Harry Potter: Mischief on Diagon Alley Board Game Review
Harry Potter: Mischief on Diagon Alley
WBG Score: 7
Player Count: 3-5
You’ll like this if you like: Escape: The Curse of the Temple, Pakal, Loading.
Published by: The Op
If your children like Harry Potter, and you want to buy a new simple game to bring some fun to your table, then this may be the one for you! Its fast, chaotic, and very easy to learn. And every time it has hit the table here, has caused barrels of laughs! Or should that be cauldrons? Let's get it to the table to see if this is one for you.
There are a few variations of gameplay, but I will focus first on the main game. For that, each player must choose one shop place mat and put it in front of them. Then, depending on player count, they must add either three or four of each of the items available, other than the ones their own shop sells to their mat. Then each player must take one of each of the three dice, and set the cobblestone board in the middle of the play area with the remaining pieces placed on this.
How to Play
You are now ready to begin. One player will say out loud "One, two, three, Windgardium leviosa!" With the right inflection of course, and the game begins. Each player will pick up their three dice and roll each one together in front of them. All players are looking to be the first person to remove all items from their shop that should not be there, and collect only the items that should. The first person to do this shouts "Mischief Managed" and the round ends immediately for all players.
The items are moved on or off your board by rolling the dice, and from the affect of the dice rolled by the other players. As each player rolls their dice, they must immediately, and as quickly as they can, follow the dices instructions. When they have done this, they can then roll again. You do not need to wait for other players to be ready, or roll in turn. This is real-time frantic fun! Play as fast as you can.
The dice will show either a right, left, cobblestone, or question mark on one. Telling you the direction you can move items too, or take items from. The Number dice will show one, two, or three, telling you how many items you can take or move. The final dice will show which item you can take or move.
If the item rolled is the item you are trying to collect, the one that belongs in your shop, then you can take that item from the direction the dice tell you and add them to your board. If it is any other item, and you have some of them in your shop currently, then this is how you remove them from your shop.
As you do this, other players will be doing the same. So your items will be constantly changing. Sometimes to your advantage. Other times, not so much! It is a chaotic experience, that I found works best when people constantly talk. "I am taking two Owls from you Jacob." "Ok, Mya, here are two broomsticks coming 'atcha." Everyone of course is talking all at once, but you will be surprised at how your brain focuses in, and you can process all this information as you play. There will be screams of delight as you give people want them want or take items from them they do not. And wails of despair as you give them back some unwanted chocolate frogs!
Is it Fun
Well, this will very much depend on your attitude towards real-time and simple games. If you enjoy the fast-paced nature of real-time games, you will enjoy this. It is nothing but frantic! However, the game is also very simple. Designed primarily for younger children, there are not many tactics or strategies you can employ here. It's just a case of who can roll and process the information from the roll the fastest.
I love this experience, but my children did not. They found it initially a lot of fun. Then, a little too chaotic. And finally, a little unfulfilling as they found it too luck based. But, they still asked to play. Whereas for me, I was the reverse. I initially found it a little too limited, but latter embraced the luck based chaos and really enjoyed it. Ultimately, we all enjoyed playing but were getting different things from it.
The game works to a race to 11 Galleons. You gain three Galleons for being the first player to end the game, and an extra Galleon is awarded to each player for every item in their shop that should be there, after you have deducted one point for every item in the shop that shouldn't be there.
However, we have often played well beyond this score limit as you can reach this within a few games, and games can be over in a matter of minutes. Really you can play for as log as you like and score however you like. The fun is in the game, not the scoring.
There are also two other variations of gameplay. Pack Your Trunks asks players to flip their board to show their trunk instead. In this version, they must place one of each item on their trunk. Each player takes the three dice and the remaining items are placed on the central cobblestone board.
The game plays just like the base game, but here players are simply trying to get as many things into their trunk as possible. The game ends when the cobblestone is empty and then players score one point for each complete set of the five items in their trunk.
You're a Wizard! works similarly where each player starts with an equal number but random assortment of items and three dice again on their trunk. Play works as usual again, but this time, instead of trying to fill your trunk, you are trying to empty it. The first to do so gains one Galleon. The first to get three Galleons is the winner.
It's interesting to me that how in a game like this, based purely on luck, in one game when you are looking to move things into your trunk, you eventually will do so. Whereas, in another where you are looking to empty your trunk, you will also ultimately always achieve this too. I don't quite get the math here. Perhaps in a game where you are looking to empty your trunk, you will often have a lot of things in there, but forget those moments. And only focus on the single moment where you have nothing. And equally, in the game where you are looking to fill it, you forget the moments when you are empty.
I do not know the science. But what I do know is that despite these variants having exactly the opposite goal, they both feel very similar, and also play just like the main game. These variants will not make you like this if you didn't already. But if you did enjoy the main game they are a welcome addition.
The only issue I have with the game is the dice. They are far too small. In a game of speed, where you are picking up, rolling, then assessing a group of dice as quickly as possible, these are not big enough. Whereas the tokens are beautifully thick. Look below. They are so chunky and easy on little fingers to pick up and move around with ease. Whereas the dice are tiny. Hard to pick up quickly. And hard to read in a time pressured environment. It's strange. The designers clearly thought about this, otherwise why make the tokens to ridiculously thick? So, why then not do the same to the dice? Cost I presume. But is is a shame. And you cannot replace them as they are custom dice. Maybe Etsy will fix this?!
Overall, this is a nice addition to a family collection if you enjoy the fast-paced frantic nature of real-time games with limited strategy, and lots of luck based dice throwing. I find this to be highly entertaining myself and a pleasant distraction from the more serious games I play. And I am a real sucker for anything HP branded! But this won't be for everyone. So consider your family and group wisely. But if you ever want to throw some dice down with me, One, Two, Three, Wingardium Leviosa...