Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle is a cooperative card deckbuilding game for 2-4 players.
Each player takes on the role of one of the four main Gryffindor wizards: Harry, Ron, Hermoine, or Neville.
You cast spells and work with allies while trying to defeat the villains before they take control of locations straight from the books/movies.
- Gameboard, which is used for aiding participants with game layout
- 4 sets of character cards—Harry Potter, Hermoine Granger, Ronald Weasley, and Neville Longbottom—and corresponding decks of 10 cards each
- Hogwarts deck, which includes supporting cards—items, allies, and spells—that heroes can acquire during the game
- Villain decks containing foes who must be defeated to win the game
- Dark Arts deck that enable foes to attack
- Location decks, which are the scenes where the game takes place
- Control tokens, which represent the influence the villains have over the location
All game contents are spread across 7 different boxes labeled Game 1, Game 2, up to Game 7; each game is intended to loosely correspond with each book in the J.K. Rowling’s original Harry Potter book series.
While there is a single larger rulebook, each individual game box (staring with Game 2) has a unique rulebook that explains how each box’s respective contents can be integrated with prior boxes.
It also comes with dividers to help you organize all of the items.
Setting Up the Game
There are four steps to each turn:
- The turn starts by having the top card of the Dark Arts deck flipped. Generally speaking, one of the three things can happen: players discard one or more cards, villain adds a control token to a location card, or one or more heroes take damage.
- Villain card effects are now resolved. Effects are similar to those of the Dark Arts cards.
- Players can now take actions: use cards to attack villains (or other effects) and use influence to purchase a Hogwarts card.
- The last part of the turn is what I term a cleanup phase:
- Defeated villains are replaced (but only after getting your rewards!).
- Location cards which have been taken over by the villains are removed (BAD!). If it is the final location, your team loses! (VERY BAD!)
- Players draw back up to five cards.
Note: At any time a player loses all of their health, they become stunned: lose half of their cards and cause a control token to be added to each location card for each stunned character.
This ends up being a great game mechanic since players are not permanently removed from the game; whereas some games like Sentinels of the Multiverse where being incapacitated almost completely takes a player out of the action.
Winning and Losing the Game
To win the game, players must defeat all cards in the villain deck.
Who May Enjoy This Game
Yes, that’s the easy way out; but, largely it will probably be true unless someone is just not into non-traditional—that is, not of the 52-card, 4-suit variety—card games.
Also, this is a cooperative game; so, if one of your group’s members is not into teamwork, then this is not the game for your group.
Or, perhaps you just forget to invite them? I know it’s not nice, but neither is not wanting to be part of a team.
Harry Potter fans
Over the years there have been some great/good games incorporating the Potterverse; and there have been some bad ones as well: yeah, I’m looking at you Harry Potter Quidditch, the Game!
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle is most definitely of the great variety and does a good job presenting a thematic game environment for big and little fans alike.
Deckbuilder Game Beginners
Hogwarts Battle is well-designed to serve as a gateway game for younger and older players alike who are not familiar with deckbuilding games.
The multiple-game approach acts as a scaffolding tool.
It introduces players to the basic game concepts while using a limited card pool and basic game mechanics. Then, as the game progresses, players are introduced to more powerful, interactive cards that offer an array of varying abilities. The difficulty scales up as well.
Pros and Cons Summary
- Well-integrated Harry Potter theme
- High quality components
- First playthrough has the added excitement of discovering new game mechanics and cards; in this way, it plays somewhat like a legacy game
- Can serve as a gateway game to deckbuilding games
- The game may be too easy early on, especially in Games 1-3, for experience cooperative card game players
- I hesitate to list this a con: given that this is a random card game, there are possible situations that can make winning much more difficult than normal (terribly difficult initial villain lineup, weak cards available)
- The game has replay value (different combinations can present easier/harder challenges), but more experienced gamers may prefer to move on to a more advanced deckbuilder game