Since 2018, the Disney Villainous board game series has let players take control of iconic Disney villains in a race to see who can accomplish their own individual goal first. Over the course of four expansions and a brand new Marvel-focused spinoff, Marvel Villainous: Infinite Power, the Villainous games have featured exactly 20 iconic villains from classic Disney animated features and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And now the time has come for Paste board game critic Keith Law to rank ‘em all. Here’s his own personal rankings of how all 20 bad guys stack up, from Cruella de Vil to Ursula.
While they’re not all interplayable, all of the Villainous character decks and Objectives share the same mechanics and similar enough rules that I’ve ranked all 20 from my favorite to play to my least favorite. Here they are, with the Villainous release they can be found in listed after their names.
Jafar’s deck and Objectives have a little of everything good about Villainous, including the need to get certain items to specific places to win, a locked domain space that you have to unlock to be able to win, and the very useful Hypnotize power that lets you take Heroes others have played to your domain with Fate actions and turn them into temporary Allies.
Dr. Facilier’s Objective isn’t that complex—get one specific card into your domain, on your side of the board, and then play the Rule New Orleans card—but it plays out really well thanks to the use of a separate discard pile called the Fortune deck.
I promise it’s not just this high because there’s a critical card with my nickname on it.
The series of steps required for Ultron to win isn’t simple, but it’s linear, making it the best choice for a new Villainous player among the five Marvel villains.
Mother Gothel wins with 10 Trust tokens, which can be earned in various ways, usually just one at a time, but can also lose them when the Rapunzel card, which can never be removed and moves one space to the right on each turn, reaches Corona.
Hook must defeat Peter Pan at the Jolly Roger location, which means getting the Peter Pan card out and then moving him three spaces to the left over the course of several turns. The best part about playing Hook, however, is how many opportunities you get to add actions to your domain by playing certain Item cards, making your domain more flexible.
Scar’s Objective is pretty straightforward—defeat Heroes with a total strength of 15 or more. He’s the one Villain for whom Heroes aren’t just a nuisance, which makes fighting him tricky because Fating him also can end up helping him.
Maleficent’s deck includes Curse cards, and the player wins by playing a Curse card to each of the four locations in their domain—but various actions can force you to discard Curses you’ve played, so timing is a huge part of your strategy.
I love that all of Pete’s cards and his domain are black and white, true to his era. The player playing Pete must complete four Goals, one on each of his domain spaces, assigned randomly at the start of each game, which means you get intermediate achievements so you feel like you’re making progress.
When a Hero appears in Hela’s domain, the player puts a Soul Mark token on it; when Hela vanquishes that Hero, the player gets the Soul Mark. You win with Hela when you have a combination of eight Soul Mark tokens or Ally cards at the location Odin’s Vault.
Taskmaster’s Objective is the good kind of difficult—get four Allies with total Strength of 5 or more at any location, in your own domain or anyone else’s.
One of the most common objectives in Villainous is to require you to move certain cards from one end of your domain to the other, and Hades must do that with three Titan cards—but at least Creepy James Woods isn’t here.
Ursula’s domain always has one of its four spaces “locked,” making it completely unavailable to the player, but which space is locked depends on which form Ursula has, so the player has to change back and forth depending on which action space they need.
I could be persuaded differently, but I think Thanos might be tuned a bit too difficult because of the need to get the Infinity Stones out, then relocate allies to other domains, defeat heroes there, and bring them back. With six stones, that’s going to take a lot of steps.
Maybe I need to play this character more, but I find the gather ingredients/brew poison mechanic, used both to win the game and to defeat heroes, a little too cumbersome.
My daughter would disagree, but I think the Queen of Hearts is a bit too easy—or, at least, a little luck in the deck can make the player playing the Queen too hard to beat.
Cruella’s Objective makes sense, and she’s probably one of the tougher ones to play, but why does she only need to capture 99 puppies instead of 101?
Yzma gets four Fate mini-decks, and to win with her, you have to find the Kuzco card, which is in one of the decks. I found this part kind of annoying, since you could spend most of your game just trying to find one card.
I am sure I saw The Great Mouse Detective as a kid, probably more than once, but I don’t remember Ratigan, and don’t care for the way his Objective works—if you play the card The Robot Queen but another player manages to discard it from your realm, your entire Objective changes.
Prince John’s goal is kind of boring—he just has to start his turn with 20 Power tokens, so everything the player does is just about gathering money. It’s not necessarily easier to play, just on the dull side.
Keith Law is the author of The Inside Game and Smart Baseball and a senior baseball writer for The Athletic. You can find his personal blog the dish, covering games, literature, and more, at meadowparty.com/blog.