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Dr. Horrible's Evil League of Evil Kickstarter Preview


Quick Look: Dr. Horrible's Evil League of Evil

Designer: N/A
Artist: N/A
Publisher: Lucky Troll Games
Year Published: 2018
No. of Players: 3-5
Ages: 13+
Playing Time: 45-75 min

WARNING: This is a preview of Dr. Horrible's Evil League of Evil. All components and rules are prototype and subject to change. Also, please note that as of publication of this preview, the licensing has not yet been secured for this title.



Review:

tl;dr: Follow in the footsteps of Dr. Horrible in this light and fairly-quick caper maker. Beating up on Captain Hammer not required, but highly encouraged.

Getting to the Game: Setup for Dr. Horrible is quickchoose one of the new class of villains, each with their own superpower. Each villain gets two random superweapon parts, two loot cards, and starts with two power. Captain Hammer starts in the Scrap Heap (fitting), and each player color gets a pawn on the reputation track. Deal one scheme to each location. Time to disrupt the status quo. Because the status is not...quo.



Dr. Horrible has taken over the Evil League of Evil, and it's your job to earn your way in. As always, there are two ways to earn your admission: "A heinous crime, a show of force (a murder would be nice of course)." To win your seat in the League, you will need to be the first person to earn enough reputation to be considered worthy of the title you've given yourself, or alternatively you can assemble your superweapon of choice and use it to rid the city of Captain Hammer...for good.

Playing the Game: Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog debuted 10 years ago, and it seems the Lucky Trolls have decided to mark the occasion with a game long overdue. Dr. Horrible was one of my favorite webseries when it came out, and I still listen to the soundtrack regularly. As it's been a decade since the series, Lucky Troll is leaning a lot on folks like me to mark my nostalgia with my wallet. Fans like me won't be enough, though; the game itself has to be solid. My take: it's a little moist.



Overall, I'm bummed from the very start. You don't get to play as Dr. Horrible, or even interact with him at all. You're taking on the roles of other aspiring villains such as Das Boota leiderhosen-clad alcoholicor Principal Pain, a sadistic glasses-wearing ruler-wielding neat freak. Each of the game's ten villains (no Johnny Snow?) has their own matching superweapon which requires parts to build. You can nab these parts from either the Discount Mall or the Scrap Heap on the board. The other locations, E-Z Pawn and Loot Exchange, house loot cards for you to grab and mess with the other villains trying to steal your spot.

Each round takes place over 4 phases. One at a time, in reputation order, each villain will move to a location of their choice. Once everyone has chosen where they're going to go, the second phase is the Action phase. Each player takes a single action at a time in order. You can pick up loot or parts from your chosen location, or you can play loot cards out of your hand. If you're in your Evil Lair, you can move the parts you've collected into your superweapon plan, thus securing them and furthering your path to kill Captain Hammer. Once you've assembled all eight parts needed to complete your weapon, you can use an action to knock Captain Hammer down if you're in his location. You need a second action to actually defeat him, however, so if two villains have completed their weapon and share a location, it's a who-blinks-first situation.

Ultimately, the actual gameplay falls a little flat. The win condition of defeating Captain Hammer is either inevitable once only one player completes their weapon, or becomes such a mess because in order to stop that player from winning, every other player has to stop trying to win themselves and start sabotaging. Cards in your hand can move other players around, thwarting their attempts, but doing so forces you to spend your actions slowing others down and not trying to win yourself. The other win condition of having the most reputation is similarly inevitable, once a player is in position to nab it, it only happens at the end of a round, so everyone again starts ganging up on them in order to delay the game. This has the effect or drawing the game out, rather than feeling competitive, and it doesn't feel good to stop trying to win just so you don't lose. 

There's some good stuff here, though. Thematically, I love the idea of bouncing around town trying to build up your evil reputation by completing schemes. In the world of Dr. Horrible, there are villains everywhere, so it would make sense that there would be natural competition between them. In this sense, the idea of a game in the world is rife with opportunity. Having Captain Hammer following you around trying to stop you is also really nice, as your rival players will no doubt shove you into him in an attempt to get away themselves, and you'll find yourself beaten up as thanks. As a huge fan of the material, I'm really excited that people still think about it and are inspired by it. The problem in my eyes is that the gameplay isn't new or exciting enough to get people who don't know the material hooked, and there isn't enough fan service here to make it a must-buy for the addicts.



Artwork and Components: The artwork here is just fine. My copy is pre-production, so it's very likely these are not finished assets. As it stands, the art is cartoony ink-and-paint with limited detail. The game board style matches, but feels slightly better as the additional context gives the art room to breathe and pop. Game cards are all iconography and text. 
 
The components are also so-so. Full-art 2D cardboard villains are slotted into stands and moved around the board. Laser-cut tiles serve as parts, and they're schematic black lines and curves. Again, this is a very templated/prototype set, so I wouldn't worry at all about the assets until I see more.

The Good: Fun to get back into the world. Good amount of player interaction. Rulebook is clear and helpful.

The Bad: Gameplay feels just OK. Differing win conditions split focus and aren't immediate enough.

Score: Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog was a revelation when it came out. It introduced a hilarious world of a pining supervillain and a ridiculous, bumbling hero, and then very quickly resolved the story in incredibly dark fashion. It was this sharp left turn along with the catchiness of the music and charm of the stars that led to the success it had. The game, however, doesn't go dark, and it doesn't find its charm. I'm going to keep my eye on this one, though, because the potential is there, and I'm a fan of the source material. Overall, I'm giving Dr. Horrible's Evil League of Evil a score of Don't Plan the Plan if You Can't Follow Through.




Check out Dr. Horrible's Evil League of Evil on:

         
On KICKSTARTER now. Campaign ends 

About the Author:


Nicholas Leeman has been a board game evangelist for over 10 years now, converting friends and family alike to the hobby. He's also a trained actor and works summers as one of the PA announcers for the St. Paul Saints, a professional baseball team. He lives in Minneapolis, MN with his board gaming wife and son.
Dr. Horrible's Evil League of Evil Kickstarter Preview Dr. Horrible's Evil League of Evil Kickstarter Preview Reviewed by The Madjai on July 16, 2018 Rating: 5

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