Harry Potter Labyrinth by Ravensburger
Players: 2 to 4
Playtime: ~20 minutes
Perfect for: Families who enjoy light and simple strategy/puzzle games and the flavor of Harry Potter
Harry Potter Labyrinth is a game of maze navigation! Players must move their pieces deftly across and through an ever-changing web of hallways and corridors to reach their locations. As the tiles move, one must be strategic about how to proceed efficiently and not inadvertently get blocked.
To begin Harry Potter Labyrinth, two to four players each retrieve their pawn and assemble the board: a 7×7 grid of tiles that each contain a corridor of some shape (straight, a turn, or both). Some tiles are pre-fixed to the board, and others temporarily placed during setup. Each person then receives a stack of random cards. These cards have a Harry Potter character on them which corresponds to place/tile somewhere on the board. The goal of each player is to manipulate the board and move their pawns to the appropriate space as indicated on their card.
The number of tiles in the game is one more than can fit on the board. As such, on a players’ turn they take the “extra” tile and slide it into one of the columns or rows in one direction, pushing a new tile out (which becomes the tile for the next player to use on their turn). This effectively shifts the maze, connecting or disconnecting new pathways. The stipulation is that the tile cannot be placed in the same space it was “ejected” from (i.e. reversing the last player’s turn). Also remember—because some tiles are fixed, or permanently glued to the game board, only certain rows and columns may be shifted. With the new configuration, the player moves their pawn through connected hallways to a desired location. If they reach the space with their Potterverse character, they discard that card and select the next one in their stack. If their stack runs out, that player wins the game.
What works in Harry Potter Labyrinth is the addictive simplicity of the game that is easy to learn and engaging enough to warrant multiple playthroughs. The game of Labyrinth has been around for decades, so the mechanic in the Harry Potter version isn’t novel, but it is timeless. There’s a reason this title has endured and its due to its fairly universal appeal—it’s something that caught be taught and played quickly, and at the end everyone is likely to enjoy the light blend of strategy and luck. And while multiple themed versions of Labyrinth exist, the Harry Potter edition feels particularly apt as the shifting passageways easily conjure up images of the moveable staircases within Hogwarts’ towers.
Players who already own and play an older or different version of Labyrinth may not get as much value out of the Harry Potter version as others—the rules and mechanics are essentially identical. Also, Harry Potter Labyrinth is a very light strategy game, so individuals looking for something longer or more complex may seek out something else.
Harry Potter Labyrinth is a great, simple family game ideal for people who don’t want to engage with something for hours on end and want to include players of all skill levels. While players with existing copies of the base version likely won’t find a reason to upgrade to the Harry Potter edition, for those missing this in their collection, this is a good opportunity to add it.
Recommended if you like: Carcasonne, Splendor
Gateway game to: Magic Maze
Final Grade: A
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