Patrick V
United States
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My wife is a huge Harry Potter fanatic, and while I've been able to get her excited about some of the deck-building style games (she seems to like Ascension a lot as well), this is the first one where she's actively suggested playing on several consecutive nights.

Unfortunately, her particular enjoyment of the theme has led to situations where rather than play optimally for the individual heroes involved, she prefers to pick up the cards she "likes". And she loves healing, but doesn't like playing Neville. Between us playing inefficiently at times and getting some horrid starting luck, we'd only won two of our last six games (winning Game 7 in the second of these and Box 1 in the sixth of these), and this would be our first on Box 2.

On this particular evening, she chose Harry with the Game 7 ability (providing both players with a bolt upon removing a villain control) and she tends to play with the Defense against the Dark Arts proficiency. I randomly selected my hero and proficiency and ended up with Hermione with the Game 7 ability (providing an influence to all players upon playing four spells) with Transfiguration, which I had yet to play with.

Starting villains were not particularly scary for that time of game. Crabbe and Goyle occupied the left position, Tom Riddle in the middle position, and Peter Pettigrew on the right. What got this game off to a swimming start were two Chocolate Frogs and that 3-cost spell that allowed you to remove a control token, and I bought these the first three turns (while the missus was buying a few Allies... really?!). For many of the next turns, I'd discard an Item on my turn to pull the control token removal spell if it was still in my deck, and the Chocolate Frogs were ideal for this because it still gave you the influence and health. I quickly picked up a few other nice spells like Incendio to grab if the control token card was already gone. It also helped that Tergio (to banish cards) showed up sometime around turn 10: in a pinch, I could pull up a Detention to banish if there was nothing better in the deck to draw. In any case, I was triggering Hermione's ability most turns, which was really helpful to keep the economy moving.

We'd only just beaten Peter Pettigrew and had him replaced by the Fenrir, and this seemed the right time to strategize beating enemies. Having peeked at the second encounter (I can't emphasize how essential this is for Box 2), we knew we would need to beat three villains at once, and this seemed the right crew to hold on, especially as the control tokens weren't yet piling up thanks to the Transfiguration combo. We piled up attacks one shy on the Fenrir and one shy on Tom Riddle, and even got "helped out" by the Regeneration Dark Arts card to discourage us from going too far. Unfortunately, we probably should have left one more bolt off of either of those baddies, as we hadn't cleared the first encounter yet, and the five bolts needed to clear that encounter killed Crabbe & Goyle. (In hindsight, given the Allies in the missus' deck, we probably should have taken out Tom Riddle or the Fenrir instead, but... c'est la vie.)

The Werewolf popped out, and what was probably the most frustrating about this was that we needed the turns to get the influence tokens on him. Tom Riddle managed to hit one particularly rough hand hard, and ended up with a hand with no influence tokens either. It took seven turns to line up the influence and attacks to take down the trio all at once, but finally they fell, and a massive healing ensued.

Out came Dolores Umbridge, the Troll, and Scabbers. We remembered our first Box 1 game where the Troll was one of the first creatures out, and some PTSD from watching our decks with all the Detentions we opted to take so as not to lose health... well, suffice it to say, that we had not only learned that the Detentions were often more harmful, but also that the Troll needed to go. The missus was loaded to bear with a number of bolts (one from Harry's ability and one from a dice roll before her turn had even started), and the Troll only lived for the one turn before being replaced by that little piss-ant Draco. For some reason, Draco always seems to show up right around the same time that all the Dark Arts control tokens cards do. We hit a tough run of those cards before being able to take down the Scabbers, and lost the first location.

With two Dark Arts cards coming out a time, we were glad to get Scabbers down quick, only to find him replaced by Boggart. Man, did this guy suck! Four separate times, we were lucky enough to remove an influence from this critter, and all as we were about to take him down! We ended up getting Draco down with the surplus attacks that were coming down, revealing the Death Eater (to be honest, not a terrible time to reveal him) and Year 6 Lord Voldemort.

The missus and I also have this sneaking suspicion that our Slytherin die is somehow loaded: that influence token pops up on that die far more often than 1/6 that is predicted, and sure enough, Voldemort rained down three control tokens, Boggart one, and the Dark Arts a few more, and our second location vanished just a few turns after Lord Voldemort showed up.

Luckily, Boggart nabbing the second location for the villains gave us the respite we needed to take him down, and while the three Dark Arts cards rained down a holy terror of maladies, we were confident of the win, as one-by-one, Dolores and the Death Eater fell. Only Voldemort remained, and while the Dark Arts frequently crippled us, Voldemort was unable to fell the heroes on his own. A few turns remained, and it was the bolt of one of the Weasley allies that my wife had picked up that laid down the final blow.

Box 2 was defeated, and on the first try. In some respects, we were fortunate, as some of the nastier villains managed to go down without much of a fight. But we knew that a bigger fight lie dormant waiting for us in Box 3...
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