World of Warcraft Trading Card Game
The World of Warcraft Trading Card Game - often abbreviated to WoW TCG - is a collectible card game based on the hugely popular World of Warcraft MMORPG published by Blizzard Entertainment. The cardgame was released in October 2006 by Upper Deck Entertainment (UDE)., however Upper Desk lost the license to Cryptozoic Entertainment in March 2010. Since its initial release, two standard expansions and two "Raid Deck" expansions have also been released, with more planned.
The initial release, subtitled Heroes of Azeroth, consisted of 361 different cards. Cards are available either in a 'Starter Deck' box, which contains three oversized Hero cards, a pre-made deck of 1 normal-sized hero card and 32 others (which are all useable with the included hero card), and two booster packs; or in booster packs containing 15 game cards (plus one UDE "points card", which can be saved and/or redeemed on the UDE website for items such as playmats, screensavers, computer wallpaper, and so on).
Cards are not available in equal numbers. Instead, they are distributed according to a sliding scale based on rarity, as follows:
- Common: 10 per booster pack.
- Uncommon: 3 per booser pack.
- Rare: Either one Rare or one Epic card per booster pack.
- Epic: Either one Epic or one (more usually) one Rare card per booster pack.
- Legendary: One booster pack in each whole retail box of boosters will contain a Legendary card instead of a Hero card.
The colour coding above (which on the cards can be seen on the card number and set name) comes directly from the MMORPG, which uses the same colours to reflect the rarity of items found in the online game world. Common cards are colour-coded white. In general, the more rare a card, the more powerful it is.
"Legendary" cards are otherwise normal gameplay cards which also contain a foil strip. When the strip is scratched off, it reveals a numeric code which can be redeemed at the UDE website. This, in turn, will give another code which can be entered on Blizzard's World of Warcraft website. A player can then log on to their World of Warcraft account and with their character of choice, then visit an in-game vendor who will supply an item not otherwise available in the online game - the only way to get such an item is from one of the WoW TCG Legendary cards.
The online items obtainable in this way confer no gameplay advantages - they are purely cosmetic and/or just for fun or the "coolness" factor. Examples included in the MMORPG so far include a special tabard, a picnic basket that when activated deploys a beach umbrella and hot griddle, and an "Imp in a Ball" that responds to questions in the same way as a Magic 8-ball.
The object of the game is to defeat the opposing player's hero, by inflicting enough damage points upon it. Each player must first choose a "Hero" card and then build a deck of 60 cards from his collection. Each Hero will have various traits, such as affiliation (Horde or Alliance), race (e.g., human, dwarf, orc, blood elf, etc.), and class (nine are available, including, e.g., warrior, hunter, and priest). Most cards available to a player will need to share at least one of these traits to be included in that hero's deck, though some cards have no traits and can be used with any hero card.
Types of cards
- Hero: One is used per player, in addition to his deck. Each hero has a different special ability, related to its class, which can be used once per game.
- Quest: A quest card will specify some condition that needs to be fulfilled. Completing that condition will give some reward, such as the option to draw additional cards.
- Ally: Ally cards represent characters who join the hero's party. When they enter play, they can be used to attack the opposing hero or his allies, protect the player's own hero or allies, etc. Many have special abilities - e.g., one might allow the player to "heal", or remove damage from one of his allies or heroes. Though some ally cards are neutral, most will have an affiliation trait, stating whether they can be used only by either Horde or Alliance heroes.
- Ability: An ability card allows a player to do various things such as inflict damage on an opponent's card, heal damage on his own cards, destroy an opponent's card outright, or interrupt an action being made by the opponent.
- Equipment: Divided into weapons, armor and items, adding these cards to a hero will allow him to deal damage to an opponent's hero or allies, prevent damage to himself, or grant access to new abilities.
Standard games can be played either between two players, or between teams of equal numbers. After drawing an initial hand, players take turns to introduce cards to play and declare and resolve actions. Most cards and abilities will require the payment of resources to allow them to be played. A player can acquire resources by, once per turn, playing a card from his hand face down into a "resource row". Alternatively, quest cards can be played as resources, and are played face up. To pay a resource cost, a card is "exhausted" (or "tapped") and placed sideways to show it has been used. At the start of a player's turn, any exhausted cards are refreshed and turned upright again.
This resource mechanic means that during the first few turns, when players have few resources, they will generally not be able to play powerful cards. As the game progresses, and more resources become available to a player, he can use more and more powerful abilities and allies. Thus, depending on the luck a player has had in shuffling his deck and drawing his initial hand, he may even find himself unable to play any cards on his first few turns.
Various strategies have emerged since the game's release, centering around deck construction. The most common include:
- Rush: A rush deck will include many ally cards, the intention being to swarm the opposing hero with lots of allies as early as possible.
- Solo: A solo deck, by contrast, will use few or no allies, but will instead include lots of equipment (if, for example, the hero is a warrior) so that the hero can inflict lots of damage with weapons while being able to soak up damage inflicted on him with armor.
- Control: A control deck will include abilites (and some allies) designed to restrict the options open to the opposing player, by such means as preventing the opponent's abilites and allies from being used effectively, or at all.
Six full expansions have been released since the game's initial launch. One, Through the Dark Portal, introduced two new races to the game, following the release by Blizzard of The Burning Crusade, an expansion for the WoW MMORPG. Fires of Outland continued this theme, rounding out the heroes, allies and abilities available for play. Servants of the Betrayer introduced the concept of "traitor heroes", for the first time allowing heroes to play heroes who were not tied to the game's central Alliance and Horde factions.
The other releases have been Raid Decks. Raid decks are game variants based on the raid dungeons found in the MMORPG. Like the MMORPG, these are multiplayer, involving a team of players trying to defeat a famous "boss" or bosses from the online game. They have been specially designed to closely imitate the flavour of their respective online dungeons.
The first raid deck released was Onyxia's Lair, which pits a team of three to five players against one player who plays the part of Onxyia, Queen of the Black Dragonflight. An Onyxia game introduces variant rules and special cards which can only be used in that variant. As in the online game, a fight against Onyxia involves three different stages. Essentially, Onyxia must be defeated three times to win, but each stage gives her a different special ability.
The second raid deck was Molten Core. Again, three to five players will use their normal decks against one player, who will play the part of the bosses from the online game's Molten Core raid dungeon. The game includes ten raid bosses (though not all need be used), special cards for that variant and a rulebook explaining the changes from the normal version of the game.
The third raid deck released was Magtheridon's Lair. Here, players must defeat the "channelers" who have imprisoned Magtheridon, before taking on the demon himself. Once again, the online version of the encounter has been replicated in the variant rules.
All raid decks also include a "Treasure Pack" - a booster pack containing ten cards representing powerful and rare items and abilities.
A feature of playing against a raid deck is that several cards available which were rarely, if ever, used in the normal game now become viable. For instance, one ally card that tends not to be used too often in normal play has a special ability, causing one point of damage to be inflicted on any opposing ally as it enters play. While the ability seems strong, there are other, better cards available at the same resource cost. This same card, however, becomes invaluable in a deck being used to play against Onyxia - as one of the dragon's abilities is to "summon" lots of allies with just one health point. While these summoned allies aren't strong, their sheer numbers can pose serious problems for opposing players. The ally card, however, now comes into its own, effectively preventing the Onyxia player from using its summoned allies without first dealing with the ally.
UDE encourages play by donating prize support (such as booster packs and special versions of cards with extended artwork) to local competition organisers. Competitors may register with UDE and track their progress over time using UDE's rating system, as the results of competitions are uploaded by certified tournament judges and organisers.
In addition to the standard game (known as 'Constructed', meaning each player must bring along a rules-compliant deck that they have pre-constructed from their available cards), UDE has also published several variant games for tournament play. An example is the 'Lazy Peon' game, which restricts players to building decks using only uncommon and common rarity cards.
In addition to regular tournaments, UDE also sanctions championship events. Those who fare well at Regional Qualifier events can advance to National events. The top-placed players at National events are invited to the World Championships. Depending on the expected number of entrants, the winner and/or runner-up may have flights to the World Championships included. The first World Championships took place in San Diego, California, from November 30th to December 2nd, 2007. The announced prize fund was over $250,000, with the eventual overall winner receiving $100,000.
- UDE announces WoW TCG: Available: http://entertainment.upperdeck.com/ude/en/articles.aspx?aid=748 Accessed: 1st August 2007.
- Cryptozoic Entertainment acquires World of Warcraft Trading Card Game Licence March 24 2010
- WoW TCG World Championships: Available: http://entertainment.upperdeck.com/wow/en/organizedplay/tournament/worlds/ Accessed: 1st August 2007.