Arkin Deric Cisneros Plarre
Through the years the amount of Harry Potter themed paraphernalia has long exceeded the public’s level of interest. Board Games are not an exception. At this point, only the most die-hard, hardcore Potterheads are patient enough to play Clue v.28 Order of the Phoenix Special Edition (or whatever). Obviously, I am one of them, but even my obsession has its limits. These were my thoughts (even with overwhelmingly positive reviews) when purchasing “Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle”; just another game. I even left it on my shelf for half a year after… BIG MISTAKE.
Hogwarts Battle is a “cooperative deck-building game”, which simply means that all players work together, while improving upon their individual deck, to beat Voldy and his minions. Everyone wins or everyone loses in the everlasting struggle between good and evil (and believe me, this game can be very evil).
The battle is divided into 7 years (or 7 games, as you wish). Every year can take between two and four hours, which will pass in a blink. As the years go by the difficulty increases, with years 1-3 being light-heartedly easy. If you’re familiar with Harry Potter lore, I’m sure you know after year 4 things spiral out of control. Careful planning and constant communication with your team become key to prevail, with the ongoing threat of losing and being forced to repeat the current year looming ominously. Strangely enough, losing is what makes this game so enticing. It feels like a challenging level in a video game, where you spend hours reaching the final boss, dying and replaying. When sweet victory finally arrives, the sense of joy and relief is only matched by the afterthought of what a great time you had.
That’s not all that makes Hogwarts Battle so magical (haha!); it’s also the immersion and excitement it achieves. Potterhead or not, the game does an excellent job in absorbing players and it’s really hard not to get carried away (yes, 5-hour sessions have gone by without a single toilet break). However, being a Potter fan (or at least being knowledgeable) will help you find easter eggs and surprising details, rendering the experience so much more delightful.
Of course, like any board game, it has several downsides. It’s not suited for impatient moods and the core idea of the game makes it last, at least, seven playing sessions which is not ideal for group play. However, once you’ve found the right crew, I can guarantee you’ll have fun.
I don’t claim to be an expert in cooperative games, but no other game has reached this unique combination of fun, difficulty, replayability, cooperativeness and, of course, magic. In any case, I suggest giving it a try. It might not be your type of game, but it definitely beats playing Cards Against Humanity for the umpteenth time.
Featured image taken from Amazon Mexico