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Subject: The Harry Potter TCG rss

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Brendan Flood
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Hello there and thanks for reading my review! I am reviewing the Harry Potter TCG that came out in 2001. My friend picked up quite a few packages for her son cheaply at a discount store for Christmas and called me over to teach it since she isn't a gamer. The following are my thoughts on the game. The booster packs had already been opened and combined with the starter when I got over there so everything here is to the best of my understanding.

What It Comes With: Like any Wizards TCG it comes in boosters and a starter. The starter seemed to offer enough for 2 players to get started with the game. It offered 2 wizards/witches to use as your character, some spell, lesson, and creature cards to be used. It also had counters that we used to show damage on creatures. It didn't come with matches, which as I understand were added in an expansion booster, along with Quiditch lessons. It also didn't have any items or adventures in it, but those can all be added through boosters. There were rares that had holograms and foils on them. The artwork was quite good in my opinion. The cards were depicted in a cartoon style, but it worked well with the artwork from the book and seemed to be nicely done. The cards are your standard Magic card durability, which is to say they should survive with careful play, but serious play will warrant buying plastic protectors. The layout of the cards were easy to read and follow.

Gameplay: I am not going to offer a comprehensive review of the rules here. Rather I am going to offer my thoughts on the flow of the game. This game is going to seem very similar to anyone who has played TCGs in the past, particularly Magic the Gathering. You and your opponent have a card avatar that is a witch or wizard from the books. It contains a power that can be used during the game, but in the games I played, neither of us used ours to be honest. The starter came with a foldout paper map to play on that made the flow of the game very easy.

You have 60 cards in your deck that you use to combat your opponent. The first one to run out of cards from this deck loses, so all cards that 'attack' your opponent actually are just removing cards from the deck and putting them into the discard. You have several ways to attack your opponent. Spells can directly attack the opponent, or any of their creatures, dependent on the text on the card. Creatures stay in play once brought out and directly attack the opponent for a given amount at the start of your turn. Unlike Magic, creatures do not fight creatures. This makes the game move quicker since wizards are taking damage from several sources and have little defense. Finally, you can bring out a match card that has certain conditions on it to win it. If you win it you might end up with a good benefit or just damaging your opponent. There are also item cards that offer a benefit to you like more lesson points. There are also adventures that cost 2 actions to put into play, but stay in effect until the opponent finishes the adventure, which is usually some negative thing like discarding a certain number of cards. These adventures can be rather nasty with things like spells or creatures can't damage an opponent until solved. Lesson cards are the lands from Magic in this game. They are used to pay for the cards you bring out, but do not 'tap', but rather just have to be present. You can even use the same lesson twice in a turn for your two actions.

Here is a breakdown of a turn.
1. Draw a card - you always have to draw at the start of your turn.
2. Resolve any creature damage - do this if applicable.
3. Take 2 actions - these can be drawing a card, playing a card (lesson, creature, spell, match)

That's about all there is to a turn. The game is pretty simple compared to Magic or other TCG since you don't have to tap and untap things, you just need 1 of the designated lesson type, not a certain amount of each type like in Magic, and it moves quickly.

Final Thoughts: I wasn't real sure what to expect when I came over to teach it. I wound up really liking the game. It has all the feel of a TCG without a lot of the hassle of micromanagement involved in more complex ones. The game moves quickly so you can easily shuffle up and get several games in in rapid fire succession. It may seem to simple to someone used to playing Magic though. I liked the idea of creatures going directly after your opponent, but it made stopping them a little harder since you needed specific spells to target them. I built a deck based on spell and creature damage and won each time. This may be a downside too, if your opponent is younger and hasn't been exposed to deck building in TCG, they will need help since this game still has a lot of moving parts to keep track of and try to build a strategy around. I helped my friend's son with a few ideas on how to build a deck, and left mine intact for him to use with his friends. Another potential downside is that this is of course another game like Magic where what you spend can directly affect the power of your deck. That is probably the biggest reason I don't play Magic, the cost of getting a deck ready to play against other power decks. I am also a little leery of marketing TCGs to kids since they are more impulsive spenders and the idea of the card you need being in the next pack can drive the bill up. That being said, I still recommend this game. I had a lot of fun with it, trying out new ideas and it felt like a wizard battle, as much can be conveyed in card form. I am uncertain of the print and availability status of this game, but if you find it with some boosters cheap, I'd recommend picking up a copy!
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Iain K
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Nice review, a couple things I'd comment on Brendan.

(1) as a "dead" CCG kids can't just walk into a store and drop their allowance on impulse buys as they can with CCGs in print.

(2) I've played this successfully with younger kids using decks that I, the adult, built. I expect that as they get older and more experienced with the game, they'll be more capable of building decks for themselves.

(3) There are no perfect decks ... the game does work, and every time some says "I have a potions deck that beats everything ... someone smacks them down with some other deck (I have a Quiddich deck that seems tailor made for this ... but see there I go )

(4) The theme is a big draw for many of the folks I've played with. Magic is a bit too generic or even weird for some for example. But non-CCGamers who like Harry Potter are willing to give this game a go, often to their pleasant surprise.

Cheers!
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Mystery McMysteryface
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I traded for this game over 1 year ago and have no idea how it works! It has been sitting in my house unplayed and unloved. soblue
 
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Peter Marchlewitz
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Wow, my wife and I played this ages ago.
I didn't like the damage method, where you lose cards when you take damage. Thematically makes sense but it could really hoop you if you lost powerful cards. Too much luck, but it was still fun...
 
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Simon Woodward
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Thanks for the review!

I've had fun with this game with my kids (8 and 6). We love the HP books and the school-theme and art of this game. I got 1500 sleeved cards from the first two sets on ebay, and prebuilt a bunch of 40-card decks (like the starters) based on ideas found here and at pojo.com, and we played them against each other. 40 cards seemed to work well for us, for game length, although it's not a long game.

I really liked the way the game flowed, it is very smooth and I do like the damage method. Card play is mostly tactical, since you don't know what you're going to draw, and who finally wins can be a little random because of drawing the right cards at the right time. You need to play several games for that to even out. I guess most CCGs are like that, the strategic side is in the deck building.

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EgorjLileli wrote:
I traded for this game over 1 year ago and have no idea how it works! It has been sitting in my house unplayed and unloved. soblue
You can start with the prebuilt 40-card starter decks (Herminone and Draco) to get the idea of the game play. I assume you have the rules? The play mat is quite useful to if you have it, but not essential.

http://www.pojo.com/harrypotter/ccg/ccgrules.shtml

It's a CCG, so building your own deck(s) is part of the game. A standard deck is 60 cards plus one wizard/witch. You may put any combination of cards in the deck but may not have more than 4 of the same card. Except you can have as many lesson cards as you want.
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Andy Stout
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Palpatine wrote:
Wow, my wife and I played this ages ago.
I didn't like the damage method, where you lose cards when you take damage. Thematically makes sense but it could really hoop you if you lost powerful cards. Too much luck, but it was still fun...
If you understand probability, you'll see that this is just false, and that losing cards doesn't affect anything. Think about it this way: what if those cards were discarded from the bottom of your deck? Then it wouldn't affect you at all, right? Well, since you don't know what's on top of the deck, there's no difference between the top and the bottom.

In fact, I'd argue that most of the time it helps you: first of all, it helps you better pinpoint the probabilities of what's left in the deck; and second of all, if you have any cards that let you get cards from the discard pile, then you now have more options than if you hadn't had to discard those cards from your deck. The only time it possibly hurts you is if you have cards that let you search your deck for something, in which case a smaller deck indeed cuts off options.

This is a classic Magic newbie fallacy, though. This is why new Magic players are always drawn to "milling" cards (cards that discard cards from your opponent's deck), and despite the fact that they've printed cards that can mill half your opponent's deck in one go they've (almost) never seen tournament play, because they help your opponent more often than they hurt. In fact, with Magic pretty much the only time milling cards see play is when people use it to discard their OWN deck. With Harry Potter this obviously makes no sense because your deck is your life total, but the above two paragraphs still hold.
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Mystery McMysteryface
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manukajoe wrote:
EgorjLileli wrote:
I traded for this game over 1 year ago and have no idea how it works! It has been sitting in my house unplayed and unloved. soblue
You can start with the prebuilt 40-card starter decks (Herminone and Draco) to get the idea of the game play. I assume you have the rules? The play mat is quite useful to if you have it, but not essential.

http://www.pojo.com/harrypotter/ccg/ccgrules.shtml

It's a CCG, so building your own deck(s) is part of the game. A standard deck is 60 cards plus one wizard/witch. You may put any combination of cards in the deck but may not have more than 4 of the same card. Except you can have as many lesson cards as you want.
Yes, I have the rules, have read them, and still don't understand how it works. I have zero experience with CCG, RPG, D&D, or anything remotely of this type of genre.
 
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Peter Marchlewitz
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If you understand probability, you'll see that this is just false, and that losing cards doesn't affect anything. Think about it this way: what if those cards were discarded from the bottom of your deck? Then it wouldn't affect you at all, right? Well, since you don't know what's on top of the deck, there's no difference between the top and the bottom.

In fact, I'd argue that most of the time it helps you: first of all, it helps you better pinpoint the probabilities of what's left in the deck; and second of all, if you have any cards that let you get cards from the discard pile, then you now have more options than if you hadn't had to discard those cards from your deck. The only time it possibly hurts you is if you have cards that let you search your deck for something, in which case a smaller deck indeed cuts off options.

This is a classic Magic newbie fallacy, though. This is why new Magic players are always drawn to "milling" cards (cards that discard cards from your opponent's deck), and despite the fact that they've printed cards that can mill half your opponent's deck in one go they've (almost) never seen tournament play, because they help your opponent more often than they hurt. In fact, with Magic pretty much the only time milling cards see play is when people use it to discard their OWN deck. With Harry Potter this obviously makes no sense because your deck is your life total, but the above two paragraphs still hold.[/q]

I do understand probability.

That aside,
MTG has a life point system to track damage... unlike Harry Potter TCG. Not a fair comparison actually...
I didn't say anything about where the cards discarded come from. I think it is equally bad losing them from the top or bottom, or anywhere else in the deck for that matter.
It is not a damage design feature I prefer... I like Magic's better.
According to other reviews, I am not the only one.
However, like I said, I did enjoy this game 8 years ago when I played it. We still have tonnes of the cards... 600 or so I think.
 
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Simon Woodward
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The main difference in a CCG is that you can build your own deck. Also note that the players' decks stay separate the whole time (the cards do not ever get mixed).

In HP you can choose any 61 cards to be your deck (provided there's not more than 4 the same) one of which is a wizard/witch. You'll want a mixture of spells, creatures and lessons etc, try limiting it to 2 colours.

Let's say you've built 2 decks (they don't need to be the same). The 40 cards starter decks are good to start with.

Each player place your wizard/witch face up, shuffle the other 60 cards and deal yourself 7. Note the special ability your wizard/witch gives you.

The first player:

1. Draws a card.

2. If they have any creatures down, the creatures now damage the opponent (the opponent flips cards from their deck into their discard pile)

3. Do up to two actions from the following choices:
- draw a card
- play a lesson card down in front of you
- play a creature card down in front of you (provided you have enough lessons).
- play a spell card into your discard pile (provided you have enough lessons) and do what it says (e.g. damage your opponent (his deck) or creatures (if they die they're discarded, otherwise you'll need some tokens to mark their damage), etc)

[items, adventures, locations, additional characters and matches cards may also be played, they're more advanced but work in a similar way...]

The other player then does the same 3 steps. That's all there is to it. As soon as one player's deck is empty, they lose. You're basically trying to empty your opponent's deck while protecting your own (e.g. by killing his creatures).


 
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Andy Stout
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I should've made clear that it was this:

Palpatine wrote:
...it could really hoop you if you lost powerful cards...
that was the fallacy. Which damage method you prefer is personal taste, and certainly I agree that Magic is the better game. But

Palpatine wrote:
MTG has a life point system to track damage... unlike Harry Potter TCG. Not a fair comparison actually...
That's actually *exactly* what I'm comparing. The person being damaged is *more* benefited by Harry Potter's system than by Magic's system. Any bad effect is purely psychological.
 
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