Harry Potter Trading Card Game's card back design
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The Harry Potter Trading Card Game is a strategy and collectible card game based in the magical world of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels. Created by Wizards of the Coast in August 2001, the game was designed to compete with the Yu-Gi-Oh!, Pokémon and Magic: The Gathering card games. Its release was timed to coincide with the theatrical premiere of the first film in the series. The game was praised for the way it immersed children in the Harry Potter universe. At one point the game was the second best selling toy in the United States; however, the game is now out of print.
The game is for two players, each with 60-card decks (with the addition of a starting Character; see below). The aim is to force the opposite player to run out of cards from their deck first. When cards do "damage" to a player, cards from the deck are placed into the discard pile. Each player begins with a hand of seven cards, and draws a card before each of their turns.
There are eight different types of cards in the Harry Potter Trading Card Game.
There are five Lesson types in the game, each applying to different cards. There is no limit on the Lesson cards in a player's deck: a player may have as many different types as they prefer.
Some cards have keywords in addition to their card type. These keywords allow other cards to refer to a specific type of card. The "Wizard" or "Witch" designation on Character cards is an example of a keyword, as is the "Healing" designation on some other cards. Other common keywords include designations representing each of the four Hogwarts houses: Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin.
Some cards (including all Characters) have the keyword "Unique", which indicates that only one of them can be in play at a time (for either player). The only exception is if both players have the same starting Character.
The first set of cards, now commonly called the base set, was introduced in August 2001. Since the 116-card base set was first released, four expansion sets have been introduced to vary play and expand card availability. The first three expansions, which each consist of 80 cards plus 30 Foil or Hologram Portrait Premium rares, include Quidditch Cup (November 2001), Diagon Alley (March 2002), and Adventures at Hogwarts (June 2002). Notable differences in these expansions include the addition of the Quidditch lesson type and Match cards introduced in the Quidditch Cup expansion, location cards introduced in the Diagon Alley expansion, and a larger pool of adventure cards in the Adventures at Hogwarts expansion. The fourth and final expansion released was Chamber of Secrets, which has 140 cards plus 55 Foil or Hologram Portrait Premium rares (October 2002). This last expansion features cards based on the Chamber of Secrets book, where all previous cards were based on the Sorcerer's Stone book.
From its conception in 2001 through 2003, the Harry Potter Trading Card Game was popular among many age ranges and several gaming leagues were formed. After releasing the last expansion set in 2003, Wizards of the Coast decided not to continue making HPTCG cards, though no explanation was given to the public for this decision.
Each card has its own specific value, the most valuable being "rare" and the least being "common". The value of a card is shown by a symbol at the bottom right of the card, followed by the expansion set symbol and set number. A circle means that the card is common, and therefore not very valuable; a diamond means the card is uncommon, so the card has a bit of value; and a star means the card is rare, and is more valuable.
There are also cards of more value than "rare" cards: foils and holofoils. "Foil premium" cards are partially "shiny", having thunderbolts and stars as theme for the "additional covering". These are normally rare cards, but common and uncommon foils do exist. "Holo-portraits premium", (colloquially "holofoil") are the most rare and the most valuable of all types of cards. These cards are only available for "character" cards, which have the portrait of the character on them (origin of name). They are similar to foils, except that the picture of the character has a holographic quality that gives the impression of "popping out".
Given the variety of card values, single cards have a price range of $.05 to $15.00.
The cards from this game are sold in three ways: booster packs, starter decks, and theme decks. Booster packs were released for every set. Each pack contains eleven cards, which includes one rare card, two uncommon cards, six common cards, and two Lessons. If a premium card was included in a base set booster pack, it replaced the rare card. In the expansions, a premium card replaced one of the common cards.
Starter decks were made with the Base set, Diagon Alley set, and the Chamber of Secrets set. Each included two introductory decks of 40 cards, a playmat, additional instructions and two premium cards. Theme decks, a special kind of starter pack, were released to the public with the Chamber of Secrets set. These decks are the Percy Weasley Potions deck and the Twin Trouble deck. Included in each was a full 60-card deck, playable right out of the box. The packaging for two additional theme decks (Hannah Abbott's Spellcaster and Dean Thomas' Restrike) was made for a toy fair in 2001, but the products were never produced.
Since Wizards of the Coast is no longer producing cards, there has been a decrease in the number of players for this game. For those who can not find others to play with in person, a program called LackeyCCG allows players to meet and play online. An alternative to LackeyCCG is to use Apprentice with a patch made by Pojo.com.
In 2002, Wizards of the Coast filed a lawsuit against former vice president of operations Charles Federline, alleging that he cost the company more than $93,000 by undermining the bidding process for the print work for the cards.