Cooperative deck-building game Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle is a favourite family game of ours, but I'd never tried to play it solo. The game can drag on very long, which is not much of a problem when you're having fun together, but when I am on my own, I usually reach for something else. Also I have never really felt like playing this two-handed. But yesterday Usaopoly posted designer Kami Mandell's new single-handed solo rules on their blog, so I finally played alone.
First a word of warning: Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle contains seven scenarios, one for each book. Every scenario adds new cards but also new mechanics and some surprises. I played game 7, so with everything added in. If you are afraid of spoilers, you should skip to the end now.
In this game you play as Harry, Ron, Hermione or Neville and you try to defeat all villains before they control all locations. The game uses a "dark arts" deck to have bad stuff happen every turn, letting you lose health or have the villains gain more control over locations. The villains also will hurt or hinder you. On your turn you play your cards (spells, items and allies from the books), gaining influence to buy better cards or attack tokens to slowly bring the villains down.
The solo rules change the set up and some effects in the game.
The Hogwarts market starts out with all Reparo! spells, that give influence or let you draw a card. They help you build your deck more easily and are not in the way in late gameplay.
You have a little control over which villains you want to face during your first few rounds.
You may add two items from other character's starting decks to your deck.
If you roll a Hogwarts die, you get the benefit twice.
You can save some influence tokens for your next turn.
Working against you:
Every location is already partly under control of the villains when it's revealed (and needs less of their influence to be lost).
If you have to reshuffle the dark arts deck, the villains gain more control over the current location.
If a dark events card makes you roll a dice, you have to do so twice and suffer both penalties.