Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle is a cooperative deck-building card game that’s coming soon from USAopoly, and it looks to be a perfect blend of accessible gameplay, advanced cooperative strategy, and Harry Potter theme.
The multiple game boxes that unlock later story content from the different movies adds almost a legacy-style element to the game and should really give the feeling that players are interacting with the movie storylines as they play through. However, since you’re free to start with and return to any game setup you like, the harsh legacy element of destroying components won’t scare away anyone here.
Harry Potter™: HOGWARTS™ Battle A Cooperative Deck-Building Game has a lot of similarities to deck-building games players may already be familiar with. Each player will start with a small, personal deck of cards, and there will be a display of six cards from a shared deck, giving players options during the game of what cards to add to their decks. On your turn, you’ll be able to play all of the cards in your hand, and at the end of your turn, any unused cards will be discarded. Draw five new cards to prepare for your next turn. When your deck is empty, you’ll reshuffle your discard pile, including any cards you’ve bought from the shared display, and you’ll continue drawing as necessary.
What makes the Harry Potter deck-building game different are the win conditions, the cooperative nature, the story progression between games, and the individual starting characters and decks. While many of the players’ starting cards will be the same as each other, each character—Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville—will have two unique cards. For example, the Harry player will start with the Invisibility Cloak and Hedwig, while the Neville player will start with the Remembrall and a Mandrake.
The players will be working together to defeat the villains and defending the locations, but who and where those villains and locations are will vary from game to game based on what game number the players are engaged in. Just as there are seven Harry Potter movies, the game has seven “games.” While you can play each multiple times and in the order you choose, each successive box of components will unlock new cards and possibly new rules to add to the game. So while the first couple of games are more introductory experiences for players new to deck-building games, further games will add new and different story-based gameplay to provide more in-depth experiences.
As much as the players will be performing actions to improve their decks and stop the villains, the villains will be acting of their own accord from the Dark Arts deck. On each player’s turn, that player will draw and reveal a Dark Arts event card, which will have a negative impact on the players. These cards will do things like deal damage to players, make players discard cards, and add Control tokens to the active location. When all the locations are overcome with Control, they will have been claimed by the villains, and the players will lose.
Each player has a board to track health, attack, and influence. When a player takes damage, the player’s health marker moves down the track, and when it drops below 1, the player is stunned. This causes the player to discard half the cards in hand and add Control to the current location. The player must also discard any attack and influence tokens that may have been gained on other players’ turns. The player will regain all health and draw back to normal that the end of that player’s next turn, but every stun is a significant setback for the players.
After the Dark Arts card has been resolved on a player’s turn, check to see if that event triggered any of the villains. In early games, there will only be one villain at a time, but this may not always be the case with more boxes added. The Crabbe & Goyle villain triggers whenever Dark Arts make a player discard a card, and they double up on the pain by making the character also lose 1 health. However, villains also have rewards that granted to the players when the villains accrue as many attacks from the players as the villains have health.
Once the Dark Arts and villain have been resolved, the player may begin playing cards. Cards will do things like grant attack and influence tokens, draw extra cards, remove Control tokens from the location, and heal players. In general, players will be granting themselves attack and influence tokens, but players can occasionally grant tokens to other players. While a player will have to discard all unspent tokens at the end of that player’s own turn, you will be able to begin your turn with the tokens other players gave you ahead of time.
Attack tokens are applied to villains as players cooperate to defeat them, but spending influence is where much of the decision-making of the game will come into play. From the six cards available to you at the start of your turn, on which will you spend your limited cache of influence? More powerful cards will have higher influence costs, but they’ll do things like let you gain attack and draw a card in the case of Incendio or let you give influence to each player in the case of Molly and Arthur Weasley (which won’t become available until the second game).
The game will continue either until all the locations have been claimed by the villains, and the players will lose, or until all of the villains have been defeated by the players, and the players will win! Playing more of the game boxes will add more and more cards and mechanisms, such as cards that have you rolling dice, adding more characters to the game, and fighting multiple villains at once. Whether you are a fan of Harry Potter or if you just enjoy deck-building games, the Harry Potter cooperative deck-building game will have plenty to offer.