or... "How I learned to love playing bad guys"

by Bobby Stickel

Growing up, Saturday mornings were all about superhero cartoons and sugary cereal. And every week it was the same- Good always triumphed over Evil, despite the fact that 'Evil Geniuses' always had the coolest tools, the best motivation, and the far superior qualities (hubris, greed, avarice, revenge). Long story short, the good guys always got lucky. In the end, all they do is restore order, returning society to its mundane, unresolvable, and flawed routines. And that's just plain boring!

Now that I'm a grown up and can buy whatever kind of sugary cereal I want, I'm no longer forced to digest saccharin-sweet story lines that are so unoriginally reassuring. I can make smarter choices, and best of all, I can succeed where others have so predictably failed. Dr. Octopus? Cobra Commander? Venger? Morons!

I can be a better bad guy.

Let's be honest, in real life 'good' does not always triumph. The world is full of Masterminds whose success and power are predicated on chaos and entropy. And they prove, time and again, that crime usually does pay. Fortunately, there are a couple new board games which cater to those of a more sinister nature, allowing us to 'train' for our eventual rise to glory. 

Legendary Villains (Upper Deck)

1-5 players, 45 mins.

As anyone will tell you, teamwork is paramount. This cooperative deck-building game allows you and your no-good friends to take down the so-called "super heroes" using the one fear they all mutually share: Deck-building.

You can take on the X-Men, Avengers, and Spider-friends (run by the game's 'Ai') and any challenge they can throw at you. You and your villainous cohorts will have to work together in this standalone version of the highly successful Marvel Legendary game. But fear not, there is also a solo-mode, so that you can test your mettle against world's most famous heroes from the comfort of your own Evil Lair.


Kingsport Festival (Passport Game Studios)

3-5 players, 90 mins.

Why choose the lesser evil? Let's face it, we've all played some games where we are asked to take on the roll of an everyday human, armed with little more than a flashlight and some whiskey, with the expectation of defeating hordes of supernatural horrors who threaten to devour our existence. And while that's actually pretty fun, it's also pretty dangerous. In Kingsport Festival (a revamp of Kingsburg, from Stratelibri) you assume the role of a high priest of a terrible cult, attempting to conjure one of H.P. Lovecraft's most terrifying creations. You will summon unholy creatures, accept their dark gifts, and attempt to raze the city while its weakling inhabitants try to stop you. The balance, of course, is to try to avoid going insane in the process.

Just like a real-life cultist, you'll need to make efficient use of the 'dice-placement' mechanic to ensure your dark rewards, and it may cost you part of your sanity in the process! Manage your resources carefully, and your strength will grow beyond your competitors, moving you closer to ultimate victory.

Warhammer 40k: CONQUEST (Fantasy Flight Games)

2 players, 45 mins.

There has always been debate as to whether or not any 'good' exists in the 41 millennium. Every faction has an agenda, masquerading as a campaign (I'm not buying the Tau's "greater good"). Even the loyal Space Marines need to be called into question, as their imperialistic cleansing seems to know no boundaries. The point is this: if you have the right view, NONE of the factions in this universe can be considered 'good.'

Conquest includes a whopping seven factions, represented by customizable decks. After selecting a warlord to lead your faction, players will customize the resources and abilities of their deck to take full advantage of their warlord's strengths and style. The aim is to conquer planets, earning strategic advantages such as wealth, resources, or technology. Careful planning and lots of card-based combat will see even the darkest of hearts to glorious victory.

Bad has never been so good

These games take the exhausted 'good triumphs over evil' storyline and turns it on its rightful, vile head. For me, playing the bad guys has always been the most thrilling and rewarding part of gaming, and of life! I do my best to uphold the corruption and sinister nature of our most revered villains in my daily practice. I invite you to try it.

"I'll get you next time!"