Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle is great fun
When we first heard about Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle, we got excited.
After all, we love cooperative games.
We enjoy deck-building games.
And we love Harry Potter!
So the thought of USAopoly combining all those elements into a game was very exciting.
It also created very high expectations.
The big question was – could it live up to our high hopes?
Well, it’s time to find out…
How to play Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle
Just as Harry, Ron, Hermione, and friends work together to defeat villains in the Harry Potter book and movie series, players work together to defeat all the villains in Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle.
However, if the villains take control of all the locations in the game first, the players lose.
The game is structured in a way that players can play through a series of 7 games aligned with the 7 books. However, by no means is this a limitation. Players aren’t limited to just 7 plays of the game.
Players are encouraged to begin with Book 1 and continue through all 7 stories by opening the next Book container after beating the prior Book. If they don’t win, they simply play that book over again.
Each book introduces new types of cards they can add to their player decks, additional rules, new villains to face, and new locations to protect. All the new cards and locations tie right in line with the Harry Potter book storyline.
As they progress, players will combine cards they’ve opened in earlier books to build even strong decks of cards to defeat tougher villains.
One of the great things about the game is that players can choose how to store the game for future plays. The cards are labeled clearly as to which Book they came from. And the box insert is set up in such a way that players can either store all components back in their associated Book boxes or they can keep them all combined in their playable decks using card dividers.
This way, players have full control over how they want to play future games – by book or all randomized.
Either way they choose, there’s no limit to the amount of times they can play the game.
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle includes a game board and player boards that make the game set up a breeze.
Each player chooses a hero to play (Harry, Ron, Hermione, Neville) and gets that character’s Hero cards, starting deck of 10 cards, a player board, and a Health tracker heart – which they place on spot 10 of their player board.
The Location card deck is shuffled and placed face up in the Locations area on the board.
The Dark Arts cards are shuffled and placed face down in their area of the board. And the Villain cards are shuffled and also placed face down in their area of the board.
Lastly, the Hogwarts cards are shuffled and the first 6 cards are drawn and placed face up in the designated spaces on the board. The rest of the deck is placed face down.
Players shuffle their own Hero deck of cards and place them face down to the left of their player board. They then draw their starting hand of 5 cards and the game is ready to go!
Each player’s turn is made up of 4 steps.
1. Reveal and Resolve Dark Arts Events
The current face up Location card shows how many Dark Arts cards must be resolved at the start of a player’s turn. The player flips over the top card of the Dark Arts deck and applies the effects.
As you may expect, they aren’t going to be good things.
They may add tokens to Location cards (villains taking control of Locations) or cause damage to players.
2. Resolve Villain Abilities
Each villain has an ability and sometimes these abilities are triggered every turn while others are triggered by different Dark Arts cards. If the current face up villains’ abilities are triggered, their effects are applied.
Again, these aren’t going to be happy events for the team of heroes.
3. Play Hogwarts Cars and Take Actions
During this step, players get to work their magic!
They can play cards from their hand to gain resources (attack and influence tokens) and then use those resources to attack villains and use influence to buy new Hogwarts cards to add to their deck.
In most deck-building games, the powers that cards grants are typically just kept in mind to use during a turn. However, in Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle, these powers are represented by tokens that players actually collect on their turn and then spend.
For example, on a turn they may acquire 3 attack tokens and 4 influence tokens.
They can then place those 3 attack tokens onto a Villain card to show the amount of damage on that villain. Because the game is cooperative, those attack tokens remain on that villain as the other players take their turns and contribute additional attack tokens to the villains.
The influence tokens are spent on buying face up Hogwarts cards. Players can buy as many cards as they can afford. The newly acquired cards are placed directly to the player’s discard area.
4. End Turn
There are few clean up type actions that complete a player’s turn.
First, they check to see if a Location is fully controlled by the villains. If the token icons are full of Villain Control tokens, the Location is under villain control. It’s discarded and the next face up location is now in play.
If a Villain has received attack tokens equal to their health, they’re defeated! The Villain card is discarded and is replaced by the next Villain from the top of the villain deck.
Any empty Hogwarts card spaces are empty, they’re refilled from the Hogwarts deck.
The player places all their played cards into their discard pile (can’t save cards in hand for the next turn).
Any unused attack or influence tokens are also discarded back to the main supply.
However, some cards let other Heroes gain tokens on a player’s turn. Those heroes don’t need to discard those tokens. (They’ll discard any excess at their end of their own turns.)
Finally, the player draws a new hand of 5 cards from their deck. When the player needs to draw more cards but their deck is depleted, they shuffle their discard pile to create their new draw deck.
Game play then continues with the next player’s turn.
The game ends in one of two ways.
Either the Heroes successfully defeat all the Villains from the villain deck or the Villains take control of all the Locations.
If the Villains win, then players don’t advance to the next Book. Next time they play, they try again to defeat the villains in the current Book they just played.
If the Heroes are victorious, they get to open the next Book box, remove the contents, read the additional rules, add in the new cards to their respective decks, and dive into a new challenge!
Can the whole family enjoy Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle?
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle is a fantastic family game!
Not only will it appeal to Harry Potter fans everywhere, but it’s also a very fun game!
Granted, it’s not going to be suited for younger kids because of the reading involved. And the card art is taken from the movies – some of which may be scary for youngsters.
The recommended age on the game box says 11+.
That being said, since it’s also a cooperative game, older players can help younger players along the way.
So if your 8 year old is already familiar with Harry Potter, while he/she may not pick up the game and play it own their own, there’s no reason why he/she couldn’t enjoy playing with you as well.
If you’re unfamiliar with deck-building games (such as Dominion), Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle is fantastic introduction into this wonderful type of card game. The game introduces the basic flow of deck-building (play cards, buy cards to add to and improve your deck, shuffle, repeat) in a wonderful way.
If you’re already familiar with deck-building games, the first few books of Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle will be a breeze. In fact, the rulebook instructs those familiar with deck-building games to open Books 1, 2, and 3 all at once before playing their first game.
Even though we’re very familiar with deck-building games, we wanted to experience what the game might be like for new players. So we started with Book 1 and went from there.
And yes, the first couple books felt very simplistic and easy to beat. But it also let us experience the basic flow of it being a cooperative deck-builder – which is a cool twist.
Rather than competing against each other to get the slickest deck the fastest, we’re happy to see other players gain great cards to add to their decks along the way. Good Hogwarts cards help everyone.
The game is also full of Harry Potter flavor.
There may only be 4 main hero characters to play as, but the Hogwarts cards from each book include a lot of helpful friends, potions, and items to use along the way.
It may also be nice to know that even though each hero has a health track on their player board, they can’t die or be knocked out of the game.
Some bad events will cause heroes to lose health and some Hogwarts cards will gain health. But if a player’s health goes to 0, they’re just Stunned. When Stunned, a player has to discard a number of things and add a Villain Control token to the Location, but overall it’s not too terrible.
Earlier I mentioned how the artwork on the cards is taken from the Harry Potter movies. This is one of the things we enjoy about the game because of being Harry Potter fans. It helps bring us into the theme of the game as we play.
The card stock itself is also good. They feel like they’ll stand up to plenty of game plays.
It’s also great that there’s a board included for showing how to layout all the different decks of cards. It’s a very clean presentation.
Even the game insert is terrific for storing the game. And even the rulebook is well thought out with a place on the final page for storing the additional rules found in the Book boxes.
Our favorite components however are the Villain Control tokens.
These weighty metal tokens with a skull for the Dark Mark are fantastic!
They’re a high quality piece that we actually enjoy placing on the Location cards. Not that we like the villains controlling the locations – but just that they’re fun to handle.
However, not everything in the game is wonderful.
The Attack, Influence, and Heart tokens fall woefully short of the rest of the quality of the game.
They feel very cheap and out of place in the game.
While it’s nice that they already come cut out, their quality stinks. And I say “cut” out instead of punched out because they’re more like thick card stock than cardboard like every other game we have. We have no idea why the publisher would skimp on these tokens.
Instead of coming in a sheet of cardboard with tokens to punch out, these feel like an afterthought. The edges are rough and flake off.
Even though the Influence tokens have a Ministry of Magic design to them, we’ve switched them out with coin components from other games.
So if we could wave our magic wands, our first transfiguration would be on the Attack and Influence tokens. They fill their purpose functionally, but could be much better.
How does Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle score on our “Let’s Play Again” game meter?
As you might have guessed, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle scores very high on our “let’s play again” game meter.
By structuring the game along with the book series, successfully completing one game cries out for the next to be played. It’s actually tough putting the game away when you know you can now open the next Book box. It just begs to be opened.
And as soon as you open one of the boxes and look at the additional cards to play with, it’s hard not to play it.
So it’s easy to get swept up in playing another game.
And even after going through all the Books, the game still has a great draw to play again and again.
Our muggle family gives many big thumbs up for Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle.
We’d like to thank USAopoly for the review copy of the game.