Wizards of the Coast, the world's leading manufacturer of collectible card games, has announced plans for the release of its Harry Potter trading card game, which will debut in August.  The initial release will consist of some 116 fully illustrated cards based on the best-selling novels by J.K. Rowling that have proved so popular that they forced the New York Times to create a special category for them so that they wouldn't continually dominate the hardcover bestseller list.  A movie version of the first Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, is set to debut in November (see 'Best in Shows'), and merchandising for this very major property among the 9-14 set is really starting to take off (see 'Harry Potter Licensing Starts Big, Gets Bigger').


WotC's Harry Potter Trading Card Game will appear in the traditional CCG format of Starter Sets and Booster packs.  The Starter Sets ($9.95 retail) will include two 40-card decks, each with an additional character card, a total of 18 premium cards, damage counters, a rulebook and a playmat.  The 11-card booster packs ($3.29 retail) will introduce new, more advanced strategies to decks and add new cards to the game.  The first expansion for the Harry Potter TCG is called the Quidditch Cup and it should be available in the fourth quarter of this year to take advantage of the hype surrounding the movie opening.


In the game each player acts as a wizard from the Hogwarts School and attempts to make his (or her) opponent's cards disappear.  Six different types of cards will be introduced in the base set -- and the first player to make his (or her) opponent's cards 'disappear' wins.  Although WOTC's Magic the Gathering and Pokemon games have slowed down considerably in sales from their peaks, they still dominate ICv2's Top Ten Cool 'Games' Lists month in and month out.  WotC has had some failures along the way, but in general the company has done an excellent job of creating games that are fun to play and basing them on interesting, popular properties.