Thursday, August 7, 2014

Quick Review - LEGO® Harry Potter™ Hogwarts™

LEGO® Harry Potter™ Hogwarts™
Designers: Cephas Howard &
Henk van der Does
Publisher: LEGO
Quick Review - LEGO® Harry Potter™ Hogwarts™

One of the games my son got for his 5th birthday was LEGO® Harry Potter™ Hogwarts™.  He's a HUGE Harry Potter fan, a HUGE Lego fan, and a HUGE board game fan, so this was perfect for him!  Needless to say we were pretty excited to finally pull it out and start playing it.

The entire game is made from Legos, which is really pretty cool.  The birthday boy spent last evening and most of the morning building the game board.  It's a pretty easy build and because everything is symmetrical it gets pretty repetitive, but he had fun building it and didn't have any issues.  I promised him I'd play this afternoon after I was done with work and he was done with his schooling, so late afternoon we sat down to play.  I must say, I was very impressed!  The last Lego game we got and played was mainly a rip off of Mastermind and wasn't too challenging or engaging.  But this was quite different.

The game play was pretty original (from what I am familiar with anyway) and there was a depth of strategy to the game that made it actually fun for both him and me.  The concept behind the game is simple; you are in Hogwarts trying to navigate the moving staircases to your classrooms to acquire your homework and then return to your common room.  Each turn you roll a die to see if you can shift the staircases (by removing one tile, sliding everything 1-3 times, and then replacing the tile), rotating a tile, or using the Marauder's Map.  Then you get to move your piece to one adjacent tile that is connected via a staircase, unless you use the Marauder's Map, then the adjacent room doesn't need to have a connecting staircase.

The rules were simple enough that he picked them up right away, yet there was enough strategy that I remained engrossed in the game, even when his moves were mostly random or transparently beneficial to him without thinking about longer term consequences.  There were a few times I gave him pointers and suggestions, and a few bits of the rules that I had to remind him about (e.g. you can't rotate the piece you removed to do the slides when you put it back in), but overall it was fun for both of us.

Then this evening we played again, but this time with the whole family.  And a four player game was even more fun!  Waiting for three players to go really changes the board a lot by the time it gets back to your turn.  So you need to really evaluate your possibilities when you roll the die.  Is it more helpful to get your piece closer to a classroom or better to attempt to keep someone else from getting to their classroom?  For such a simple game there is an amazing amount of strategy possible, and just enough luck to keep things unpredictable.

We definitely all enjoyed this game and it will stay with our collection as a game instead of getting deconstructed and sent to the Lego bin like the last one.  This actually makes me interested in tracking down other Lego games, too now!  I actually can't wait to try a 2 player game with my wife or another adult friend and see just how deep the strategy can get =)

Preliminary Rating: 7/10

My son is proud of his creation and had fun playing!

Both boys were totally into the game, using 'portkeys'
to return items to their common rooms.

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GJJG Game Reviews are independent, unpaid reviews of games I, George Jaros, have played with his family and friends.  Some of these games I own, some are owned by friends, some are borrowed, and some are print and play versions of games.  Where applicable I will indicate if games have been played with kids or adults or a mix (Family Play).  I won't go into extensive detail about how to play the game (there are plenty of other sources for that information and I'll occasionally link to those other sources), but I will give my impressions of the game and how my friends and family reacted to the game.  First Play Impression reviews will only get a single rating of 1-10 (low-high) based on my first impressions of the game during my first time playing.  Hopefully I'll get more chances to play the game and will be able to give it a full review soon.

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