Savor the Flavor
"Flavor" is a term that players use to describe how good a card is at telling a story, evoking a feeling, or representing a moment through the mechanics of the game. Harry Potter TCG is absolutely packed full of flavorful cards and in this section we explore some of the ways that the world of Harry Potter shines through the Trading Card Game.
Impersonating Goyle is one of the cards that deals with the flavor surrounding the Polyjuice Potion and the transformation that Harry undergoes when he attempts to infiltrate the Slytherin common room to get information on the Chamber of Secrets from Draco Malfoy. In order to make sure he isn't caught Impersonating Goyle, Harry has to incapacitate Goyle and take his place by becoming his doppleganger through the effects of the Polyjuice Potion. The card Impersonating Goyle similarly incapacitates one of your Opponent's characters as you search for a new Character to put into play. The flavor of it being the same character isn't quite captured, but the card is better off for it being a functional answer in a lot of situations outside of just removing a Crabbe & Goyle Character card. I think that the flavor/function balance is especially difficult when designing Rares, and that this card is a great example of nodding to the original moment while still doing something unique.
Dobby's Help is one of my favorite examples of flavor in this game! It's spelled out perfectly by the quote from Ron in the flavor text: Dobby's Help is the ultimate double-edged sword. In his quest to help Harry Potter, he often ends up doing exactly the opposite. In the art they chose for this card, we see the moment from the books when Dobby informs Harry that he's the reason Harry couldn't get through Platform 9 3/4 as well as the reason the Rogue Bludger attacked Harry - leading to him being hospitalized with a "Deboned" arm! Dobby has done all of this in an attempt to save Harry's life by preventing him from returning to Hogwarts where Dobby knows the Chamber of Secrets is going to be opened.
Much like the books, help from Dobby often ends up hurting more than helping. In an attempt to do something good for the player, give them more cards, Dobby actually gives them so many cards that they are depleted of 1/6th of their total health as well as making them susceptible to other combos. Just like Ron says, if Dobby doesn't stop trying to help your opponent... he's going to kill them!
Every year at Hogwarts is capped off by a huge feast celebrating the accomplishments and achievements of students and their Houses over the last year, culminating in one House being rewarded the House Cup. It is customary for the Headmaster to give a large, congratulatory speech during which he recaps some of the highlight moments of the past year. End-of-Year Feast encapsulates that moment from the end of the books by allowing the player to look back on the history of the match much like looking back at the school year by looking through their discard pile to put 4 Adventure cards into their hand. While this card doesn't see a lot of play, even the reason why is flavorful - it is rare that you have much time to go on Adventures after the year at Hogwarts has come to an end!
Peeves the Poltergeist is notorious throughout the books for constantly messing with students for his own entertainment. He does not serve any specific purpose, he just causes chaos for all students and staff without rhyme or reason. Peeves similarly is here to cause trouble in the HPTCG, as he causes chaos for both players by discarding their hands and making them draw 7 new cards. Peeves' penchant for mischief is truly chaotic neutral - sometimes he replaces your hand with new useful cards and sometimes he removes cards you'd really like to keep to replace them with less-useful ones. Although Peeves doesn't typically side with anyone in particular, he is often a bit more one-sided in the trading card game. That being said Peeves does give your opponent a new hand full of cards which could hurt you as much as it may help you. Peeves has been known to throw objects at students and cause harm as well, so leveraging his antics to deal your opponent damage flirts with flavor as well! An interesting angle for flavor on a Peeves card in the future would be to incorporate a random element of some sort.
Caught by Snape
Ah, Severus Snape. Throughout the books, Snape is notorious as a persistent and constant foil to the secret plans of Harry, Ron and Hermione. In fact, Harry begins to believe that Snape himself is the one that they are actively working to stop in the events in The Philosopher's Stone! The absolute worst thing that Harry and Ron could imagine during their late-night escapades unraveling the mysteries of Hogwarts is to be Caught by Snape!
First let's look at exactly what the card does. Caught by Snape's effect stops the opponent from being able to use their Actions to play any cards except lesson cards. This is exactly like getting detention from Snape! Our heroes must immediately do extra schoolwork until they have satisfied the requirements of detention. Once they have completed their detention, there is no real reward - Snape rewards them with the opportunity to do even more work if they would like. Rarely will we see the player take advantage of this opportunity after they get out of "detention," more likely you are eager to return to what you were doing before Snape stopped you!
Caught by Snape makes the player feel just like Snape preventing the opponent from doing what they want to do. Players who are quick to set up their lessons early and ignore them for the rest of the game are sure to be punished by Snape! Much like Harry and Ron, many players constantly fear this card coming down and ruining their plans. There aren't many ways out of it except through the help of other adults at Hogwarts - McGonagall and Filch. McGonagall getting Harry and Ron out of detention with Snape is yet another awesome layer of flavor when it comes to this card!
Serpensortia is a cool example of a spell card functioning mostly the same way that the spell functions in-universe. Most spells in the Harry Potter TCG have to adapt to the medium of trading cards; "health," "damage," and other mechanics. Serpensortia is a spell that Draco Malfoy casts against Harry when they are sparring in the Dueling Club that summons a snake from the tip of his wand. This spell literally conjures a Creature, the same way that it finds a Creature card from your deck and allows you to play it next turn. This card would be a perfect flavor win if it put the creature into play after searching for it, but then Serpensortia would go from being a mediocre card to a card that is probably too good. I think the balance between flavor and function was served well here.
Draco's Superiority is another card that is extremely flavorful, pointing players to an exact scene from the book Chamber of Secrets. In Chamber, Malfoy's father buys the Slytherin Quidditch team all brand new Nimbus 2001 brooms, the newer model of the broom that Harry Potter used during Gryffindor's dominant Quidditch run Harry's rookie year. Draco and the Slytherin team make a big ordeal of revealing their new brooms by crashing a scheduled Gryffindor practice just to flaunt their new equipment and Draco's Superiority over Harry!
This card evokes that exact moment, allowing the player to search their deck for any broom and reveal it to the opponent while dealing a blow to the Gryffindor team's ego and pride in the form of 5 damage. This card is designed to be able to seek out the Nimbus 2001 card, and the Nimbus 2001 card is a big flavor win itself. It does everything that Harry's Nimbus 2000 broom does but slightly better, providing one more Quidditch power, further increasing the damage that your Quidditch spells and items do, and costing more. No cost is too high for the Malfoy family, but the 9-Lesson requirement prevents Nimbus 2001 from seeing much actual play.
Spellotape is a wonderful example of a card that is designed to function exactly the way that the item functions in-universe! In the books, Spellotape is used to repair magical items when a typical repair spell just won't do. Spellotape functions almost identically here, taking an item that your opponent is attempting to break and allowing you to sacrifice Spellotape instead so that it sticks around. Spellotape effectively "repairs" the item, giving you more use out of it after it would have broken! While we don't recommend using Spellotape to fix your Broken Wands in the HPTCG, it can still be useful for maintaining other magical items!
That's all of the flavor that we can pack in this time, but if you liked this segment let us know what cards you think have awesome flavor for us to explore in the next installment! Thanks for reading!