Hello everybody. When I last wrote a featured article, the Chamber of Secrets set had not yet come out.My article, linked here, described a deck with a starter of Ron Weasley, which featured my favorite girl, Hannah Abbott. At the time, I thought I would be abandoning this deck type to concentrate on designs suggested by the new set. However, the boxes I received were too spotty on the choice rares to put together any completely new deck type as I had originally hoped. Additionally, I couldnít help but notice that Hannah and her friends picked up a lot of help in this new set.The girl with the pigtails beckoned me back, and I came running. This article will continue to evolve the same deck. Here was how it looked right before the latest set came out:

 

(Ron Weasley)

4 Hannah Abbott

4 Professor Quirrell

4 Forbidden Corridor

3 Griphook

4 Picking on Neville

3 Chocolate Frogs

1 Gringottís Vault Key

2 The Famous Harry Potter

1 Photo Album

2 Borrowed Wand

2 Scribblifors

3 Jawbind Potion

1 Argus Filch

1 Madam Pomfrey

1 Hermione, Top Student

1 Professor Flitwick

1 Professor McGonagall

1 Professor Snape

4 Potion Lessons

8 Transfiguration Lessons

9 Charms Lessons

 

The deck in this state should be considered second-tier, at best. Letís see if we can move it up the ladder some. The deckís main weaknesses are as follows:

 

1)      With three different lesson types, the deck is prone to inconsistencies in development.

2)      Lack of healing means the deck might not recover from a poor start.

3)      The lock is imperfect, as Jawbind only stops spells.

4)      With one of our two actions devoted to the recursion engine, we are in sore need of more.

5)      Our card drawing is problematical as both Photo Album and Famous Harry have issues.

6)      The win method is very slow, making this a poor choice for tournaments requiring speed.

7)      The deck is vulnerable to anti-spell disruption from the opponent.

8)      This is a difficult deck to play, as it has a fair share of complexity.

 

These are the main strengths of the deck:

 

1)      Most opposition isnít designed to stop characters or locations, the key cards in this archetype.

2)      A low lesson requirement and resistance to Picking on Neville makes this good versus denial.

3)      Opponents are very prone to making mistakes when playing against this unusual deck.

 

The new Chamber of Secrets set did bring in some quality characters that are not one-use types. This increases the likelihood that players may devote card slots to character removal. However, none of the new characters are so powerful that I consider this a likely occurence. Instead, the concern must chiefly be of the more general removal cards. The most bothersome opposing cards in the new set are probably Flying Car and Caught! Neither seems so strong that we wonít be able to work around them. Also, many of the deck archetypes suggested by the new set look beatable by Hannahís crew. I envision plant decks led by Sprout, Venomous Tentacular Juice decks, Angelina/match decks, and Arthur Weasley item decks. None of these scare me much.

 

There are a number of cards in the new set that might help similar decks to this one, but have some aspect that immediately eliminates them from consideration for inclusion in this design:

 

Fighting the Basilisk: An interesting kill method, had we stayed with adventures.

Arthur Weasley: We donít have an action to spare to use this as a finisher.

Weasley Twins: Again, we arenít doing adventures. Itís pretty lame anyway.

Dobbyís Help: We canít afford the 10 lessons needed for this.

Lockhartís Hair Care Potions: Donít be tempted to replace Ron, as one action per character played is crucial. We canít afford to wait to get it, or worry about having it removed from us. Besides, this being an item, it lacks synergy with Professor Quirrell.

Moaning Myrtleís Bathroom: More actions, but a location canít be used with Forbidden Corridor.

Venomous Tentacular Juice: Too expensive to play, and forces us to play green.

Invisible Ink: Cheats upwards a little on the lessons we need to fully run the deck with no real gain. We are more worried about non-lesson cards. This is more appropriate for lesson denial variants.

 

There are a number of other cards that merited more than a brief glance for evaluation, but seem to miss the cut in the end. Here is my list of last minute rejects:

 

Angelina Johnson: Iíd love to have extra actions, but I canít see adding otherwise useless matches to trigger this. Adding Forbidden Corridor to an AJ-led match deck is a fascinating idea, however.

Colin Creevey: We love to draw cards + fill up opposing hands, but donít have an action to spare.

Fat Friar: Same problem, although the two point repeatable heal is hard to pass by.

Percy Weasley: Alternate win card thatís too slow to warrant making room in a tight deck design.

Professor Sprout: Professor Quirrell insists that we shouldnít use creatures.

Hover Charm: Dobbyís Disappearance is strictly better.

Bundium Ooze: I love this card! It punishes people who try to mess with you by putting down one large threat, and kicks them in the rear for trying. When recycled, it becomes something to be feared. If I had stuck with a green variant, I would have found a way to include a copy.

Impersonating Goyle: Sort of an improved Vanishing Referee. This card is actually a poor substitute for Forbidden Corridor, since it can recursively zap Hannah. Unfortunately, Hannah then has to grab her sister and this card, meaning you have to hurt your opponent with the fetched character. Bleah!

Magical Mess Remover: A cute way to sweep off excess one-use character ďresidueĒ. Deeper analysis indicated this wasnít as good as I expected it would be.

Catching Apples: Alternate win, but you donít really want your opponent to have the choice on which card they must bounce back to their hand.

Floo Powder: Iíd rather have the flexibility of searching for any card, that Gringottís Vault Key gives me. Since the Key costs the same number of lessons as Forbidden Corridor, Iím not being slowed down by using it instead of this.

 

And now the analysis of the cards that actually did make it into my latest version of the deck:

 

Spiderís Exodus: One copy of this replaced one of the four Quirrells. This allowed me a way of dealing with creature pressure when I had a used Quirrell on the board and no way to remove it. Sine this doesnít bounce items, I have more leeway in sneaking a couple of items into my own deck. Thus, I left in the two Borrowed Wands I was previously leaning towards excluding. The bad news is that this deck is now less effective against opposing item decks. The jury is still out on this particular change.

Ginny Weasley: A wonderful addition! Previously, I had two Famous Harrys, with a Photo Album backup, in case my opponent had a Harry for a starter. Now, Famous Harry is the backup for Ginny. Ginny allows me a lot of early drawing to get the cards to set up, and since the draw is optional, I can stop the virtual pain when there is no need for further cards. This is a huge improvement.

Entrancing Enchantments: These replace Chocolate Frogs. The latter cost one less to play, but that isnít a big concern, and the fact that they couldnít fetch Argus Filch or Griphook was quite annoying.

Dobbyís Disappearance: I replaced one of the four Picking on Nevilles (PoN) with one of these. Unlike PoN, this is only a temporary solution to a problem. On the plus side, they canít evade it by choosing two other cards to clear out. Also on the plus side, the bounce makes their hand size larger. And finally on the plus side, the extra action we get is a nice tempo boost. I think itís proper that both this and PoN fit in the deck. I just havenít settled on the right mix yet.

Deboning: This last addition outshines them all. This card is almost broken. And this is the deck that displays why. Jawbind Potion used to be the recursion card of choice once your lock was set up. It squashed all spells and hastened your opponentís demise by two damage a turn. The deck splashed green solely to include that card. But Jawbind couldnít stop our opponent from laying out a location, making our Forbidden Corridor go away. It also couldnít thwart the playing of threats in the form of creatures, items, or adventures. This made our ďlockĒ tenuous, at best.Now, we make sure that while the lock is active, our opponent canít play anything. Even if they resist the temptation to use those ďwastedí actions for drawing, they are still required to draw a card at the start of their turn. As youíve prevented them from playing this card, their hand size will slowly increase over several turns, while the Corridor chips down their lessons in play. As an added benefit, deboning is red, so we can drop green from the deck, giving it more consistency.

 

Without green in the deck, there was no need for Hermione, Top Student. She was subsequently yanked in favor of another lesson. Here is the current deck listing:

 

(Ron Weasley)

4 Hannah Abbott

3 Professor Quirrell

1 Spiderís Exodus

4 Forbidden Corridor

3 Griphook

3 Picking on Neville

1 Dobbyís Disappearance

2 Entrancing Enchantments

2 Gringottís Vault Key

2 Ginny Weasley

1 The Famous Harry Potter

2 Borrowed Wand

2 Scribblifors

3 Deboning

1 Argus Filch

1 Madam Pomfrey

1 Professor Flitwick

1 Professor McGonagall

1 Professor Snape

11 Transfiguration Lessons

11 Charms Lessons

 

Because Deboning requires seven lessons to play, Iím keeping the Borrowed Wands in the deck, even though they conflict with Quirrell. Once the Deboning process starts, our opponent wonít be able to play any more creatures or items to put pressure on us. Also, since the removal effect of the Forbidden Corridor happens before their draw, if your opponent chooses to remove a creature to satisfy it, then that creature will not damage you on their turn. I only own one Madam Pomfrey, a situation that Iím trying to rectify. When I get a second copy of her, sheíll also go into this deck, perhaps replacing a Griphook, as I can fetch the latter with Hannah when I need him. Note that I left Snape in the deck, despite veering away from playing green. Heís in there only for his seven point heal (and he counts as a lesson).

At this point, the trickiest past of the deck is how to handle the short window your opponent has to operate when losing their last lesson makes your Forbidden Corridor get discarded. What you do is often dependent on what your opponent is playing. In most cases, you will simply cast a Scribblifors to clean up any annoying non-lessons on their side of the table (especially developmental cards like wands). You could also accomplish this with Quirrell. It would be smart to get Filch into play if you havenít already done so. You donít want your opponent to slip in Through the Arch on you on the turn you canít cast Deboning. If Filch is out, they have no reason to play an adventure. If Filch is already out, and you are using Borrowed Wand to get to the seven lesson level, you might take advantage of the lull to put lessons down so that you have greater freedom to use Quirrell later in the game. The other option is to hit them with Griphook to help speed up the game. Most likely, they will put two lessons down on their turn. They could try to put down one lesson and cast some sort of item or spell, but quite frankly there arenít any scary items or spells of such low power. As soon as they put the two lessons down, use your Hannah to fetch the Corridor again and a Deboning, and start the process anew.

This deck still has some weak spots. With proper play, it automatically loses to decks led by the old Draco or Crabbe and Goyle. It should also have considerable problems with other Ron Weasley decks. But how often have you seen top notch players running those? Yeah, itís not a big concern. A little more frustrating (for you and your opponent) is the slowness of the win. If you take a lot of damage early, and lose Snape and Pomfrey, you might not get their hand filled up quickly enough to get the win before you draw yourself out of cards. Just remember, if they are close to losing, you can switch into offensive mode. Use Hannah to fetch Griphooks instead of her sister, and use them on consecutive turns (coupled with a Deboning) as the finisher. Keep a close eye on the number of cards in their library and hand so you know when to lower the boom on them, and not have the game last longer than it has to.

Before Chamber of Secrets, I had belittled this archetype as second rate, due to its many flaws. Not anymore. This deck is now quite strong, and Hannah, the pig-tailed one, is a witch without mercy. Just make sure that your life insurance is paid in full before you play this, as you opponents will surely want to strangle you for inflicting this slow death upon them.

 

Hope you enjoyed this,
Jeff Hodgkinson (Aardvark)