Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle is a co-operative deck-building game in the same vein as Legendary. You build a deck by buying cards and you use these cards to defeat the bad guys. You can play 2-4 players as Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville, each bringing their own specialties to the table. You have 3 primary "thingies" you are trying to create on your turn: Influence (money), Spell Power (Zap) and Health. On your turn, the bad guys beat you up with a dark arts ability (or four) and their own special abilities. After they're done beating you up, you play your cards to gain the "thingies". You use your money to buy more cards, health to heal yourself or others, and zap to take down the bad guys. The goal is to beat the bad guys before they take over the locations.
The extra twist that this game brings is that you sequentially play though all 7 books. Your first play through is book 1. If you are successful, you get to open the book 2 box, and see what changes to the game are inside. Sometimes it's just new cards, sometimes it changes the rules, or adds something significant to the game. This makes it very exciting to win, as you really want to see what's in store for your next game. Unlike some other legacy type games, no lasting changes are made to the game pieces, so that the game can be replayed from any previous point. This can be a real benefit if you have a number of people who want to play, or if you have younger players who want to play the same game more than once.
Snuffles, Wee Sloth, and I are working on beating book 7, and let me tell you, it gets way harder. If you are a gaming veteran, or you've played other deck building games the first couple of books can be quite easy. By the end of it though, there is so much going on that it's hard to keep track of all the bad things that are happening to our favorite youthful sorcerers.
The recommended age is 11+, but Snuffles who is 6 can play the game with only a little bit of help. Due to it's cooperative nature, it's very easy to coach along younger players. Card luck is a huge part of this game. Some games we've played the dark wizards flee before us, and other games the wizarding world falls into darkness. The order in which the villains come forth has a very big impact, as does the cards that are available for purchase. This does keep the game fresh, however, as you never know what's coming next.
The game box is delightfully on theme, and all the components look and feel good. Most of the art or pictures are from the movies. The only real complaint I have about the book is that the later books take a significant time to play, which makes it hard to get a game in. It would have been nice that the progression would keep the games a similar length, but as you go through the books, you only add new things, and never remove anything.
These pictures are of us playing book 1 since we didn't want to spoil anything by posting pictures from our latest game. Book 1 being quite simple, we were able to dispatch the evil wizards that were plaguing us without too much stress. Professor Quirrell was no match for Hermione, Harry, and Neville. Our book 7 game is not so simple and with all the extras you really need an older stuffy around to keep all of the action straight. It's really easy to miss some of the mechanics if you're not paying attention.
Wee Sloth and Snuffles are big fans of this game and are keen to see what comes next out of each new book. If you have smaller stuffies at home who love Harry Potter, this is a great family game to play with them. Do not be put off by the 7 books = 7 plays only thing. You can and will play this more than 7 times.