Harry Potter™ Hogwarts™ is an ingenious strategy game for kids, faithfully Potterish, using a “sliding block puzzle” mechanism inspired by the moving stairs of the Hogwarts Castle Grand Staircase. Aside from the ubiquitous LEGO Dice, the game features 5 Special microfigures, including Harry Potter, Hermione Granger™, Ron Weasley™, Draco Malfoy™ and Albus Dumbledore™, and one Hogwarts student microfigure from each “house” (Slytherin, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff).
Like every LEGO game we’ve so far explored, the design is artful and playful, and the building experience elegant and entertaining. Harry Potter Hogwarts also proves to be exceptionally playable. It’s a novel and intriguing game, one that invites kids to think and plan and participate in a faithfully rendered fantasy relating to a fantastically popular series of books and films.
The game board consists of 16 movable tiles. Twelve of the tiles act as movable stairs. The remaining 4 house various “classrooms.” Each classroom contains homework items which players must gather in order to win the game. The first player to get one of each kind of item and return to their “house,” wins the game.
The LEGO dice (I know, it’s really a die because there’s only one of them, but LEGO calls it a dice, and if LEGO calls it a dice, a dice it be) determines how many stair shifts (slides) a player can make. To do this, after the dice is thrown, one of the stair tiles is temporarily removed. Any number of stairs and classrooms adjacent to the now empty space can be moved towards that space. Once that space is filled, another space is revealed. The dice allows for up to 3 such shifts in a single turn. After the shifts are completed, the player replaces the stair tile that was temporarily removed, and then moves his character to any orthogonally adjacent stair or classroom tile.
Aside from the number faces, the LEGO dice has two “staircase rotation” faces and one Maurader’s Map which shows you a secret passage to any adjacent staircase or classroom, even if it is not connected to the staircase or classroom upon which you currently find yourself. As with other LEGO games, the faces of the LEGO dice are removable and can be exchanged with the maroon Dumbledore tile (which will guide you to a secret passage) or the brown Mrs. Norris tile, upon the rolling of which you can move Mrs. Norris (in the guise of a cute little kitty) onto any staircase that does not have a character on it, blocking that staircase from further use.
To exemplify the elegance of all these extra faces, we note that in playing the game, Taster Father Chris (36) found the strategic implications of 3 shifts too complex to contemplate, while taster Daughter Naomi (5) was both unfazed and nonplussed. Next time they play, even though they are some distance from the recommended age-range of 8-12, they could easily, should Naomi agree to show compassion upon her poor father, replace the 3 tile on the dice with either Dumbledore or Mrs. Norris, and both could experience equal amounts of intrigue and merriment.
By any measure, Harry Potter Hogwarts is an outstanding kids’ game, inviting intelligent and fanciful participation, and providing them with the opportunity for them to create and share some significantly major fun.
Harry Potter Hogwarts was designed by Cephas Howard and produced by LEGO.