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Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle» Forums » Variants

Subject: Year 7: 2 Player Difficulty Management (Year 7 spoilers) rss

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jeff bee
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Hey all, as most of us have come to realize, the game is balanced around 4 players. Except it's typically just my wife and me playing, so we are constantly looking for tweaks to balance it more around the 2 player variant. We tried playing 4 players at a time, but she didn't like it - she felt like she was always playing catch up and never knew what was actually going on. In addition, we've found that with the rules as written, once you get down to Voldemort by himself, it's a super easy win, even without abusing the horcrux to remove a skull. This just felt wrong, and we wanted a way to fix that.

One of the things that we found too easy was the removal of skulls. It really didn't seem right that you could be at 5/6 on a location, add 4 skulls via DA and being stunned, and then just discard 2 cards (or play a Finite) and stay on that location. So tweak #1 we've been playing with that seems to work well is to add the true number of skulls to the location, exceeding the cap of 6. So in the above example, it would be at 9/6 skulls. If you can remove all 4 skulls, then you maintain control of that location, if not, then you advance to the next one. Another form of that variation that we've discussed (but haven't implemented) is that the last skull cannot come off - so if you can manage to keep it at 5/6, you're fine, but as soon as the 6th is added (or the 7th, or the 8th) you cannot pull it off, and therefore you will lose the location. This would make it even harder, but would not require any additional tokens (we often use influence tokens to represent the additional skulls).

The second change we've made comes from a post that I read here, but can't seem to find again. It is based in the lore, and also prevents the "stay on location 1, have easy win." Basically, the first three horcrux's are available to destroy at the first location, as all three are already in their possession. Yet in order to work on the 4th, you must move onto Gringot's, where the heroes find the Cup. The way we play it, the cup's negative effect is active as soon as you destroy the 3rd horcrux, but you cannot assign dice tokens to it until you reach the second location. This pattern continues - the 5th is active as soon as you kill the 4th, but you cannot damage it until you're on location 3, and the 6th is active as soon as you destroy the 5th, but cannot damage it until you're on location 4. Since you need to move onto additional locations, at the start of the turn, you can voluntarily move onto the next location. No reward is given.

We've now played several games with these rule changes, losing 2, winning 3. The first loss was just a run away loss, and these changes had no impact to the game (we started with Bellatrix, Draco, and Lucius, and just couldn't do anything, the above changes had no effect), the second one was directly tied to the second change - we forced ourselves to location 3 when we still had enemies on the board in order to kill the 6th horcrux (that might be a mistake btw), and we couldn't keep the skulls off fast enough once Voldemort came into play along with the other 2 enemies and the 3 DA cards. But more importantly, it was a very close game that could have gone either way, we got 12 damage on Voldy before we lost - this is how the game should be, tense and down to the wire! Twof of the wins were also close, on one of them we were at 7/8 skulls, with the wife having no way to remove a skull, Voldemort was only at 6 damage, my last card drawn was petrificus totalis, doing 2 more damage, and preventing Voldy from placing a skull, she luckily didn't draw any skulls from the DA, slapped some more damage on, and then I was capable of killing him off (at 9/8 skulls) on my next turn. The other close win again came down to a Sword of Gryfendor dice roll - I had been stunned (discarded down to 3), Heir of Slytherin for another discard, and then the DA that is lose a heart and discard a card, leaving me with just the Sword - but it rolled draw card twice, allowing me to remove the eighth skull via the horcrux, giving the wife a turn to kill him. The 3rd win we just steam rolled everything.



So I'm very happy with these two changes. The first one seems like it should have been a rule in general, and as we play more 4 player games, we might incorporate that as an always active house rule, but the horcrux change is definitely a way to keep the pressure on - it does very little to make a bad start harder (actually, one of our wins we were on location 3 before we killed the second enemy, but then we established a balance, and had to voluntarily move onto location 4), but prevents the easy wins. Now, that being said, neither of us stall play to make a stronger deck before we progress, so I have not play tested it with that play style, so it's possible it doesn't work as well against that type of play, but for us it's awesome, and if you're finding the battle against Voldemort a bit underwhelming, I highly suggest this change.
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Sandy Wilson
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ranissi wrote:


One of the things that we found too easy was the removal of skulls. It really didn't seem right that you could be at 5/6 on a location, add 4 skulls via DA and being stunned, and then just discard 2 cards (or play a Finite) and stay on that location.


We read the rules that as soon as you fill a location with skulls, you move on to the next. Admittedly we're only on Yr6, but is that not how it's supposed to be played?
 
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Mike Krajewski
United States
Fitchburg
Wisconsin
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Sandals wrote:
ranissi wrote:


One of the things that we found too easy was the removal of skulls. It really didn't seem right that you could be at 5/6 on a location, add 4 skulls via DA and being stunned, and then just discard 2 cards (or play a Finite) and stay on that location.


We read the rules that as soon as you fill a location with skulls, you move on to the next. Admittedly we're only on Yr6, but is that not how it's supposed to be played?

If the location is filled with skulls at the end of the turn, you move onto the next. This allows you to remove skulls during your turn in order to keep the location.

The official rules state that if you have to add a skull and there are no additional spots to place a skull on that location, you don't add one. This variant changes it so you must still add it, and you would move to the the next location if there is not an empty spot on the card.
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Sandy Wilson
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Ah, ok. Guess we'd gotten that wrong then!

It's not made a difference to us so far. Might make things a little easier when we get to game 7 though!
 
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Adrian B
Australia
Adelaide
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Hi interesting idea about the skulls I agree it seems gamey playing this by the rulebook and too easy in two player.

I'm also glad you like my variant about having to advance locations to destroy horcruxes 4-6. The original article is here:
https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1743919/advancing-through-l...
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jeff bee
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Haha, right there at the top of the page! I don't know how I missed it. Thanks again for the idea on the horcrux/location progression. We played again last night, and while we won easily, at least it forced us to be onto location 4, where bad stuff could have happened in a turns notice.
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