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Gaming Bits: Harry Potter: House Cup Competition Review

Jonathan Nelson
United States
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Board Game: Harry Potter: House Cup Competition

Harry Potter: House Cup Competition is a game by Nate Heiss, Kami Mandell and Patrick Marino, published by The Op. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players take on the role of head of a House of students in the magical world of Hogwart's. They will be sending out their students to perform tasks and grow in their magical knowledge to take on dangerous challenges, in an effort to gain points for their House. In the end, the player's who's House gains the most points will be declared the winner.

To begin, the first player is chosen and given the First Player token. Each player will then choose a Common Room player board, beginning with the first player. They will also take the corresponding Students and place them on their spaces. Each player is also given 9 Level Trackers which are all placed on Level 1 for each class. Each player is given 2 Basic Lesson cards and 2 Knowledge tokens. The third player is also given an additional Knowledge token, while the fourth player gains a Magic token and 1 Easy Challenge card. The board is placed in the middle of the play area. The rest of the Knowledge and Magic tokens are placed near the board within reach of all players. A Location card with 1 fleur-de-lis is randomly chosen and placed face up on the board. Two more randomly chosen Location cards with 2 fleur-de-lis and one Location card with 3 fleur-de-lis are placed face down on the board in their appropriate spaces. The remaining Location cards are returned to the box. The House Cup Hourglass Display is placed to the side of the play area, along with all the gems. The Basic and Advanced Lesson cards and the Easy and Hard Challenge cards are all shuffled separately into 4 decks. The Basic and Advanced Lesson cards are placed face down on their corresponding spaces. The top 3 cards from each stack are then placed face up on the board. The Easy and Hard Challenge cards are placed face down in their spaces as well. The top 3 cards from each of these stacks are also placed face up on the board. The Round Tracker is placed on the first space at the bottom of the board. Play now begins.

From gallery of MillicanDarque

The game is played over seven rounds. Each round consists of 2 phases; Classes and Challenges. The first phase is the Classes phase. In this phase, each player will take turns placing one of their 3 students from their Common Rooms onto the Hogwarts board. The player will then take one or both of the following actions with their student. They may learn a lesson and/or place a student. Learning a Lesson is an optional action. To learn a lesson, the player's chosen student must meet the requirements shown on the Lesson card and have at least 2 levels in a class. These lessons can be learned prior to or after placing a student making it possible for the student to gain a level and then learn a lesson. Once the lesson is learned, the player gains the reward listed on the card.

The other action is to place a student. To do this, the player simply places the chosen student's token on an open student space on the board, gaining the reward shown in the box for that space. Some spaces are only available in 3 or 4 player games, while others require Knowledge and/or Magic tokens. Location cards normally require a student to have a minimum number of levels. It should be noted that student tokens may not be placed on a space that is already occupied by another student token. Once all players have placed each of their three students, then play moves on to Phase Two.

From gallery of MillicanDarque

Phase Two is the Challenges phase. In this phase players return all of their students to their Common Room and may then attempt a challenge, as long as they have at least one Challenge card in their hand. A player may attempt a maximum of either 2 easy challenges or 1 easy and 1 hard challenge. To complete a challenge the player will place the Challenge card in front of themself and place the students participating in the challenge beside it. The students must have the required amount of levels in the corresponding classes. Some challenges may even require Knowledge tokens be returned to the supply. It should be noted that more than one student may participate in a single challenge, adding their class levels to the other's. Once a challenge is completed, the player will gain the rewards on the card. If the reward given has points, then one gem for each 10 points is placed in the player's House Cup Hourglass. The completed Challenge card is then placed face down on the player's Common Room player board. One more thing of note, if a player is attempting to complete two challenges in a round, then they may choose which order to resolve them in. This makes it possible for the player to use the rewards from the first challenge to help them complete the second one. If a player does not have the required levels, they may also return one Magic token to the supply in place of any one level as often as needed. Once all players have completed the Challenges phase, a new round begins.

From gallery of MillicanDarque

To start a new round, each player will return their Student tokens back to their space on their Common Room player board. They will then advance the Round tracker one space. If this is round 2, 4 or 6, then a Location card is revealed on the board. If playing a two player game, then the First Player token is automatically passed to the other player unless it was takend during Phase One. The new round will then begin.

The game continues until the end of the seventh round. At this time players add up all their points from gems in their House Hourglass, for each level tracker at Level 7 and for every pair of Magic and Knowledge tokens. The player with the most points is the winner.

From gallery of MillicanDarque

This game has a lot of great looking pieces to it. First off there are the common room player boards. There's one for each of the 4 different Houses at Hogwarts. These are thick and slotted for each of the different students. The slots fit the plastic level trackers that are so cool looking. These are very thematic looking. The game comes with a big selection of cardboard tokens as well. There are the magic and knowledge tokens. The magic tokens are witch hats and the knowledge tokens are books. There are also the student tokens that are round and double sided with the student's picture on one side and the team's house symbol on the back. Finally there is the round tracker and the first player token. The round tracker has a Hogwart's symbol and the first player token has Hedwig with a letter in her beak. The game also comes with 2 sizes of cards. There are the location and reference cards that are square. The locations have a photographic image of the location it represents on it, but unfortunately it's mostly covered with text and symbols. There's a big stack of euro sized cards that contain the challenge cards and the basic and advanced lesson cards. These are a bit bland looking too. Mostly they're just text and some symbols. The board is also much the same way. It's a bit bland looking as well. They're isn't a lot of flavor or theme to it. It looks nice but it's just not thematic like I would have liked it to be. The cards and board could have had some flavor to them. The board could have had an image of Hogwart's in the back with the symbols on the different spaces. The cards could have had some more images then just the symbols. The final pieces of this game however are the most thematic and coolest looking part of the whole game. That's the house cup hourglass display and house point gems. Each gem is clear plastic in one of 4 different colors. These are so pretty. The hourglass display is cardboard and once assembled it holds the 4 corked tubes. The tubes are plastic and come with an actual cork. The display looks amazing when it's put together and is a very awesome way to keep visual track of each player's points. I love how cool this thing looks. One final thing that I should mention is the insert inside the box. I like how that everything was thought out so well. It even has room for the fully assembled House Cup display to fit inside without having to take it apart after every game. This was some great planning and something I'm very pleased about. Overall I think the game looks good. Even though there are a few things that could have been a little more thematic or visual, I think the game still looks great. I think fans of Harry Potter will be overall pleased.
8 out of 10

From gallery of MillicanDarque

The rulebook for this game is very well organized and designed. There are lots of pictures and examples throughout the book. Each step and phase of the game is explained in detail. The rulebook includes plenty of detail for each of the Lesson cards, game board location spaces and Location card. In fact, there are 5 pages dedicated to the pictures and explanations of each of these in the book. The final page of the book includes a place for Champions to write their names. I thought this was a nice touch for players that enjoy keeping a running record of such things. The rules are very easy to read through and understand. I didn't see anything that was difficult or that should cause anyone any problems. Overall I think the rulebook is great. As an introductory game into worker placement, these rules do a great job of explaining everything for a new player. I'm very pleased with it all.
9 out of 10

From gallery of MillicanDarque

This is a fun game and one that is great for new players. The theme of Harry Potter will be sure to attract players of all age groups. So this is one that definitely needed to be family friendly and easy for new players to learn, thankfully it is. It introduces the mechanics of worker placement to a new audience in a simple to follow manner. The game is easy enough to understand while containing plenty of strategy for even veteran gamers to enjoy. Like any good worker placement game, figuring out where to place your students and what challenges to attempt is key. Of course being able to control the different characters like Harry, Cedric, Draco and Cho should be quite entertaining for fans of the movies. Each round players will try to train their students to be able to perform different tasks in an attempt to gain points for their House. The more difficult the challenge the greater the rewards. I have to say that I quite like the way that this game goes about leveling up characters and making it possible to earn points. The theme feels very close to the game itself. I like how players earn gems to place in their team's flask. I think this is a very thematic way to display those points to everyone. I think that this is a game that fans of the Harry Potter universe will highly enjoy. I think for veteran gamers, it's a bit similar to other worker placement style games but should still have enough meat to it to entertain. Overall this is a game that I recommend, especially to players trying to include their family into the hobby. This is one that's family friendly and works for everyone. I rather enjoy this game myself.
8 out of 10

Harry Potter: House Cup Competition is an introductory worker placement style game set in the Harry Potter universe. The game doesn't take a very long time to play. Most game sessions are around an hour to an hour and a half. The components are very good. The House Cup Hourglass display is gorgeous, however the board and cards are a bit bland and could have used a bit more thematic flavor. The rulebook is well written and is great for introducing the mechanic to new players. The game itself is a lot of fun. It's a great introductory game for new players and one that should interest a lot of fans of Harry Potter. This is one that is family friendly and easy to learn. This is one that I recommend. Now if I can just remember where I put my wand.
8 out of 10

For more information about this and other great games, please check out USAopoly, the Op at their site.
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