Diabolical! is a game where you play a villain trying to take over the world. To do so, you’ll need to enlist the help of bizarre minions and effectively command them to ensure your victory!

Note: The game design of Diabolical! is still in development and is continually going through rounds of testing and refinement. This means that as we discover new opportunities for improving the game, the gameplay will change to reflect that. Keep an eye on this page or on our blog to keep up to speed with the development of the game!

Diabolical! is loosely based on a variant of poker called Shawnahoma, a stud variant where players are dealt seven down cards and they discard two of them, then players reveal each card one at a time between rounds of betting and high and low hands split the pot. This particular variant lends itself to very rich and deep gameplay which we wanted to capture for our game. (You can learn more about why in this blog post.)


The core of Diabolical! revolves around playing Minions and issuing them one of several types of Commands. Your goal is to have the most of a given type of Command at the end of a hand, which will give you a unique benefit relating to that Command. Throughout the game, you will collect Scheme tokens which will have a randomized point value. The first player to 10 Scheme points wins the game!

Playing Minions

Like poker, Diabolical! is played one hand at a time, after which cards from that hand are wiped from the board and a new hand begins. Unlike poker, Minions are played using a draft-style mechanic, where each player plays a Minion from his or her hand at the same time and then passes the remainder of his or her hand to the next player. After each time a Minion is deployed, players will have a chance to issue a Command to one of their Minions. Some Minions also have abilities which happen when that Minion comes into play.

Issuing Commands

Commands are instructions you give your Minions to try and carry out for you. They come in four types: Attack, Defend, Plan, and Loot. However, your Minions will only succeed in executing your commands if you’ve issued the most of a given Command among all Villains at the end of a hand. Otherwise, your opponents beat you to the punch!

Minions have up to four Command slots for you to put your Commands into, and some Minions come into play with Commands already on them. Once all of a Minion’s Command slots are full, you cannot issue any more Commands to that Minion.

There is one special type of Command token called the Bomb. You can play a Bomb token on any player’s Minion, and if it’s still on the Minion at the end of the hand, that Minion is destroyed and loses all of its Commands! Don’t fret too much though, many Minions have abilities which let you move tokens to other Minions, or remove them entirely.

Resolving Commands

Once all Minions have been played and all Commands have been issued, the player with the highest total of a given Command will receive a unique benefit:

  • The player with the highest Defend total cannot be attacked by any other player this hand.
  • The player with the highest Plan total gets a Scheme token, used towards winning the game.
  • The player with the highest Loot total gets bonus Cash, used to buy Command tokens and other special cards.
  • The player with the highest Attack total may choose to attack another player or a Hero. Attacking another player allows them to steal some of that opponents’ resources, while attacking a hero – if successful – allows the player to look at multiple Scheme tokens and choose the one they’d like to keep.

Other Elements

While Minions, Commands, and Scheme tokens form the core gameplay, there are other elements to Diabolical! which create additional layers of strategy and options for the player. For example, each Villain has unique abilities which affect that Villain’s play style, strengths, and weaknesses. Also, for each Villain in the game, a unique set of Minions will be made available to all players, increasing replayability and shifting the strategies needed to win from game to game. Finally, each Villain will have access to unique Specialty cards which can either be powerful one-time Actions the Villain can take, or special Gadgets which offer the Villain a smaller, static benefit which lasts the rest of the game.

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