Successor to last year’s Disney Villainous tabletop game Marvel Villainous: Infinite Power was a centerpiece for Marvel fans and video game collectors despite its difficult difficulty curve. In 2021, the Marvel version of this popular game series gets its first expansion in Marvel Villainous: Malice & Malice.

Marvel Villainous: Malice & Malice

Posted by Ravensburger

Available August 1 at Target, everywhere later this year.

The appeal of the Villainous game series is a two-pronged attack. At first glance, the engine’s abstract figures based on beloved characters and fantastic art direction make you want to own these games even if tabletop games aren’t your thing. For enthusiasts, Villainous is a unique game world where being bad is the only way to win. Its use of strategy and character adaptation is one of the funniest game nights you can have.

In this standalone / expansion version of the Marvel version, you will be able to play as Madame Masque, MODOK or Loki. Each character has their own specific victory condition. For example, MODOK wins the game once he gets enough resources to power the Cosmic Cube while Loki can only win by winning and using 10 “mischief tokens”. Each player is partly their own island and this is the sparkle of their strategic challenge.

In M&M, players choose one of three characters from the box (Loki, Madame Mask, MODOK), set up this character realm, draw their own cards, and find ways to take action to defeat enemy allies, advance your own goal or just prevent other players from reaching theirs. You always feel there is a balance between taking action for your winning condition or making moves to prevent other players from winning.

In its early days, Marvel Villainous: Infinite Power set itself apart from Disney Villainous by doing things to become a more complex group game. The Mischief & Malice expansion continues this trend with the cards of fate. As in Infinite Power, the cards of fate come in several varieties here. Some cards are specific to a character they can only be played on while others reveal global events that restrict certain actions until they are resolved by anyone playing.

The new characters that you will get in this version have much higher difficulties than the base game. In four matches, I was only able to win once with MODOK while the rest were won by whoever played as Loki. It’s not so much that Loki is an overpowered character as much as the cards assigned to MODOK and Madame Masque are disabled. MODOK has limited ways to gain loyalty, but three times as many cards in play lose those points while Madame Masque’s goal is to defeat eight heroes to satisfy her vendetta, but players can easily stop her by putting no fate cards in her realm that give her heroes to fight and make her wait for her own cards that help her.

As with Mischief & Malice, you can grab and play any Villainous expansion even if you don’t own the base game. Although you could only play with a maximum of three people and the rotation of the same three characters would get old. Having this feature is great, but you get the most out of Mischief & Malice if you treat it like an expansion of the base game. We played in a combo version with Infinite Power and the imbalance of some card games was less of a problem. The instructions also recommend keeping the game to a maximum of four players even when combined, but we easily played with six people.

On the surface Marvel Villainous: Malice & Malice is another wonderful collector’s item from Ravensburger. There are a few mechanical flaws with the setup of two of the three characters in the box that lead to frustrating times when playing as a standalone. However, if you own the base game Marvel Villainous: Infinite Power to add Mischief & Malice is strongly recommended. Many of the standalone shortcomings of the expansion are covered by adding more players and this turns the two into one package.

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