We interview Mike Mulvihill about the latest Disney Villainous set: Sugar and Spite

Our friends over at Ravensburger just shared the details on the latest expansion to Disney Villainous, Sugar and Spite. We are big fans of the game here at GamingTrend and have reviewed several of the previous sets: Filled with Fright, Bigger and Badder, and Power of the Dark Side.

We had the opportunity to send some questions over to Mike Mulvihill, the Game Development Manager for Disney Villainous, about what this new set entails and how it came to be. This latest set has some really exciting innovations to the gameplay that we can’t wait to check out. If you want to check it out for yourself, pre-orders for Sugar and Spite are available now from Target.

Email interview between Mark Julian, Lead Tabletop Editor at GamingTrend, and Mike Mulvihill, Game Development Manager for Disney Villainous. 

Villainous has so much content available. How do you approach balance when designing new sets?

Disney Villainous: Sugar and Spite perfectly illustrates how we conceptualize and design sets. We begin by selecting an iconic cover character – someone who we believe will make you stop and say ‘Look!’  Once we have picked that character, we try to balance it with a complimentary character – someone who is either a deep cut or from a different Disney era. So, in this set we have our most modern Villain ever, King Candy from “Wreck-It Ralph,” and a classic Villain from Disney’s “The Jungle Book,” Shere Khan.

The Villains range in complexity/difficulty to achieve their win condition across the many sets. With Shere Khan and King Candy coming into play, where do you think they fit in terms of that complexity? For example, I would say Prince John is very straight forward and simple (one of my favorites) while Cruella is fairly complex with having to set up the puppies and Horus and Jasper at the right places to kidnap them. 

In this set King Candy introduces an entirely new gameplay format, which may initially throw players for a loop. However, once they understand the format, they will begin to discover a world of new patterns that emerge in the game. It has a learning curve, but it is so fun!  Shere Khan counters that with a more familiar and straightforward story that feels like a more “traditional Villainous” gameplay pattern. 

The new racetrack mechanic that King Candy uses is really innovating on the design. Did King Candy specifically inspire the team to break the mold or was that a goal for this new set from the start?

At this point, we have over 20 playable Villains in the Villainous franchise, so while there is a process for development, we’re constantly pushing ourselves to find interesting ways to innovate in the game design space.  When it comes to gameplay, the first thing we do is determine the Villain’s Objective, which we come up with by asking ourselves what the character wanted to accomplish in their respective movies and how they failed at achieving those goals. We then work to translate that into gameplay in a way that we have never done before, highlights the unique nature of the Villain and is fun and satisfying to play.

For example, in Wreck-it-Ralph, the final race at the end of the movie is such an important and emotional moment, but we had no real race mechanic in our Villainous arsenal – at least not yet!  I remember us trying to figure it out with the traditional locations and getting frustrated; we even worked on creating a second board for the race at one point but realized that it would be just too complicated for players.  It may have been one of the art leads, Jake Breish or Chris Buckley, who said how it was too bad we couldn’t just make it all on a single board and then BOOM! I was like ‘we can do this!’ I immediately started making new and different concepts, actions and cards to support that idea. We are so pleased with the outcome – it plays so differently but yet still feels familiar. Plus, the excitement of winning that final race is incredible!

I love the Expandalone idea of two character sets since I mostly play two player games. Are the characters in these sets designed with more head to head play in mind? Will they still plug and play with all of the other sets?

Our fans are awesome and the feedback we get on everything is so thoughtful and insightful. One piece of feedback we kept hearing was that players start playing new releases with a partner right away and figure out what they like and don’t like about the new characters. They then use that information to determine if they want to add that Villain into their rotation in larger games. It was almost as if the two-player games became both an introduction to the set – and in many cases – a default game. We wanted to support that thinking and play pattern as best we could, so we adjusted. Plus, as an added bonus, it allows us to reduce the overall cost of the game, giving players (new and experienced) more fun at a lower price point.

We do know people play the characters right out of the box against each other and, in this case, we think King Candy and Shere Khan will make for some compelling games. We will continue to make sure this is a feature of the games moving forward. 

Shere Khan looks like he has a lot to deal with in terms of heroes covering his actions as well as fire tokens potentially covering up the bottom row or even double covering actions in the top row. What kind of tools does he have to deal with all of that coverage?

The token mechanic for Shere Khan was something we wanted to do for a while but were waiting for the right Villain and story to implement. Shere Khan’s weakness is Man’s Red Fire, so during gameplay, Fire Tokens are used to cover and block individual actions. This slows the player down, which means we need to also provide a counter or way to remove the Fire from the board. In this case, we bring that to life through the Monkey Ally cards in Shere Khan’s Villain deck, which players can Activate to remove Fire. Because they’re low-cost, players can have many of them in play before a Fire Token even appears, allowing the Shere Khan player to be proactive as well as reactive and always be King of the Jungle!


Lead Tabletop Editor | [email protected]

A life long video gamer, Mark caught the Tabletop itch in college and has been hooked ever since. Epic two player strategy games are his favorites but he enjoys pretty much everything on the tabletop, just no Werewolf please. When he gets a break from changing diapers and reading bedtime stories he can usually be found researching new games or day dreaming about maybe one day having time for a ttrpg. Some of Mark's favorite games are Star Wars: Rebellion, A Feast for Odin, and Nemesis.

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