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Yes: Mind Over Matter
Superheroes, as a theme, have been around for quite some time and thanks to the success of all the Marvel movies (Avengers, Captain America, Iron Man, etc) their popularity is only growing. I’ve played a number of superhero themed games, and as can be expected, some are better than others. Recently, I was given the opportunity to play Villains and Vigilantes, a superhero themed card game that I had heard about, but never gotten the chance to play. Well, I’m glad I was finally introduced to Villains and Vigilantes as it was actually quite fun to play, is very thematic, and has some nice mechanics.
Villains and Vigilantes is a superhero themed board game for 2 – 4 players. Typically, one player will control the heroes and another will control the villains. The game comes with prebuilt decks for each character, but there is also a special “Action Pack” that contains additional cards that players can use to build their own custom hero and/or villain deck. There are even some blank cards for you to make your own characters and powers. And, if you really want to expand your gameplay and replayability options, the Mind Over Matter expansion offers an entire new set of power cards, plots, missions, etc.
Every action in Villains and Vigilantes is defined by the cards that you play. Punching an enemy, healing wounds, moving to another location, and everything in between, is all handled by the cards that make up your deck. One of the neat things about Villains and Vigilantes is that players have access to an Action deck and a separate Support deck. Cards from your Action deck are drawn at random, but you get to pick and choose which cards from your Support deck you’ll use each turn.
The card art in Villains and Vigilantes is essentially 1980’s comic book style, which certainly fits the theme, but might not appeal to everyone. The art on the game board, however, steps it up a notch in terms of quality. Each character is represented by a cardboard standee, which will be moved around the board from location to location, trying to complete mission objectives.
In addition to the game board, cardboard standees, and cards, there are plenty of tokens and counters in the box. These represent everything from the location of your character’s headquarters, to all of the various status effects like how many wounds a character has, if they are imprisoned, etc.
Every action in Villains and Vigilantes is card driven, and the cards are divided in to Power cards and Support cards. Based on the number of players, at the start of your turn you’ll draw a set number of Power cards from the Action deck. You’ll then pick any number of Support cards from the Support deck and add them to your hand. If you added any Support cards, you’ll need to discard down to your starting hand size.
After your hand of cards is squared away, you’ll begin the Action Phase in which you’ll play a card from your hand and resolve its effects. Each card has a set of conditions which must be met in order for that particular card to be played. For example, the card Mutant Metabolism can only be played by characters that have the Mutant symbol on their card. Certain cards will signify that they are a signature move; these cards can only be played by the specific character as identified by the card. In addition to moving around the board and attacking opponents, there are also minor characters (sidekicks, henchmen, minions), mission cards, and plot cards. There are also response cards, which can be played off turn when certain conditions are met. You may play a dodge card to avoid taking damage when attacked, for example.
You’ll start the game with one active mission, and can add up to two additional missions during play. Completing missions is how you gain victory points and ultimately win the game. For this reason, mission cards will heavily influence what you do during the game. Thankfully, you get to choose which mission to you’ll begin with. Plot cards affect the game board in some way, usually damaging characters in a specific location and/or perhaps moving them to another location.
Each time you play a card, no matter its type, you’ll draw a card from your Action deck. Each character has a limited number of Skill points they can use, so even with this mechanic, the number of cards you can play is limited. Once you have exhausted your character, by playing as many cards as their Skill level allows, you’ll move to the Swipe Phase.
In the Swipe Phase, you’ll discard all Power cards that were played and return all Support cards to the Support deck. Minor characters that were summoned will enter the board, and all characters that are not knocked out will remove one negative token (this could body damage, mind damage, skill drain, or other effect). This will conclude your turn and play will pass to your opponent where they will go through the phases listed above. The game ends whenever a player gains 11 victory points; they are declared the winner.
The components are average. The cards are perhaps a little thin, but the tokens/counters are decently thick. The game board is nice and the standees provide a welcomed 3D element that could have been handled with tokens or mini cards. The box has ample dividers, suitable for dividing all of the different cardboard bits. Enough plastic baggies are included to separate and store the different player decks.
With the additional Action Pack, the core game is certainly replayable. Even if you stick with the standard heroes and villains, different players will present different challenges. The Mind Over Matter expansion increases replayability even further.
Villains and Vigilantes is a fun game that steps outside the typical “me vs. you – beat ‘em up” game. There is a great deal of action selection, combo generation, and trying to counter your opponent that you’ll be engaged in the game at all times. Attention is kept throughout the game because you are either doing something or having something done to you. Your actions matter; being knocked out and then imprisoned stinks, and for a lot of characters is a tough situation to get out of. The card names/text/abilities are all thematic and work well with the game. If you are a fan of comic books or superheroes in general, give Villains and Vigilantes a shot, I don’t think you’ll be let down.