I wasn't sure where to post this; here, or in Other Lego Themes like all the other games. I put my Pirate Plank review down there instead of in the Pirates forum, but I think Potter fans will be more interested in this being here.
A caveat: I'm not at home these days, I'm in an apartment hundreds of miles away from my collection, my usual photography setup, and my precious army of mini-mummies that usually helps me out with my reviews. I hope this won't impact on things too much!
"Between the moving staircases and secret passages at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, it can be tricky to find your way around. Be the first to successfully navigate the magic castle to collect all your homework items and get back to your common room! A fun and challenging family game for 2-4 players."
I'm a pilgrim in a strange land so I haven't actually played the game, but I'd imagine that it plays much more poorly with any fewer than four people. I also know virtually nothing about Harry Potter - I'm not a fan of HP, so I may overlook obvious references that you guys might spot. Apologies in advance! Still, I was delighted to see this, and the other new Wave 3 games, in the shop this afternoon, and even though this wasn't my first choice, I couldn't just leave it there. More on that later....
Set Name: Harry Potter Hogwarts
Set Number: 3862
Theme: Lego Games
Year Released: 2010
Number of Pieces: 331
Price: €32.99 on Lego.com, €29.99 locally
Box cover is pretty cool, it's nice and uncluttered but doesn't really leap off the shelf. I'm not sure what Harry is doing: Cheating blatantly, or threatening Draco's life. Either way, not cool, Harry, not cool.
This is what three of the four sides look like, the fourth has legal text. That's my knee at the bottom, yay, go knee!
Here's the back, showing the board and close-ups of Dumbledore, Draco and the three protagonists. Harry & friends (and enemy) don't even have anything to do with the game, so it's pretty sweet of TLG to include them.
A close-up of the Contents listing. The main reason I'm showing this is, despite being a Wave 3 game, Lego's still using the word "dice" to describe a single die! I know you're reading this, TLG, like you read everything I write anywhere on the 'net! I'm gonna keep mentioning this!
Seven bags, which was a nice surprise, plus the instructions (large booklet), game rules (small) and the trademark customisable die. The bags aren't numbered so I had no trouble opening them all into one big heap - I'm one of those sadists who does that anyway - and some identical parts were split between multiple bags, which I thought was odd if they weren't meant to be opened in sequence.
Here's a random instructions page, and pages 2 and 3 of the four English-language rules pages. The manual has no problems distinguishing between colours, even though the build mingles light grey, dark grey and black elements quite liberally. Most pages have a piece callout. Also, you might want to come back to this shot when I'm explaining tile movement later on, the diagrams might help.
The trusty parts listing.
The advertisement pages at the backs. There are also ads for the Lego Harry Potter game, Lego.com and the Win-shouty kid, but that'd be too many photos.
The other three games in Wave 3. Hogwarts was the only game I'd known about before seeing them in the shop, so I had a good long study of them. Remember I said that this game wasn't my first choice? The game I really wanted was that Orient Bazaar one, it comes with some unbelievably awesome new accessories (perfume vials, etc) and a stack of about forty gold 2x2 coins, plus some more parts for rounding out the Prince of Persia brickset. Buuut, I figured you guys would be more interested in seeing the Harry Potter game so I went with that. Remember this. You guys owe me.
The reason all those other photos were set on the bed was because the window above the desk plays havoc with the lighting, but I'm afraid I have no choice this time! All three-hundred-something pieces, painstakingly and, in all honestly, probably pointlessly arranged into a tidy rectangle for your viewing pleasure. There were too many 6x6 plates so I staggered those. There are nineteen dark grey ones and a tan. As usual with a Games set, certain pieces appear in disproportionately huge quantities. The big 16x8 flat tiles will be useful. One of the brown 2x2 tiles is actually dark red, which I thought was an error, but isn't actually. The four transparent things beside the green jumper plate are minifig heads. One slight factor that helped convince me to get this over Bazaar was all the sand green - my favourite colour that I didn't own any of until now. Too bad it's all cones, but hey, gift horses and all that.
The nine microfigs and other accessories. Like I said earlier, Draco, Ron, Harry and Hermoine (yay, I remembered all their names!) don't feature in the game and are just gravy. Dumbledore also doesn't feature, but he can be used in a variant game. The four coloured microfigs aren't named in the rules; I don't know, do they look like any existing characters? That would probably be cool. The cat's name is Mrs. Norris, says the rulebook, which I presume means something to HP fans. She also doesn't appear in the main game, but can be used in another variant. Incase it's not obvious, she's dark brown. The spanner is included in all Game sets and is used to work the die.
Some other interesting bits, though admittedly there aren't many in this set. The hogwarts crest is nice to have, and the map is referred to as the "Marauder's Map." Is the corner panel part new? I've never seen that before. There are eight in the set.
I hate to say it, but the build is very repetitive and boring. You start off building the tiles that represent various classrooms, and sections of the shifting staircase. The students of each house have to navigate the stairways and visit each classroom to collect their homework equipment. The classrooms can be tough to identify, because aside from the Divining Tower (not built in this photo) they're not named in the book. The homework item in the Tower is a crystal ball. You also have Potions Class, obviously. The four familiars are sitting quietly in a third classroom, absolutely not thinking about eating one another, so that's Familiars Class, or Care of Familiars or whatever. The last one is tricky, containing what appears to be four flavoured Iceberger bars. Mmmm, Icebergers.... that must be Refrigeration class.
Here, the main board is half-built. It's just as dull and repetitive as the tile stage, but at least I know it'll look quite snazzy in the end.
And here it is finished. Again, apologies for the suckiness of the lighting. The two tiles beside Dumbledore and the cat are the dark red tile and a brown tile used to control those two characters in their variant games. It does look pretty nice, though, right?
Spare bricks consist of four coloured spots. Can never have too many, I say. Games sets are a bit weird like that; you either get loads of spares, or hardly any.
I don't have anybody to play the game with, so I'll just run through the rules. Players take it in turns to roll the die. The die controls the tiles only - you get to move your character one tile every turn no matter what the die does. Characters can only move onto an adjacent tile if there's a solid brown path connecting them. So, to demonstrate stairs movement, let's say I roll a 2. That gets me two "shifts."
I start by removing an empty stairs piece from the board. This does not count as a shift.
Then, for my first shift, I choose what tiles to slide over into the empty space. In this case, I could have moved all three tiles in that line over, but I decided to just move the two classrooms. That's one of my shifts done. Red now has almost-direct access to the Potions classroom, and it's a quick hop from there into the Refrigeration classroom. Hmm. I hope I was playing red.
For my second shift, I'm going to move those two tiles down. Most classrooms have two entrances, but the Divining tower only has one (facing up, in this photo, so you can't see it. Sorry). That leaves blue adrift in a sea of winding wood. I've made an enemy, horray!
With all my shifts used, I replace the tile I removed earlier into the new gap. Then I move my character one space, and end my turn.
If I roll this, I get to rotate any tile instead of shifting stuff.
And the Marauder's Map shows me a secret passage - I can move my character onto an adjacent tile, even if they're not connected by a stairway. And that's pretty much it for the main game. Sounds like fun, probably. Lots of backstabbing.
Replace the "1" tile on the die with Dumbledore's red tile to use him in the game. Roll the red, and move Dumbledore one space. Dumbledoor has total knowledge of the secret passages in Hogwarts, so he can use them every turn. If your character meets him on a tile, he'll show you a secret passage for your next turn. I'd imagine that this makes the game slightly more unpredictable, while introducing a new tactical element. It also explains why the Hogwarts front door isn't centred on the side of the game board, because it must line up with a tile.
Replace the Marauder's Map with the brown tile to unlock Mrs. Norris. Any staircase tile occupied by Mrs. Norris is blocked off - no character can enter it. This, combined with the fact that all secret passages are now blocked off, probably makes for a more strategic game where thinking several moves ahead is the only way to proceed. Since her tile replaces a different one to Dumbledores, you can probably combine both variants, which probably results in sheer and utter madness.
Like the other Games, this one fits back in the box ready to play again, though you'll need to knock the towers. No biggie.
Well, it's got sand green in it. And some nice accessories, including my first frog. And more brown tiles than I can shake a blueberry Iceberger at. I've no complaints about the parts content, they're all useful and there are quite a few that I didn't have any, or enough, of before. New map tiles are always welcome, and having microfig versions of the main cast is quite cool. The game sure sounds like a lot of fun, I'll need to dig up some open-minded nerd friends to play it with. It does paint a nice picture of the shifting staircase scene in the movie, with the students clambering all over trying to navigate them. It's a shame that the build was a bit dull but it's hard to design a board game that isn't.
Design: 8/10 Seems good, the base turned out way more solid than the early instruction steps suggested it would be. It's quite small compared to Ramses Pyramid, which had the same base dimensions but a lot more bulk. Most of the pieces in this set are on the smal side, which is the reason for that. It's not as nice to display, either, being quite flat and vacant-looking.
Parts: 9/10 I've said this for every Game set I've reviewed and I'll probably go on saying it, but you'll get high quantities and limited variety, because the nature of the series demands repitition and simplicity. That said, there are some very nice, unusual-yet-useful bits in here. Getting the four main characters as microfigs even though they aren't needed was especially nice.
Build: 5/10 Dull and straightforward, with no particularly interesting techniques used.
Playability: N/A I can't really say without having actually played it. I think this would rate highly, the rules make it sound very interesting.
Price: 3/10 Not great. The Atlantis board game has 50 pieces fewer than this set's 331 but manages to cost €7 less. The Harry Potter license obviously adds a huge chunk to the price and makes it the most expensive of this box size by a considerable distance.
Total: 85% I think it does a great job of evoking the Harry Potter universe, in particular the exact scene it's trying to emulate. An interesting parts list and some nice little bonuses do a good job of offsetting the steep price. Would you display it alongside your other HP sets? Probably not, but I'd keep it intact anyway.
Thanks for reading!
Caution: Potions Class in Progress
Edited by WhiteFang, 29 July 2010 - 08:24 AM.
Indexed inside Other Themes Reviews