This one may be a little weird. Why is that? Well in all honesty we had to take the deck in question apart to build other stuff for Gencon and as a result I have the majority of a list, but not the entire list. Still the deck had potential so I wanted to talk about it a bit. Here is the basic idea:
Toys and Trinkets
Draco Malfoy, Slytherin
Lessons – 19 to 22
Characters – 3 (maybe a 4th)
Items – a lot
4 Moonseed Poison
4 Eel Eyes
4 Beetle Eyes
2 Bulgeye Potion
3 Collapsible Cauldron
4 Magical Drafts and Potions
3 Self-Stirring Cauldron
Spells – intended to be mostly removal
4 Dobby’s Disappearance
2 Raven to Writing Desk
And a bunch of empty slots. When I went looking for the deckbox I instantly remembered that the list was shredded and instead of a deck the box contained just a smattering of cards I wanted to test or had tested such as Winged Keys, Philosopher’s Stone, Dumbledore’s Office, Potions Dungeon, etc. Additionally there was the struggle of our current card pool otherwise I’d have included additional cauldrons.
It is quite literally just a pile of cards at the moment, not just in the figurative sense. That’s because my personal deckbuilding process is a little strange, or maybe not, I’ll leave that for the reader to decide. Essentially when I have an idea it rarely if ever refined. It can more accurately be described as bloated. A gigantic, towering, unwieldy mess of ideas and potential. That’s how every great deck is born right?
The basic flow is something like: starting idea to list every (and I mean every) potential option to try and cut the deck down from roughly 600 cards to 60. That’s essentially how this list started. I looked at Malfoy and thought to myself: “self, this seems busted”. Card games are a set of rules and then things that either play by the rules or try to break those rules. In the case of the HPtcg, the rule we are trying to break is paraphrased as “you can only do 2 things a turn”. There are of course exceptions such as adventures and characters, but you generally play the game with 2 actions a turn. Starting on turn 0 Draco let’s you cheat that rule, as long as you are enamored by material objects. To me it was thematically pleasing.
The original core of the deck was built around the idea that if you can power out a Bulgeye Potion alongside the Weasley patriarch you can crack your opponent for 26 (10 for the cost, then 13 for the activation). Combined with just their starting hand that’s over half of your opponent’s deck gone in a single turn. Serious stuff. The issue of course is that Eel Eyes aren’t exactly thrilling to play and of course you could hit some bad variance and end up with 10 cost cards stranded in your hand instead of getting tutored out. That’s where the cauldron’s come in.
Malfoy inherently makes some of those awkward plays such as the 1 cost Eel Eyes not feel so bad, after all it was “free”. He doesn’t alleviate your hand weighing roughly the same as a walrus. Potion items jump in here to help lift the weight. Cauldrons may consume or bounce some lessons, but when you get a free action to play them it doesn’t sting so much. Let’s take a moment to appreciate the sequence that is simply first action into Self-Stirring Cauldron. That’s a significant resource boost with some delicious free actions tacked on. Our brew is off to a decent start since we have a substantial combo and a way to mitigate the potential risks.
That’s where the deck begins to come apart. Initially I wanted to take additional advantage of the ramp. Although there is a risk of drawing a 10 cost card, at most there are 4 in the deck. Why bother with the ramp then? At the time we first brainstormed the deck we were really concerned about aggressive creature based builds. As a result I sleeves up a playset of Winged Keys and other transfiguration removal cards. It is plainly obvious that over time that changed. My hope was that I could ramp into an early set of keys and then use Arthur to just pop my opponent for 10 closing with a windmill slam of Bulgeye to finish. Instead the hands were often super clunky. Philosopher’s Stone was another strong option at first glance but despite many attempts I am not sure it even hit play.
One of the major problems was that the deck could try to control the board or it could try to combo but couldn’t really find an appropriate equilibrium. The result was a mess and a failure. Not abject and total failure, but it lost a lot of games against a variety of things we tried. At this point the deck could go in a few different directions. Draco still appears to be a worthwhile pursuit as a whole, and Arthur would seem to be an obvious inclusion as a result. Assuming that the list wants to end up with few or ideally zero creatures to blank opposing removal we really need Arthur to ensure we can actually do enough damage to end the game. Ramp is likely still the go-to plan. Whether you go quidditch, potions, transfiguration, charms, or even care of magical creatures, there are multiple high-end items that do crazy things and of course empower dad Weasley to ruin the party for your opponent.
The unfortunate thing is that there aren’t cross “faction” lesson producers, that I know of anyway. There’s no item that allows you to get charms lessons from transfiguration card for example. In a perfect world this deck could play across several schools of magic and pull in the important pieces. Potions provide cauldrons but don’t really have anything to ramp into other than the Bulgeye plan. Maybe that’s enough but the other issue is that few potions cards reasonably impact the board. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of spells that say “deal X damage” but they often also have “discard/return Y lessons” which even with the additional actions from Draco and Self-Stirring can be a significant hurdle.
Moving outside green stuff, transfiguration provides a ton of potential creature removal and possibly the strongest card in the game Dobby’s Disappearance. My very first list also included a number of Practical Jokes as this deck’s version of Steelclaw. Didn’t quite work as the burst is not as big as you’d like most of the time. Transfig also provides some decent ramp targets. Porcupine Robe for example can quickly put a damper on your opponent’s offensive. The issue here is that all of these options may just do too little for their cost. You might explode to 10 resources early on via a bunch of cauldrons, or you could draw an opening hand of 1 lesson, 2 Porcupine Robes, 2 Winged Keys, a Philosopher’s Stone, and Arthur Weasley.
The more athletic options of quidditch all seem useful. They even have a bit of ramp in the form of brooms themselves. Both bludgers provide consistent damage, and the idea of resolving a Quidditch Cup and getting roughly all the actions every turn is enticing. In the interest of full disclosure, mixing yellow cards in is something I wanted to try but never got around to so it’s strictly theory. There are a lot of dreams here though. Quidditch cup, into Golden Snitch with Arthur on the board could be nearly an instant win. Don’t lie, you want to win the game by catching the snitch. You always have.
Caring for creatures has its own benefits. You get arguably the best book in Guide to Household Pets, and a few other defensive options such as Earmuffs and Dragon-Hide Gloves. Deflecting even a few points of damage here and there can make a significant difference. The issue as with a few of the red defensive items is that they won’t really dig you out of a hole. If your opponent already is putting pressure on you the grindy nature of some of these options may not be able to save you.
Going blue gives you wands for supplementary ramp, but as with brooms they have some liabilities. Namely you can only have 1 in play so redundant copies can really slow you down. Still photo album is another way to get another pseudo-action, and Wand Shop could allow you to skyrocket in resources. That’s really what charms adds to the deck if you go that route. You don’t get a lot of flashy items out of this set of lessons, but you get a lot of support. There are sweepers such as Fumos, as well as removal/burn that can also draw cards like Bewitched Snowballs. Sadly, the inconsistency of a 3 lesson decklist is where this idea starts to falter. Starting with Draco you lose the resource generation from the professors which is a significant drawback. Not only in terms of boosting your economy but also in opening access to other cards. This is where you’d love to be able to splash in a few supporting cards either from charms, or go heavy on charms and splash the top end things from elsewhere. Alas, not to be.
Thus we circle back to potions which provides things such as Slow-Acting Venom. I kept waffling with this card personally as 6 isn’t damage to be sneezed at and the continuous damage adds up, but if every card has the unwritten text of “requires Arthur Weasley in play” we are running into an issue. I’ve considered swapping Draco for Arthur but I think starting with the potential for extra actions is more important. The next iteration of the list will probably be more combo focused. Lean heavily on Arthur and Bulgeye, maybe include the quidditch package since I haven’t tried it yet and try to squeeze in some additional healing items such as Unicorn Horn.
Another alternative is to play a more controlling build that relies on more healing and getting all of the damage preventative measures into play such as Winged Keys, Invisibility Cloak, or the care of magical creatures options. Naturally a slower and less explosive list, it lets you try and grind your opponent out.
In either case the main concern is making sure there are enough ways to interact with and stop your opponent’s gameplan. Whether it be healing or more proactive removal and disruption you can’t have tunnel vision and only focus on your own strategy. Malfoy and Weasley on paper seem to pair well, but I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts as to whether this team-up actually works or it is just spinning wheels.