Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Tuesday 19 September 2017

Draw a card, any card:- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle

Game: Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle

Publisher: USAopoly

DesignerForrest-Pruzan Creative, Kami Mandell, Andrew Wolf

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle is a 2-4 player cooperative deckbuilding game in which you play as one of the 4 main Harry Potter characters (well... 3 main, and Neville), and attempt to survive the 7 years of schooling that Hogwarts provides. Hogwarts Battle is progressive, with every game you complete you open up a new box that contains more cards and mechanics for your next game.

A quick word on spoilers; I’m going to try and keep this as spoiler free as possible, but I consider anything in the year 1 box (ie your first game) to be non-spoilery. In addition if the game board makes something ridiculously obvious that it could happen then I’ll also consider it fair game.

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle is, at its core, a run of the mill deck builder, you’ll start with a deck of not very good cards that give you a little bit of influence, you’ll spend that influence to get better cards and then those better cards will let you actually win the game. However the game board does add a twist to this basic gameplay. As you play through a mission you will have locations that you are fighting in, these form a mini deck which can be depleted if too many villain control tokens gets added to them. Villain control is largely generated by the dark arts deck, which you have to draw from at the start of every round, but can also be generated by anyone running out of health. If the last location in the deck is filled with villain control tokens then you lose the game.

The game set up ready for a 4 player game, The deck on the right contains items and spells you'll add to your deck, the decks on the left are locations, dark arts and villains.
In order to win the game you will have to defeat all the villains in the villain deck. These villains will come at you one at a time (though there is space for three on the board... ) and need to be defeated by using attack cards. Once defeated they will give you some kind of reward, like removing villain control tokens or healing allies. Until then their very presence causes a minor shift in the rules against you, such as causing extra damage to the players. This means that some villains it’s of the utmost importance to defeat quickly, while others may be less troubling giving you time to bolster your deck for future challenges.

There are a few more unique ideas in the game, such as cards which give allies attack or influence that they can spend on their next turn, it’s possible for several characters to buff up another player so they can afford some of the better cards early if you manage to do things right. But the main draw in the game is its 7 games with unique content. The first game is very simple and a little easy, but the games after that begin to introduce more difficulty, but also more useful cards that you can add to your decks. The theming works nicely and it’s great to see some of the unique elements from the books/movies being introduced over time, though there are a few which seem to appear in unusual orders.

There are 7 games, though the first two are recommended to be skipped for experienced gamers.

At the end of the day Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle is a game that lives off of its branding. The game itself is a slightly above average deckbuilder with a few nice ideas, but nothing which hasn’t already been done by the likes of Legendary. Introducing elements over the course of several games does allow the game to have an interesting difficulty curve, but the game suggest skipping years 1 an 2 if you have played a deckbuilder before. So for most gamers you are only really getting 5 games. I do really enjoy that each game has something new to look forward to, but that alone isn’t enough to make me love this game. If you are a huge Harry Potter fan then you will probably love this game, as it’s an interesting way to experience the wizarding world, but if you aren’t a fan then you’ll probably find this average at best.


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