TableTopTakes: Say Bye to the Villain
Say Bye to the Villains is a cooperative game, that even with all the table talk you might want is an extremely hard game. If you like to win half of your games in a cooperative setting, this game isn’t for you, if you like to win 25% of your games, this game probably isn’t for you. That is how hard Say Bye to the Villains is.
In Say Bye to the Villains, you are a team of Samurai who are seeking to stop a number of villains equal to the number of players. Each villain has a number of face down cards that are going to influence their scores for speed, health, and attack. As players you are trying to build up your own skill sets in those three areas so that you can take on one of the villains and defeat them. Each player has to defeat a villain and every villain must be defeated to win the game. However, you have a limited amount of time, 10 days. And you have cards that you can play down that allow you to increase your stats, look at the villains face down cards and possible turn them face up, and figure out what Samurai should go up against what villain, because, when you run out of time, you have to pick your villain.
Now, this is a very tough game, because you are never completely sure what the villains skills are going to be, and while you might be able to figure out some of them, others are going to be unknown so you hope you set it up right. When you face off against a villain whomever is faster attacks first. If Samurai or villain who attacks first deals more damage than their opponent’s health, they win. If not, their opponent gets to hit back. But, if at the end of a fight both are still up, it’s a draw and the players lose the game because of that. So you have multiple strategies. You might want to be extremely fast and deal a lot of damage while not having much health because you’re goal is to get the kill before the villain can even go. Or maybe you want to have a lot of health and hit hard so that you can take the blow from the villain and then strike back. That doesn’t seem so bad, however, the villains can have cards that say you need to draw with them, because maybe they weren’t actually a villain. So, when you are looking at the cards that the villains have, you hope to find that one so that you know what is going on and don’t accidentally send someone who will kill that villain and cause you to lose the game.
I mentioned earlier that you have 10 days to complete your training and research on the villains. This is not enough time, basically in any game that I’ve played. We’ve had most of the villains scouted and planned, and we know who is going to face whom, but there is almost always a single villain remaining who we just don’t know about. And as we saw above, if they are going to need you to draw against them, you might have come in with too much power and your attack will kill them and then you lose the game. Or, maybe you do get a very good idea of what every villain has, now that means you might not have enough time left to be able to train your characters up enough so that you can actually get enough speed or damage out. But, thankfully, there are some cards that give you time back, unfortunately, villains can also spend your time, sometimes, by giving you false leads. In Say By to the Villains, it’s a constant struggle determining what you need to do for your time and figuring out what information is the most important for you to get or what training is the best to do.
I really enjoy those different things, but they make the game extremely tough. You always feel like you maybe made the wrong decision, but there’s probably no right decision. One decision that you get to make at the start of the game that will influence how you play, though, is what character you take. Each character has unique abilities and starting stats, so that can really determine what you are wanting to do. Some of the characters are helped by discarding cards face down, which can often let you help give cards to other players or to look at what skills villains might have. Whereas other characters are good at removing cards from villains or flipping over cards to see what they are. You can really tailor how you want to play the game by what villain you select, and some villains actually combo together fairly well. However, basically everything is costing you time, and the more powerful an ability, the more time it’s going to cost you, and you only have ten days.
Say Bye to the Villains is a game that I really like, however, I think it has a limited spot on the table. It’s a very difficult game, and because of that, it can be a bit much for some people. It’s also a very collaborative game, so unless you’re involved and paying attention to what is going on closely, you might not be in the collaboration as much as you should be. It also isn’t that fast a game for being a small card game. The play time for 45 minutes seems right because of all the collaboration that happens in the game. And I’m not sure with fewer players that is really makes it that much faster. It probably makes it a little bit faster, but there is a lot going on and to think about with any player count.
Overall, I think that this is a good game. I just don’t know that for a lot of people it’s going to be what they want in a small box card game and I think it can be overwhelming or discouraging if you don’t know going into it that you probably won’t win the game the first time or possibly even the first ten times. Often, I look at it as basically a win if we can take out all but one of the villains, that’s how difficult this game is. For me, that’s some of the draw of the game, however, I want to beat the game, and I want to try a slightly different strategy to see if that will make a difference the next time that I play.
Overall Grade: B-
Gamer Grade: B
Casual Grade: C-
Now, you might notice if you go to my collection, I rate this game way higher. My grades here are meant to be a balance focused as much on how I think others will perceive the game and how it will work to get back to the table with any group, versus something that is purely my thoughts on it. And because of the difficult cooperative nature and the length of the game, I graded it out lower here than what I think of it.