Game Review: Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle

harrypotterhogwartsbattleHarry Potter: Hogwarts Battle
USAopoly 2016

Just in time for Christmas comes this Harry Potter Themed introductory deckbuilder. USAopoly is known for creating themed versions of games like Monopoly or Clue, but may have hit a home run with this unique stand alone game.

You will see the difference from the moment you open the box. It has a large game board and boxes labeled Game 1 through Game 7. The first thought is “Is this a legacy game?” It is not. The idea is that it is a game that teaches itself as you play. When you open the rulebook, it tells you to start with game 1 (game 1-3 if you are already familiar with deck building type games). Then the very simple, easy to understand rules walk you step by step through setup and play so you can start right in with the game. Playing as either Harry, Ron, Hermione or Neville, the players cooperatively work to defeat villains before the villians take over the game locations. In game one, you have three villians and two locations. During your turn, you will use your cards to gain attacks, coins or hearts, using the attacks against the villians, the coins to purchase cards from the board to add to your deck, or hearts to heal damage you have taken. Each turn, you look at your location and do its action (usually revealing and resoving a dark arts event card), then you will see if your villian triggers something to happen. Then you play the cards in your hand, purchase cards and assign your damage to a villian. At the end of your turn, if you have defeated a villian then you resolve their reward.

This is a FANTASTIC way to teach a deckbuilder. Starting very simply to teach the basic concept, and, once you win the game, you may then open the next box, adding cards and rules, changing or adding villians and/or locations, and/or adding new components. Each new game will add more challenge as well, so that by time you have added in all seven boxes, you will be facing three villians at a time. This approach, along with the very popular Harry Potter theme, makes this game an attractive gateway game.

I took this game home for the Thanksgiving holiday to introduce it to my non-gamer nieces and nephews. They LOVED it. We played three games, adding in boxes two and three. We won each game. It was great to see siblings who don’t get along well playing cooperatively and enjoing each other as well as the game. They enjoyed the theme almost to the point of role-playing casting their spells and talking about the Harry Potter world. I was unsure if they would only play game one and be done, but they were excited to add more and keep playing. Even my Mom got in on the action!

So this holiday season, if you have some Harry Potter fans and are looking for a great game to keep everyone involved and one that will have lots of replay value, consider Hogwarts Battle. Even veteran deck builder players will enjoy this game although they may want to start with game three or more. Really veteran players may consider just starting with the full seven game set, though I feel they would be missing out on the discovery that this game offers by playing and adding as you go.

Highly recommended.