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Best Harry Potter Board Games: Top Six Reasons to Wag Your Wand

January 31, 2019
Harry gazing into the void of the best Harry Potter board games
Harry knows what women want.

Harry Potter board games exist.

We could have guessed this with no gaming experience. The money muchachos merchandising Ol’ Harry P. would have to be slugged by confundus charms not to pump out a few of these bad boys.

You know that feeling you had when you asked Mom and Dad for Lord of the Rings books for Christmas, and they got you the ones with pictures of Elijah Wood on the front? Rowling’s series has been pretty good about keeping the movies off the book covers, but Daniel Radcliffe’s noggin has been plastered onto just about everything else. Including our bedroom walls.

We get real nervous when we see movie stills in a game though. Doesn’t it just cheapen the whole thing somehow? Almost like the designers didn’t have time to build a real game — almost like they were being pushed by corporate executives to excrete a box with the franchise label on it while public interest was at a high point.

Even when there aren’t movie stills, you have to wonder. Was this game made because it was inspired? Or because the franchise already existed and someone thought they might dupe a poor granny into wasting her money?

Here are six quality Harry Potter board games, which prove that if you make enough licensed games, a few are bound to be decent. In fact, these ones are quite good!

Check out our top six picks for the best Harry Potter board games below.

Our special metric will be Wizard/Witch Comparability. Each game will be compared to the character who best represents it in J.K. Rowling’s universe, e.g. Harry Potter and the Poopy Pants Prince: The Board Game gets a rating of “Hagrid’s Giant Brother.” Both are stupid and neither is featured after this paragraph.

Best Harry Potter Board Games:

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle

A really great cooperative deck building game!

Players: 2-4 | Complexity: 5/10 | Cooperative Deckbuilder Campaign

When you shuffle a bunch of random Harry Potter bullshit together, it is normally called fan fiction, and it is bad. This is different though!

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle is a cooperative deck-building game, meaning you’ll be spending a lot of time creating and shuffling a personal deck of cards to use throughout the play session. These will in fact consist of a mishmash of HP concepts/trinkets.

You and the other players are working together to prevent a series of villains from taking over all the locations in a given scenario. There are seven scenarios total, one for each Potter book. You can play as a number of different main characters, and these will change as the campaign moves forward. If you start Game 1 as baby Radcliffe, you eventually progress to the final adventure, in which you are a certifiable Mancliffe.

A given turn will consist of playing cards from your hand and buying new cards for your deck: Gathering influence (resources for purchasing new cards) and attacking villains are the two chief interests of the active player.

Hogwarts Battle is clearly inspired by other deck-builders, mainly Ascension and Marvel: Legendary. The villains on the board have health values, and you have to use the cards in your growing deck to shut those dark wizards down. A lot of Harry Potter board games are actually just flat re-skins of earlier games though, so not terrible in context.

Beat all the villains, win the game. Hogwarts Battle tends to accelerate in one direction or the other. If you get the upper hand, you can consistently expelliarmus the villains into Azkaban. But if you are too slow to build an effective deck, or your luck is particularly bad, it’s pretty tough to recover.

So is This Game Difficult?

You probably won’t lose all that often. It’s not overly tough, at least not in the core set. You can modify things to adapt the difficulty if you like. Subtract weaker Dark Arts cards and stronger player cards. Boom, extra-mean Professor Quirrell. There’s plenty to tinker with at any rate. This box comes with plenty o’ cards.

The campaign is great for fans to play through, carefully incorporating episode-specific cards into each scenario. It also does a pretty smooth job incorporating the story into the gameplay. In fact, as introduced in Ascension, this is some of what deck-builders do best, though it can be a little obscure at times:

Alright, Voldemort, have a literal taste of Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavor Beans! (plays beans card) And now my wizarding power increases for every ally that I played this turn! Because, um… Like, when you open a Bertie Bott box, it’s basically the wizarding version of gum: Everyone’s like, Can I have one? And then you’re one of two types of wizard: A bean-sharing wizard, or a dark wizard. So I shared my beans, and I wasn’t resentful about it. Hey, where did Voldemort go?

Who’s a Good Fit for Hogwarts Battle?

They aimed this whole thing a bit more toward book/movie fans who want a game-style experience, and the components have that 90s-Potter-book-cover vibe going for them. Then again, there are a lot of movie stills as well. Man, we know it’s way more work to create original art, but there is a reason that games like Last Night on Earth parody this easy road to game visuals.

Ooh, the villain control tokens are actually fantastic — they’d be the standout components in most games to begin with. Lovely little skull markers. Make a wizard rethink his decision not to get that actual tattoo of the dark mark. There is the whole “allegory of Nazi Germany” deal, though, so maybe we just get that nice Deathly Hallows tattoo instead.

Wizard/Witch Comparability: Rubeus Hagrid — Expansive and a bit ugly, but genuine. Works hard to do right by Harry Potter. It may or may not be attractive to enormous French Women.

Get Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle on Amazon today!

Fantastic Beasts: Perilous Pursuit

This is a surprisingly fun game.

Players: 2-4 | Complexity: 2/10 | Cooperative Push-Your-Luck Dice Chucker

What is this doing on a list of the best Harry Potter board games? Don’t worry, it will also appear on our list of the best Eddie Redmayne games. Game #1: The Crying Game.

Fantastic Beasts: Perilous Pursuit is a push-your-luck dice game based on the completely original movie about four very non-tropey people who take pains not to fill tired character slots like “The Funny Fat Guy” or “The Stiff Working Woman Who Needs to Loosen Up a Little.”

Fantastic Axes and Where to Grind Them. Here at Roll for Turns, we furnish all our reviews and lists with unnecessary personal opinions!

So in this game, you and the other movie characters are doing a little beast tracking. Capture them all and you win. If a player’s health hits zero, or if you fail to capture two of the beasts, it’s all over.

Every player turn, you will be rolling dice and allocating them a little like King of Tokyo. You can take actions particular to the dice rolled. Roll a shield, add a protection token. Roll a capture, move the beast toward your big bag.

Speaking of big bags, does anyone else notice that Newt seems to have more than just a little in common with a certain slender, mysterious, highly knowledgeable, scarf-wearing, sidekick-recruiting, slightly sad British man? Whoa, he has an inconspicuous mobile base of operations that is bigger on the inside?

Gee, where’d they get that idea??

Also, what a coincidence that his name is “Newt” and his surname sounds like “Salamander.” His parents must have been very talented diviners, seeing so far into their kid’s future as a magizoologist.

This is a Strange List of the Best Harry Potter Board Games

True. The dice are actually pretty neat, which would have to be the case for any successful dice game. Wonderfully arcane-looking shapes mesh perfectly with the Potter aesthetic. The symbols you don’t want to see at the moment are at least a beauty to look at. You will not always to see the results you want from the dice. Thus, you and your teammates are scrambling to do the best you can with what you can muster before the beasts escape.

You know what? For a dice game, it’s fairly tense! This one surprised us.

As against that, the sessions are short, making it more of a filler game. But it’s too long for a filler. Not really sure where Perilous Pursuit lands in our game nights. Hardcore gamers may pass on this one.

That said, if you liked the movie and you go in for dice games, perfecto. It’s accessible too. Most lovers of the lore will be easy to rope into a game or two, we imagine. Unless your friends hate games. In which case you’d be better off watching the instructive sequel, ‘Fantastic Friends and Where to Find Them.’

Wizard/Witch Comparability: Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody — No doubt it’s good, but it may get rapidly beaten and placed into storage by purists.

Get Fantastic Beasts: Perilous Pursuit on Amazon today!

Harry Potter: Halls of Hogwarts

Get this game if in stock, quantities are vanishing faster than things behind the invisibility cloak (sorry not sorry)

Players: 2-4 | Complexity: 2/10 | Competitive Kids’ Strategic Map Builder

Finally, one of the only Harry Potter board games that doesn’t use movie stills! Funny how, without camera shots of British actors, the first thing you notice is that this game looks beautiful. Takes us back to our school days, reading HP on the bus.

Or wishing there were cool Harry Potter board games to play after Pastor Pete used our copy of The Sorcerer’s Stone for kindling. By the way, are your kids less than thrilled about church? Pump up the fun factor by banning their favorite book series and citing religion as your authority!

And on the topic of fun, Halls of Hogwarts knows there are few things more fun than hustling around school, struggling to get to class on time. Just like that dream we keep having. Thirteen years since high school and counting.

That really is the premise of this game, and it works. The halls twist and turn while players try to avoid getting a tardy notice. You have to rotate or flip a random number of castle tiles every turn, leading to a board full of crazy surprises. Giant squids, dragon hatchlings, schedule swapping, and time travel represent just a few of the zany obstacles to victory.

Luck and strategy strike a decent balance here, and this is a game that kids and adults alike can enjoy — what’s truer to the books than that? The tile management reminds us a little of Betrayal at House on the Hill, making for a different game each playthrough.

So What’s Not to Like?

While the colors and art are lovely, we do wish they had made the board look a little more diverse. It looks swell as is, but it doesn’t look overly like Hogwarts. Whose Hogwarts, you ask? Well there is the beautiful movie rendition, but even the box art on Halls of Hogwarts depicts this mysterious old academy using rich dark purples, charmingly eerie greens, and noble reds amidst the fading yellows of torchlight.

The actual board is instead this overwhelmingly burnt orange blood castle to which young Harry and his friends have apparently been sent by mistake. Welcome to THUGwarts! School of Bitchcraft and Misery!

This game is older than the two above entries, so the developers illustrated all the characters. We can’t understate the charm that this imparts to a sub-genre populated by movie stills and coated in thick pastes of funky franchise froth.

Definitely a charming little entry in the long, weary history of Harry Potter board games.

Wizard/Witch Comparability: Albus Dumbledore — Older, yet surprisingly handsome for this. Seems like you’re always discovering crazy new things about it. There is a little tragedy inside, despite the quirky exterior.

Get Harry Potter Halls of Hogwarts on Amazon today!

Trivial Pursuit: Harry Potter

A test for REAL Potterheads, plus you’ll most likely learn things you never knew (we did!)

Players: 2-8 | Complexity: 3/10 | Competitive Trivia Party Game

The only reason we include this game in our list of the best Harry Potter board games is that it actually does quite well with Potter fans who love testing their knowledge. Be aware that we would normally never dip into “traditional” games like this one.

We are the type of people who, when someone announces Monopoly or Charades, suddenly remember that we each left pizzas in our ovens. And all of our houses may individually be on fire for all we know. Come on, you know we wouldn’t miss Charades with you guys unless it were serious. No, no, we’ll call you.

Check out the Amazon reviews though.

Alright, Those Reviews Are Pretty Good

Not bad, right? You may think you’re the nerdiest, most astute Potter nerd on the block before playing this game. You are probably be wrong. Admittedly, not all of the game’s questions are entirely fair:

What color were Dumbledore’s winter undies in book one? How many fibers (approximately) exist in Hagrid’s beard? What is Draco Malfoy’s bitch level in book four compared to book six? Please defend your position in a longform essay.

They’re not quite that bad, but anything that asks you what spell some person cast that one time is pretty absurd. Which is why they have to add multiple choice answers to those questions. You can then simply deduce the answer from Rowling’s faux etymology. This rather misses the point of a Harry Potter trivia game.

Still, talk about being light on the luck — this game will reward the most knowledgeable player virtually every time, making it the Jeopardy of Harry Potter board games. If you have the HP version of Ken Jennings in your playgroup, you’ll either leave it on your shelf or quit inviting him, so. Real fun with this game depends in large part on comparable knowledge and memory amongst players.

If you can meet that standard and you enjoy testing your knowledge, this one is worth the buy. Certainly, there are no other Harry Potter board games that focus so heavily on the literature itself! Hardcore Potter people are an ideal demographic.

The board is surprisingly thematic, featuring house-color-coded pawns, colorful wizarding symbols, and parchment-style backgrounds for most of the text. Dibs on the green Slytherin snake pawn.

Wizard/Witch Comparability: Hermione Granger — Didactic and full of obscure wizarding facts. May come in different colors for later productions.

Get Trivia Pursuit: Harry Potter on Amazon today!

Munchkin Harry Potter

It’s as close as muggles like us get to attending Hogwarts

Players: 3-6 | Complexity: 4/10 | Slightly Cooperative (Backstabbing) RPG Character Builder

The emergence of Munchkin Harry Potter was an inevitability on par with the eventual destruction of Earth by the Sun. Munchkin will, in time, devour all things monetizable. That said, the Munchkin formula is fun, and a thoughtfully crafted HP theme makes this a perfectly viable entry into Harry Potter board games.

What can we say? It’s Munchkin. It’s Harry Potter.

You don’t know about Munchkin? Gather round, children. Let us weave you a tale of mockery and brutality; of backstabbing and gender swapping; ensorcelled tubas and wicked bargains for profit!

Munchkin is a game that has been around for some time. It was originally a parody of Dungeons & Dragons, placing players in the roles of greedy adventurers who turn on one another as they enter a dungeon. As each adventurer kicks down doors, kills monsters, and loots treasure, the others are scheming his/her demise. Bribe, betray, and in this case, avada-kedavra your way to the top.

We legit just got spell-checked after typing the killing curse. Even word doc software is familiar with Potter lore, good grief.

Anything nice or not-so-nice about this game can pretty much be said of the other renditions. Except that like so many Harry Potter board games, this one has movie stills. Surprisingly, we prefer this over the normal Munchkin art. Those illustrated feet are really bothersome. No. No thank you.

For more details on Munchkin in general, check out our list of the best RPG board games!

Wizard/Witch Comparability: Peter Pettigrew — You probably won’t achieve much unless you betray your friends. Then again, it could really bite you in the ear if you do.

Get Munchkin Harry Potter on Amazon today!

Codenames: Harry Potter

Amazing game for the Potterhead friends who want to play together in teams

Players: 2-8 | Complexity: 4/10 | Strategy-Puzzle Party Game

In Seattle a few years ago, the original Codenames couldn’t stay on PAX vendor shelves for longer than it took to say double-oh-seven. There have been a number of renditions, as with many popular games of high adaptability.

But this is a list of Harry Potter board games, which means that we’re gonna talk about Codenames: Harry Potter. For context, the premise of the original game is that two spymasters of secret organizations are activating their sleeper agents by sending certain codewords to these spies in the field. Each team has one spymaster, and the other players are divided into even teams under a single spymaster.

For extra secrecy, neither organization actually knows exactly who its own agents are, except for the spymasters themselves. Each organization must make contact with its agents using only the codenames given by the spymaster. Once Agent “Bertie Bott” is contacted using his codename, he knows it is time to get to work. In game terms, his team gets a point.

Don’t reach out to a confused civilian by accident. Definitely don’t reach out to an enemy agent, who will then activate and give the other team a point. Under no circumstances should you ever reach out to the assassin, who will at that time promptly fulfill his job description (instant loss for your team).

What’s With the Secret Agent Theme?

Why a spymaster cannot simply activate his or her own agents, thereby skipping this bizarre process, is unknown. Furthermore, what exactly is happening when your organization member receives the vague hint of, say, “scorpion,” and accidentally reaches out to the wrong agent?

Of all the homes in America, you landed on one of the handful that happens to contain an enemy agent?

And what does this agent gain from your misdelivered code? How is pre-emptive activation beneficial to the enemy organization? Why does a mysterious codeword that this agent never agreed on somehow activate them? In the first place, wouldn’t his trigger word be “Sassy” or “Diarrhea” or like, literally anything other than the exact trigger word for the agent it was meant to reach?

Uh-oh, don’t send a codename to the assassin, some guy whose job it is to harass both organizations by… Knowing the trigger words and waiting to be accidentally contacted? If literally all the agents and the assassin recognize each others’ codenames, why is anyone bothering with these stupid codes anyhow? They are clearly not secret!

This shit is about the loosest and least cohesive narrative ever to be tacked last-second onto a game.

Thematic issues aside, this game has reached a stellar level of popularity and success in a short span. Everyone wants to play Codenames, including you. Just skip three double-quarter-pounder-with-cheese meals and you can now afford it.

What’s Different About the Potter Edition?

Right, yes. Harry Potter board games. So the HP edition is basically that, but with wizards. You have a series of cards with random words printed on them. A secret layout key informs wizardmasters which cards represent their team’s sleeper wizards. They’ll have to come up with single-word codenames in order to discreetly indicate as many of these cards as possible to their own teams.

If you happen to notice that you have a card reading “Old,” a card reading “Man,” and a card reading “Wizard,” you can say to your team, Dumbledore 3, alerting them to the fact that they need to find three cards with ties to magical superstar Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.

Honestly, this is a very well-designed game (mechanically speaking). The replayability is through the roof — the layout keys alone each provide eight different possible color setups. And there are a ton of them. The mental obstacle course that spymasters must navigate is uniquely intricate with every play, and double-sided cards only lend to the incredible diversity already offered.

Alright, Sounds Goo-

We’re not finished!

One neat change with the HP version — the tiles have a picture on one side and text on the other. Movie stills seem justified in this case, so you can be sure to know what is being depicted. Otherwise you’d be wondering when it was that some grinning nut job was square-dancing with two other dudes in a mansion.

Er, that’s Barty Crouch being hauled out of court. Recognizing David Tenant makes this quite a bit easier.

Wizard/Witch Comparability: Remus Lupin — Quite secretive, and keeps within affordable price ranges. It’s impressive on many counts, though when observed in the right light, it may become clear that logic and reason have left the building.

Get Codenames: Harry Potter on Amazon today!

Listorum Conclusio!

Well that’s it, muggles. There have been plenty of Harry Potter board games over the years, but most of them seem like Galleon grabs. Either that or they are prohibitively expensive due to being out of print, and mostly only hardcore collectors will be interested.

Look, if you really want to know about what else is out there, you’ve got your Harry Potter Clue, Harry Potter Pictopia, Harry Potter Monopoly, Harry Potter Top Trumps, Harry Potter Trouble (with a pop-omatic bubble), and let us not forget Harry Potter: Slytherin Sex Scandal.

Watch those wands, readers! You wouldn’t want to accidentally wingardium leviosa your chits right off the table. Wait, levi-OH-sa? Or Levio-SAW? Guess we’ll have to repeat a grade at Hogwarts. Oh, no, anything but that.

*pulls striped scarf out of travel suitcase and presents clearly forged Hogwarts invitation letter*