August 29, 2010

How to play the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game

Do you know how to play the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game? If not, then you are one of many online gamers I've heard of who help make the trading card game a hot property but have not discovered that those cards you are packing up and burying in your apartment or house are actually a lot of fun to play with. For those of you who haven't taken a look at the trading card game at all, I'd highly recommend it.

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I have been playing card games since 2003, and the WoW TCG is no exception. I spent over a year writing about the game, as well as playing and working at some of its biggest events (with a short break in 2008 to finish school). It was because of WoW TCG that I ended up getting into the WoW MMO in the first place!

The WoW Trading Card Game has been around since fall 2006 and has continued on through a transition from one company (Upper Deck Entertainment) to another (Cryptozoic). Organized play has had its ups and downs, but the game is starting to get more popular and attendance is once again picking up at events everywhere. However, a recent addition to the weekly tournament at my local comic book store mentioned that he knows plenty of people who buy the cards but never learn how to play.

Why is that?

Learning the basics

Learning the WoW TCG is not difficult. It takes some time, but figuring out what the cards do, especially if you have played the online game, can be simple. People who have played trading card games in the past, especially Magic: The Gathering, will pick up the game quickly.

The basic gameplay for the WoW TCG is as follows: You take on the role of a hero card. This hero comes from a specific faction, Alliance or Horde, and is one of the 10 classes in the game. Your hero also dictates what you can and can't have in your deck of 60 cards. If your hero is an Alliance mage, then you can't have Horde allies or or shaman abilities in your deck. Your deck contains the various abilities that your hero can use, many of which are based on actual class abilities in the online game. Your deck can also contain equipment, which lets your hero gear up to attack and defend, as well as allies, which are characters based on the classes and factions from the online game that support your hero and can attack or defend your hero and other allies. In a standard game, you will pit your hero against the opponent and their hero. The player who takes out the opposing hero first is the winner!

Knowing the basics of the game is one thing, but getting hands-on experience in the rules of the game is another thing entirely. Cryptozoic Entertainment, the company that currently works on the WoW TCG, released the class starter decks in early July, featuring decks (one for the Alliance and one for the Horde) of the nine original classes from the online game. These new decks are great learning tools and come with the instructions you will need to learn the basics, plus some hard-to-get rares from the first sets of the game.

One of the best trading card game engines

But why should you play? Aside from the fact that the game is fun and one of the best trading card game engines to be released since Magic: The Gathering, in my opinion, playing the WoW TCG at major conventions such as BlizzCon and PAX can be a very rewarding experience. There are always a lot of public events that players can participate in, with the prizes commonly being rare loot cards.

My favorite events at these conventions are the loot card or Ipod drafts, where players participate in a booster draft with the latest expansions; the winner of these 8-man tournaments gets the big prize! Last year, at an event in Las Vegas, they were giving away Spectral Kitten loot, but often, an Ipod Nano will be the big prize for these short and quick tournaments.

Loot cards can be given out at some events to random participants, so you don't have to be one of the best to get a shot at loot such as the Spectral Tiger or the Blazing Hippogryph! In fact, the fine folks at Cryptozoic will give away loot cards like they are nothing at their big events. Don't believe me? Just ask Rosalei Castaneda about this. At Gen Con, one of the biggest gaming conventions in the United States and home to the 2010 WoW TCG World Championship, she didn't win any big tournaments but still walked away with a fistful of awesome loot cards! You can read about what she won and how she won them by checking out Cryptozoic's coverage of the World Championships.

Not only is the WoW TCG fun, but it can be one of the cheapest ways for you to get some of the hottest vanity items in the online game. It's a nice break from the MMO world, giving you a chance to hang out with friends outside of the Ventrilo server. I hope to see you some day at one of the big events!

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