Which magical pet is best? A review of starting allies in HP Defense Against the Dark Arts
When compiling your starting deck of 10 cards for the Harry Potter Defense Against the Dark Arts dueling game, you have a choice of picking 1 of 3 potential starting allies that resemble the pets of some of our favorite magical heroes.
A Cat who looks very much like Hermione's Crookshanks that once per turn gains you 1 damage (or "lightning bolt") to assign to your opponent if you played 3 spells on your turn.
A Toad omniscient of Neville's Trevor that gains you 1 health point (or "heart") per turn.
An Owl resembling Harry's Hedwig that allows you to either save 1 unspent galleon (or "coin") per turn or remove all saved galleons to use this turn.
There are pro's and con's to each...
The Cat is quite offensive - stun by 100 scratches. From the beginning of the game, it is very likely you can consistently deal the 1 point of damage generated every turn, given your starting deck of 10 cards contains 7 spells and you draw 5 cards each turn at a minimum without additional effects. However, as the game progresses, it can be harder to trigger the Cat's ability if you do not buy more Spell cards from the Classroom. If you are playing with the Cat, you should probably prioritize purchasing Spells above any other type of card if possible. This can be difficult when that "juicy" Ally or Item becomes available, but remember, every non-Spell card in your deck decreases your odds of dealing the bonus 1 "scratch" damage per turn. You will already be forced to dilute your deck with Hex cards from your opponent and Books from the Library when all the Classroom cards are too expensive (which always seems to happen at some point) - so be careful you don't accidentally hurt yourself by purchasing too may non-Spell cards.
The Toad is very defensive. Every turn that it's in play you can regain 1 health point, no strings attached. This can be incredibly helpful if you aren't able to purchase cards from the Classroom that allow you to heal damage or if you choose to prioritize buying other types of cards instead. The Toad can also give you an advantage early in the game when your opponent is lucky to even deal 1 or 2 damage to you per turn, thus negating much of the negative effects from your opponent. However, ultimately the Toad does not directly help you to win the game...it just helps to mitigate a little damage and buy you the time needed to stun your opponent.
The Owl is more practical. Aside from the perk of being able to save a coin you didn't spend instead of discarding it (which feels horrible), the Owl can help you to gain an early advantage over your opponent. I find it is a good strategy, particularly in the first several turns of the game, to save 1 coin every turn whenever possible...even if it means buying a cheaper card that isn't quite as good - like a card that costs 2 or 3 instead of 4. That way, when the first really expensive, powerful card becomes available (a card that costs 7+ coins) you should be able to buy it without too much trouble. If you can get a strong card early, the benefit is magnified because you'll draw it a lot throughout the course of the game. Often, I find it's better to play that one more powerful card you saved up for that cost 7 or 8 coins more often than it would have been to play multiple "pretty good" cards that cost 4 or 5 each. All that said, the Owl tends to be the most helpful early in the game when you're struggling to afford the better cards from the Classroom - once you get into the second and third rounds of the game, it becomes much easier to afford the expensive cards.
So what do you think? Which magical pet is your favorite? Comment below!