Build villainous lairs and wreck others' dreams in this puzzly tile-placing game

images of villain lairs made of placed modular tiles. a cartoonishly evil villain laughs.
(Image credit: Redbeak Games)

Newly-appointed lair architect to the evil mastermind, your job is to build the best lair. The competition? The... other minions of the evil mastermind. Whoever builds the best lair wins. That's the setup to Chambers of Devious Design, a recently-released indie puzzler that has you plopping down tiles to delight the boss and destroy the competition.

It wears its inspirations on its sleeve, taking from the world board games in the same way that something like Hearthstone takes from competitive card games. I'm always on the lookout for things that remind me of tile-placement board game Castles of Mad King Ludwig, so I was quite intrigued when this one fell into my inbox.

I bring up Hearthstone because it does things with its digital form that you just can't do on tabletop. Randomized piles of weird rooms to choose from, fidgety placement that'd get wrecked on a table, and perhaps most delightful of all: Full-on PVP combat in a tile placement game.

See, among your many tiles are cannons, lightning guns, lasers, and just straight-up rooms full of dynamite. Placing these lets you target other players' complexes, all built on the same grid as yours, demolishing their rooms and knocking down their score point by point. Finally, a tile placement game where you can loose a barrage of cannon fire to knock pieces out of the other player's perfect combo.

Placing rooms perfectly also gives you all manner of activated one-shot powers and abilities, many of which are the kind of things that'd be cumbersome or annoying on tabletop. Why do I compare to tabletop? Because if it was just doable as a board game I'd be here asking why it's not just a board game. 

This is definitely a game I'm glad to have in my pocket for local multiplayer nights, and it's remote play together enabled so you can shell out for a single copy and bring along three friends to build weird bases together. Chambers of Devious Design also has a full campaign and AI to play against, too.

You can find Chambers of Devious Design on Steam, from Redbeak Games, for $12. Redbeak Games previously developed strategy game Mortal Glory, a gladiator management sim combined with tactical combat.

Jon Bolding is a games writer and critic with an extensive background in strategy games. When he's not on his PC, he can be found playing every tabletop game under the sun.