Villains & Henchmen Preview: Superpowers, Supervillains, and Superheroes | Casual Game Revolution

Villains & Henchmen Preview: Superpowers, Supervillains, and Superheroes

Villains and Henchmen

The most nefarious supervillain has been captured by those pestilential heroes, and it’s your job to mount a rescue.

In Villains & Henchmen, now on Kickstarter, players work together to fight their way through guards and heroes in order to save their supervillain friend, while all the time they compete for title of most dangerous villain.


Each player is dealt two villain character cards, each with its own special abilities. You choose one and discard the other. The game is made up of several decks: a heroes deck, a guard deck, an event deck, two power decks (only one is used in a 1-2 player game), and a villain card deck. Each player starts the game with five villain cards.

At the start of the game you choose one of the prison locations. The location card dictates what you need for victory as well as your lose conditions. Some locations will cause you to shuffle special events into the event deck.

On your turn, if there are neither heroes nor guards in play, the active player chooses to either draw a hero card or to draw two guard cards. Then you play cards. There are three types of villain cards: defense, power surge, and attack. You can bank defense cards, and use them if attacked throughout the rest of your turn and during other player's turns. Usually, being attacked by guards or heroes forces you to discard cards, so instead you can use these defense cards instead of discarding. If you have any defense cards still in play when your next turn comes around, they are discarded. You can bank power surge cards, and either spend them this turn or on future turns. You can keep attack cards in your hand or spend them to attack guards or heroes. If the number of attack cards on an enemy equals that card’s health, the enemy is defeated. Defense, power surge, and attack cards may also be needed to overcome obstacle cards.

Power surge cards can be used to purchase new powers. There are always three power cards available from each power deck in play. Powers grant you special abilities and if you buy two of the same type, you upgrade them, making those abilities even more powerful. Each player can have four power cards.

After playing your cards and purchasing any powers you wish to, you draw back up to five cards and draw an event card. These will often have you drawing from the hero, guard, or obstacle deck or activate enemies already in play. Heroes, guards, and obstacle cards will often have affects that occur when they come into play, or that occur when players perform a specific action. A new power card is also drawn from each power deck at the end of your turn and placed face up, available to be bought. If there are already three power cards available from that deck, one is discarded.

Each time a player defeats a guard or hero card, they take it and put it in their personal scoring pile. These can also be discarded in order to purchase new powers. In order to beat the game, players will often have to defeat certain heroes and place them, along with a few other cards, in the communal victory pile. If players assemble all the necessary cards in the victory pile, they defeat the heroes, and the player with the most points in their personal victory pile wins the game. All players lose if you ever need to draw a power card from a power card deck and the deck is empty, or if the losing conditions of location you are playing are met.

Villains & Henchmen Cards


Villains & Henchmen is ambitious. The game could be quite complex, with an abundance of components, but instead the designer has synthesized it down into a neat stack of cards and kept the game fairly straight forward without losing any of the flavor and atmosphere you want from a game set in a world of superheroes and supervillains.

While players draw from a communal deck, between choosing your own villain character card and acquiring different powers, it still feels like you get to personalize the character you are playing. The artwork of the game nicely captures the comic book flavor, especially with the heroes and villain cards. There are interesting characters with a great deal of detail put into their appearance. Unfortunately, on some of the power cards, there’s so much text it obscures the artwork.

The balance between cooperation and competing for the high score is thematic, and also leads to some interesting choices. Many times you have to defeat one of two heroes in order to beat the game, but if you’re the one who deals the killing blow, you can decide whether to place that hero in your personal victory pile or contribute it towards beating the game, knowing that there’s still a second hero in the hero deck that can win the game for you.

The game is intended for 1-4 players, though there are some aspects of the game that don’t seem to be entirely balanced for all player counts. For example, the location we were playing had special events shuffled into the event deck that, when drawn, forced all players to discard one power card into the defeat pile. If there were ever ten or more cards in that pile, everyone would lose the game. The speed at which that pile grew was greatly determined by our player count.

Villains & Henchmen was extremely satisfying. There was a lot of atmosphere in the game and creating your supervillain with his own personal superpowers was enjoyable. Check it out on Kickstarter and see for yourself if you’d like to take on the role of bad guy.

Pros: Enjoyable balance between cooperation and competition, atmospheric, power cards allow you to personalize your villain

Cons: Some player count balance issues, occasionally card text blocks the artwork

Disclosure: this preview is based on our evaluation of an unpublished prototype of the game, which is subject to change prior to publication. While a modest payment was received to expedite the review process, our thoughts and opinions expressed here are honest and accurate.