Ron smirked over his cards as he called his final attack on Harry's life points. The dark-haired teen sighed, but took his defeat as graciously as possible.
He should be used to losing to Ron at anything involving strategy by now, but he'd thought that he might have stood a chance at beating him at Duel Monsters.
He knew he had better cards than his red-haired friend, thanks to all of the booster packs that he'd bought with the Galleons stored in his Gringotts vault. Ron only had common cards, with a couple of rarer ones the Twins had given him, and yet he won every time.
Harry was starting to get fed up.
“Play again?” Ron asked hopefully.
Harry shook his head. “You'll just beat me again,” he sighed, before passing his deck to Ron. “What am I doing wrong? I've got some really good cards in there, but you always annihilate me.”
Ron flicked through the cards, taking his friend's question quite seriously. “Your cards are too scattered, for one thing,” he said, not looking up, “there's no common type or theme here, and I can't see a strategy in the deck build.”
“I figured to get the strongest monsters I could, as well as ones with nice effects so I can tribute them,” Harry said.
Ron shook his head. “In theory, that works, but in practice...well,” he gestured to the table. “You need to have a common theme, or a strategy deck.” He could see Harry wasn't understanding, so he spread his cards out on the table. “See here, most of my cards are warriors, with only a few exceptions. This means that I can put in cards like Sogen that help most of my deck at once.”
Harry slowly nodded. “Okay...but since my cards aren't all the same type, I can't do that?”
“Well, you could,” Ron admitted, “but it'd be a waste to play something like Sogen if you only have two warrior-types in your deck. Then there's the strategy decks-”
“Ron!” Harry interrupted, before his friend could get too far into his explanation. “I appreciate you telling me all this, but I don't understand it. At all.” He gave Ron an apologetic look. “It's over my head. Could you just...I dunno, tell me what cards to use or something?”
“But that depends on your strategy and preferred play style,” Ron said. Harry blinked. “Well, do you prefer a Beatdown, a Lockdown, a Burn, a Defensive-Stall-”
“Ron! I don't know what those mean.”
“Ummm...okay,” Ron frowned, “do you want to kill your opponent by overwhelming them with powerful monsters, by making them unable to attack you, by directly targeting their Life Points...” He trailed off as he saw Harry's pained look. He sighed. “Okay, give me your cards and I'll just build you a deck.” He returned Harry's current deck. “From those cards, I think you'd go well with a Beatdown deck. Powerful monsters.”
Harry nodded, pleased at the simple explanation. “I'll go get my spares,” he said, disappearing up the stairs to his dorm. He returned, holding a small box, the size of a shoebox.
Ron opened it, and found it had been magically expanded on the inside. There were hundreds of cards in there, easily, and Ron was enviously looking through them as he placed the ones he thought would work best for Harry to one side of the table.
“Thanks for this Ron,” Harry said as he watched Ron begin to construct his deck, “I'm just no good at this sort of thing. Strategy's your area, not mine.”
Ron smiled. “It's no problem,” he said, “but you do realise that since I've built this deck, I'll have a definite advantage next time we play, right?”
Harry shrugged. “It's not like I've beaten you yet, so what's the worry? And I know you'll make a decent deck, even if the player stinks, so I won't blame you when I lose.”
His friend forced a smile, as he created the best deck he could. He half-wanted to make an awful deck for Harry – it's not like he'd know the difference – so he wouldn't win, but he couldn't do that to his friend. Strategy games were the one thing that was his alone to rule over, and he hated the fact that Harry had the money to buy some of the best cards in the game. And he hated that his own skills were good enough to build a deck that even Harry couldn't lose with.
His winning streak was over.