A Muggle's Guide to Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle
All Aboard the Hogwarts Express!
Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle by USAopoly is a cooperative deckbuilding campaign game where you play as a team of your favorite witches and wizards who must work together to defeat the evil Villains before they gain control of iconic magical locations. I absolutely love this game! It's super "flavorful" for fans, good to play with "non-gamer" friends/family, and is actually really challenging as you progress through the levels of the game.
The campaign is divided into 7 parts or "Games" to represent the 7 years a student attends Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. You begin the campaign by assembling all the various cards for the first year, Game 1 – pull out the Villains, Locations, Dark Arts cards, Hogwarts cards, and a Witch/Wizard starting deck and corresponding Hero character card for each player. The game also includes "Turn Summary" cards that are helpful to new players. Grab your rulebook, follow the set-up procedures, and battle the magical Villains!
Honestly, there isn't any "special strategy" to follow for this first year. It's designed to teach you the basic mechanics of the game without getting too complicated. In fact the rulebook even states if you're familiar with deckbuilding games in general, you can effectively qualify for Advanced Placement at Hogwarts and just skip ahead to Game 3!
When you complete Game 1 and emerge victorious, then it's time to advance the campaign! You must "reset" your starting deck to the original 10 cards – you can easily separate them out, as they have the character's name at the bottom of the card.
The only other cards from the game board that you put back in the box are the Game 1 Locations. All the other cards will remain – including the Villains! Pull out all the Game 2 cards, and add them to the corresponding decks. So, Game 1 and Game 2 Villains get shuffled together, as do the Dark Arts and Hogwarts cards. Remember, you'll only be defending the Game 2 Locations (the Game 1 Locations were successfully protected and returned to the box).
Finally, at the back of the rulebook, there are special rules inserts for Games 2-7. Make sure you pull out the corresponding insert and follow all instructions. Anything new will be marked so that it's easy to find. You'll complete these same steps each time you advance to the next year or Game.
When you're all set up for Game 2, get your wands ready and battle! Similar to Game 1, in Game 2 there isn't any particular strategy that's better than another. This next level simply introduces you to a few new card abilities to get you prepared for your next year at Hogwarts.
When you beat Game 2 and are ready to progress to Game 3, reset your starting deck and add in the Game 3 cards the same way we did previously. When you reference the rules insert for Game 3, you'll notice that the Heroes "level up" with new character cards! Each Hero gains a new special ability that triggers from certain card effects.
HARRY: The first time on any player's turn that a Dark Mark (or "skull"/ villain control token) is removed from the current Location, any one Hero gains 1 damage (or "bolt")
HERMIONE: If she plays 4 or more Spells on her turn, any one Hero gains 1 influence coin (in our house, we like to call them galleons)
RON: If he deals 3 or more damage on his turn, any one Hero gains 2 health
NEVILLE: During his turn, the first time each Hero heals damage he/she gains 1 additional health – note that every Hero can trigger this ability from Neville once during his turn
From this point in the campaign and onward, it will be important to purchase cards that allow you to trigger these special abilities as often as possible. Let's go through a general strategy for each character.
HARRY is the only character that doesn't have a specific strategy out of the box – he's quite balanced. This can actually be very helpful to the rest of the group, as he can purchase cards that aren't as useful to others to clear them out and draw new cards from the Hogwarts deck. While he certainly wants to purchase cards that remove Dark Marks from the Location, he also wants the other characters to buy cards with that effect as well since his ability can trigger on any player's turn. Bottom line, Harry works well with any/all card types, and he's better suited to simply buy what is least helpful to the other players.
HERMIONE is spell-focused (just like in the story!). She wants to buy as many Spells as possible so she can consistently play 4 each turn to get her bonus. If she can't buy a Spell for whatever reason, the next best thing is a card-draw effect – that way later in the game she can "cycle" (or discard to draw a new card) to hopefully draw a Spell to be able to trigger her ability. If neither of these are an option, simply buying a card that deals damage or heals is always a decent choice.
RON wants to deal damage. He doesn't really care how he does it, so long as he's consistently dealing 3+ "bolts" each turn. So, he can buy Allies, Items, Spells...whatever is available that deals damage. Ideally, he'd love to buy cards that give a bonus for defeating a Villain (like the Nimbus Two Thousand and One) – because Ron tends to deal bigger chunks of damage, he will often be the player who deals the final blow to a Villain.
NEVILLE is the "healer". He wants to buy lots of cards that heal any Hero (not just himself) – that way when he plays the card on his turn to target the other players, he will give each one a bonus health point. The more players he can target with his healing cards, the more collective health is recovered.
Sticking to these general strategies will really help you to defeat the Villains and progress through the campaign – each year gets harder, and those little bonuses can make a big difference in the overall outcome of each game.
The new addition for Game 4 is the inclusion of House Dice. There are cards added to both the Dark Arts deck and the Hogwarts deck that require players to roll the corresponding House die and resolve an effect to all players based on the result. There are 4 different icons on the dice: influence (or galleon as we call it), Hogwarts card, heart, and bolt.
Each House die is favored for a certain result, with 3 of the 6 sides showing a particular icon, and the remaining 3 icons represented evenly on the other sides. For example, the red Gryffindor die has 3 sides showing influence, 1 side showing the Hogwarts card, 1 side showing the heart, and 1 side showing the bolt. The blue Ravenclaw die is favored to the Hogwarts card result; the yellow Hufflepuff die is favored to the heart result; and the green Slytherin die is favored to the bolt result.
As you can imagine, cards from the Hogwarts deck that give players an opportunity to roll a die will create a positive result for all players, while cards from the Dark Arts deck will create a negative result for all players. If you can purchase one of the Hogwarts cards that roll a House die, it's definitely worthwhile (and fun!).
He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named has returned! The Death Eaters have grown more bold with the return of the Dark Lord. Players must now face 3 Villains at a time, and eventually Lord Voldemort himself! When Lord Voldemort appears, players must face all Villains in play at that time (meaning you could have 4 Villains at once). Use the strategies you have learned in your previous years at Hogwarts to help you defeat the Dark Lord!
Congratulations! You have passed your O.W.L.'s (Ordinary Wizarding Level exams) with high marks! You can now claim one of the Proficiency cards to represent your improved skill in a particular area of study. Certain proficiencies may be better suited to specific characters or deck building strategies, which may factor into your decision.
Our Heroes have learned a great deal in their years of study at Hogwarts and are ready for their final battle against Lord Voldemort! All Heroes "level up" again, with improved versions of their abilities. Use the skills you have developed to build your deck so that you can trigger your special ability as often as possible!
Additionally, the 6 Horcruxes are added into the game and must be destroyed in order before you can deal damage to Lord Voldemort. There is always one "active" Horcrux in play, and each one has an ongoing effect that resolves with the Villains on each player's turn. To destroy a Horcrux, you must acquire and play cards that let you roll House dice and apply the appropriate die result to the "active" Horcrux in lieu of gaining the effect from the die roll. If a Horcrux requires multiple symbols to destroy, use the tokens provided to track when a die result has been assigned to that Horcrux. When a Hero destroys a Horcrux, he/she gains the card and a new Reward ability that can be used for the rest of the game; then, the next Horcrux becomes active immediately.
When all 6 Horcruxes have been destroyed and all the Villains have been defeated, you must face off against the Dark Lord himself! Our fate is in your hands! Defend Hogwarts and deal the final blow to the evil Lord Voldemort in order to secure the safety of the entire wizarding world! Fail, and the Dark Lord will surely conquer us all, beginning an era of darkness and fear for wizards and muggles alike...
Hopefully this guide will help you in your quest to defeat Lord Voldemort! If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to drop a note down below!