In Overlords of Infamy, players compete as evil overlords in an attempt to be known as the most evil. How does this happen? Through the completion of evil plots, of course. The evil plots are a moderately humorous mix including things like “Remove Dolphins from the Planet” and “Throw Chlorine into the Gene Pool.” However, some of them such as, “Assassinate a Famous Children’s Entertainer” aren’t funny. They’re just violent. I am not certain the game always has its tone under control. Throughout the course of the game, Overlords will have to face the likes of a valiant hero roving the board attempting to thwart their various plots.
One of the most interesting aspects of the game is the Overlords. Each of this varied group has a special ability that helps to give players a focus for their strategy. Variable player powers is obviously nothing new to games, but it’s always a welcome addition to anything fantasy themed. It certainly adds to the atmosphere of the game as long as it makes sense in the context of the world the game creates. In Overlords of Infamy, these abilities are just what you would expect from evil overlords such as flooding, transmogrification, stealth, and armor.
In terms of mechanics, the game centers around players completing these plots by sending their “Lackey’s” to gather the resources the plot demands. In essence, the game is a worker placement game on an ever-evolving board which is divided into four sections, separated by a town in the center and its outlying regions stretching to the end of the board in four directions. The board grows and changes as players “Exploit” the land. This involves drawing 2 map tiles and choose one to place in their area of influence (their sector of the board). This gives them more and more opportunities to place workers and gather resources. As players take actions, the tension mounts around the world, eventually exploding in a world event. These event have grand global effects. When a predetermined number of world events have been revealed, then the game ends. Players receive points for the plots they’ve completed, as well as things they’ve collected during the game.
The other aspect of the game is where the player interaction takes place. Once per turn, an overlord can commit an act of Espionage against their opponents. The choices available grow as the overlords become more powerful. This mechanic is a nice way to keep the game from seeming like multi-player solitaire.
As a game, the play is fun, though not necessarily unique. The theme, however, doesn’t really work for me. I understand that it’s supposed to be funny. Many of the nefarious plots are humorous. The trouble is that there are moments when it’s not funny, and I just don’t believe that making people miserable is a fun way to spend my time. I know that people will say that I’m taking it too seriously or I’m missing the joke, but I get it. I really do. Honestly, I think it could work with just a few tweaks. If a few of the cards were renamed, so they all felt silly, it would be a vast improvement.
I think the game has potential. I would like to see the tone given a little better focus. If that were done, I would be much more excited about the game.