- 1 Kraken Card
- 2 Attraction Cards (2 Secret Lairs)
The artwork is by Kelly McClellan (as with the first game) and it’s excellent: a fun mix of fantasy elements and beachwear. The prototype copy I used for my review had some of the artwork complete, but you can see many more examples of what the finished art will look like on the Kickstarter campaign page.
All of the cards from the expansion are helpfully marked with a little skull icon so you can easily sort them out if desired. The photos in this review include the finished version of Epic Resort mixed with prototype cards for Villain’s Vacation.
How to Play
The main rules are explained in my review of the Epic Resort base game, so I’ll just explain the differences here.
When setting up the game, you’ll shuffle in the new Villains, “The Kraken Strikes” cards, and the new Tourists into the Dock deck. The Kraken monster card is set aside for now. The Attraction cards are shuffled in with the rest of the Tier III Attractions. You still use the same number of Worker types, but now you can mix in some of these new workers if you like. The rest of the setup is the same.
The new Villains and Tourists are attracted to your resort by spending Flair, just like in the original game. Only one Villain or Hero can be at any given Attraction, but you can have a mix across your resort. The Villains also have abilities–some are triggered when they’re first attracted to your resort, and some have powerful abilities that can trigger every season. However, they do not defend against monster attacks. They can dodge away from an attack (just like Heroes), but if they do so, you can’t have a Hero dodge in to defend that particular attack. Also, any time a game effect refers to “Heroes” or “Villains,” those are not interchangeable.
The Kraken is the biggest change as far as rules go. Whenever you draw “The Kraken Strikes” from the Dock deck, the player with the most tourists at their resort loses meeples until they have the same number as the next-most player. If there’s a tie, all tied players lose meeples. The lost meeples are placed on the Kraken card. If the Kraken card has 10 meeples on it, the meeples are discarded and you release the Kraken! The Kraken attacks the player who currently has the most points–and it’s a powerful 8 attack on all three attractions. Better hope you have some of those Lazy Peons ready to throw at it.
That’s basically it for rules changes. The new cards have new abilities, of course, but overall the rules haven’t changed significantly.
Villain’s Vacation is an excellent expansion for Epic Resort: it adds more variety without introducing a bunch of new rules, so if you’re familiar with the base game you can jump right in and get going. In fact, you could even include the expansion right from the start–I taught a few people who had never played the base game and they didn’t have any trouble with the expansion included.
The Villains tend to be worth more points than the Heroes, but they’re also more trouble (and generally take longer to reach full health). For instance, the Reckless Wizard damages an Attraction as soon as he arrives. The Vampire Lord sucks the health out of adjacent Heroes when he arrives, but if there aren’t any Heroes around, he vanishes in a puff of dust (presumably). Some Villains can be helpful: the Corrupt Vizier gives you a preview of the Dock deck and lets you stack the deck in your favor; the Vile Necromancer adds Tourists to your empty Attractions. But the biggest difference between Villains and Heroes is that Villains don’t fend off monster attacks–hey, they’re bad guys. They’re not gonna lift a finger to prevent helpless vacationers from getting eaten.
The Kraken is a great way to add a new (terrifying) monster without just mixing in new monster cards to the deck. Since you never know when the Kraken will strike, it becomes important to watch how many Tourists you have compared to other players. Having just one more than the next player is fine, but having a whole bunch when nobody else does puts you at great risk–plus, the more Tourists the Kraken eats, the sooner it will launch its massive attack. Depending on the game, the Kraken could be unleashed multiple times in a game, though I think that’s probably a rare occurrence. When I was attacked, I was lucky enough to have two Lazy Peons to sacrifice to the Kraken, letting it damage my empty Beach with its third attack.
The Kraken can also be a good equalizer–the Kraken Strikes cards will punish whoever currently has the most Tourists, which isn’t necessarily the person in the lead but is at least the person who may stand to get the most gold next Season. When the Kraken is unleashed, however, it does attack the player in the lead, so it can balance out the game a little for somebody who is behind.
Since the game end is based on running out the Monster deck (which hasn’t increased), the expansion doesn’t really add much time to the length of the game. However, I think a good estimate is about 30 minutes per player, plus some additional time to learn the rules if it’s your first time. It is a fairly long game, but once you understand the flow of the game, it’s actually not that difficult. I do like that there are different avenues for victory: you can collect Heroes and Villains for points, or upgrade your resort. Usually it takes a combination of both, but I managed a fairly respectable score by going after high-scoring Villains even though I never managed to build any of the best Attractions.
I still like the tension between Flair and Gold: the more Tourists you have at an Attraction, the more Gold you make … but then the less Flair you get for attracting more people to your resort, whether that’s Tourists or Heroes or Villains. The other trade-off you have to make is using your various workers to staff the Attractions (thereby retaining Tourists) or using them for their discard abilities.
The new workers in this set are a lot of fun, too. There are a few of them that give you monster trophies when you get attacked: each specializes in one type of monster (pirates, dragons, spirits) and if you get attacked by one, you get to keep the monster in your scoring pile. Of course, that only works if you have the monster hunter in hand at the time–so it takes some careful planning. The Organ Grinder was another popular (if gruesome) worker: he can either provide two Ws for staffing an Attraction, or he can be discarded to remove a tourist for 2 Gold. So, you know, if you need a quick buck, you can always sell a kidney or something.
My prototype didn’t have the new Ominous Attractions, unfortunately, but you can see them on the Kickstarter page. The one that’s included is the Secret Lair: it can add an additional health to a Villain when fully staffed. The first stretch goal is the Copper Kettle Brewery, which lets you discard a Lazy Peon for Gold. Hey, while they’re just sitting around waiting to be fed to monsters, you might as well sell them some beer, right? If the $12,500 stretch goal is reached, there will also be an Ancient Ruins, which gives you extra Flair if there are no tourists at the attraction.
Villain’s Vacation brings some new flair to Epic Resort without costing you too much gold. If you enjoyed the original, you’ll find the expansion is a worthwhile attraction. Just watch out for that Kraken!
For more information, visit the Villain’s Vacation Kickstarter page.