Well, it has been a while and I’m sorry, dear readers, for neglecting you so. I have so many things to tell you about that I hardly know where to start.
As you may remember, Monday is board games night with my boys. This week they chose Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone; Mystery at Hogwarts.
I am pretty good at charity shop shopping, even if I do say so myself!
The object of the game is to be the first player to reach Fluffy’s Trapdoor having successfully worked out which Teacher witnessed which Culprit casting which Spell on which Victim.
As in Cluedo, one of each of the main playing cards (in this game there are four types of Hint Card: Teacher/Classroom; Culprit; Forbidden Spell and Victim) are selected secretly at the start of the game and hidden. Unlike Cluedo, the game is split into three sections.
In the first section, the players roll the dice and move their hats around the board, going into the classrooms to collect Hint Cards, which are not shared out at the start of the game, as they are in Cluedo.
The second section is more familiar; going into the classrooms to make suggestions: “Professor Flitwick; did you see Gregory Goyle casting Wingardium Leviosa on Mrs Norris?” The other players then take it in turns to show you one of the suggested cards from their hand, if they have one.
The third section, when you know which cards are hidden there, is to race to Fluffy’s Trapdoor, where the game is won or lost.
There are a couple of other tweaks from the Cluedo format too. One is a ghost which roams the halls; blocking doorways and banishing students to the Great Hall. Another is the green-bordered deck of cards.
Throughout the game, when the dice show the silhouette of Hogwarts, cards are drawn from a second deck. This contains special cards, allowing you to look at cards from other players’ hands; move around the board; gain immunity form the ghost; open secret passages and, vitally, bridge the gaps in the stairways to Fluffy’s Trapdoor.
The game is great fun to play and runs really well, as you would expect with it being based on such an established classic. I was a little worried that the extra variable might complicate the game or slow it down (in Cluedo, it’s just who did what where – we really don’t care about the victim) but it doesn’t. The sharp artwork and topical adaption make this game appealing to the younger generation and the good quality board, cards and pieces mean it will survive them too.
What have you been playing recently?