For some reason, there’s been a lot of excitement for a new game associated with a certain wizard, hmmm… People have had their doubts, there have been times with games being converted from movies not having the best track record. So, could a Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle board game be one of the successful stand-outs?
Personally, my favourite Harry Potter film/book is Prisoner of Azkaban. Though I do remember getting the final book and how excited I was to read through it and see how it concludes, was reading it all night each night until I finished, took a whole weekend. Like myself, many a fan of Harry Potter have been drawn to this game, the theme in itself just grabs attention.
A co-operative card game for 2-4 players, first looks at the game were really splendid. The main game board looks well-made and forms an attractive centre for the style of the game whilst being sturdy to hold repetitive play. The player boards too look good and provide each individual player the resources they need.
The cards are of great quality, nicely laid out and designed exceptionally. Being the centre of the game I’m not surprised. Plus, they are strong and look to last a long time through continuous shuffling. The tokens look detailed, the Villain Control tokens look especially cool with the skulls on them. If the gameplay is like the aesthetics, I think we’ve got a potentially great game in our hands. I was just hoping that the feel of the wizarding world would be brought out here. So was it?
What Do You Get?
- 252 Cards (47 Small, 142 Regular, 63 Oversized)
- 70 Chip Pieces (35 Attack, 25 Influence, 4 Health, 2 Shield, 4 More)
- 8 Villain Control Tokens
- 7 Game Boxes
- 7 Game Rules
- 4 Dice
- 4 Player Boards
- Game Board
How Do You Set It Up?
- Place game board in the centre of all players.
- Each player gets a Player Board with a Health Tracker.
- Have all Villain Control tokens, Attack tokens and Influence tokens.
- Open the Game 1 Box, sort and distribute the Game 1 cards.
- Stack the oversized Location cards face up in the order indicated on the cards on the upper-right corner.
- Shuffle and stack the square Dark Arts cards face down next to the Locations cards.
- Shuffle and stack the oversized Villain cards face down beneath the Locations cards. For Game 1 there will only be one active Villain at a time. Reveal the top card face up beneath the Villain cards.
- Each player places an oversized Turn Order and Hero card face up above their Player Board, choosing their Hero.
- Each player shuffles and stacks their Hero deck of 10 cards face down, then draw 5 cards. Note that each Hero has their own starting deck.
- Separate out the 4 starting Hero decks, as indicated by the Hero names on the bottom, either as Harry, Hermione, Ron or Neville. Shuffle and stack the Hogwarts cards face down. Each player then places 6 cards in the spaces provided beneath their Hero deck.
- Leave boxes for Games 2-7 and the 9 Sorting cards in the box.
Information on Villain Cards:
- Villain Name
- Game Identifier
- Villain Ability
- Health – The number of Attack needed to defeat the Villain
- Reward – Earned when the Villain is defeated
Information on Hogwarts cards:
- Game Identifier
- Card Type – Either Ally, Item, or Spell. Some effects may reference these types.
- Card Name
- Card Effect – Gained when you play the card
- Value – Amount of Influence you must spend to acquire it. Some effects may reference this.
Choose a Hero to go first.
How Do You Play?
In this co-operative game, you take on the role of either Harry, Hermione, Ron or Neville, to defeat a series of evil foes. The Villains launch attacks against you in their attempts to conquer the wizarding world one Location at a time. This game is designed to be played over a series of seven increasingly difficult adventures, to defeat You-Know-Who once and for all.
Playing cooperatively as the Heroes, you win the game if you defeat all the Villains before they gain control of all the Locations, thereby securing the safety of Hogwarts, for now…
However, if the Villains manage to gain control of all of the Locations, you have lost the game!
Each turn consists of four steps:
1. Reveal and Resolve Dark Arts Events
Look at the Location. It states how many Dark Arts events to reveal.
Dark Arts events have a variety of detrimental effects. One at a time, reveal and resolve Dark Arts events, placing the cards in a discard pile. E.g. An event can ask you to add one Villain Control token to the Location card.
If the Dark Arts stack runs out, shuffle the resolved cards to form a new stack.
2. Resolve Villain Abilities
Each Villain has an ability. Some will happen each turn, and others will be triggered by Dark Arts events or other Villains. E.g. Because a Villain Control Token was added to the Location, Harry (the active Hero) loses 2 Health, moving his Health from 10 to 8.
3. Play Hogwarts Cards and Take Hero Actions
As the active Hero, you may do all of the following in any order you choose.
- Play cards to gain resources (Health and Influence tokens) and generate effects
As you play out cards, set them to the side to indicate that they have been played. Tokens you gain are collected in your player board. Cards and resources cannot be saved from one turn to the next, so it is advisable to use everything each turn.
- Assign Attack to Villains
When the number of Attack tokens assigned to a Villain equals it’s Health, the Villain is defeated!
- Use Influence to acquire new cards
The six face up Hogwarts cards are available to acquire and build a more powerful deck. You can acquire multiple cards as long as you have enough Influence.
Immediately place any newly acquired cards in your Discard Pile unless otherwise noted. Typically, you will not play new cards on the same turn you acquire them. When your deck runs out of cards, you will shuffle your Discard Pile to form a new deck including these newly acquired cards.
E.g. Your starting hands has a Firebolt, Hedwig and 3 Alohomora! Cards.
i. Play the Firebolt to gain an Attack token.
ii. Since you’re still pretty healthy, play Hedwig and choose to gain another Attack token.
iii. Place both Attack tokens on your player board.
iv. Assign the 2 Attack tokens to Draco Malfoy. You need 4 more to defeat him.
v. Use the 3 Influence tokens to acquire Reparo! From the available Hogwarts cards. Immediately place the card in your Discard Pile.
4. End Your Turn
After playing cards, taking actions, and using tokens, do the following at the end of your turn.
- Check if the Villains have the required Villain Control tokens to Control the Location. If they Control it, remove the Villain Control tokens and discard the Location, revealing the next one in the stack.
- If you assigned enough Attack tokens to defeat a Villain this turn, replace it with the next one from the Villains stack.
- Refill empty spaces for Hogwarts cards.
- Place all cards played this turn in your discard pile. You cannot save cards for your next turn.
- Discard any unused Attack and Influence tokens. If you played cards that allow other Heroes to gain tokens, they DO get to keep them to use on their turn.
- Draw a new hand of five cards. Only shuffle your Discard Pile to form a fresh Draw Deck when you need to draw or reveal cards and your deck is empty.
Gameplay will continue clockwise, with the next player, as the active Hero, taking the same 4 steps on their turn.
If you feel comfortable and are familiar with deck-building games, we recommend that you proceed directly to Game 3. Open the Game 1, Game 2 and Game 3 boxes, review the rules enclosed in each, and start your adventure there.
End of game:
The game can end in two ways:
- The Heroes defeat all the Villains. When you are ready, proceed to the next game. Open the Game 2 box, and follow the instructions enclosed.
- The Villains control all the Locations. You are not ready to advance to Game 2. Reset the game to it’s starting configuration and try again.
Pros Of The Game
- Easy to learn and set up
- Components and artwork look amazing
- Good variety as the rules and difficulty change as you progress
- Cards are very detailed and descriptive
- Great strategic and co-operative elements involved
- Brilliant connection with the Harry Potter theme
- Prompts inspiration and adjusting to situations
Cons Of The Game
- Play can last a long time as you progress through the game
- Can feel repetitive for more knowledgeable players
- Players with experience of co-operative card games might not get into it as much
- Cards completely reset each game, no cards are brought into the next game
- Expanding and potential upgrade of charters abilities are left a bit late in the game
- Some inconsistencies with the cards, e.g. certain items in wrong years
Should You Get Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle?
So the main concept of the Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle board game is you play through Harry’s 7 years at Hogwarts as you learn spells, gain allies and equipment, and prevent locations being obtained by dark forces. Seven books, seven game card decks. Go on an adventure as you go through the films meeting various characters, both good and bad, including the Dark Lord himself.
This can vary from half an hour to hours depending on which game you’d be playing. Usually best with 4 players, like any game, the more the merrier. Build your deck as you fight off enemies with spells, items and friends. You get your common deck building methods with good co-operation with others along the way. There is a good combination of mechanics to keep you active and into the gameplay.
It’s very easy to set up and helps you along the way as the rules change, not to mention pretty easy to learn, especially with games 1 and 2, after those you’ll get the gist of it. You won’t be confused with anything if you haven’t read the books, the cards use images from the films, making elements easier to follow depending on how much you know about HP.
The game is aged 11+. I think slightly younger kids could have a go at it, but despite it being easy to learn, kids maybe younger than 8 might get lost trying to follow the rules.
Player boards keep track of your resources, including health tracking, reference cards, tokens and locations for starting characters. This is a brilliant game for those new to co-operative games and deck building, they’ll find every bit of it interesting and enjoyable, working on their strategic skill. However, more experienced players will notice more of the flaws of the game, where it can feel a bit repetitive and the game time can grow longer as it goes on.
Another reason the gameplay time can go on too long is due to the increasing number of Villains to defeat, and it can be as long as hours to try to defeat them all. You’ll certainly need to be enveloped by the game to hold out that long and still enjoy it. But if you can hang in there with Monopoly, potentially you could here.
Players who have experience with these kinds of games won’t be blown away since there’s a similar format, however it’s a good idea to give more experienced players a chance to just skip ahead and jump straight to game 3 if they want to get right in the thick of it. You’ll find the real difficulty with game 7, which makes the slow build up quite exciting, especially if you’ve seen the films and know what character and location cards will appear. There is a wide range of difficulty levels available, giving most players a run for their money.
Many people like to only find out what’s in the other game boxes when they get to them as a surprise, so I won’t go into details what’s in them, scout’s honour!
Though most of the images on the cards are from the films, the artwork is very nice and relates well to the HP world, illustrating the spells, characters and locations efficiently. A big note to consider is the deck you build from one game will not be transferred into the next. This is a bit of a let-down because the awesome deck you built by the end of one game will have to be given up for the next one. It would be nice to have some reward for progressing by maybe keeping at least a few cards each game.
Also, some of the decisions on how to expand the game were left quite late. It’s only until game 6 do characters no longer have abilities specific to them but can now change or upgrade their abilities. This will make the game much longer because of the extra management just added on. In addition, it’s only until game 7 does each character’s full power ability appear. If these kinds of traits were allowed earlier, it would help flush out the game more and breathe in what you can do.
Harry Potter fans will mark out at the style, referrals and logic of play with this game, prompting you to let out your inner HP nerd. The detailed description on the cards for what the spells do are a massive plus, going into detail describing what they do and even have drawings of how you would perform the spell, it’s like taking Hogwarts lessons right in your living room!
The varying gameplay elements you get introduced to each year is one of the biggest highlights, each year getting tougher and keeping you on your toes. As more spells, allies and equipment become available.
Something that’s bothering me is though it is cool to see the hero cards age as the years go by each game, the Villains remain the same regardless as the same Villains deck is used each game, one aged Draco Malfoy is the same aged Draco Malfoy throughout. So unless they found a spell to grant them eternal life, maybe a change in the artwork of the Villain cards could help suit the progression of the game.
I love the artwork on the back of the cards. The Hogwarts logo, Death Eater design, all of it. I’d easily buy a t-shirt with these kind of designs on the front. Each of the game boxes look like an old-style suitcase a witch/wizard would hold. Each box has its own set of rules, unique cards and items in their own box to be opened as you reach them, with the decks having index cards as well as the box having compartments to store them in.
There is a bit of a question as to the history of Harry Potter laid out in these cards. For example, Hermione has her time-turner in year 1, but this isn’t anything major, the main theme of the years in each box is kept separated pretty well.
The amount of effort, detail and anticipation on what you’ll come across really brings excitement and immersion to the game. It doesn’t feel like anything was rushed in the development of everything involved here, which is highly appreciated. The devil is in the details and all components on the table are just spilling with style from the source material.
Easily the best part of Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle, is the love and care put into bringing the Harry Potter universe to life, either bringing in fans of Harry Potter, or converting those who may not have been fans, which isn’t easy.
You no doubt get bang for your buck, there is so much here, overflowing like a cauldron, the content available outweighs the cost easily. As one of those “players vs the board” games, it really inspires working together, you’ll have great enjoyment bonding, trying to use your cards appropriately, especially is everyone involved loves HP.
You have to be focused and on the ball throughout playing since the rules keep changing, if you’re not then at times it can be easy to forget you have new abilities or which move is best. Co-operation is needed to work out the best way to defeat Villains whilst staying conscious, since getting unconscious will result in you losing half of your hand and any reserve tokens. When one Villain is defeated, another will replace it.
As expected, the best allies are the costliest, so more thought is needed on which cards you should buy, by either saving up to get the better cards, or immediately grabbing what you can afford as a sense of urgency.
This game is excellent at keeping you thinking and adjusting to situations, forcing you to improvise. You can get anxious from the randomness of the game, hinging everything on a particular combination of cards. The types of Villains you have to deal with at random requires different ways of defeating them, thus specific deck builds. Whilst other times you’ll need to hang back so you can form a deck necessary to defeat them. You get a feeling of dominance from the Villains as they take over the board, raising the intensity.
People who are not familiar with deck building games will especially get into this. Even all of the players in a game can be newbies and learn the game together since co-operation is a key factor. Learn together, play together.
This game is rich and filled with fun, strategic play, but it can do with some polishing. There should be some limits set on the number of Villains you have to face. The accessibility to upgrades and full powered abilities can be spanned further across the game. At least some cards can be kept from game to game as a reward for progress and not start from scratch. If these can be done to help balance things out, it’d be pretty perfect!
Still what it does provide is an amazing experience if you find yourself enjoying the integral elements, bringing out tactical gameplay whilst wrapped in the amazing theme. New players and Harry Potter fans will love this non-stop, even non-gamer or non-HP fans can enjoy it. More experienced players might see this type often but can still get a kick out of it. The interaction and social side of things are really brought out as you negotiate moves and spells, helping each out on when to recover or attack, reserve getting cards or getting them at the best times.
Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle is fun and thematic, and really sticks true to the films and books. I suggest anyone can give it a try, and even if it’s not your thing or you might be worn by the long play, hopefully you had some fun just playing with others. No doubt I’m sure some groups have played this in cosplay!
Thank you for checking out my Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle board game review! How did you find the game? Did you stick with it all the way through? How do you find the look and feel of it? Do you like going through it book by book? Are you good at it and make impressive strategic moves? Let know of any comments!