“Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.” Is that the path you choose? If so, then Star Wars Villainous is here to help you learn the ways of the dark side. The game is comparable to the previous Villainous games from Ravensburger (Disney Villainous and Marvel Villainous) but with a few uniquely Star Wars twists.
This introductory set is branded “Power of the Dark Side” and incorporates devious characters from each trilogy era of Star Wars. For the unfamiliar, Villainous games find players selfishly working towards their own objectives, trying to be the first one to achieve them. You can become a real menace to other players by throwing obstacles in their way. Likewise, they can bring balance to the gameplay by thwarting you in return.
The five included characters are Darth Vader (Original Trilogy), Kylo Ren (Sequel Trilogy), General Grievous (Star Wars: The Clone Wars), Asajj Ventress (Star Wars: The Clone Wars), and Moff Gideon (The Mandalorian). Each villain comes with a mover, sector (board), and deck of Fate and Villain cards. There are also a few bonus items unique to each character’s mission.
As an experienced Villainous player, one of the most immediate differences is that the boards are bigger with the addition of “Deep Space.” This is used for ship cards to be played. Each character has 4 ships, 2 from the Villain Deck and 2 from the Fate Deck, the latter of which are enemy ships. To make the game even more challenging, if a hero ship is in your Deep Space and you don’t have an ally ship to engage it, the number of cards in your hand is reduced, constricting your power.
Setting up the game is quick and easy. Each character has a Strategy Guide and there are also enough Reference Cards for each player that offer a key for the action symbols on your sectors in addition to a brief description of each villain’s objective. Some characters include extras. Darth Vader, for example, must flip a Luke Skywalker card from being focused to being conflicted in order to defeat him, which is a bonus sturdy card separate from the fate deck.
Kylo Ren is having an internal battle with the light and dark sides of the force, so he includes a “Destiny Tracker” and 6 “Destiny Tokens.” To complete his objective, he will have to earn and spend Ambition (tokens earned during game play that can later be traded for actions) to play his Sith mentors while trying to avoid Jedi heroes that want to pull him back to the light side.
General Grievous is out to round up as many lightsabers as possible (a total of 8) by defeating Jedi.
Asajj Ventress comes with a set of 5 mission cards, 3 of which must be completed to achieve her objective. These mission cards almost serve as a bonus third deck for her.
Those familiar with Disney Villainous will find Moff Gideon to be the most similar to the original game. You have to line things up to complete his objective, capturing Grogu and getting Doctor Pershing and Laboratory Samples into play. But there are no additional items beyond the two decks of cards to play with.
As with all of the Ravensburger Villainous games, a real highlight is the artwork found across the cards and boards. The artists have really captured the visual style of not only the films, but also The Clone Wars animated series. The pawns are always spectacular, but new to me were some speckled pieces. Kylo Ren, for example, has red scattered throughout the plastic.
Star Wars Villainous not only lets you step into the role of your favorite devious characters from a galaxy far, far away, but also lets you deeper explore their world. With characters from so many different eras of Star Wars, part of the fun is the fact that you could be playing as Darth Vader while your friend is being thwarted by a younger Annakin Skywalker from a time when he was a Jedi. Or Ahsoka Tano could be causing problems for several characters at the same time because she is in multiple fate decks. It’s a fun wormhole of Star Wars timelines diverging during gameplay that you don’t find in Disney Villainous.
Odds are that this is only the beginning of Star Wars Villainous. The game includes several big characters but also leaves out some fan favorites like Darth Maul. This game has the potential to expand to include bounty hunters like Boba Fett and crime lords like Jabba the Hutt. But until then, Ravensburger has assembled a satisfying variety of Star Wars villains to keep you playing over and over.
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