Ginny's Little Combo
Seamus Finnigan x4
Professor Severus Snape x3
Professor Minerva McGonagall x2
Marcus Flint x2
Draco Malfoy x2
Madam Pomfrey x1
Argus Filch x1
Adventures + Spells
Escaping the Dursleys x3
Locked In x3
The Burrow x4
Snuffling Potion x4
Dobby's Disappearance x4
Memory Charm x3
Lockhart's Hair-Care Potions x2
Starting Witch: Ginny Weasley
by Mike Diaz
Game designers of HPTCG almost certainly overlooked the powerful interaction between The Burrow (COS 6) and Snuffling Potion (BS 66), two seemingly unspectacular cards which they created at the bookends of the game’s life. Almost 20 years later, these cards sit at the heart of one of the game’s most devastating archetypes. When combined, they produce an instantly game-ending effect should an opponent find themselves holding fewer than 4 cards.
Here’s how it works: The Burrow forces an opponent with fewer than 4 cards in their hand to draw until their hand reaches 4 cards. Snuffling Potion dispatches each new card directly to the discard pile rather than sending it to the player’s hand. That player continues to discard cards instead of adding them to their hand, ultimately discarding their entire deck before they ever satisfy The Burrow. So, The Burrow and Snuffling Potion constitute a win condition on their own; all that’s left is to make sure an opponent isn’t holding more than 4 cards when it’s time to unleash the combo.
When a deck pursues this win condition, it needs to contain a variety of cards that reduce its opponent’s hand size to 3 or less. Fortunately, because The Burrow and Snuffling Potion cost Charms and Potions respectively, deck builders have access to all of the most powerful hand denial cards in the game: Memory Charm, Purple Firecrackers, and Ransacked in Charms and Lockhart’s Hair-Care Potions in Potions for access to Marcus Flint and Draco Malfo. Because most of these cards cost 6 or fewer Lessons, a proactive player can deploy this deadly “Little Combo” as early as the 4th turn. Relative to decks that rely on Venomous Tentacular Juice and Dobby’s Help as a win condition, The Burrow and Snuffling Potion are a much less expensive option for a one-turn win.
I cover a few highlights of the Ginny version of this deck; however, builders can modify this deck in any number of ways to best fit its player’s play-style. I encourage anyone who builds a deck featuring The Burrow and Snuffling Potion to spin it however they like; it’s hard to go wrong as long as you keep the theme of the deck in mind!
Starting Witch: Ginny Weasley
The biggest advantage of building this deck around Ginny as starting Witch is that it denies opponents of having Ginny themselves. Ginny draws more cards than any other character in the game. If she falls into your opponents’ hands, she’s likely to balloon them well over 3 cards and into a range that requires a complete reset via Peeves or Escaping The Dursleys. Instead, starting Ginny limits an opponent’s hand size to a number that can be reduced by a few consecutive turns of Draco followed by a knockout Flint. Opponents will find it difficult to build enormous hands and will be more likely to have to make tough decisions to keep their hands above the threshold. Simply by starting with Ginny, the deck applies a subtle but oppressive lock before the game even begins. With all the additional characters this deck plays alongside Lockhart’s Haircare Potions, Ginny becomes a superstar right out of the gate, drawing extra cards and building board position all at once.
Other strong starters include Ron, Seamus, and McGonagall.
The Burrow demands all the attention it gets in this deck. It provides a win condition and draw engine all wrapped into one; its versatility is one of a kind in HPTCG. Primarily, The Burrow provides the deck’s win condition. Notably, the card is worded as a mandatory draw to 4, rather than as an optional one; it’s this binding draw effect that makes it so strong with Snuffling Potion. Truly, there is no escaping the instant kill served up by The Burrow and Snuffling Potion once the condition of 3 or fewer cards is met.
A secondary consideration of having 4 copies of The Burrow baked into the deck’s strategy is its draw power. Often, this deck only needs a few turns to find all the pieces it needs to execute a one-turn kill. The Burrow provides a backup draw engine in case an opponent’s hand gets too big too fast and requires extra time to deplete. In this deck, The Burrow offers a one-sided advantage. Opponents will never have an opportunity to draw cards with it because if they fall below 4 cards while The Burrow is in play, they risk losing to Snuffling Potion. So, The Burrow becomes a back-burner draw engine that players can use to achieve the combo, especially if things get messy.
Finally, The Burrow offers a counter to opposing Locations. Decks that take advantage of cards like Wand Shop, Gringotts, and other locations central to their strategies could find themselves in a bind. It’s also important to note that those decks are unlikely to play 4 copies of those Locations, giving Burrow decks the advantage when it comes to “Location wars.”
Snuffling Potion is the underrated superstar of this deck. Initially overlooked by most players, this card imposes a menacing effect on opponents through their next turn. Snuffling Potion single-handedly removes considerations like Peeves, Colin Creevey, Ginny, Endless Sandwiches, and any other draw cards that may come into play. In fact, it even prevents opponents from drawing cards to start their turn or with their actions! Importantly, this effect all but ensures that opponents’ hands will not grow on the turn following a Snuffling Potion. Players can take advantage of this by playing Snuffling Potion even if it isn’t in conjunction with The Burrow.
The beauty here is that players can compose the combo over the course of several turns if they have access to several copies of Snuffling Potion. Facilitated by cards like Hannah Abbot or Snape, in the course of executing the combo, a player will commonly play Snuffling Potion for 2 or 3 turns in a row while picking at their opponent’s hand. This type of play usually culminates in the game-winning combo.
Although it’s the most expensive of all the options available for hand denial, Memory Charm provides a sure-fire lock when it’s cast. If a player can manage to accumulate 9 Lessons as well as Memory Charm and Snuffling Potion, the lock plays out immediately regardless of an opponent’s hand size. Accruing 9 Lessons is certainly daunting but in many cases the game will last long enough to accommodate it. The section on Escaping the Durlseys covers some standoff scenarios in which it might be practical to extend all the way up to 9 Lessons for a game-sealing Memory Charm. Cards like Dragon Heart Wand and Self-Stirring Cauldron are both excellent options for dialing in on Memory Charm as a win condition.
Escaping the Dursleys
Simply put, Escaping the Dursleys is one of the best Adventures in the game; failing to prepare for this card can lead to disastrous results. Cards like Peeves, Ginny, and Colin Creevey, as well as the Books are all acceptable answers; more expensive options like The Burrow or Endless Sandwiches suffice mid-game as well. In this deck, Escaping the Dursleys in conjunction with all the aforementioned characters is a synergy that leaves opponents with very few options upon solving the Adventure. Note the similarity between the lists of Characters that Snuffling Potion nullifies and the ones that are effective in dealing with Escaping the Dursleys. They’re identical. These two together present any opponent with a nearly unsolvable (literally) predicament. Unable to subsequently repopulate their hand, they will fail to solve the adventure entirely. In cases like these, Escaping the Dursleys can single-handedly close out the game for a Burrow, Snuffling Potion deck. Once this card comes into play, if an opponent cannot solve in a way that allows them to get above 3 cards by the end of the turn, they can never solve it. For that reason, it’s important to play Healing Characters in addition to the others. When a stalemate occurs it’s necessary to have access to healing cards so as not to lose in the standstill.
One of the only other Adventures that can compete with Escaping the Dursleys is Locked In. As is the case with any competitive deck, much of Little Combo’s power comes from its Adventures. This list includes 3 copies of both Locked In and Escaping the Dursleys. Locked In works well in this deck because it decreases opponents’ hand sizes while also stripping away an action from their next turn. Because playing with one action is so difficult, usually this Adventure is solved in a hurry, which makes it a reliable way to get cards out of your opponent’s hand quickly. Further, chaining Locked In turn after turn can be a devastating series of plays. Discarding 4 cards is already a tall order but having to do it on back to back turns can not only dramatically reduce the number of cards in your opponents’ hands but also reduce the quality of those cards.
One of the most efficient methods of stripping cards from an opponent’s hand comes in the form of Character Marcus Flint. Because Marcus Flint requires no lessons to come into play, he frequently enters the game earlier rather than later. In this version of the deck, he powers Ginny’s draw while posing a game-ending threat to an opponent holding less than 7 cards. Although he costs two actions in most cases, Marcus serves as a quick, effective way to limit an opponent’s hand. I would recommend playing at least 1 copy of this card in any build of the deck. Cards like Lockhart’s Haircare Potions and Seamus are good ways to facilitate getting Marcus into play. Not only that, but they also make it easier to play down Draco which, in contrast to Marcus Flint’s “Once per game” ability, provides indefinite hand disruption.
Here's some more cards we've covered before!
A powerful healing card, Pomfrey is a nice piece of insurance that can also be used to refill your deck with threats. She heals 5 more cards than Snape at the cost of not generating a lesson. Healing is rarely required in this deck so she is sitting at one copy, but again if you are playing with sideboards putting a second copy in to swap out for some copies of Snape is never a bad idea.
Draco Malfoy is a powerful control card, but he shines in this deck as another way to get your opponent's hand down inside of the combo range.
Ah, good ol’ Dobby’s Disappearance. This is another card that could have an entire article dedicated to how ridiculous it is, and I’m really not sure what the thought process was as they were designing it. In my opinion, Dobby’s Disappearance is the best card in the HPTCG by a landslide. Dobby’s Disappearance basically allows you to undo one (or two!) of your opponent’s actions for free, as it replaces the action that you use to cast the card. Dobby’s Disappearance works on any permanent, most importantly able to return Adventures and Characters to the opponents hand for even more action advantage over them. In this deck we don't want to inflate our opponents hand size unless we have a plan to bring it back down, but Dobby's is still so strong that it's a must-include to deal with threats that can beat you down or stop you from getting the combo.
Lockhart's Hair-Care Potions
Lockhart's Hair-Care Potions is a stand-in for starting with Ron that gives you the necessary discount on Character cards to make them efficient to play alongside the combo and to take the most advantage of Ginny as your starting character. It makes turns where you play and use Flint or Draco Malfoy much more reasonable, and allows you to play Seamus Finnigan alongside an Adventure card.
Professor Severus Snape
Healing is important in mirror-matches or against aggressive decks that got a faster start than you. Professor Snape fits perfectly into our deck as a healing option that also helps us build up to the lessons we will need to cast Snuffling Potion. Snape by himself gives us access to enough power to use the ever-important Lockhart's Hair-Care Potions. Snape having a healing ability while also providing a lesson makes him an excellent two-for-one in our character deck, allowing us to play Snape for the same cost as a lesson with Hair-Care Potions down but with all of his added benefits. Snape is much less popular as a starter than McGonagall is, which makes it okay to play three Snape. If I was worried about seeing more Snape in my meta or my area, I may cut one and add an additional Pomfrey instead.
Professor Minerva McGonagall
Professor McGonagall is powerful for many of the same reasons Snape is, except with an even stronger ability. Her ability to solve any adventure without the use of an action makes her much better at it than Filch (although she cannot remove your own adventure) but the drawback of course is the popularity of McGonagall as a starting Witch. Because she is such a popular starting character, we only main-deck one copy of McGonagall in this list. If you know your opponents will not be using her or you are playing with sideboards however, it’s hard to argue against more copies of Minerva in your deck.
Seamus Finnigan is a character that helps us convert the card advantage Ginny provides into action advantage. Every game of HPTCG is won through the usage of Actions, and being able to consistently generate more actions to use on your turn is incredibly powerful. Seamus has wonderful synergy with Ron, allowing you to play three characters on your first turn if Seamus is one of them giving you a virtual 6-action turn one. Against popular adventures like Caught by Snape, Seamus helps you have enough actions left to have a real turn after breaking out of the adventure. He also helps mitigate other strategies that seek to create action advantage over you by denying you actions with cards like Vanishing Step, Fouled!, and Pep Talk. You also gain access to the ability to play an Adventure at full cost and still have an action left over to use. Much like Ginny, this piece is so critical that one of the better counter strategies against this deck is to disrupt their access to Seamus. One of the big swing plays that you can make with Ron as your starter is using a Dobby’s Disappearance to bounce your opponent’s Seamus to play a Seamus of your own, use Seamus’s ability to generate an additional action, and then play a Caught by Snape to stop them from doing the same back to you. Seamus without Ginny can be a bit taxing on your hand size, but this deck runs a few other ways to refill your hand just in case.