Flitwick’s Menagerie (Αndy Smith, HP Nationals, London, 1/9/02)
While most people at GenCon were probably concentrating on the Magic GP and the PTQ’s, tucked away in a small corner of the hall was a bunch of dedicated players for the Harry Potter TCG. Attendance was relatively low, as only about 15 different faces played over the 4 days, but the age range was good and the variety of decks made play great fun.
Thursday, Friday and Saturday had been taken up with the End-Of-Year Tests – a series of Constructed (Restricted) tourneys to test the players in all five of the different Lesson types in the game. I’d only played in 4, but had managed to win 3 (Care of Magical Creatures, Transfiguration and Charms) and place 2nd in the other (Quidditch), so I was feeling quietly confident going into the final event, the Open Nationals, especially as the deck I would be playing – Flitwicks Menagerie - hadn’t lost a game in the 9 matches we’d played on Thursday.
There was some time before the Nationals started, so all the players chatted and did some last minute playtesting. I had a couple of games against Tony Boydell, who was running a Mono-Quidditch deck, and he swapped in a few Riding The Centaur in place of Argus Filch after discovering that he had no protection against my Marble Gargoyles. I’d already made my last-minute changes – 2 Through The Arch in place of 2 Lost Notes – and was pretty happy with the way the deck was performing.
Starter – Professor Filius Flitwick
2 Black Bat
4 Marble Gargoyle
2 Hebridean Black Dragon
4 Picking On Neville
4 Halloween Feast
3 Borrowed Wand
2 Through The Arch
11 Care Of Magical Creatures
With no healing, this was a speed creature deck – with a good draw, I could play Lesson, Lesson, Borrowed Wand, Marble Gargoyle in the first 2 turns. Flitwick let me fetch a Halloween Feast for free, and Hedwig could recycle the Through The Arch’s or the spells. Trevor and Kelpie were spell defence, and finally Cage provided a little protection against the Fluffy / Jawbind combination.
The playtesting I did against Tony’s deck worried me a bit – Trevor and Kelpie couldn’t absorb the damage he was doing with 3 Month Long Match + Catch The Snitch, and my deck ran too low on Lessons to be able to solve Riding The Centaur easily. I hoped I could survive the 1-2 turns that RtC would stall me, but as I had yet to play against that configuration of his deck, that would have to wait for the competition proper. I wandered around a bit, watching the other playtesting as the time ticked past and the start time drew nearer. The decks seemed about evenly split between Quidditch and Creature decks, including a couple with both, but there were some surprises. One was Xavier, playing a Ron The Brave deck with plenty of Adventures, Creatures and Characters. This was a sort of deck I’d never even seen before, and he seemed to be doing pretty well with it.
Round One – me vs. Tony
I’ve already described Tony’s deck – suffice to say, the first game went quickly as I had 2 Marble Gargoyles in play by the end of the third turn. I Scribblifors’d a couple of Riding the Centaurs and he had no reply to the amount of damage I was dealing.
The 2nd game took longer – a well-timed Riding The Centaur stalled me for a little while and I couldn’t find enough Creatures to really attack. I stacked up on Creatures though, and then when I solved RtC I had plenty of damage in play. 2-0.
Round Two – me vs. Gary Moore
Gary was another adult player, and I’d played his Quid/Charms deck the previous day in the Quidditch tournament. Since then he’d swapped in a set of Stream Of Flames to deal with my Creatures, and I lost several Marble Gargoyles to his attacks, but with my denial he had trouble getting to a high enough power to deal me significant damage, especially as my Trevors were taking the initial hits and he had to keep killing Marble Gargoyles. Eventually he ran out of Creature defence. Another 2-0 win.
Round Three – me vs. Adam
Adam was a surprise to see at this stage. His deck consisted of pretty much every card he thought was cool – Philosophers Stone, Black Dragon, Galleon, etc. Even more surprising, the games were both close. This was the first deck I’d faced which involved Creatures, and my Gargoyles were only doing 2 points of damage per turn. I had to work up to my Black Dragon to deal the damage, but then a Steelclaw finished things off. Another 2-0 win, but I realised that this deck had problems against other Creatures.
Round Four – me vs. Raquel
Raquel’s my girlfriend, so most of the playtesting we do is against each other. We’d run her Quid/Charms/Trans Wand Shop deck against my Flitwick deck several times the previous night, and we knew that this would be close. Or at least, we thought it would be. As it happened, she just didn’t draw enough Lessons to get up to speed fast enough, and both games finished pretty quickly, as the lowest denial she has in there is Scribblifors, and below 7 lessons there wasn’t much she could do against my Gargoyles. Another 2-0 win, and now I was a 4-0 in a 5 round Swiss, no cut. Looking good.
Round Five – me vs. Xavier
Finally, a chance to play the Ron The Brave deck. Xavier was 3-1 at this point, so the first prize would probably go to the winner of this match. He played out Adventures early and grabbed Fred and George and Lesson providing Characters with the ability, but unfortunately he didn’t really draw the adventures he needed early on. Both games I had a lot of Lessons in hand early, and was able to race up to 7 power by turn 4. Using Scribblifors on an Adventure and a Character really slows your opponent down, as he loses 4 actions of play rather than two normally, and due to his playing Characters he took a long time to get up to speed, so by the time he got out a Creature my Gargoyles had already hit him twice. After that I could just build to the Dragon and finish things off. Once more, 2-0.
An interesting tournament. I was more than ever convinced of the value of speed in Harry Potter, as my early Gargoyles had won me several games. My deck still needs work – the Kelpies are of dubious value, although I like the fact that they can take a Fouled! and still take another spell, the discard of a Lesson so early is awkward. I tended to play them later, after the Gargoyles, and wondered whether, at that point, they are the best play. My Doxys and Black Bats are also annoying – in particular I wonder whether Cunning Fox, Vicious Wolf, or Quintaped might not do better. I was unconvinced of the value of Black Bat’s 2 instant damage, although the fact it could be played for only 4 power is a big plus mark. On balance, Black Bat earns its place by virtue of its cheapness, while Doxy, although it killed a few Foxes for me, is probably the most likely card in there to be replaced. I do need the Creature defence, though – possibly replacing the Doxys with a dedicated Creature defence card such as Lapifors would be the best way to go. If only Lapifors let me target my own Creatures, so that I could discard Hedwig with it the way Doxy lets me, that would be perfect. As it doesn’t, the decision is closer. Something to think about. I figured I’d been very lucky in not meeting any of the more Creature heavy decks out there, anyway.
All in all, a nice tournament, with the opportunity to play lots of new people and, more importantly, maybe stay in contact with them and play them again! My deck is coming along well, but I saw enough to give me lots of nice deck ideas – I think I’ll have a go at building a Match/Snitch deck, for a start – and plenty of cards to build them with.
Contact me at