|Players:||2 - 4|
|Time:||30 - 60 minutes|
The forces of evil are threatening to overrun Hogwarts castle in Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle, a cooperative deck-building game, and it's up to four students to ensure the safety of the school by defeating villains and consolidating their defenses. In the game, players take on the role of a Hogwarts student: Harry, Ron, Hermione or Neville, each with their own personal deck of cards that's used to acquire resources.
By gaining influence, players add more cards to their deck in the form of iconic characters, spells, and magical items. Other cards allow them to regain health or fight against villains, keeping them from gaining power. The villains set back players with their attacks and Dark Arts. Only by working together will players be able to defeat all of the villains, securing the castle from the forces of evil.
In this deckbuilding game, each player is one of the major Harry Potter characters, and purchases better and better allies, items and spells to help them defeat the villains. Subsequent games unlock new challenges - more powerful player cards, and more dangerous and complex villains. For all its theme, this game isn't very well balanced. The wrong mix of starting villains, or the wrong cards showing up for purchase can lead to an inescapable death spiral. Meanwhile, getting powerful cards early can make victory almost trivial. Often, by half way through the game, you know whether you're going to win or lose, and the rest is just going through the motions.
And yet! Even though we don't think this game is very good any more, we've pulled it out over and over. Is it the theme? The sense of progression? The scaffolding of complexity? I've lost count of how many times we've fought Lord Voldemort now. Strongly recommended for fans.
This was the first deck building game we owned and made me immediately research what other game’s we might like after this one! It’s one of those few gold games for parents of tweens - it got them asking to play after school instead of flicking on devices! They loved it, and as big HP fans it got big nods of approval. We liked how the game is so good for “gateway” gamers, teaching us as we progressed through the years. It was like Christmas every time we got to open a new box! It does get longer and longer, but when it keeps the kids at the table gaming together I really don’t mind sitting with them and joining in!
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle is a neat themed co-op deck-builder, with only a few small issues that stops this from being five stars. (& probably knock a further star off if you’re not into Harry Potter...!)
Playing as one of four HP characters (Harry, Hermione, Ron or Neville), you start with a basic deck of cards that expands with more powerful/useful cards as you cooperatively fight baddies to secure locations throughout Hogwarts. Best of all, it has seven games/levels (one for each year at Hogwarts), which slowly ramp up in complexity and difficulty, making introducing news gamers a breeze but providing decent strategic challenges later on. The HP ‘feel’ is great, so this is a really good game for anyone who is into the Potter-verse.
Build quality is good, with mostly thick card tokens but some really nice metal Dark Location markers too. Cards are decent quality, with basic & functional movie still artwork.
Some quirks: each year, your player’s deck resets to the basic cards, and new cards can be slow in coming. This, paired with the recycling of the baddies, means each new year isn’t as fresh as it could be and gives a fair bit of repetition. The inability to burn/trash weaker cards becomes frustrating at times (the Monster Box Of Monsters expansion apparently adds this). Oddly, the more players you have, the harder the game mechanic becomes.
Overall though, this is an addictive deck-builder that kept our band of wizards wanting to come back for more...