Doniell is an avid tabletop gamer who primarily enjoys traditional family style, language or word, and Eurostyle games.
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle: Candid Review
I purchased this game just after it had been released as a Christmas gift for my husband, who was 32 at the time. We're both avid Harry Potter fans and regularly re-read the books and re-watch the movies. We've taken the official House sorting test, and we are even both in Gryffindor. However, we just had a crazy first year in our very first home, so this game was unfortunately shunted to the game closet (which is huge, by the way) and quickly forgotten about.
Pulling out the Game
Fast forward to June of 2019, and our nephew is here staying with us for the summer. He's also a tabletop/card game lover just like my husband and me, which runs in the family. We just came home from a Saturday full of shopping errands when I decided we should play a game that we haven't yet played. We have several we picked up on sale that we just hadn't played. Earlier, we had seen the Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit game sitting in the display window of one of our favorite gaming stores while shoe shopping at the mall. I quickly Googled the game to find out if it was in fact based on the books, and was sorely disappointed that it's only based on the movies, which in my opinion sucks because the movies are not accurate when compared to the books.
So, I'm standing in the game closet, and decide that an easy-to-learn and quick-to-play game is probably ideal since we were all a bit tired and out of it. Out-game the game, and VOILA! It was a quick learn and quick play.
I played Hermione Granger, my husband played Harry Potter, and my nephew played Ron Weasley. Unfortunately, this is only a 2-4 player game, so if you wanted to play a different character such as Ginny Weasley or Dean Thomas, you are SOL. We didn't think to try out Neville Longbottom, but we were all pretty happy with our characters' unique cards, so we did a round of Game 1, then added Game 2.
This game goes quickly, but it's easy to forget the steps. So, there are these handy little cards that you keep in your playing area that list what to do, and in what order. First, you pull a Dark Arts card and do what it says. Next, you perform the act(s) on the Villain card. After that, you play what cards you can out of your five card hand, in any order, followed by making a purchase from the Hogwarts "store." This is from where you build up your deck. During your playtime, you put any attacks you'd like on the Villain to try and defeat them. At the end of your turn, you discard all unused "money" and "attacks," then follow the action on the Villain card if you defeated them.
Gameplay is similar in a way to Dominion, a favorite in our house. You are relegated to a five-card hand unless your cards or the Villain card(s) tell you otherwise. You cannot look through your deck unless told to on a card. You cannot shuffle your discard pile until you must draw more cards than you have. "Money" to purchase cards from Hogwarts and attacks to place on Villains cannot be saved unless you earn them during someone else's turn, and then you must wait your turn to play.
If you run out of health on your tracker mat, there are instructions on the bottom on the mat that remind you of what to do as you are "stunned." Instead of being relied upon to remember, or having to look up what happens in the rule booklet, you can easily play the game without needing assistance by doing what the bottom of your mat says.
Once the last Villain is defeated, everyone wins, regardless of which Location you are in. We had this discussion several times during the game because it appears slightly unclear from the rules. The only way you lose is if the "evil things" are covering all spots on the last location card. If you lose one or two locations, you can still win.
I decided that instead of doing as the booklet suggests and putting every "money" you earn onto your mat and then using them to get cards, it worked easier to not touch the "money" at all unless you were being given it during someone else's turn. This made it less likely that you would forget to discard everything in your turn, and it eliminated the redundancy of taking it, putting it down, and then picking it right back up and discarding it.
The second thing that I thought is a great idea was to give any health increases to the team member with the lowest health unless they said they had a card that counteracted losing health in their hand. This was easy to do, and in both games, we only had one character get stunned. Everyone liked that helpful trick.
Communicating with others as to what you should get from the Hogwarts cards, and discussing the cards in your hand and what order to play them in was also very useful. As this is a cooperative game, being verbal is key. Otherwise, someone could potentially waste a card or be relegated to not feeling helpful in defeating the Villains.
This is listed as ages 11+. Well, let's just say that an 8-year-old who can read well would be very capable of playing this game. Don't let the limit fool you into thinking it's not age-appropriate. It can easily be learned by any child who has good reading and comprehension.
While the game is relatively easy with the first two games added, I assume that it gets slightly more difficult with each game adventure you add. The first two games were a little too easy.
I didn't like that some of the artwork is from later movies as opposed to a variety of stills from all eight movies. Some characters appear older than they could on some cards.
I did enjoy that the game comes with dividers so you can organize all your cards. I also like that you can filter out all the different game level adventures as the number with which they are associated is listed at the top of the cards.
Overall, my rating below is based on the appeal to non-serious gamers who are likely playing as a family. It is a great addition to any Potter Lover's collection.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.