There’s been a rise in the number of death eaters and dark arts users in recent years, so Dumbledore has reinstated the duelling club at Hogwarts! Join your favourite house and spar against fellow students in Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle - Defence Against the Dark Arts by USAopoly: a two-player competitive deck builder. If you or the sorting hat decide that both players want to be in the same Hogwarts house, the game allows that.
Use your starting hand of wand, cauldron, Alohamora spells and trusty pet to generate lightning bolts that deal damage to your opponent, hearts to heal yourself and influence which you will use to buy new spells, items and allies from the classroom to improve your deck. Don’t worry if you’re not that influential, you can always pick up a book or two from the library to improve your chances next round. Keep in mind house colours as you make your choices, as some spells and objects give buffs to certain houses, whilst allies with a house crest on them allow you to use the buffs of that house when they are in play. Other card effects may be to draw another card, discard or banish cards to thin your deck or to hex your opponent. These act like the curses in Dominion (Rio Grande) by diluting your useful cards. There are also negative buffs, such as not being able to play allies that round or only healing one heart.
While some games with the Harry Potter IP feel like a poor reskin, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle - Defence Against the Dark Arts feels true to the source material. Designers Kami Mandell and Andrew Wolf have ensured that each spell and item delivers the effects that you would expect from the lore. For example, 'stupefy' forces your opponent to discard a card from their hand, while a chocolate frog heals you for two hearts, because chocolate will always make you feel better. The cards are clearly laid out and the iconography is easy to understand. The cardboard tokens provided to keep track of hearts and lightning bolts generated may go unused for the majority of older players, but are a good addition for the younger witch or wizard in training. In short, this is great game for the avid Potter head.
The ridiculously l-o-n-g game name, by the way, is to distinguish Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle - Defence Against the Dark Arts from the other bigger bulkier Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle games. You may well think this one is better. :-)
(Review by Claire Woodward)