It turns out that a bunch of the TIGR contributors picked up Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle from USAopoly. In a new feature, TIGR Meet, Cassie, Dan, Jason and Mike all discuss their experience with the cooperative, deck-builder set in the Harry Potter universe.
The following is a slightly edited version of an online chat between Mike, Cassie, Dan and Jason.
Cassie: Yay first topic is Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle!
Mike: We should probably start with an easy question: how many of the games have you already played? We’re through book five with the first three or so books going by really quickly
Cassie: So I’ve played all the games but book 7. And I always die in book 4
Cassie: Lucious is tough, man. You’d think taking damage off of villains wouldn’t be so bad but he kills us. The combos between Voldemort and the death eaters are brutal.
Jason: We have played through book 4. After getting crushed in book 3 we decided to specialize our roles, and it made it much easier. Also there are some combos of villains that are just too punishing, like the boss who hurts you every turn and the other who heals another villain.
Mike: We noticed that different player counts swung the damage effect a ton, especially for those effects that impacted the players who weren’t playing.
Cassie: I felt more successful with a smaller group. You can use the cards you bought more quickly.
Mike: Right, I think that’s because the smaller groups mean you get to play more frequently.
Jason: But by specializing we have one player healing lots, another buying most of the spells and handing out extra influence each turn, etc.
Cassie: Yeah Neville is just always healing. And Ron is really good for damage. But the invisibility cloak Harry uses is awesome. It really keeps that player alive.
Jason: Yea we have four of us at the table each game.
Cassie: Usually it’s just two of us.
Mike: So maybe it would help to describe that strategy. The game is essentially a series of deck building games. And to specialize, does that mean you’re only taking “healing” spells and goodies as Neville?
Jason: I was disappointed that while the villains and dark arts decks keeps growing each game, as does the Hogwarts deck, players begin each game over each time. There’s no sense of having gotten better from year to year.
Mike: We didn’t really take that approach, but that might be necessary in the later games since, just peeking at them, there seems to be some really tough bad guys.
Cassie: The characters grow too, though.
Jason: Some of the villains, like the basilisk, are not super terrible, so we like to leave him out to clog up the villain row while we focus on the nastier guys.
Cassie: They get better abilities and later get proficiencies, which are just more bonus abilities. Crabb and Goyle are silly too. Malfoy isn’t so bad until everyone starts getting stunned and hes just dropping villain tokens like bombs.
Jason: Yeah, they do but at least for me I was hoping to maybe hold onto one or two cards from the previous game to feel like there was a real sense of progression.
Cassie: Yeah I see what you mean.
Jason: But that’s just me being silly.
Cassie: I don’t like that the game gets longer. I’d rather cycle out old villains and old Hogwarts cards to keep each game time the same.
Jason: I also was surprised that there’s no way to streamline your deck because as games go longer it felt like there needed to be a “trash” mechanic like in star realms to get starter cards out
Mike: Sounds like you were you a bit disappointed like I was that they passed up the “Legacy” game opportunities as you play through the game.
Jason: Yep I thought there’d be more of a legacy-light experience wrapped up in here. But lest it sound like I’m throwing up on the game, I’ve enjoyed it so far. Though that’s also probably colored by the fact that I enjoy the source material
Mike: It was one of those things as we moved into the fourth book that things we did well in the first three books should have been available in four. But instead they just change the player’s starting conditions.
Its current setup does make picking up a specific book to play it or to play it again easy, though.
Cassie: I like the back of the rule book where you can store the 2-7 rules.
Jason: Lol I need to put our rule sheets in those pockets
Jason: Truth. And being Harry Potter, it’s much more accessible in name alone than Seafall or whatever other game comes to our table recently. My wife loves Harry Potter, so getting her to play a quick game is less likely to inspire a heavy sigh. 🙂
Cassie: Yeah if it was a different theme, I don’t think it would have done so well
Cassie: I loved the back of the board though, how it looks like its the interior of Harry’s suitcase :3
Jason: Oh yea the production quality is on point. One of our group keeps calling the dark mark tokens “watch batteries.”
Mike: Those tokens are pretty awesome. I was sort of mixed on some of the other components, though.
Cassie: i call them “evil tokens.” hehe
Cassie: I was missing all the tokens originally. That’s one thing is a lot of the games were missing pieces. I had to ask USAopoly for replacements
Mike: The game is definitely full of Harry Potter theme and elements, at least Harry Potter movie elements. Were there things from the books that would have made good fodder for the game that weren’t in there?
Jason: Well that gets to one of my issues with book 4, which was this grand tournament, but none of that theme came through in the game. You get new allies and items but it doesn’t feel like it was telling that chapter in the story. I can’t speak to if this annoyance will continue.
Cassie: It’s like that basically throughout the game.
Jason: So again that’s just Jason being a nitpicky fan, but I know my wife was looking at that book and then not seeing a hedge maze or of final confrontation that it didn’t pull her in. And I can relate.
Jason: But still mechanically the game is fun.
Cassie: you get some of that from the location, but its very minute.
Jason: Right and we beat book 4 without leaving the first location lol 🙂 got pretty lucky but it all really worked out. But the flip side then is we didn’t see the other two locations and missed out on those settings in the story. 🙂
Cassie: The newer villains help for sure and the dark events.
Cassie: I like that the dice are transparent, the stickers are kinda lame, though.
Jason: Yea those dice look delicious. 🙂 Gummy dice.
Cassie: I know! I keep saying that they look like jolly ranchers or something.
Jason: Do the later boxes add any big changes in the order of dice or is it mainly cards from here on out?
Jason: Is there a chocolate frog in one? 🙂
Mike: I don’t think there’s a chocolate frog in the game, but you can definitely buy those.
Jason: Lol yea we bought a couple when we stopped by the Harry Potter experience at universal last month. 🙂 nom nom nom.
Mike: Cassie was just there and my family was there earlier this year.
Cassie: Yeah I have annual passes. hehe
Cassie: There’s totally chocolate frogs in the game, though. They’re good too you get like a health and an attack.
Mike: But not a real chocolate frog.
Jason: I’m very jelly.
Cassie: no not a real one. :disappointed: Lived in FL my whole life and never purchased annual passes to anything until this year. Husband and I did it for my birthday.
Mike: I personally think the game does a pretty good job of bringing in the characters from the book. We see a lot more use of those than we do the locations in the game so far.
Do you think you’d recommend the game to people who aren’t big into board games but really into Harry Potter?
Jason: But yea I’m enjoying the game. Looking forward to completing it. Hotbed as s deck builder I have my doubts that I’ll revisit it.
Cassie: Its mostly just cards, but it gets harder, more villains come out, and Voldemort appears too as a final villain face-up.
Cassie: You have to defeat the first three to even attack Voldie.
Jason: Yea I think the rules are light enough that people who are not “into” the hobby will still be able to jump in and enjoy it.
Mike: I mean one of the nice things about cooperative games with no hidden information is that it’s easy to teach and everyone can learn together.
Jason: And being hung in this huge tent pole IP it us easy to break out say when the mood strike to watch the movies or whatever. Especially those first couple of games. Light, easy, and maybe you’ll even hook a new gamer into trying something else
Cassie: New fav YT channel while we’re in discussion: https://www.youtube.com/wizardingworld.
Jason: I still need to sign up for Pottermore.
Jason: That channel is fab!
Mike: Way to derail the chat, Cassie!
Cassie: Pssshhh. It would have been cool if the game came with little wands or HP glasses. lol
Mike: I will say, there is really a good deal of stuff in the box already, even if it doesn’t have props like those.
Jason: It looks fancy on the shelf 🙂
Cassie: It does! I thought of bringing it to the wedding just as a prop. haha. But I didn’t want anyone to damage it, plus FL humidity.
Cassie: I really, really like the dividers the game comes with. It’s so handy
Mike: You mean the little boxes? Or the card/plastic ones that it comes with.
Cassie: The card ones.
Jason: Yes!! Upper Deck could learn something from it for Legendary.
Cassie: And that each card has the game # on it is so helpful
Cassie: I played game 7 tonight and DIED.
Cassie: I was thinking about the dice and how cool it is that each house die has extra bonuses dependent upon the house.
Cassie: Like Ravenclaw lets you draw cards more than other options, which is like gaining knowledge, a Ravenclaw trait
Cassie: Gryffindor lets you buy more spells and be more diverse.
Jason: We will probably play more in a couple weeks. This weekend is our Halloween party game night so I’m getting games ready for all that nonsense. 🙂
Jason: Yea the dice are cool, and being able to occasionally choose which to roll based on what your group needs is nice. Like if people are hurting you try the one with more hearts.
Jason: And I like how it gives bonuses to everyone.
Cassie: Yeah that’s super helpful. You haven’t played game 7 yet right? I don’t want to spoil it
Jason: No not yet. We are on game 5.
Jason: Does it change the game much rules wise? I don’t worry much about spoilers since it’s not a legacy game per se.
Mike: Now I want to hurry up and get to the end!
Cassie: It has six horcruxes which you have to defeat but provide permanent bonuses once defeated. And the horcruxes are in order of when harry destroyed them, which is pretty cool