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Villainous Strategy: Jafar

Back in 2018, Prospero Hall released Villainous, a game in which you play as the Disney villains looking to achieve their own nefarious goals. Players play the roles of classic characters like Prince John, Captain Hook, and the Queen of Hearts in a race to complete their objectives. Each character has their own thing that they want to achieve, whether that is to gain power, to get specific items, or to defeat certain heroes. Each character plays in their own way, and that makes it a kind of intriguing game.

Over the past couple of years we have looked at Villainous a few times. Back in February 2019 we looked at an Ursula strategy and in June 2019 a Maleficent strategy in the same way. Prior to those we looked at how a group of us lost to the Queen of Hearts and in February 2019 we also looked at a comparison of all the Villainous decks against one another. All-in-all we’ve covered the topic a fair amount; however, there are still a few characters we need to dive into, and a recent play got me thinking about Jafar.

Jafar has a bit of a reputation in Villainous for being a hard character to win with. In all the times we’ve played, he is (without a shadow of a doubt) one of the characters that has won the least. With that in mind, let’s break down the deck and look at potential Jafar strategies.

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The Sultan’s Palace – with Guards and Scimitars

Jafar’s Villainous Strategy

Before we begin, and before we go any further, let’s just take a look at Jafar’s deck composition and what it is made out of. This is the graph that we first used back in February 2019, but here explores the different cards that Jafar has in his deck.

Jafar Card Distribution

Jafar is mainly an Effects and Items deck, and for good reason. Those Items really do come in handy, and Effects are vital to Jafar’s game.

Now, this is where things differ slightly from other strategies we have looked at when it comes to Villainous because, although it can be difficult to win with Jafar, his strategy is actually fairly straightforward.

Understanding Jafar and Deck Churn

Jafar’s goal sounds complex, although it is actually simpler than it appears.

Start your turn with the Magic Lamp at the Sultan’s Palace and Genie under your control.

It may sound like a difficult task, however, it can be broken down into easier steps, and those steps rely on surprisingly few cards. In an ideal world, Jafar’s game could play out like this:

  1. Move between the Streets of Agrabah and any other location, discarding your entire hand until you get the Scarab Pendent. This will unlock The Cave of Wonders. Use Scrying if it comes to your hand before the Scarab Pendent, just to ensure you get it quickly.
  2. Once you have the Scarab Pendent, play it, then keep churning through your deck, discarding all but Hypnotize and Necessary Sacrifice until you get to the Magic Lamp. Doing this should build up a decent amount of power as you will need to jump between the Streets of Agrabar and Cave of Wonders to keep using the discard cards action. Occasionally it may be worth using the double Play Card actions on the Oasis to use the Oasis power generation and to get Allies or Items into play. These can later be used for Necessary Sacrifice, which allows you to trade in Allies or Items for three power apiece.
  3. Find the Magic Lamp and get it in your hand
  4. Collect power at the Oasis, Streets of Agrabah and/or through using the card Necessary Sacrifice
  5. Play the Magic Lamp at the Cave of Wonders
  6. Pull the Genie out of your Fate deck and get him to the Cave of Wonders
  7. Generate power at the Oasis, Streets of Agrabah and/or through using the card Necessary Sacrifice
  8. Play Hypnotize on the Genie to capture him. This will likely take a lot of power
  9. Keep going between the Cave of Wonders and somewhere else in order to move the Magic Lamp to the Sultan’s Palace
  10. Play Sorcerous Power to move the Genie (who is now an Ally) to the Sultan’s Palace.
  11. Wait for victory…maybe…

That is, in theory, a really good play – however, it doesn’t always go that way. The trick to Jafar is speed, as it takes a lot of turns for him to win. This means churning through his deck and not being afraid to throw away cards that you don’t need in the moment. Playing Jafar is a race because there are other Villains who can win in fewer turns.

That being said, there are a few heroes that can really throw a spanner in the works. When that happens there needs to be a contingency plan in place.

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Core Jafar Cards

Jafar Strategy: Hints and Tips

Here are a few core hints that are worth keeping in mind.

#1: The Oasis is your best friend

The Oasis is your best friend in Jafar’s realm because it has the most power and allows two cards to be played. Playing cards usually means drawing more cards at the end of your turn, giving you something useful as well as more power. This means that the Oasis can act as a core base of operations, in the early game bouncing between there and the Streets of Agrabar. In the later game you will be bouncing between the Oasis and the Cave of Wonders or the Cave of Wonders and Streets of Agrabar – but that is okay – the Oasis will have done its job by that point.

#2: Certain cards are worth their weight in gold

Certain cards are worth keeping hold of. My advice would be to never let go of the Magic Lamp once you get it in hand and, ideally, the same for Hypnotize. Even though it may be tempting to discard the Magic Lamp under the guise of getting it back with Gazeem at the right moment, relying on Gazeem is not a strong strategy. He could get removed by a poorly timed Crushing Blow (from the Fate deck) and that will practically mean the end of the game. Keep Magic Lamp and Hypnotize in your hand and you can avoid that issue.

#3: Allies have their uses and it’s not always as an Ally

Allies and Items, other than the Magic Lamp, have their uses. Since you can’t rely on cards like A Snake, Am I? coming into your hand and being worth keeping when they do, then it is always worth keeping in mind that using Hypnotize on the Genie will usually cost between 6 and 8 power. You may need to use Allies to get rid of Aladdin, Apu, or the Magic Carpet; however, if you don’t need them for that then you can use the card Necessary Sacrifice to turn them into 3 power.

Alternatively, when you get Allies, equip them with Scimitars. Scimitars can be transformed into power using Necessary Sacrifice as well.

#4: The Genie and the Magic Lamp move separately

One point that is easy to miss is that the Genie and Magic Lamp do not get attached once Hypnotize has been played. Instead, they move separately.

What this means is twofold. Firstly, the Magic Lamp needs to be moved with the move ability on the Cave of Wonders to get to the Sultan’s Palace. The Genie can also be moved this way, although it takes a lot of effort. Instead, using Sorcerous Power can move the Genie to the Sultan’s Palace instantly and without fuss.

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The Cave of Wonders

#5: Churn, churn, and churn again

We’ve already covered this a couple of times throughout this article, but you need to be able to churn though your deck as Jafar in order to get the cards you need. This makes both the Scarab Pendent and the Streets of Agrabah location incredibly powerful, as they help you get through your deck. Since Jafar’s victory takes so many moves you need to be prepared to keep moving. If you need to get a card to your hand, you discard or play cards to redraw. If you need power, you move between locations that need power and sacrifice what you need for that extra boost. If you need to move, keep churning through your deck whilst moving between core locations.

Keep agile, and there is a chance you can win the game.

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The Scarab Pendant – One of the most important cards in Jafar’s game.

Villainous: The Jafar Strategy in a Nutshell

The Jafar strategy isn’t a particularly complex one in Villainous. Yes, he is difficult to win the game with because he has so many intricate and moving parts; however, he can be broken down into three or four key actions. This means that, hidden deep within the guise of being a complex character, Jafar is actually relatively simple.

For Jafar the game revolves around focus. You need to focus on the first activity (getting the lamp), before focusing on the second activity (hypnotizing the Genie), before focusing on moving them both. The thing that draws it out is that, realistically, you can play the entire game from one or two core locations at any one time – however, since you need to move at the start of your turn it can feel like you are bouncing from one place to another purely for the sake of doing so.

Once again, do not underestimate that it takes a lot of turns. By my calculation, in the ideal world, Jafar can win in around 12 turns minimum (as an estimate) assuming you are dealt the right cards to begin with and don’t get too much Fate dealt on you. To do a small comparison, Prince John needs 4 turns to win at the absolute bare minimum without Fate (The Jail, to Friar Tuck’s Church, to The Jail, to Friar Tuck’s Church).

The point stands that Jafar’s strategy relies on a few cards, but a lot of turns, and so speed is of the essence. Play fast, don’t be afraid to discard what you don’t need, and then you may stand a chance.

Conclusion: Jafar and the Magic Lamp

So, there we have it. This has been a different style of article compared to some of the different Villainous villains because (to put it simply) Jafar is a bit of an odd one. That said, he is interesting. He requires a few nuances to play, as well as a reliance on the other players either not playing a huge amount of Fate on you or not racing for their own goals. As Jafar you are going to go heavily on focusing on your own cards, and without Fate being played on you there isn’t a huge reason to visit the Sultan’s Palace until the end of the game (unless you need Gazeem). This means you won’t necessarily be taking part in playing Fate on other players, which may or may not hinder you, depending on your perspective. Keep your head down though and keep focused and you may make it through.

As mentioned before, there are longer guides for Ursula and Maleficient on this site, as well as a full deck comparison.

So, now over to you. What do you think of Jafar? What are your thoughts? Do you have a favourite villain to play as? What are your favourite Jafar strategies? Let me know in the comments below.

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