Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Dumbledore has noticed a recent increase in Dark Arts activity, so he’s authorized lessons in the Defence Against the Dark Arts. Students learn how to defend themselves by casting spells and hexes, using items, and partnering with allies to stun their opponents.
In the two-player competitive deck-building game Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle – Defence Against the Dark Arts, you face off against your opponent in a best-of-five battle. Each of you gets a starting deck of cards to use during your Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson and each turn you’ll add cards that will help you stun your opponent. Be the first to stun them three times and you pass your lesson with flying colors!
Hogwarts Battle Game Play
Players begin the game by choosing their House (Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Slytherin, or Hufflepuff). During the game, cards that feature your House give you additional abilities or benefits, but even if you’re in Gryffindor you’ll still be able to play a Ravenclaw card. You’ll also choose a starting Ally who will give you an ongoing ability.
On your turn, draw five cards from your deck and place them into your play area. Depending on the type of cards you draw, you’ll either generate Influence, Health, or Attack. Use Influence to obtain new cards from the Classroom (six face-up cards drawn from the deck), such as Items that give you additional benefits, Allies that help you gain ongoing abilities, or spells that can help you in the battle.
Use Health to heal yourself or use Attack to inflict damage on your opponent. With each damage taken, you’ll move back one space on the practice mat. Whoever is pushed back to Stun loses the round and their opponent wins. The first player to win three rounds wins the game.
Harry Potter fans will find a lot to like in Defence Against the Dark Arts. It’s an easily accessible deck-building game for fans and new gamers; having actual tokens for Influence, Health, and Attack makes things easier for those who’ve never played a deck-builder before. Having Harry, Hermione, and the rest of the cast as allies puts you right into the middle of Hogwarts.
Even non-fans or more experienced gamers may find the Star Realms-influenced play enjoyable.
Like Star Realms, the four houses/factions can make for some big turns when you draw the right cards. It’s fun when you can perform combos with your selected house. This allows you to draw extra cards, gain a bunch of Influence, and/or Attack to stun your opponent for a quick win.
Like other deck-building games, there are some cards that slow you down; here, it’s the Hex cards. Any time your opponent puts one into your deck, you’ll have to resolve it at the start of your next turn. There are cards that allow you to banish cards, so Hexes won’t necessarily remain in the game.
I found the best-of-five format ran a bit long for me, so my games were usually best-of-three. With only two wins needed for the victory the game didn’t overstay its welcome. However, for hardcore Harry Potter fans, the length of a full match shouldn’t be a problem.
While Hogwarts Battle – Defence Against the Dark Arts doesn’t do anything new with the deck-building mechanism, it’s a solid Harry Potter-themed game for two players. Potterheads should be more than satisfied with this fast-paced deck-builder.
Defence Against the Dark Arts doesn’t do anything new with the deck-building mechanism, it’s a solid Harry Potter-themed game for two players. Potterheads should be more than satisfied with this fast-paced deck-builder.
Thanks to USAopoly for providing a review copy of Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle – Defence Against the Dark Arts.
Ruel Gaviola is a regular contributor to Geek & Sundry, The Five By, iSlaytheDragon, and other sites. His name rhymes with Superman’s Kryptonian name. You can find him talking about board games on Twitter or Instagram.