What Is Villainous: Wicked to the Core?
Villainous: Wicked to the Core is a game for 2-3 players, ages 10 and up, and takes about 60 minutes to play. It’s currently available exclusively at Target for $25.
Villainous: Wicked to the Core Components
Inside the box, you’ll find:
- 1 Dr. Facilier villain mover, board, villain deck, fate deck, and villain guide
- 1 Evil Queen villain mover, board, villain deck, fate deck, and villain guide
- 1 Hades villain mover, board, villain deck, fate deck, and villain guide
- 3 reference cards
- 40 power tokens
- 1 lock token
- 1 fate token
How to Play Villainous: Wicked to the Core
Villainous: Wicked to the Core is a sequel to Villainous. It’s not an expansion in the traditional sense, as often expansions require the base game to play, and Wicked to the Core does not. However, everything in Wicked to the Core is completely compatible with the base game, so you can freely mix-and-match components between the game. In fact, when we played, we wanted four players rather than three, so while I, my son and my daughter all played the new villains, my wife played Maleficent from the original game.
The goal, setup, and gameplay of Wicked to the Core is the same as the base game. Rather than rehash all of that, you can read Jonathan Liu’s review of the original game for those details. Instead, I’m just going to focus on the new villains and the few changes they bring to the game.
The Evil Queen
One of the three villains introduced in the sequel is in fact the OG Disney Princess villain: the Evil Queen from Snow White. The Queen’s objective is, of course, to defeat Snow White. But she approaches defeating heroes quit a bit differently from other villains, who primarily rely on allies to fight on your behalf. The Queen, though, has a single ally in her deck: the Huntsman. And as the luck of the draw would have it, I never drew him in our game, so I played the entire time with no allies at all.
Instead, the Queen uses a new ability introduced with her character: poison. Each time you move to the Laboratory space on your board, you can convert one or more of your power tokens to poison tokens. Then, whenever you are on a space with a hero, you can play the special “Take a Bite” card and defeat the hero by discarding poison tokens equal to the hero’s power. In this regard, defeating Snow White–who only has a base power of 4–can be in some ways easier for the Queen.
However, there’s one more catch. Snow White, when she is played from the Fate Deck, is played to the Dwarf’s Cottage location, which begins the game locked, so the Queen can’t go there and defeat her. In order to unlock the Cottage, the Queen has to play four ingredients, a new card type unique to her. The ingredients aren’t expensive–one is free to play, two cost 1 power, and the other 2–but there are only two of each in the deck, so it can be a challenge to find them. In the game we played, I lost because it turned out that in the shuffle I managed to end up with both cards of one ingredient type at the very bottom of the deck. There are cards that help balance this, and playing the Queen was the first time in the many times I’ve played the game where I came close to running through my entire deck, but it definitely makes it a challenge.
Hades is, of course, the villain from Hercules. Of the three villains introduced in Wicked to the Core, he’s the most, well, normal. He has allies in his deck, but his real focus is on the Titans. They are played just like allies, and can be used to defeat heroes, but they also represent Hades’ goal: he has to begin his turn with three Titans on his Mount Olympus space. And, in the brilliant way the game is balanced, all of the Titans start as far from Olympus as possible. So while moving allies is often a minor strategy for other villains, it quickly becomes the primary thing the Hades player focuses on.
There are of course cards to help, including a special card that allows a Titan to move two spaces in one move, but there’s also a catch, of course: some of the heroes in Hades’ Fate Deck can trap a Titan, rendering it unable to move. At that point, the player has to find another card to untrap the Titan.
You’d be forgiven for forgetting the name of the villain in The Princess and the Frog, but the game is here to remind you it’s Dr. Facilier. While most of his play is fairly normal, with a deck full of allies and items and the like, he has a goal that requires pretty unique play. Throughout the game, Dr. Facilier can add cards to a special “Fortune Pile,” a sort of separate discard deck. Then, every now and then, he can play a card that allows him to go into this Fortune Pile. Another player randomly draws cards from it, and the Doctor’s player then apply special “fortune” abilities that appear on the cards.
Opponents, however, can also play cards into the Fortune Pile, preferably those without fortune abilities, trying to reduce the odds that one or more of those three cards drawn will be beneficial. This is the main thing opponents end up doing with Facilier’s Fate Deck.
To win, Facilier needs to control the Talisman, which is simply an item in the deck, but then, he also needs to reveal the “Rule New Orleans” card from his Fortune Pile. When we played, we ended up getting a key rule about the Fortune Pile wrong (when you play cards from it, you don’t discard them unless you have another card that specifically says to discard), so my daughter, who was playing Facilier, somewhat easily won.
Why You Should Play Villainous: Wicked to the Core
I found Wicked to the Core to be an interesting addition to the Villainous world. It’s great that it is simultaneously a stand-alone game and an expansion to the original, and the ease with which components can be mixed-and-matched is fantastic. If you do own both, you now have nine villains to play, and since each villain really does play differently, there’s a ton of replay value in this game.
I’ve been impressed since we started playing Villainous at how well balanced the game is. In every game, it seems like everyone is one or two turns away from winning when someone completes their goal, and these three new villains are no exception. I already mentioned that we messed up when we thought my daughter had won, but if she hadn’t, I think I was no more than two turns from winning as the Evil Queen, and my son was likewise very close to winning as Hades. We had all kind of teamed up on my wife on the prior turn since it looked like she was about to win as Maleficent, but chances are she could have dug out of that hole and would have been right in the thick of things.
I also really liked the new abilities introduced here, particularly the Queen’s use of poison and Facilier’s Fortune Pile. Both add new dimensions to the game while staying true to their characters.
While we were playing, we discussed which villains we hope to see in the next sequel. The kids are both hoping for Scar and Shan Yu, while I’d be interested in seeing the game’s take on Governor Ratcliffe. But in the meantime, Wicked to the Core is sure to keep Villainous coming to our table for some time to come.
To subscribe to GeekDad’s tabletop gaming coverage, please copy this link and add it to your RSS reader.
Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.