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“The New Herbology Cards”

I was hoping to see a whole new category of lessons this time around. Personally, I'm looking forward to Defense Against the Dark Arts, which should provide for some very interesting card types. And I thought that maybe, just maybe, we'd see Herbology one of these days. I guess that isn't going to happen. The new Chamber of Secrets series includes Herbology cards, sure enough, but they're mixed into the existing Lesson types, particularly Care of Magical Creatures. But you know, that's okay. There is a natural link between Herbology and both Potions and Care of Magical Creatures, so they do nicely fit where they are, with new Plant Creatures joining Devil's Snare and Cobra Lily, and a few new Plant-related spells, items, and potions.

There aren't enough Herbology-related cards or enough variety to create an all-Herbology deck yet. Clearly, however, they are intended to be played together. The Sprout character, the Greenhouse location, and the Items nicely support and empower the Plant Creature cards. None of these Plant-related cards offer anything particularly new in the way of game play, though. Hopefully, there will come a time when Plants provide their own interesting effects. Perhaps the plants will be able to be combined as ingredients for potions, rather like Eel Eyes and Beetle Eyes can produce Bulgeye Potions now. We'll see.

For now, there are some of very interesting Herbology cards in the Chamber of Secrets series. It's worth a trip into the Greenhouse to see what's, uh, sprouting.

Professor Pomona Sprout
Character - Witch Hufflepuff Unique
Provides 1 CMC
Each of your Plants has 2 more Health. Provides CMC
The real kicker here is that we finally get a starting character which provides CMC power. Now the race is on to see who can come up with the first CMC deck with Sprout as the starter. Watch the deck garage over the next week or two and we'll see what comes up. The fact that Sprout gives plants an additional 2 health is nice, although there aren't a whole lot of Plants out there yet. This may become a lot more valuable as a more varied and powerful selection of plants becomes available in future series.

Greenhouse Three
Location - Unique
Cost: 5 CMC
Once during each player's turn, when he or she uses an Action to play a Plant card, he or she gets 1 more Action that turn.
Now I love anything that gives me extra actions. But just like with Sprout's power listed above, the fact that there aren't many plants available yet limits the value of this card. Of course, it's always a good idea to have a Location or two in your deck in case your opponent builds his strategy on one. And that extra Action will certainly come in handy when combined with a card like Mandrake or Venomous Tentacula.

Dragon-Dung Compost
Cost: 7 CMC
Before each of your turns, count the number of Plants you have in play. Do that much damage to your opponent.
Now this is where a Plant deck could get interesting. Individually, Plants don't cause all the much damage. But if you get this Item down, they suddenly gain a whole lot more firepower. It's better than a Bludger, that's for sure, but only if you stock up your hand with Plants. And then we're back to the same problem: there just aren't that many Plants available. But this card definitely gives a Plant deck some potential.

Cost: 7 CMC
Once during each of your turns, you may choose 1 of your opponent's Creatures in play. Prevent up to 3 damage from that Creature on your opponent's next turn.
Notice the way this is written: "Once during each of your turns." That means that if you haven't already used this ability, you can block that initial blast of damage from Creatures like Black Bat or Fang which do damage the moment they're played. This can be a life saver, and you can block more damage on subsequent turns. At a cost of seven lessons, this card will be fairly easy to get out, too. Unlike Compost, it's helpful effect isn't dependent on those scarce Plant cards.

Leaping Toadstools
Creature - Plant
Cost: 1 CMC
Once per turn, you may let Leaping Toadstools take 1 damage that you were going to take.
Damage: 0 
Health: 4
These are really not worth much. Since the most they can save you in any turn is a single card of damage, it's hardly worth spending the Action it takes to play them.

Umbrella Flowers
Creature - Plant
Cost: 3 CMC
Once per turn you may let Umbrella Flowers take 1 damage that you were going to take
Damage: 0 
Health: 6
Slightly more powerful Leaping Toadstools, but still not particularly useful. Even with Dragon-Dung Compost to give it a little bit of damage potential, this card is hardly worth the Action it takes to play it.

Venomous Tentacula
Creature - Plant
Cost: 4 CMC
You may use an Action to remove Venomous Tentacula from play to put a Potions lesson from your discard pile into play.
Damage: 2 
Health: 1
Okay, I like the fact that the Lesson goes directly into play, not just into your hand. And there are plenty of times when I'd give just about anything to regain lost Potions Lessons, which tend to dribble away when I play my Trans-Potions deck. Of course, there are so many Creature destroyers out there that I won't dare play this card until right when I needed that Lesson. The VT simply won't last long enough, even with Sprout upping its health to three, to be there when I need it. That means that I'll likely play this in a combination: Action one is the VT, Action 2 pulls out the Potions Lesson and puts it into play.

Creature - Plant
Cost: 5 CMC
You may use an Action and discard Mandrake from play to put a non-Healing Character card from your discard pile into your hand.
Damage: 3 
Health: 1
Grabbing a Character out of the discard pile is excellent.I know there are other cards that do this sort of thing, but this one is particularly nice. The Mandrake beats Chocolate Frogs, for example, in two ways: it lets you retrieve any Character, not just a Witch or Wizard, and it lets you pull it out of your discard pile, which doesn't cause any damage to your deck. This is the kind of card you play for the first Action and then follow it up with mining your discard pile for Action number two. You wouldn't want to take a chance on this Creature being knocked off before you had a chance to use it. I can see some really fun combinations using this card, especially since it's a Plant, which means that Greenhouse Three will buy you an extra Action to boot!

Whomping Willow
Creature - Plant - Unique
Cost: 9 CMC
To play this card, return 3 of your Care of Magical Creatures Lessons from play to your hand. Before each of your turns, if your opponent has any Items in play, choose 1 of them and discard it.
Damage: 8 
Health: 12
Three CMC Lessons gone! Ouch! But it's not so bad, since they go into your hand. And just take a look at what damage this beastie does! Eight points, plus wiping out Items. Now this is one nasty plant. It's going to take some doing to get it out on the table, with a cost of nine, but it's certainly worth working towards. Once it's out for a turn or two, it will do more damage than a Bulgeye Potion at a lower cost in Lessons down and Actions to play. The Willow is a card that will define a Herbology deck, no doubt. But watch out. Once your opponent realizes that you're playing with Plants, of course, he'll be keeping a Creature destroyer in reserve, waiting for the mighty Willow to throw its punch.

Venomous Tentacular Juice
Cost: 9 Potions
Count the number of cards in your opponent's hand. He or she draws twice that many cards.
I must have a mean streak. A card like this which forces your opponent to draw cards is just so much fun. Drawing is supposed to be a good thing, right? You build up your hand with all the cards you need for your favorite combinations. But in this case, it's just plain nasty. With a cost of nine lessons, this card won't come out early in the game, but that's okay since you wouldn't want to give your opponent a chance to find all the cards they want up front. This is a card to deplete their deck, and if you can follow it with a card to make them discard their hand--Griphook, for example--you're going to seriously mess up their day. I like the fact that this Potion requires no sacrifice of any Lesson cards, either.
I'm looking forward to the first Herbology decks to come along. And even more, I'm looking forward to new Plants and Herbology Items, Spells, and Locations. Perhaps we'll see a Neville card or an Ernie McMillan with some additional Plant effects. Certainly there could be a book such as Encyclopedia of Toadstools. That's one of the great things about this game: there is always so much potential for even better cards and combinations.

And I'm still hoping to see Defense Against the Dark Arts one of these days...

Interested in more information about Herbology and the magical plants of the Harry Potter books? Check out the Harry Potter Lexicon!

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