I enjoyed this game. I thought it was challenging without being impossible.
Theme and What is it?
Last year’s Tri-Wizard tournament saw the return of You Know Who and the death of Cedric Diggory. A new year has begun at Hogwarts and tensions are high. With his return it’s up to all of you to thwart his rise to power. There are Death Eaters everywhere and with a little luck and a bit of magic you just might be able to stop him right here.
Harry Potter: Death Eaters Rising is a challenging cooperative dice game where you will take turns visiting various locations in order to find support, recruit other wizards, and defeat the forces of darkness.
Harry Potter: Death Eaters Rising is a simple game mechanically. On your turn you’ll choose a location to visit. Each location will have three different wizards of varying factions. You’ll then roll a dice and adjust You Know Who’s position to be facing one of the locations. Voldemort (because not using his name just gives him more power) will then interact with the position he’s at by wounding the non-death eater wizards and the location. Death Eaters at his location will then activate.
After this you’ll gather a dice pool based on the faction you belong to, the wizards you’ve recruited, and any tokens you may wish to spend. You roll the dice and may keep any you wish as long as you keep at least one, rerolling the rest. You lock each of your dice to a wizard at your location on one of the ones in your pool of wizards. If you build the appropriate number of icons on a friendly wizard at the location you may recruit them to your team. If you’ve placed enough dice on your own wizards or headquarters then you may use their special abilities. If you’ve placed enough dice to match all of the death eater’s symbols you’ve caused them a wound.
If you defeat enough death eaters then you can defeat Voldemort and win the game. If Voldemort and his followers corrupt both buildings and their location, corrupt any four buildings, or if a player loses all of their heroes then you lose.
This is based on a game called Thanos Rising which I was very excited for. I enjoy Harry Potter and thought the game would match that theme very well. I was very impressed with what I saw when I opened the box and was looking forward to seeing the game in action.
Game Build Quality
I think the bits and bobs are quite nice. The custom dice have a good heft and are easy to read, though in certain lights some of the colors are a bit close and required that we count the faces to make sure we’d grabbed the right dice. The cards are decent quality, though a bit thin for my tastes. Cardboard tokens and board are all of a good thickness and didn’t warp. The large Voldemort figure was nice, though the pale white caused some of the face detail to disappear but it did match the character very well.
All of the art is images from the movies. While this didn’t bother me I can understand where some people won’t like it.
This is a challenging game with a difficult set of enemies. The randomness of the dice might make the game tougher or easier depending on how you roll. You’ll also need to work together frequently to avoid failure.
Age Range & Weight
The box says 11+ and I think that’s pretty close. I think it might be a little much for younger players and 11 may be right on the cusp of being able to handle the difficulty of this game. If you do play with someone that young be ready to help them and watch how they’re reacting to the game.
I enjoyed this game. I thought it was challenging without being impossible. There’s a need to work together that helps focus everyone around the table and the random nature of the dice makes alpha-gaming really tough.
While the luck of the dice can be frustrating, you can get tokens to mitigate that luck. These are especially nice since they can be used on anyone’s turn. This is part of why teamwork is so important. Using your tokens to help someone else will most likely result in them getting tokens that they can use to help you succeed.
This can lead to a moment where the players get progressively more powerful. The game deals with this by revealing Voldemort. During setup Voldemort is placed in the center of the deck and once he’s drawn, it increases the power level of the Death Eaters. Many of them have an ability that only applies once Voldemort is revealed. This keeps the game challenging without ramping up the difficulty for no reasons.
Since the game is dice based it’s difficult to plan your turn. Then as you are planning what you want to do and how you want to save and use your dice it can slow down on other player’s turns. The downtime can get particularly noticeable and does blemish the game slightly. Additionally, since all of the wizards come out randomly it means you can have momentary swings in the mages arrayed against you.
This game is based on the game Thanos Rising and as near as I can tell uses a similar but not identical systems. I’ve not played the original so can’t compare them. That said, I feel they did a nice job adjusting things to the Harry Potter theme. It has the feel of Order of the Phoenix where Voldemort is returning but has not yet returned. Then at the mid-point the game gets darker.
All in all, I feel like this game is a nice set of challenges with some good decisions while encouraging teamwork. It’s worth your time.
As always, try before you buy. Head to your local game store or con and see if you can get a demo of the game.
Until next time, beware of You Know Who in these difficult times and as always, be well.
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