Stats at a glance
Publisher: The Op
Harry Potter transformed the world. It inspired an entire generation to read, to stand up to adversity, and to steal ingredients out of the pantry to make their own potions.
After the books and movies made their mark on the world, the next logical step is (obviously) board games. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle is one of the best out there, so let’s dive into this Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle Review.
Brief Overview of Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle is a cooperative deck-building board game centered around Harry and the gang’s seven years at Hogwarts.
You’ll be able to relive the entire saga with your favorite characters from start to finish. As you play through the game, you’ll also open up boxes within the game that add more cards and characters to watch them grow as wizards and people in a legacy-esque style of gaming.
Unboxing Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle
So, what’s in the box?
- 4 Custom dice
- Year boxes 1-7
- 252 cards
- 4 Player boards
- 8 Villain tokens
- 35 Attack tokens
- 25 Influence tokens
- 4 Health tokens
- 2 Shield tokens
- 7 Rulebooks (WHAT?!?!)
Seven rulebooks may seem like an obnoxious number, especially to the only person in the group that ever reads them (aka ME), but it’s not that bad. I promise.
You may also notice that there are 7 different boxes labeled years 1-7. These are where the meat of the game comes in and where you get to progress through the years. After you win each year, you can open up the next box which adds more/updated cards to the mix. They include upgraded heroes, badder baddies, and much more powerful cards throughout.
Also, within the chest of wonders is a fairly large board to keep your game organized, and individual player boards to keep your playing area clean. It’s very well put together and everything fits nicely back in the box, which if you’re weird like me, is oddly important.
How to Play Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle
If you’re familiar with deck-building games in general, you’ll feel right at home with Hogwarts Battle. If not, then buckle up. You’re in for a treat. Deck-building games are one of my favorite types of board games and I’ve sunk countless hours into them.
- Dark Arts
- Villain Abilities
- Hogwarts Heroes
- End Turn
The ultimate goal of players in the game is to defeat the bad guys before they can complete their master plans or before they gain control of Hogwarts.
In the first part of any round, the villains get to move first (of course). Heroes don’t preemptively beat up on people because they might do something bad, right?
At the beginning of your turn, you’ll need to flip a Dark Arts card and perform whatever actions it says. As you might imagine, they’re never good. They could injure players or simply aid the baddies in gaining control of the board. Depending on the game setup, you also may be forced to play multiple cards. Ouch!
Each game, you’ll be facing off against a different villain. As you start, it’ll be the earlier book/movie villains, because all Harry really had to worry about in the beginning was Malfoy being a jerk. As you progress through the years, they’ll get progressively more serious until, of course, you face off against… HE WHO MUST NOT BE NAMED.
After all that awfulness, you’ll finally be able to make your moves.
There are two main resources in-game that your cards will generate, attack, and influence.
Influence is used to purchase more cards and attack is used to hit the bad guys. Unless a card specifically says otherwise, everything is used and discarded that round, so there’s a definite “use it or lose it” system in place. You can’t simply discard your hand because you don’t like the cards you get.
If you’re familiar with any deck-builder like Dominion or Clank, then you’ll be pretty comfortable here.
Losing the Game
If all of the locations come under the control of the villains then I’m sorry to say that you lost. You can always reset the game and try again. It’s not like Voldemort and the Deatheaters took over the world or anything…
Winning the Game
If you can beat all of the villains before they gain control of Hogwarts, BOOM, YOU WIN! Settle down with a nice mug of butterbeer and kick your legs up. Next time you play the game, you can open up the next year’s box and make it even harder.
Your First Game of Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle
Your first game of Hogwarts Battle starts you off in year one. Harry, Hermoine, Ron, and Neville (before he “Longbottomed”) are still adorable little scamps getting into trouble and poking their noses where they don’t belong.
There is a more advanced setup where you can skip to year 3 and open up boxes 1-3 but I think that robs you of the story progression, so we’re starting from scratch.
For the first game, you’ll be facing some pretty minor characters as the bosses. It’s like back in grade school when little Timmy swiped your pencil or stuck gum on your chair. It’s irritating but not evil. You’ll face some familiar faces like Crab and Goyle, Malfoy, and Quirinus Quirrell.
You’ll need to defeat each of the villains in order to win year 1 and move on to year 2.
Year 1 isn’t terribly difficult and if you’re a pro-deck-builder, you’re going to start to see how to build an efficient deck right from the get-go.
Each of the four main characters will start with a slightly different starter deck. Each one comes with an assortment of spells and an ally. Hermoine gets her cat and of course, Harry gets Hedwig.
Versions & Expansions
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle – The Monster Box of Monsters
This is a fun little expansion that brings players into the forbidden forest. Added to the ranks of misfit wizards is Luna Lovegood. There’s a whole host of mythical beasts you’ll need to fend off here. You’ll need to be careful lest you get detention, killed, or worse expelled.
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle – The Charms and Potions Expansion
The Charms and Potions expansion is the newest expansion for Hogwarts Battle. It sets the stage with more charms to confuse and befuddle your opponents. Perhaps the most exciting feature is adding a 5th player to the mix, Ginny Weasley. With the addition of Ginny up to 5 players can now play at the same time.
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle – Defence Against the Dark Arts
This is a standalone game that’s only associated with Hogwarts Battle by name. It takes some of the same concepts and distills it down to a simpler 2-player experience. It’s not a bad game, but quite confusing because of the name. If you’re looking for a quick 2-player game to play then this definitely will scratch the itch.
Pros & Cons
- Captures the Harry Potter Universe
- Fantastic Progression
- Lighter than some other deck-builders
I know the artwork is in both categories. It’s a thing I do. The game is officially licensed, using movie stills and promo images from the movies, so it’s all going to be images of the actors fro the films. It would have been really cool to see the original book jacket cover art for the game, but that’s only a minor quibble I have. On the plus side, as you go through the years in-game the characters actually age as they did in the movies, so that’s cool. It’s minor but definitely worth pointing out.
For the super hardcore gamers out there (you know who you are), you’ll find it lighter than some of the other deck-builders out there. That’s not to say that its devoid of strategy and gameplay. It’s simply lighter than some of its competitors. I personally don’t find it to be that big of a drawback because it makes up for it on thematic elements and overall gameplay.
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle is a highly-thematic cooperative deck-building game in the fantasy ‘verse of Harry Potter.
It’s a wonderful gateway game for fans of the Harry Potter universe and is chock full of moments from the franchise. You’ll be able to play as iconic heroes and heroines from the series and face off against the same iconic villains that the characters did.
Hogwarts Battle offers an immersive progression system where you’ll be able to go through the different years as you play the game.
I’m a huge fan of deck-builders and I consider myself to be a pretty big fan of Harry Potter. I’m not die-hard enough to marathon all the movies in one sitting but I grew up reading the books. I mention this so I can give an objective opinion and not just fanboy over a game in the series.
Hogwarts Battle is probably the best rendition of a Harry Potter board game I could find. It has a huge number of thematic elements that bring the world to life. One of the most interesting aspects of the books or movies is that the characters grew with the readers/watchers right before our eyes. Hogwarts Battle manages to capture that feeling in a way that no other board game has which is one of the biggest successes in any Harry Potter medium.
As a deck-builder, it’s not the most innovative, but it’s a solid addition to the game shelf. The theme and gradual progression of the game make it great for newer and younger players as well, especially if they’re a fan of the series. The biggest changes to the game come from year four and year seven, so players with no knowledge of deck-builders can work up to the full complexity of the game.
If you’re a fan of deck-builders, Hogwarts Battle is a solid choice.
If you’re a fan of Harry Potter, it’s also a solid choice.
If you’re a fan of both, it’s a no brainer.
What are your thoughts on Hogwarts Battle? Leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you.
Looking for more Harry Potter Games? Check out our list of the best Harry Potter Board Games in the video below:
Before starting GameCows with his wife Kendra, he used to teach English Language Arts in the US. He combined his love of gaming with education to create fun game-based learning lessons until he eventually decided to run GameCows with Kendra full-time. He’s known for pouring over rulebooks in his spare time, being the rule master during game night, and as the perma DM in his DnD group. Bryan loves board games, writing, traveling, and above all his wife and partner in crime, Kendra.