I don’t generally see the point in getting themed-versions of a family game, such as Pokémon Monopoly or Lord of the Rings Risk (though we have both of those, received as gifts). But when both my sons requested the Harry Potter version of the board game Clue, I decided it would be a fun game to play as a family. All of us except the youngest has read – and enjoyed – all seven of the Harry Potter books. And we all enjoy the movies. Besides, this version of the game adds new twists to the original board game.
Like the original Clue, it requires at least three players. (Otherwise, since every clue would be held either by you or your opponent, or else be hiding in the secret envelope, the game would go much too fast and require little deductive reasoning.) Over Christmas break, my sons had the opportunity to play with their cousins. But here at home, with our usual schedules, getting three people together at one time to play a board game is a challenge.
With spring break, I promised Al that we would finally be able to play. So we played tonight – twice. One added wrinkle to the HP version is that each character (I was Ron the first time, Hermione for the second game) gets a limited number of House Points to start the game. There is apparently no way to gain more points, but with each turn the possibility of having to turn up a Dark Card that may result in losing points.
Other cards, called Help Cards (one is issued to each player at the start, and there are two ways to get additional ones during the game) may keep you from losing those points. But there are many Help Cards, and only twice did I have the one needed at that time. And the first game we played, all three of us lost all our House Points before anyone could make an Accusation.
Another interesting feature is that the board – like the Hogwarts Castle – reconfigures itself with nearly every turn. One of the dice has the symbols of the four Houses (the other two sides result in either getting a Help Card, or having to turn up a Dark Card), and whenever a House symbol comes up, a gear attached to the bottom of the board must be turned. This changes both what secret passages are available (and where they lead to) and what doors are open to each room.
Other than that, it’s the same game with new faces. No one is murdered – instead a Hogwarts student has disappeared. One of the Suspects did it, using a magical item or spell, in one of the rooms of Hogwarts. So in our second game, instead of (for example) moving Mrs. Peacock and the rope from room to room of a mansion, my older son and I were moving Dolores Umbridge and the spell Impedimenta around the castle, as we raced to figure out which was the right room.
One more detail – in this game the first person to figure it out may still not win. In order to make an accusation you have to get to Dumbledore’s office. And guessing (rightly) where I was headed and why, my older son got there first. And as he narrowly escaped losing his last 5 House Points while almost to the doorway, his was the privilege to denounce Dolores. (If you’ve read the books, you know what a nasty character she is.)