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Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Review after playing three games. rss

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Sam K
United States
North Carolina
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My wife and I just finished our 3rd game of the Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle Deck Building Game, and I thought I'd give my spoiler-free impressions.

The goal of the game is to defeat all of the villains before they gain control of several locations.

If you've played any existing deck building games, you'll be familiar with most of the mechanics in HPHB. Players play as one of four characters from the books/films (though this game uses art and imagery from the films): Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley and Neville Longbottom. Each character has a deck of 10 cards that make up the player's starting deck.

Most cards generate coins (buy power)used to purchase other cards and/or "lightning bolts" (attack power) used to fight villains, while other cards grant bonuses to players (i.e., drawing additional cards, healing, etc.).

At the beginning of a typical game, there are three or more locations that the villains are attempting to gain control of. Each location card has slots for metal control tokens. If all slots are filled on a location card, the villains control that location and the next location is revealed. If the control slots on the last location card are filled, players lose.

As the game starts, one or more villains are revealed. Each villain card features detrimental effects that hurt players or cripple their abilities/cards. These effects trigger during every player turn. Each villain also has a hit point value. If players assign lightning bolts to a villain equal to his hit points, the villain is defeated. Defeating a villain usually grants bonuses to players.

Also during a players turn, one ore more Dark Arts cards are revealed. Like the villain cards, Dark Arts cards also feature one ore more detrimental effects. Dark Arts cards can often combo off of villain card effects, and can affect any number of players (not just the active player).

During their turns, players will suffer effects from Dark Arts cards and villains, and will then use their hand of 5 (or more)cards dealt from their personal decks to buy additional cards from the Hogwarts Card Deck, attack villains or help other players. Player cards can be spells, items or allies. Like most deck building games, the strategy comes in buying cards whose effects activate or combo off of other cards.

What sets HPHB apart from other deck building games is the way it evolves with each game you play. There are 7 numbered boxes inside the main game box. Each of these boxes corresponds to one of the 7 Harry Potter books/films. The manual recommends that people new to deck building games open Box #1 and play with those components. After winning game #1, open Box #2 and either replace Game #1 cards or add cards to Game #1 components (depending on card type). Boxes 2 through 7 also include rules as well as new components that add additional mechanics to the game. The game manual includes slots on the back page for each of the additional rule sheets from each box (a nice touch).

For experience players, the manual recommends opening the first 3 boxes and playing the first game with all three.

My wife and I decided that, although we've played many deck building games, we would start with Box #1. Given that each box represents one film, we thought that playing Game #1 with Box #1 would feel more like seeing the first film.

Since we've only played through the first 3 boxes, I can't comment on what additional rules or components may be added in boxes 5-7. We did open Box #4 so we could prep the game for the next time we played, and there are some nice surprises. We handily won Games 1 and 2, but Game #3 was substantially harder thanks to a couple of rule changes and more dangerous villain and Dark Arts cards.

It's obvious when you see the cards that the game designers are true Harry Potter fans. The effects of spell, item and ally cards have a logic to them that really fits with the theme of the game.

In the first game (assuming you started with Box #1), the four player characters are, as they were in the first film, young and inexperienced. The player cards feature young versions of Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville, and don't really have any additional information on them. But as you play more games, those player cards are replaced with more advanced cards showing older versions of the characters, and grant you special abilities relating to those characters. As an example, Hermione Granger is studious and a quick learner -- her ability allows the player to buy cards much more quickly (i.e., learning new spells).

Components in the game are nice. There's no over-the-top production values here, but it doesn't feel cheap, either. The small metal Villain influence tokens are pretty cool. All other tokens are sturdy chipboard. There's no linen finish or anything on the cards, but they seem to stand up to repeated plays pretty well (so far). Sleeving the cards is probably a good idea, but there are a three different sizes of cards in the box, so that makes buying sleeves a bit more troublesome. Still, this game contains fewer cards than a game like Marvel Legendary (just over half as many), so sleeving should be less expensive. The game tri-fold game board is sturdy, but, like the neoprene mats that come with the Legendary games, is simply a reference showing you where to place the various cards used in the game. There are four thick player boards that players use to track health and any tokens they acquire on their turns. The box insert also works well, and has space for the seven small boxes as well as space to store future components and dividers for keeping the different cards separate. Some components used only in the first few games will probably not be used after you start mixing in the contents of the other boxes. But all cards are labeled according to which box they came from, so you can "reset" the game if needed.

My wife and I enjoyed the game a lot. We only played with Harry and Hermione during our three games, so I can't comment on the other two, but there seems to be enough variety in the starting character decks and abilities to make each character play slightly differently. Overall, I'm pretty happy with it, and I'm quite surprised to enjoy a game from USAopoly.
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Zeb
United States
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New York
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Is there enough room in the box/boxes to store sleeved cards?
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Steve Marano
United States
Nutley
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Thanks for the quick, thorough review, Sam.
So in your opinion would playing this game solo
be an enjoyable experience?
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Seth Goodnight
United States
Newmarket
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Stinkfoot71 wrote:
Is there enough room in the box/boxes to store sleeved cards?


The box has a lot of free space, so sleeved cards shouldn't be a problem at all. It looks like they anticipated that need.

smarano wrote:
Thanks for the quick, thorough review, Sam.
So in your opinion would playing this game solo
be an enjoyable experience?


Not OP, but I've tried it our solo, and it works fine. You will need to play multiple characters, but it seems to scale well with 2-4. I haven't tried with one character yet, but I don't imagine it would work without tweaking the rules a bit.
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Sam K
United States
North Carolina
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I think a solo play might work, but I'm not sure how balanced it would be. The box recommends 2-4 players, and probably for good reason. Though since it's cooperative, playing with multiple characters should work fine.
 
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Sam K
United States
North Carolina
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Sleeving the cards shouldn't be a problem.
 
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Sean Fletcher
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Darwins_Dog wrote:
Stinkfoot71 wrote:

[q="smarano"]Thanks for the quick, thorough review, Sam.
So in your opinion would playing this game solo
be an enjoyable experience?


Not OP, but I've tried it our solo, and it works fine. You will need to play multiple characters, but it seems to scale well with 2-4. I haven't tried with one character yet, but I don't imagine it would work without tweaking the rules a bit.


There’s someone else on the boards here who’s said they tried it single-character solo, and that it worked fine. You’ll have to take their word for it, as I haven’t tried it myself. I do know there are cards in the game specifically made to benefit multiple players at once, and are therefor costed proportionally higher, which could cause some clogging in solo mode. I suspect that if you trimmed those out before playing, solo would flow reasonably well, but that’s just a theory for now.
 
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Dawson Cowals
United States
Beaverton
Oregon
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Totally agree! My wife and I are huge Harry Potter nerds. I've read all of the books dozens of times and my wife is currently re-reading them!

We just picked up a copy of Hogwarts: Battle tonight from our FLGS Rainy Day Games! So far we played thru Game 1 defeating all of the Villains without losing any Locations. On Game 2 when we added the 2nd set of cards things got a little hotter. We still defeated them but did lose 1 Location to the Death Eaters! We left our board all setup & ready for Game 3 tomorrow!

So far this is an excellent cooperative deck builder with some fun elements and really fantastic Harry Potter theme integration. You can tell true fans were involved in the making of this game. Hardcore gamers might not find a lot to interest them but if you have even the tiniest bit of non-Muggle blood in your veins you are going to want to snatch a copy for sure!


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Darren T.
United States
Dallas/Ft. Worth area
Texas
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Solo gameplay is possible & if you remove the boxes for the stories, sleeved cards fit fine in the insert. Though as the core cards are standard size (66x91 sleeves worked fine), the issue is with the dark arts & locations. Shame they didn't go with all standard or tarot size for these cards but they won't be used as much so it's ok. Great review & definitely looks fun.
 
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