"The sea and all its spoils bow to my power!"
Ursula cannot take Vanquish actions; instead, she must attach Binding Contracts to Heroes and move them to specified locations to defeat them. However, her Allies and Heroes still have Strength values, so that other players' Conditions can be triggered.
Ursula's Realm contains the following locations, from left to right:
- Ursula's Lair
- Eric's Ship
- The Shore
- Play a Card | Discard Cards
- Gain 3 Power | Play a Card
- The Palace (locked until Change Form is played)
- Move an Item or Ally | Fate
- Move a Hero | Gain 2 Power
The following cards are in Ursula's Villain deck:
- Binding Contract (×6)
- to Eric's Ship (×2)
- to The Shore (×2)
- to The Palace
- to Ursula's Lair
- Change Form (×3)
- Grow Giant (×3)
- Opportunist (×3)
- Whirlpool (×3)
- Arrogance (×2)
- Divination (×2)
- Trickery (×2)
- Poor Unfortunate Souls
These include 2 Allies (Flotsam; Jetsam), 4 total Conditions (Arrogance; Trickery), 15 total Effects (Change Form; Grow Giant; Opportunist; Whirlpool; Divination; Poor Unfortunate Souls), and 9 total Items (Binding Contract; Cauldron; Crown; Trident).
The following cards are in Ursula's Fate deck:
- Return to Form (×3)
- Dinglehopper (×2)
- Snarfblat (×2)
- King Triton
These include 3 total Effects (Return to Form), 8 Heroes (Ariel; Eric; Flounder; Grimsby; King Triton; Max; Scuttle; Sebastian), and 4 total Items (Dinglehopper; Snarfblat).
Ursula is a challenging Villain to play as. She has an unconventional method of defeating Heroes, and only ever has access to three of her four locations at a time. However, her ability to lock locations at will can be used to her advantage, and she can unleash a barrage of Fate on her opponents.
In order to win, Ursula needs to find her two key Items (the Crown and the Trident), at least one Binding Contract, and some way to move a Hero. This involves a lot of discarding, so you will need to use the Discard Cards action frequently. Arrogance can be of some assistance, but don't hold onto it if it won't trigger anytime soon. Divination can be surprisingly useful in milling your deck, and if anything important is skipped over, it can be scooped up with Opportunist (provided you didn't skip over every copy of it). Once you've got your Items, it's usually in your best interest to play them as soon as you can.
The Crown is simple: play it to Ursula's Lair, Activate it when possible to keep an eye on your next Fating. Try to play this when you're at the Lair so you can use it right away.
The Trident is a little more involved. Playing it brings out King Triton, who immediately grabs it. The best Binding Contract to use on him will be the one for Ursula's Lair, since you want the Trident there in the first place (and moving the Trident with King Triton bypasses Ariel's Ability if she's around), so play the Trident to Eric's Ship. You'll want to play the Binding Contract and move King Triton on the same turn, to avoid Sebastian (if he's already in the Realm, it doesn't matter). You have several options for moving King Triton: Whirlpool, Poor Unfortunate Souls, Grow Giant to use the Move a Hero action at The Palace, or either Flotsam or Jetsam. Just go with whichever you happen to have in hand (or on the board, in the case of the eels).
The spanner in the works here is Ariel, who not only moves an Item out of Ursula's Lair, but prevents both Item and Ally movement until she's defeated. At a minimum, the damage she can do will take three turns to rectify:
- Play a Binding Contract on Ariel
- Go to The Shore, move her to death, Grow Giant to Move your Item
- Go to Ursula's Lair, move your Item again, preferably Change Form to lock it all up
If you don't have exactly those pieces, or there's another Hero at The Shore or The Palace, or if Grimsby gets played, or if Ariel gets replayed, this will take even longer. As such, use your ability to shuttle Heroes around to keep your top row mostly clear, usually by stacking them all at Eric's Ship. In addition, as previously stated, use the Crown often, discarding hard hitters like Ariel and Sebastian and Flounder, and otherwise leaving them as they are. If your Fate deck has been whittled down to only Return to Forms, then you may want to take some extra turns to move all other Heroes to Eric's Ship, then swap the order of steps 2) and 3) so that you can Activate the Crown before you defeat Ariel and make sure the next Fate is Return to Form, which would have to play her uselessly to your Lair. Then when you go to The Shore, play Change Form after the final Move.
The main issue with Ursula is that, if both players are familiar with her Fate deck, her game can turn into a Fate standoff. If she's gotten one of her Items, and Ariel has not been played yet, she can lock that Item away with Change Form until she comes out; however, her opponent knows this, and will thus avoid Fating until Ariel can actually do something, leaving Ursula to just Fate spam, hoping to Fate lock her opponent so she can have a safe turn to slide in the other Item. But her opponent also knows this, so can avoid going to their bottom-row Fate location, and on and on. So while Ursula can use Change Form to lock away one of her Items, it's usually not in her best interest to do so; instead, Ursula's Lair should only be locked if either neither Item is out and you need to Fate more while you search for them, or both Items are where they need to be and you want to seal your win.
As scary as Ariel can be, it's usually best to just accept that she's going to come out eventually. If she doesn't, or if she's played too early to move an Item, then great, just cruise to your win condition. If she does, try not to get tilted, just use the tools you have and keep on chugging.
A big question for every Ursula player is: should you unlock The Palace? In general, no; the location mainly serves as a bank of actions for you to use from The Shore with Grow Giant. However, if you really need to Fate a particularly fast opponent, it can be the right move to lock up your Lair and start Fate spamming. But if you draw into your pieces quickly, Ursula can be quite fast herself, as unlike Jafar, her pieces can be played in either order, and right to their required location, which can surprise some opponents expecting her to be on the slower side.
Once you have both Items in Ursula's Lair, you need to survive one round with them there. Try to lock them up with Change Form if possible, and/or Activate the Crown to make sure Ariel can't thwart you. If you make it to your next turn with them there, you win!
Fating Ursula is almost risky, as her Fate deck is surprisingly reactionary: Sebastian is only useful if King Triton or Ariel has a Binding Contract, and Ariel is only useful if the Crown or Trident are on Ursula's side of the board, unlocked. However, they can both be devastating if they hit at the right time, setting Ursula back by several turns. A well-timed Ariel can often make Ursula lose, which is why she needs to be ready for the little mermaid. Other than that, put Snarfblats on King Triton and Ariel, play Flounder if Ursula is still seeking her Items, and go with Grimsby if it makes the board less favorable to her. A well-timed Max can also slow her down, or prevent her from Fating you.