"You're a piece of plastic. You were meant to be thrown away."
Lotso has access to Strength tokens - whenever an Ability tells him to modify Strength on a Hero, he places tokens on that Hero to indicate how much. Additionally, if Lotso Vanquishes a Hero, instead of discarding them, they remain where they are, and their Strength is reduced to zero; any Allies used are still discarded. The Ability of a Hero at zero Strength in Lotso's Realm is ignored.
Lotso must reduce the Strength of all four of his Heroes and move them to Caterpillar Room, and also have Buzz Lightyear, in any mode, in the same location. He can pull Heroes from his Fate deck using Big Baby and Welcome to Sunnyside; he can reduce the Strength of Heroes by playing certain cards and Vanquishing; he can move Heroes using Stretch, Not Age Appropriate and Something Snapped; he can control Buzz Lightyear using Stretch, Not Age Appropriate, and Original Factory Settings.
Lotso's Realm contains the following locations, from left to right:
- Caterpillar Room
- The Library
- The Playground
- Play a Card | Discard Cards
- Fate | Gain 3 Power
- Tricounty Landfill
The following cards are in Lotso's Villain deck:
- Locked Up (×3)
- Not Age Appropriate (×3)
- Something Snapped (×3)
- The Bookworm (×3)
- Welcome to Sunnyside (×3)
- Original Factory Settings (×2)
- Patrolling All Night Long (×2)
- Smells Like Strawberries (×2)
- Where's Your Kid Now? (×2)
- Big Baby
- New Toys Don't Stand a Chance
- Woody's Hat
These include 5 total Allies (Big Baby; Chunk; Sparks; Stretch; Twitch), 7 total Conditions (Something Snapped; Smells Like Strawberries; Where's Your Kid Now?), 17 total Effects (Locked Up; Not Age Appropriate; The Bookworm; Welcome to Sunnyside; Original Factory Settings; Patrolling All Night Long; New Toys Don't Stand a Chance), and 1 Item (Woody's Hat).
Lotso also has access to Demo Mode Buzz Lightyear as an Ally, as the reverse of the Buzz Lightyear tile.
The following cards are in Lotso's Fate deck:
- Bonnie's Toys (×2)
- One Way Out (×2)
- Spanish Mode (2 variants)
- The Claw (×2)
- Andy's Looking For Us
- Daisy's Locket
- Lotso Was Special
Lotso also has Buzz Lightyear as a Guardian, printed on the obverse of the Buzz Lightyear tile.
Lotso is a challenging and frankly counterintuitive Villain. A new player trying to play him straightforwardly, bringing each Hero down to 0 Strength individually, is going to keep having their work undone by his punishing Fate deck. Success with Lotso against a competent opponent requires getting all of your pieces in play, then dropping every Hero to 0 Strength in one turn. To make up for this, his Fate deck is rather anemic in terms of covering the top rows of his Realm, and he has arguably the best Fate locations in the game. Any game involving Lotso can descend into a slog, but the key to victory is knowing when to pivot from Fating and take your win.
In order to win, Lotso needs to first get all four of his Heroes onto the board, then corral them in Caterpillar Room and reduce their Strength to 0, all while keeping control over Buzz Lightyear. The first task is the simplest - play Welcome to Sunnyside and Activate Big Baby to pull the toys out of your Fate deck. You will want to do this as quickly as possible, so you'll likely want to discard literally everything else (except for New Toys Don't Stand a Chance, as will be discussed).
Keeping your Heroes in Caterpillar Room will be a more active task, as they will routinely be moved via One Way Out, or by Woody if your opponent plays him, and Big Baby will play Heroes to anywhere else. You'll need Not Age Appropriate or Something Snapped to keep them in line, though the latter requires some (albeit highly likely) cooperation from your opponent. In dire straits you can use Demo Mode Buzz Lightyear to send Heroes to Caterpillar Room, though that puts them at risk of The Claw.
Whether or not to use Stretch, and where to play her, will depend greatly on other circumstances. If Rex is played to Caterpillar Room, she is the only way to move him out so his Strength can be lowered (unless you're lucky and pull Woody out after him), so she needs to be played there. You only have one Move an Item or Ally action, so given that you can only move her at most every other turn to an adjacent location, even if Rex is handled her use will be limited. However, she can still be used in a pinch if needed.
The hardest part of Lotso's Objective is reducing every Hero to 0 Strength. Ostensibly he has many tools to do so, but in practice bringing Heroes to 0 Strength one at a time leaves you vulnerable to Bonnie's Toys and The Claw. If you don't preemptively reduce Strength, those cards become dead draws. Cards like Locked Up, Patrolling All Night Long, The Bookworm, and Where's Your Kid Now? are really only needed if Andy's Looking For Us gets played.
So how should you reduce Hero Strength? Ideally, you will want to swing out with a combo turn using New Toys Don't Stand a Chance and another card at Tricounty Landfill. There are a few possibilities:
- Original Factory Settings - possibly the most reliable version. Get all Heroes in Caterpillar Room except for Rex, who should be at The Library. Go to Tricounty Landfill, play Original Factory Settings, Vanquish Rex with Demo Mode Buzz Lightyear, then play New Toys Don't Stand a Chance and move Buzz Lightyear into Caterpillar Room. The two Effects give enough Strength reduction to get everyone to zero, as long as no one is above 5 Strength. This lets you ignore Bonnie's Toys and The Claw, but it does mean your upper Fate is covered for several turns. You will also need an extra Ally at The Library to assist Demo Mode Buzz Lightyear.
- Something Snapped - store all Heroes in Tricounty Landfill, making One Way Out useless. When your opponent discards, play the Condition, then New Toys Don't Stand a Chance and any other Strength reducer to finish off Woody. This does require Rex already be at 0 Strength, making him vulnerable, and also leaves you dependent on your opponent discarding, which they can choose not to since it's obvious what you're waiting for. However, it does keep your top row clear.
- Welcome to Sunnyside - deliberately leave Rex in the Fate deck, then pull him out on the last turn before playing New Toys Don't Stand a Chance. This does require Woody's Hat to ensure he'll come out with 0 Strength, as well as Woody to be reduced to at most 4 Strength beforehand. This does keep your upper Fate open, but also doesn't automatically handle Buzz Lightyear, so you'll have to ensure he's in Caterpillar Room before doing this.
Which version of the combo you use will depend on what circumstances you find yourself in. If you end up pulling all your Heroes with Big Baby, you may want to try Something Snapped. If you pull everyone except Rex, maybe the Welcome to Sunnyside variant. The Original Factory Settings version will probably be the most dependable, though.
Now, this is not to say that it's impossible to win by reducing each Hero to 0 Strength consecutively, it's just very unlikely given the nature of Lotso's Fate deck. If you're facing a Villain who is easily Fate locked, or makes the most progress at non-Fate locations, it might be quicker to use The Bookworm or Where's Your Kid Now? on the Heroes individually, though certainly riskier.
Given the specific cards you need to get your hands on, Lotso ideally wants to spend most of his time at The Playground and Caterpillar Room for the discard, stopping at The Library when needed to Fate and Activate. Due to the lack of Power gain at Tricounty Landfill, it's really only good to visit if you're ready for your combo, or if you absolutely need to move Stretch.
Once you've gotten everyone in Caterpillar Room and at 0 Strength, you've won the game - there's no need to wait until your next turn. This does mean that it can be hard to tell when Lotso is at "win condition" - unlike someone like Maleficent, where it's really obvious when she's a turn away from winning, there are several potential states of Lotso's board that would let him win on his next turn. When facing Lotso, be very aware of the cards he has access to, including what's in his discard pile, and keep a close eye on his Hero positioning. And if you are going to Fate him, be aware of Something Snapped, and consider whether it's better to discard before or after Fating.
Countering Lotso is as challenging as it is to play him. If you Fate him too much early, you will likely be forced to hand him one of his Heroes, making his job easier for him. But if you don't Fate him enough, he'll be able to set up his combo more easily. Try to keep The Library and The Playground covered, ideally with a Hero rather than Buzz Lightyear, and play Andy's Looking For Us whenever possible, as that's the only card that will stymie any version of the combo.