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Playing Hogwarts Battle The Way Dumbledore Would

Playing Hogwarts Battle The Way Dumbledore Would

The Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle cooperative deck building game was a smash hit this summer at GenCon and we covered it at the time. The game is now out for purchase by the general public, and quite a few of us are working our way through the seven books it has in store. With each more challenging than the last, picking up useful strategies can be key to making sure you-know-who doesn’t take over the world.

Let’s take the scholarly wizard’s approach to the game and delve deep into the potential ways to win and lose. Then let’s see if we can’t add another beloved character to the mix and mod the game to add Luna Lovegood.

Overall Strategyhealing

As Hogwarts Battle gets going it gets hard rather quickly. The jump from 1 to 3 villains comes fast and the leap to drawing multiple dark arts cards each turn on certain locations can really scare you. There are a few things to keep in mind as you progress.

Focus on Locations. Though you win the game by defeating villains, you really have to put all your effort into keeping from moving through the locations. If you can keep the location stuck at a single draw from the dark arts deck each turn, you have a vastly higher chance of success. Pick up spells and allies that remove location tokens as fast as possible and do everything you can to cast them over and over.

Don’t Become Stunned. Letting your health get low is a slippery slope. Villains can deal damage to you, causing you to become stunned, which adds a token to the location, activating the abilities of villains again. This feedback loop can kill your game. Don’t let it happen. Assign someone to picking up as many healing cards as possible, preferably Neville.

Beat the Right Villains. Much of your success in later books will come down to the order in which villains come out, and the order in which you take them down. Be sure to take out anyone adding location tokens first, then those healing other villains (looking at you Lucius Malfoy). Those that deal a lot of damage probably come next, but as you play you’ll get a feel for just who to pick on and when.

Character Developmentneville-longbottom

As the game progresses, each of the four hero characters will become specialized. Each begins with no special ability at game 1, a great new power at game 3, and something truly spectacular at game 7. They’ll need it, as game 7 often takes groups multiple attempts to succeed against.

Harry Potter. Harry’s progression gives him more damage tokens to hand out as location control tokens are removed. The important thing here is that he doesn’t need to be the one to remove the control token and he doesn’t need to be the one to receive the damage token. This means he can serve as a coordinator of damage, particularly in tandem with Ron, whose ability relies on getting damage tokens. Still, you’ll likely find him a perfect damage specialist, making the most of his core deck to take down bad guys.

Hermione Granger. Hermione’s character abilities are all about casting spells to generate influence tokens. In conjunction with the spell-focused cards in her core deck, you’ll naturally find her specialized in casting spells like crazy. This means buying lots of spells, as well as other cards that allow her to draw extra cards and pull cards from the discard pile. Once you get to book 6 you’ll unlock the Elder Wand, which is quite powerful in her hands. Be sure to cackle when you slay foes in this way.

Neville Longbottom. Neville focuses on healing, which can be critical once you get into the harder games, to keep from getting chain reactions of location control tokens. From turn one he’ll want to be picking up literally every healing card that comes out of the deck, even passing up nicer cards along the way. Once you start getting allies that allow you to roll House dice, he’ll want to grab the ones that roll the healing focused Hufflepuff die.

Ron Weasley. Ron is half-healer, helping by hurting foes. To make the most of his abilities you’ll want him picking up tons of damaging cards and having Harry pass him damage tokens. He can seem underpowered if he’s not getting enough damage cards, so in some ways he’s the most nuanced and difficult characters to play.


As you progress to game 6 you’ll gain access to the Proficiencies, cool powers you can use to really trick out your character. Some are more magical than others, so let’s go over the best ones:

Arithmancy. Potentially really useful if you’re going to buy a lot of allies, such as when trying to make the most of Ron’s affinity for ally cards.

Defense Against the Dark Arts, and Potions. Both are great cards for Ron or Harry in their eternal quest for more damage tokens.

Flying Lessons. A great card for somebody in the group to have, usually the character with the best influence economy. A great choice for Hermoine.

Herbology. The obvious choice for Neville. Allowing people to draw cards when you heal them is a no brainer. Don’t grab anything else if you’re Neville.

History of Magic. Gaining an influence every time you grab up a spell really works with Hermione’s spell-focused build and her ability to generate influence fast.

Modding the Gameluna

While Howarts Battle really gives you the feel of taking on the villains of the series with the core trio-plus-Neville, there are plenty of “minor” characters that it would be nice to see in the game. Why not add Luna Lovegood to the game for instance?

First off, you’ll need to use the starter deck from another character. We suggest Hermione, as she’s pretty Ravenclaw, but Neville’s cards can work in a pinch if you just want to swap out the other fourth wheel character.

Make sure to take the Luna Lovegood ally card out of the deck, just so it’s not weird when she comes up.

Next you’ll want to have a set of custom abilities for her as she progresses through the books. Here are our suggestions, based on her ally card abilities:

Game 3 Ability: The first time you play an item on your turn, you may move a damage token from one villain onto another.

Game 7 Ability: The first time you play an item on your turn, you may move up to 3 damage tokens from one villain onto another.

Finally, whoever plays Luna will want to speak in a wispy voice. That’s completely optional, but you’ll want to play it that way. Try mixing in some of the other Potter characters in the series. How do you think they would work?

We hope these suggestions help you hone your ability to take on the dark lord Voldemort himself. Let us know how you fair against him in the comments. 

Image Credits: Warner Brothers Entertainment

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