Valor and Villainy: Minions of Mordak Review

16 July 2021
Turning into a sheep is a possible option, but a baaa’d one

Valor & Villainy: Minions of Mordak begins as all good games described as an RPG Board Game should: with a tale. King Shapiro has perished in a freak catapult accident, and sleazy advisor (and evil wizard) Mordak, who has attempted and failed on numerous occasions to secretly murder the king, has seen the opportunity to take credit for it. Six days of terror will follow, and on the seventh, he’ll have the power to seize the crown. The other players will of course, need to stop the tyranny before it fully begins.

One player will take the role of wannabe megalomaniac all-powerful wizard Mordak, and the other players will be battling cooperatively against him in all of the classes you’d expect to see: the rogue, the fighter, the paladin, etc. Each of those of course, offers different pros and cons – the fighter has a higher starting HP, the paladin can access magic, and so on. In short, you’ll explore the region tiles, defeat the minions that appear, and use all tools in your arsenal, in what is ultimately a dedication to RPGs. If you’re a player of RPGs, this is a comfortable transition – areas like your subsequent abilities to level up or use items are easily linked and integrated, and offer a cheat for some of that dreaded learning curve.

This isn’t the first and won’t be the last to use the classic RPG foundation and put it into a board game, but I have to say, it does it well. The characters are well balanced, however you choose to play, and it doesn’t take itself too seriously, to delightful effect. You run the risk of themes being a bit dry, but from the beginning there’s a humour in the backstory of the bungled management of the Kings death, the artwork is vivid and in your face, and once you start punching tiles out and come across the Woeful Sheep tokens – as delightfully illustrated as you’d like them to be – you get the vibe of this game, and it carries on throughout.

Surprisingly, it’s never too distracting, most likely because there’s s much to think about. You’ve got special abilities with special instructions, you’ve got the chance to pick up treasures from loot, you’re scouting, looting, rolling dice to beat minions (which you take from the bottom of the pile, an action that always felt a little odd), and exploring. You’ll monitor your health by tokens on your board, and the days or turns on the Mordak Procession of horrors (before battle commences). It’s a busy game, but if you’re used to how RPGs work, half the battle of learning to play is won, and then you’re set up to enjoy cards like the Helm of Apologies (which offers armour and the fact ambush has no effect during your scout actions, provided you apologise for ruining the surprise).

The other half of that battle is working out what goes where. The rulebook is surprisingly good, but the sheer volume of stuff in the box is daunting, even upon returning to it. Lots of tokens to keep in one place, a fair few cards too, and whilst much of it is used to replicate impact on a character sheet, it can be a bit fiddly and frustrating. I’ll be damned if I know where on earth they perfect space for them is in the game insert given – the ‘if I fits I sits’ method only seems to go so far.

Given that’s my only criticism – and a selfish wish for a solo mode – which has no impact on the game play, I’m confident to recommend it. It’s a fun asymmetrical game where you’ll finish playing and immediately want to play the other side. It already feels halfway to an RPG, and in some of our games, we made a point of requiring some silly moments of roleplay from Mordak, which added even more to the game. Whilst it gets tense in how close it is between the sides, Valor and Villainy never gets heavy, and you’ll find yourself smiling the whole way through.

Charlie Pettit


Zany really is the word for it, an RPG devotion with added fun.


Content continues after advertisements

Looking for a lighter, less horror-tinged outing than this asymmetrical pressure-fest from Horrible Guild, then Valor and Villainy might be just what you need.

Designer: James Van Niekerk 

Publisher: Skybound Tabletop

Time: 90 minutes

Players: 2-6

Ages: 12+

Price: £40

What’s in the box?

  • 9 Character boards
  • 9 Character standees
  • 7 Standee bases
  • Procession of horrors board
  • Initiative token
  • Defender markers
  • 110 Spell cards
  • 56 Minion cards
  • 45 Treasure cards
  • 1 Gust Van Sant card
  • 6 white novice action dice
  • 6 yellow adept action dice
  • 6 Master action dice
  • 35 Map Region Tiles
  • 3 loot stash cards
  • 12 quick rules aid cards
  • 14 Health/Action markers
  • 54 Novice dice tokens
  • 84 Adepts/master dice tokens
  • 30 XP tokens
  • 30 Plus one tokens
  • 3 Soul tokens
  • 5 Dojo crystal tokens
  • 2 Labyrinth markers
  • 5 Woeful sheep tokens

This feature originally appeared in Issue 57 of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.

Sometimes we may include links to online retailers, from which we might receive a commission if you make a purchase. Affiliate links do not influence editorial coverage and will only be used when covering relevant products


No comments