Published on August 14th, 2013 | by Gregg Miller
Gregg Explains: World of Warcraft Raid Decks
LF1M DM Plz healz~
Back in the day, there was a raid dungeon that my guild in World of Warcraft would run every week. The boss was quite difficult when you approached the content at level, during the pre-expansion days. Here you can find a YouTube video about the audio captured from a failed boss kill attempt (warning, NSFW language). The WoW TCG raid decks let you experience some of the nostalgia of running classic, and even newer raids. Matt “The Favorite” and I got a hold of some decks that someone brought. We’re not sure who exactly brought them to Nerdtacular, as Mewkow notified us that it wasn’t part of what Cryptozoic had sent along. So, whoever the mystery supplier was, I’d like to say, “Thank you! Everyone who played really enjoyed that you let us use your cards.”
A copy of the Molten Core raid deck, and Onyxia’s Lair was present. However, the Molten Core deck was lacking its rule book, and since my own copy was back in the “forehead of Utah” we settled on just playing the Onyxia raid deck. The Raid decks are designed to play against two-to-five players. There’s generally special rules involving how the boss or bosses function. With Onyxia, there are three phase boss cards, roughly lining up with how the boss plays in the MMO. Each phase has certain perks and advantages, but there’s a general ramping up in urgency for the players trying to defeat the boss player. Namely, in the phase 1 version Onyxia gains the power to target a Hero (the player’s avatar within the TCG) and kill them. In Phase 2, she’s able to bring in additional Whelp tokens to help bring on the pain, and keep Ally cards busy. In Phase 3, if the Onyxia player has twenty Resource cards in play, they win the game by killing all opposing Heroes.
One change with how this deck performs differently from normal player made decks, is you don’t have Quests for resources. A new Event Deck is the sole source of resources for the Onyxia player, giving the advantage that all cards in that player’s hand is useful, and you don’t have to weigh sacrificing a card in your hand to be a resource (Check out Andrew’s MtG article about Land Soul for a rough idea on how this works). The Event Deck has good and bad things happen to the players as well as the Onyxia player: things like giving all enemy Allies the Ferocity trait when they’re played, until the next Event Phase.
Since we were trying to be all inclusive, the full run of the Onyxia raid deck was played against eight players. A bit of an overwhelming setup, once things get rolling. Still, it was a lot of fun, and there was a lot of good teamwork involved for locking down Onyxia, and dealing the one-hundred total damage needed to work through all three phases of the boss. The raid decks also include Loot Cards, which can make these decks into promotional events for card and hobby shops. The shop could, for example, hold a tournament where the top five placing players now have to fight against the Raid deck. Should they win, they get to divide up a pack of foil rare cards that are items that dropped in the original raid in World of Warcraft. Or, some other setup for distribution. Overall, this is a very fun teamwork mechanic in the Trading/Collectable Card Game.
The other teamwork based deck we got to try was the Deadmines Dungeon Deck. Unlike a Raid Deck, the dungeon decks don’t need a player running or controlling the enemy deck. In fact, the dungeon decks just run themselves, and add some interesting alternate play and league play mechanics. The dungeon decks are designed around two-to-five players working together against. By default, all the players working together against the Dungeon deck will take their turn, then the Dungeon deck will take it’s “turn”. The boss Hero card has a flip trait, meaning you draw and play a number of cards off the top of the draw deck equal to that number, playing and resolving each card in the order they are revealed. Events, Allies, and even Bosses can be drawn to help defend the Boss Hero. The cards found in this deck reference the remade version of the classic Deadmines dungeon, as it appeared in the Cataclysm expansion pack. The Dungeon deck will win if all the player Hero cards are defeated, and the players win if they can defeat the current Boss Hero card in play. With the Deadmines deck, it comes with a pair of over-sized Hero cards that function differently from normal Hero cards. First, there’s no standard Flip mechanic, though each card can “flip” in a fashion. If a condition that’s printed on the Hero card is met, the card will be replaced with a higher Stage version of the boss. In this case, stages one through three are Cookie, the final boss if you run Deadmines in the level twenty range on World of Warcraft. If the condition is met on the third phase Cookie, he then turns into Vanessa VanCleef, and proceeds to start mopping up the floor with what haggard remains of the player party is remaining. While it’s not impossible to defeat the Boss Hero at this stage, it is incredibly difficult.
There’s a lot of replay value with the dungeon decks, and in fact, there’s a league play rule set that friends, or card and hobby shops can follow to help promote the game, and get people to come back for prizes, achievement recognition, and bragging rights. Depending on how you defeat the Dungeon Deck, certain Achievements that are worth experience points that are used to improve the league play deck that players may bring. When you start out, players are forced to bring rather weak and simple decks, which can be a deck building equivilent of stock car racing, and is incredibly friendly to new players getting started. As you progress, you’re allowed to improve the deck you bring, and you can achieve better rewards.
This dungeon deck was quite fun, but we ran into a bit of an exploit, given what access we had to errata (none, internet access was spotty during the convention, due to the filming company manning the live stream of panels), and careful reading of how things translated with card mechanics being applied to the Dungeon Deck. Effectively, Matt was playing a Warlock Hero that had a spell that effectively just killed any Ally the Dungeon Deck would generate. This happened mid-game, but it turned a harrowing and difficult session to something trivial. The Hero in question was from an earlier game block, and the Dungeon Decks are stated to be built to work with the current Aftermath block of WoW TCG cards.
Compared to the Raid Decks, the Dungeon Decks are definitely a fun investment for a group of regular friends. You could buy five starter decks, plus a Dungeon Deck, and keep them all together as their own isolated card game.