Marvel Villainous: Infinite Power Review

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For well over a decade, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has entertained millions around the globe. Allowing us to follow characters such as Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America as they ultimately triumph over evil. That cinematic universe has expanded into television with WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki (I won’t forget ABC Television’s Agent Carter either). All of which position Marvel as a household name and powerhouse brand. Now branding can be a tricky thing, especially when a product doesn’t live up to the gold standard the brand has set.

Tabitha, Wyatt, and I decided to give Marvel Villainous: Infinite Power a shot this past weekend. We borrowed the game from friends, after they couldn’t quite figure out what was going on with it. Having played Disney Villainous, we thought we were set to do battle against the Avengers, right? What could a few do-gooders do against the might of Thanos, Ultron, Killmonger, Hela, or Taskmaster?

First, we had to pick our villains:

  • Tabitha picked Hela.
  • Wyatt picked Ultron.
  • And I picked Taskmaster.

We each took turns playing our domain (our game boards); getting to know our individual characters, their cards, etc. If you haven’t played Disney Villainous, each turn consists of a player moving to one of four spaces (as shown below). In the “Reconfiguration Base” space, for instance, you can:

  • Play a Card
  • Draw 2 Power Tokens
  • Discard Cards
  • Vanquish an Opponent

Once you do the four things the space requires, your turn ends. If the space has a Fate Card icon on it, like the “Manufacturing Array”, you draw from the Fate Deck. This is where the similarities with Disney Villainous ends and Marvel Villainous: Infinite Power begins.

The Fate Deck

In Marvel Villainous: Infinite Power, all of the Fate Decks are shuffled together. (Note that in Disney Villainous, this shuffling is not a thing. You keep your individual Fate Deck that other players draw from/play against you.) So in our case, the 15 common Fate Cards were shuffled together with our characters individual Fate Decks. This makes for one large pile of cards that can impact your turn by:

  • Someone sending an Ally
  • Dropping a Hero on a player (who then has to deal with said hero)
  • Event Cards

Event Cards

When a player draws an Event Card, the game is impacted until that event is dealt with. For “Helicarrier Alert”, you can only draw up to 3 cards at the end of your turn until players have sent enough Allies to deal with the 6 points of damage.

For the Event Card “Stolen Antiquities”, this card only directly impacts Killmonger. However, all the the players are free to Relocate Allies until the card is vanquished.

“Perfectly Balanced, as all this should be.” – Thanos

In the End

Perfection, balance if you will, Marvel Villainous: Infinite Power fails to bring anything of value to the Villainous formula. The addition of having one large Fate Deck, in combination with Event Cards, does nothing to the game but bring misery. Marvel Villainous: Infinite Power takes an already complicated game and makes it even more complicated (and longer, time-wise). The game feels like it needed a few more months of plotting before execution. Because of this, I will be sticking with Disney Villainous.

However, Wyatt loved it! Did I mention he won? He told me that the characters actually make sense within the context of the game, unlike Disney Villainous.

Go figure.

At the Table – Pandemic

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Pandemic is a cooperative board game that requires players to take on different roles/coordinate their moves in an effect to treat infections/find cures for four different viruses. At the end of each player turn, cards are drawn which cause the viruses to spread even further. Will solid teamwork win the day?

Pandemic Cover

Years ago, Tab and I had a bad experience with Pandemic. For an entire game, we were told what to do:

“Use your special move to do this.”

“You should move here to stop the yellow virus from spreading.”

Instead of being allowed to wrap our head around the game’s unique mechanics, we were compelled to be good soldiers and follow orders. This experience made Tab and I never want to play Pandemic again… and so we didn’t. We avoided the game like the plague.

Side Note: Our experience, I later found out, was not unique. In the board game world it even has a term: “Quarterbacking”. Quarterbacking occurs in cooperative board games when one player dominates the group by telling everyone else how to play.

Pandemic
Behold, the board! And the many virus cubes of evil.

Last year, one of my big pushes was to introduce cooperative board gaming to our family. I wanted less of us all working against each other and more of us working together to overcome the board. So we played a bunch of cooperative games such as:

  • Castle Panic
  • Forbidden Island
  • Jaws
  • The Mind
  • The Game Card Game
Jaws
From our recent family playthrough of Jaws.

For Christmas, I decided to ask for Pandemic. I thought maybe playing the game with just Tab and Wyatt might redeem Pandemic in the Hall house. I was right! We had a great time stumbling across the board, as we tried to figure out exactly how everything worked. By the time the world was imploding with viruses, we lost the game. But even in our defeat, we are all eager to play Pandemic again.

Final Thoughts: Castle Panic is our favorite family cooperative game right now. We love the way it plays. However, Pandemic isn’t too shabby. Funny how one bad experience soured the game for us. I am happy to have brought Pandemic back to the table for another go.