If the name Harry Potter doesn’t mean something to you, the old cliche about living under a rock probably applies. Harry Potter was originally a series of fantasy books, aimed at a younger audience, but has become a multimedia phenomenon, with a series of mega-popular films that brought the book series even more fame. Written by previously-unknown J.K. Rowling, who is now one of the richest women in the world, Harry Potter is a fantasy world full of magic, both good and evil, perfect territory for a collectible card game.
The Harry Potter Trading Card Game is a strategy-based collectible game based on J. K. Rowling’s popular novels, designed by Wizards of the Coast. First-released in August 2001, the game was designed to compete with the upstart popularity of collectible card game titles like Yu-Gi-Oh!, Pokémon, and Magic: The Gathering. The card game release was also timed to appear around the release of the first film based on the Harry Potter novels.
Critics and fans loved the Harry Potter card game because of the way it fully-immersed players in Rowling’s Harry Potter universe, and remained true to the Harry Potter stories, as opposed to focusing on similarities to the more-popular movies. At the time of its release, the Harry Potter card game was the second-best selling toy in America, though the game went out of print in 2003, with no explanation from Wizards of the Coast.
Though adult fans of Harry Potter won’t be disappointed by the game play, this game was obviously designed for younger players. A game takes twenty minutes or less to play, and the cards themselves are marked “Ages 9 and up.” The game involves some random luck, though skill is a big part of gaming, so there is some intrigue for older players, and the game has high replay value.
Types of Cards
The game includes eight basic card types. Lesson cards are the most common cards played and the basic way the game is played. Each lesson card gives the player a power, and those powers are what you use to play the other cards in the game.
Spell cards get played directly into the discard pile, and each card has a different effect on the game. Each spell has a specific power cost, and players have to play different lessons to perform different spells. As any fan of the series knows, magic spells are a big part of the Harry Potter world.
Creature cards are some of the only cards that remain in the field of play. To summon a creature, a player must have a certain amount of power, and play a special lesson card type known as “Care of Magical Creatures.” Each character has a health point, to figure out how much damage they can take, as well as a specific amount of damage they can perform each turn.
Characters are not to be confused with creatures–they don’t require Lesson card or power points to play, though they do stay on the table like creature cards and come with specific abilities, like Creatures.
The other card types are Adventures, Items, Locations, and Matches, the last two of which were added to the game in expansion sets.
Though the cards are no longer in print, the game was expanded four times: the Quidditch Cup expansion, the Diagon Alley expansion, the Adventures at Hogwart’s expansion, and the Chamber of Secrets expansion. Each new card set added new rules and features to the game, increasing its complexity, much as the novels grew in complexity and added darkness to the series over time.
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, owning a set of these cards would make a nice addition to your Potter collection, though it is a difficult game to keep playing, due to the fact that it was cancelled, and the number of players still participating in the card game has decreased. Since Rowling has said that she does not plan on expanding the Potter universe, meaning she won’t write any more books for the series, it seems unlikely that the Harry Potter CCG will be brought back to life. Still, it is a fun game that remains true to the spirit of the original series.