‘Disney Villainous: Introduction to Evil’ is a Great Entry Into the Popular Series

Gaming Reviews Tabletop Games

Disney Villainous was originally released in 2018 and gave players the opportunity to take on the role of six different infamous villains from Disney movies. Not only did the game focus on being bad and trying to defeat the heroes, but as players were competing against each other, they remained in their own realms. Since the original, there have been five stand-along expansions, each with three new villains. The series also expanded into two other universes with Marvel Villainous and Star Wars Villainous. For new players, getting into the game might be intimidating with so many choices. Therefore, to provide an entry into the series as well as celebrate the Disney 100 anniversary, Disney Villainous: Introduction to Evil is now available.

What Is Disney Villainous: Introduction to Evil?

Disney Villainous: Introduction to Evil is a card-based game for 2-4 players, ages 10 and up, and takes about 20 minutes per player to play. In the game, players take on the role of one of four Disney villains (Captain Hook, Prince John, Ursula, and Maleficent) and work to achieve their unique objectives before the other villains. The game includes a hand management mechanic with some “take that” elements as well. Disney Villainous: Introduction to Evil is is a Target Exclusive and available at your local Target store or online at Target.com. It sells for $34.99 for a copy of the game.

Disney Villainous: Introduction to Evil was designed by Mike Mulvihill and Shanon Lyon and published by Ravensburger, with illustrations by Jason Kang, Lucas Torquato, Eduardo Francisco, and Jesse Suursoo.

Disney Villainous: Introduction to Evil Components

Here is what you get in the box:

  • 4 Limited Edition sculptured movers
  • 4 Villain decks (30 cards each)
  • 4 Fate decks (15 cards each)
  • 4 Realm boards
  • 4 Villain guides
  • 4 Reference cards
  • 40 Power tokens
  • 1 Cauldron
The limited edition movers. Photo courtesy of Ravensburger.

The villains are represented by their own sculpted movers which are used to show the location where a villain is on their realm. Disney Villainous: Introduction to Evil includes movers with a special lustrous finish that is only available in this edition of the game. 

Two of the realm boards from the game. Photo by Michael Knight.

Each villain has their own realm made up of four locations from their story. Each location has four symbols for actions which can be taken by the villain when at that location. The realm board also lists the objective for the villain to help remind you what you must do to win the game. 

villain cards
Villain cards from Captain Hook’s deck. Photo by Michael Knight.

The villain cards are what you use to take control of your realm and work towards your objective. There are four basic types of villain cards in Disney Villainous: Introduction to Evil. Allies are characters who help you and can attack heroes that other villains may play on your realm. The number in the bottom left corner is their strength. Items are also placed in your realm and provide lasting effects. Effect and Condition cards are played immediately and then discarded. The number in the upper left corner of a villain card is the cost you must pay in power in order to use that card. 

fate cards
Fate cards from Ursula’s deck. Photo by Michael Knight.

Fate cards are unique to each villain and are played against you by other villains. Effect and item cards function similarly to those types of villain cards. Hero cards are similar to ally cards in that they represent characters. However, unlike allies, heroes are trying to prevent you from achieving your objective. They also have a power number in the lower left corner. 

villain guide
Maleficent’s villain guide. Photo by Michael Knight.

There is a villain guide included for each villain that explain in greater detail how that villain can win the game. It also offers tips to help you win and descriptions of how some of the cards in the villain deck work or interact with other cards. It is a good idea to read through the villain guide before you start playing. There is also a QR code on the back with a link to a quick video on how to play that specific villain. 

reference cards
The reference cards are handy for remembering the action symbols. Photo by Michael Knight.

The reference cards are useful reminders to use during play. One side lists all the action symbols from the realm boards and explains each action. The opposite side lists the objectives for each of the four villains to remind you what your opponents must do to win.

The power tokens in the cauldron. Photo by Michael Knight.

Tokens are used to represent power, which is the currency in the game. The supply of power tokens are stored in the included cauldron to help keep them together and easy to retrieve as your villain gains or spends power. 

How to Play Disney Villainous: Introduction to Evil

Ravensburger has created a video to quickly describe the rules. It can be found here.

The Goal

The goal of the game is to be the first to fulfill your villain’s objectives.


At the start, each player chooses a villain and takes that villain’s realm board, mover, villain deck, fate deck, villain guide, and a reference card. Open up the villain board and position it in front of you. Place the mover on the portrait of your villain on the left side. Shuffle our villain deck and place it face down to the left of your realm board. Draw four cards from your villain deck to form your starting hand and place them face down in front of you. Now shuffle the cards in your fate deck and place it face down above your villain deck. Place all of the power tokens in the cauldron and then put the cauldron in the center of the table so all players can reach it. Each player takes 2 power tokens for the start. Choose which player will go first, and then each player reads aloud their villain’s objective to the other players. You are now ready to play the game. Once they have done this, it is now the next players turn. 

game setup
The game setup and ready to play.


Disney Villainous: Introduction to Evil is played in turns. During each player’s turn, they go through three main steps. First the move their villain move to a different location in their realm. They cannot stay in the same location. Next they perform as many actions as they wish that are available at that location. Finally, if the player has fewer than four cards in their hand, they draw cards from their villain deck until they have four in their hand. 

Each location on the villain’s realms has four action symbols. There are seven different types of actions. The Gain Power action lets the player take a number of power tokens from the cauldron equal to the number in the symbol. The Play a Card action allows a player to play one card from their hand. They can play one card for each symbol of this type they have in their current location. First a player must pay the power cost in the upper left corner of the card by returning that many power tokens to the cauldron. Ally and item cards are played to the bottom of the realm at any of the four locations. Effects and condition cards are played and then discarded immediately. The Fate action lets you choose another villain to target. Draw two cards from their fate deck. Choose one to play and then discard the other. If you play a hero card, place it on the top of one of the locations so that it covers and blocks the top two action symbols. While blocked, the villain cannot take an action at that location. Move an Item or Ally lets you take an item or ally already in your realm and move it to another location. Move a Hero lets you move a hero from one location to another in your realm. The Vanquish action lets you defeat a hero at a location where you have one more more allies. The ally must strength equal or greater than the hero in order to remove them from your realm. You can also must multiple allies at the same location as the hero and combine their strength to defeat the hero. Any allies whose strength was used to defeat a hero are discarded. Finally, the Discard cards action lets you discard any number of cards from your hand. This is a good way to get rid of cards you don’t need so you can draw new ones at the end of your turn. 

Prince John is going to use the vanquish action against Alan-A-Dale, a hero. He can use either of his Wolf Archers to do this since they can be used against heroes at their location or an adjacent location. Whichever he chooses will be discarded along with the hero. Photo by Michael Knight.

Game End

The game ends as soon as one villain achieves their objective. That player is the winner. 

Prince John realm
Prince John already has Robin Hood at the Jail. He just needs to earn 2 more power to win. This objective was improved from the original game to make this Villain more challenging and also to better fit the theme of the story. Photo by Michael Knight.

Interview with Game Designer Mike Mulvihill

Mike Mulvihill, the lead game designer for Disney Villainous: Introduction to Evil was generous to answer some of my questions about the game. Thanks Mike for your time and sharing some interesting information for fans of the game. 

Me: Which Villains are best for new players?

Mike: I am going to assume by this you mean Villains that are easy to teach and understand and that feel the most straightforward between the Objective and their play pattern. With Introduction to Evil—I’d have to say in my opinion the 4 characters in the box—Ursula, Prince John, Maleficent, and Captain Hook are now the best for new players. They were created and updated to be exactly those “learn to play” characters. Outside of these 4—our research shows that Madam Mim (from Bigger and Badder expansion) and Hades (from Wicked to the Core) also fit into that easy-to-play mold.

Me: What are some secrets or interesting tips about the franchise?

Mike: Wow, there is a ton of inside information that we love to add just for the fans. Here are five. 

  1. The Locations are created to be places the Villain has visited or seen (as best we can do) and not the Hero’s favorite places.
  2. We try to use only movie quotes, and I think that the most successful one we executed may be Lotso! I think every card is a line from his movie…
  3. Captain Hook’s Fate card Tick Tock makes the Hook player discard his hand… of cards… get it?!?!
  4. Madam Mim might be the Villain with the shortest actual screen time that we have done as a Villain.
  5. All art on all cards are original paintings, using the original film as the inspiration. Shout out to the great Jake Breish, the Villainous Art Director.

Me: What are some tips for new players?

Mike: In Introduction to Evil, we’ve added QR codes that link to videos to learn the game. Even more importantly, we have them for each specific Villain in the Villain guide so new players can learn quickly their goals and the key cards they should look for. 

Some players feel that discarding cards is a “bad” thing… it’s not. You only ever have 4 cards every turn, so if you feel you can’t use them, get other cards in your hand. Discard is your friend. Your deck will refresh when you run out, and if there are key cards that you need, we usually have cards that let you find or draw discarded cards.

Don’t feel you need to Fate on turn one. If you do, it’s okay, but it’s not a necessity. After all everyone is at the same place; no one is winning yet, so there is no need to panic.

Have fun!!!! The game is really fun if you think like the Villain and play like the Villain. We all play games like ourselves, it’s normal. But in this case, if you play the Villain, almost like taking on a role, the game is so much more fun and opens up so much more of the story.

Me: What are the toughest villains to play? Why?

Mike: The toughest Villains seem to be those who have stages to their mechanics like Syndrome (power your Omni-droid and then destroy your Omni-droid) or Cruella De Vil (reveal Dalmatian tokens and then move them). And they are tough because those mechanics take time. Others Like Mother Gothel and Lotso are difficult because their Fate deck can set them back pretty quickly. They have Fate cards that are beyond just slowing them down or being annoying. Finally, there are Villains like Yzma or Pete that have such a unique set-up and gameplay that it takes players a few times to learn them. They aren’t tough once you learn them but can be daunting the first time through.

Me: What are your favorite villains to play and why?

Mike: Wow, I think you just asked who my favorite child is!!!! I love Madam Mim. I think we really captured her essence. I like the new Prince John, because we didn’t make him tougher per se, but much more thematic and interesting. I like the challenge of playing the tougher characters above. They are some of the most thematic Villains because of those deeper mechanics.

Me: Why do you think the Villainous games are so popular?

Mike: Well first off, we are working with some of the greatest Villains ever created! Thank you, Disney, for allowing us that opportunity. Movies are the Heroes’ stories; Villains are the obstacles, and the more interesting the Villain is, the more the Hero’s quest/objective is dangerous, and the more we care about the outcome. Our goal is to flip that script—after all, the Villain thinks they are right, and those pesky Heroes are crushing their plans or getting in their way. We do this by offering a new perspective and doing something I am personally very proud of—giving each Villain a new and unique way to achieve their goals. Because of this approach, Villainous becomes an ongoing game; something that is both simple to learn and play and yet has massive depth of characters and options. This is the number one comment we hear back from fans.

Me: Are there any rules or actions that are often misunderstood or played incorrectly?

Mike: The biggest issue I think is Fate—when to do it, why do you do it, etc. Lots of people feel that you have to Fate often and all the time… swamping your opponent. Then you work on what you need to win… basically trying to make it so you win because they can’t. Personally, I think that makes the game way less fun. I get winning is important, but there are way more interesting, fun and immersive ways to win that I think that get lost in that singular way to play. Also, it should be noted that if you need a specific card to play (Fate or Villains) there always are cards to help you find or reveal that card. I think sometimes people see that mechanic and they panic that they can’t get their card. We have that covered already.

Me: Is there anything else you would like Disney Villainous fans to know about the game and/or yourself?

Mike: Besides continuing the excellence we have done and making sure we continue that for future products, my goal is to get more Disney fans into the game. One of our big pushes will be on the growth of Villainous for those who don’t play it or haven’t really understood the game. For example, we will be doing a Disney Villainous Tournament at Gen Con in August this year. We want the Disney fan to embrace the game like the gaming community has.

Why You Should Play Disney Villainous: Introduction to Evil

I have been a fan of the Villainous game since Disney Villainous was first released in 2018. I like how each villain is different with unique objectives and different ways of playing. Each villain is a completely new experience and keeps the game fresh. I also like the theme of the game and how each villain remains in their own realm. You don’t have Ursula coming aboard the Jolly Roger to take on Captain Hook. Instead, you play fate cards against your opponents and send heroes to slow them down and hinder their progress towards their objectives. Plus, since each villain has their own fate deck, they are from within that villain’s story and realm. Each villains realm and cards also have the feel of their story as well with great art on the cards and realm boards. 

Ursula realm
Ursula will win once she can move the Trident to Ursula’s Lair. Unfortunately, Ariel prevents her from moving items or Allies. She will need to move Flotsam to The Shore, perform and perform a Vanquish action this turn. Next turn she can move to The Palace and use the Move Item action to move the Trident and claim victory. Photo by Michael Knight.

I enjoy the gameplay which keeps the flow of the game going. You select a location and then can only perform those actions available at that location. While you have to focus on your own objectives, you also have to pay attention to the other players and choose who you need to play some fate cards on so they don’t beat you to the win. In fact, fate cards are the only way you really interact with the other players. Though is it important not to get tunnel vision and focus only on your realm. 

Maleficent realm
Maleficent needs to put a curse at The Forest to win. However, she must first Vanquish the hero Merryweather who is blocking that from happening. Photo by Michael Knight.

Disney Villainous: Introduction to Evil is designed for players new to the series to help them get into it. Four of the villains from the original game are included. In fact, the cards are almost all the same. There are a few where they text has been changed for clarification. Also, the objective for Prince John was modified to help balance him with the other villains. The designers choose these four villains since they are some of the easier ones to play. This allowed them to streamline the rules a bit. Then as you want to play a more strategic game, you can add more villains from the expansions. They may have a bit different setup and can have additional types of actions as well. However, you can still use the four villains from this game for new players while more experienced players take on role of the other villains. That is one of the great features of this series is that you can mix and match all of the villains from the expansions. There are currently 21 different villains available and Oogie Boogie, the villain from The Nightmare Before Christmas, will be released in October, just in time for Halloween. 

Captain hooks realm
Captain Hook is about to win. He can move Peter Pan to the Jolly Roger this turn. Then next turn move to Skull Rock and use the Vanquish action. He already has enough allies at the Jolly Roger to take on Pan. Photo by Michael Knight.

As I have already mentioned, I really enjoy playing Disney Villainous and Disney Villainous: Introduction to Evil is a great entry for new players to the series. For fans and collectors, this limited edition release has the special movers as well as the new art on the box as well as the Disney 100 logo. So even if you have the original game, you may want this to complete your collection. I like to play this game with my family as well as friends in my game groups. It is easy to teach and to learn. In fact, after explaining the basics, players can pretty much learn as they play their first game. If you are a Disney fan and enjoy games with variety and different experiences with each character you play, then I highly recommend Disney Villainous: Introduction to Evil. 

For more information on how to play each of the villains included in the game, check out Ravensburger’s videos for Captain Hook, Maleficent, Prince John, and Ursula

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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.

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