Modern gaming is packed with virtuous paladins, noble wizards, and kindly hobbits. But, sometimes, it’s just better to be a bastard. Whether you’re commanding armies, chomping on flesh, or planning your latest political backstabs – there are few things that board gaming does better than letting you act out your inner monster.

So, here are ten of our favourite picks that let crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of the person who bought the game in the first place. Starting with-

10 | Disney Vilainous (2018)

A modern favourite, Disney’s Villainous lets you finally settle that long-standing argument about what would happen if Jafar fought a lion. Since being released in 2018, the game’s initial roster of six has expanded to allow a wealth of Disney big-bads duke it out. With each antagonist enjoying their own play style, this accessible delight has heaps of replayability and a surprising amount of tactical depth. This makes it perfect for kids, the young at heart, and everyone dying to see the Lord of the Underworld take on a talking rat.

9 | Dungeon Lords (2009)

Offering Dungeon Keeper on a tabletop, this heavyweight marvel from the peerless Vlaada Chvátil flips the script on a classic crawl and finally puts you in charge of the monsters. But while you knew it would be fun, no-one said it would be easy. Whether you’re micromanaging your spending, mining for gold, or splashing cash on traps; the game is a delicate juggling act that only the most fastidious (and evil) overlord will master. A delicious, deadly, dastardly dream that’s perfect for would-be Dark Lords everywhere.

8 | Humans!!! (2008)

For many collectors, the schlocky fun of Zombies!!! will always hold a special place in our hearts. But if valiantly smashing your way through hoards of the undead has lost its lustre, maybe it’s time to try nibbling on the odd brain or two. Flipping the script and putting you in the rotting shoes of the undead, Humans and its three exclamation marks tasks players with infecting as many survivors as possible. And, if your table’s big enough, you can even combine the stand-alone game with the original to enjoy a head-to-head battle of wits and teeth. What could be better?

7 | Mage Knight: Ultimate Edition (2018)

“Oh, they’ve got it wrong” we hear you say, “they’re noble wizards trying to accomplish a legendary goal”. “Sure”, we reply “but have you actually played the game?!”. Letting you play as an eponymous Mage Knight spat out through a dimensional portal, your first actions will almost certainly be wanton violence. Slaughter animals, lay siege to cities, use allies as tools to achieve your end goals. Even the iconic Lost Legion expansion asks if you are the lesser of two evils compared to the enigmatic Volkare who – for all we know – just wants a chat. The perfect choice for those that enjoy their guerrilla warfare with a slice of sorcery.

6 | Cutthroat Caverns (2007)

The ‘group presentation’ of the dungeon crawling world, Cutthroat Caverns puts you in a party with a bunch of mercenary grifters and lets you loose on the unfortunate monsters in your way. While co-op play is essential for victory, Caverns adds the wrinkle that it is only the player who lands the killing blow that gets all the ‘prestige’ points. This leads to a game of sneaky “no after you” plays and kill stealing without abandon. And as anyone who carried a member of your team during your end-of-year presentation knows, they are truly the evilest fiends of all.

5 | Pandemic: On the Brink (2009)

As if dealing with the clockwork threat of ‘pandemic’ cards wasn’t enough, this legendary expansion for the base game includes the most dreaded of all diseases – global terrorism. One player is selected to take on the role of the Bioterrorist and scuttles across the board dropping disease cubes in their wake, triggering outbreaks and making things even tougher for the CDC teams. Perfect for players who have mastered the vanilla version of the challenge, Brink is a fantastic addition to every collection and changes just enough to make the game something truly special.

4 | Coup (2012)

Anything inspired by renaissance politics and the myriad betrayals of the Dune series is going to let a real piece of work. Asking players to accumulate money and exercise influence, every game of coup quickly descends into a real-world exercise in power dynamics. Bluffs, bullying, sleights; everything is fair game. And if someone is getting too big for their boots you can, you know, just kill them. Just be sure that you aren’t heartlessly picked off by someone else first.

3 | Ghost Stories (2008)

Infamous as one of the toughest challenges in the world of tabletop gaming, players control a team of monks working together to defend a village from the threat of supernatural attack. But if leaving control of the ghosts up to the game is too easy, the Black Secret expansion lets players take control of the game’s big bad and wreak havoc. This lets players deal with target ghost placements, new demons, and more – making victory so much sweeter, and defeat sting harder than ever before.

2 | Tammany Hall (2007)

When the box blurb describes something as “a game of backstabbing, corruption, temporary alliances, and taking power at all costs”, you know you’re in for a wild ride. Taking on the role of power brokers helping waves of immigrants settle in 1850’s New York, the game asks you to peddle influence, trade favours, and behave like a classic civil serpent. Combining area majority, auction, and bidding mechanics – the game is a spat generator where no-one finishes with their hands clean.

1 | Warhammer 40,000 (eighth edition)(2017)

Ok, spoilers – turns out everyone in this is the baddie. Arguably ‘the’ tabletop skirmish game for many, each session sees you and your friends assemble your armies and clash for stellar supremacy. No matter whether you pick the xenophobic Imperium, the soulless Necron, or the seemingly benevolent Tau – no-one, and we mean no-one is the hero. And when the ‘killing for the hell of it’ motivations of the Orks are the most benign, you know you’re getting mixed up with some Bad Hombres. And with the ninth edition out soon, there’s no better time to pick up your bolter and commit a war-crime or two today.


Which is your favorite “bad guy” game? Share it in the comments below :)

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