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Subject: CCG Journey Week 7 - World of Warcraft rss

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Mike Haverty
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This is the seventh game in my ongoing journey back in time to the CCGs I own and used to play (or never actually played, as the case may be too often), chronicled in this meta geeklist: My Journey Back to CCGs.

The Game
I wasn't actually looking to play this game originally. Several of us played World of Warcraft (the MMOG) and one year Johnny B., swell guy that he is, bought us each a starter for Christmas. We played it a few times and enjoyed it, but not enough to get serious with it. One fellow and his son still play every once in a while, but otherwise this has sat dormant for quite a while.

I do think the game has some nice flavor. Coming from the MMOG, a lot of the ability cards were intuitively similar in function to what they did in the video game. Overall, I think was a fine effort from Upper Deck.

The Decks
I still had two constructed decks, a paladin and a hunter, both Alliance. I don't recall being enthused about how my pally deck did, and I wasn't overly fond of playing one online, so I took that deck apart. I could have just used my hunter deck but I felt like making something new for the CCG Journey, so I made a mage deck. I have 11 mage ability cards, so those all went in (4x Blink and Fire Blast, a couple Polymorph, and Mana Agate). My hero, Oboro the Wise, has a card-drawing power (pay 4 and flip = draw a card each time you play an ability this turn), and seeing the card draw on the Blink cards, I decided to go "classic" card advantage and looked for more cards with drawing power, ending up with several quests, 4x Liba Wobblebonk (a 5-cost 3/4 ally that draws a card when played), stuff like that. Unfortunately, I only own 14 pieces of equipment and none of it usable by a mage, so I would have to rely on spells and allies for all my damage dealing.

I initially grabbed every Protector ally I had, and then decided to use some lessons learned from earlier in the CCG Journey on VS; that is, try to balance my play costs across the different "drop" levels so that hopefully I'd have good cards able to hit the table each turn as the number of resources grew. I tempered this with the fact that I'd have to split my spending between permanents and one-shots, a complication absent in VS since you only spend on characters/gear and just have to meet threshold for plot twists/locations.

I have to observe that this deck is a little abnormal for me. I'm a bit of an eccentric in gaming and it kinda irks me that so many games feature restrictive card draw, such that drawing engines are often fundamental to their play. I hate feeling like I'm forced into including card draw in a game just to be competitive -- not that I'm always trying to be competitive, but anyway.

Bman brought an Alliance rogue deck (Timmo) and a Horde priest (Omedus, with lots of discard, whom I still hated from the last time we played WoW, haha).

The Play
The first game went pretty well for me. I was averaging an ally per turn, I think, and drawing extra cards regularly. He slowed me down initially with Crazy Ingvand, that 0/6 Protector, but I was neutering his allies with Polymorph and Have A Pint (I think that's the name - subject character can't attack) and eventually started making headway against Timmo. He couldn't get enough allies out to stop my growing mob and I finally took him down.

The second game against Omedus was much tougher. He hit me early with discarding effects from various allies, which really slowed me down, and pinged me a few times as well. I was down to 18 health before I got enough guys and quests out to start getting more card draw and then started pinging away at his allies and his health. He got off a couple heals (14 points for a big heal - whiskey tango foxtrot??) but Oboro was victorious again; it was much closer than the first game, with me down to 11 health or so at game end.

The Verdict
Strangely, I think I enjoyed this more than I remembered, no doubt due partially to the fact that I won twice -- winning is always pleasant, heh. But anyway, the game actually works well. It has the VS resource system, some nice options with the different quest rewards, and a theme that (as a former online player) is familiar and well executed. I give it a solid 7 for enjoyment, and might even grab the odd booster here and there while shopping...

Notes on the Journey
This report is fairly close on the heels of Week 6 just due to the timing of the week, so no additional plays since the last session report. I'm busy with a kids camp this week so I expect there to be a lull, which is another reason I went ahead and got this game played.

Here are the current numbers; the first number is total plays since the CCG Journey began, and numbers in parentheses indicate the number of plays since the last session report (again, none due to the timing this week).

Magic = 15
AGOT = 10
VS = 6
Doomtown = 6
WoW = 2 (+2)
Shadowrun = 2
Shadowfist = 1
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Joe Stude
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I've found it pretty unusual to have fun, competitive games of WoW that end with any other result than one guy just getting overwhelmed by allies. I've slowly been working on and tweaking a Rogue deck that's focused on tearing allies up with most of the antihero punch provided by weapons and 3x Pilfer just for that reason.

Sounds like your game vs. Omedus was definitely more interesting. The game is so much more fun when both sides get to pull off different things and actually use what they have.

(incidentally, I ran that same Rogue deck against the Molten Core raid deck this past weekend and was pretty proud when I dealt 16 damage in one turn to Ragnaros (Pilfer for 8, plus 8 more from a weapon strike with Boggspine Knuckles and Thrash Blade).
 
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Mike Haverty
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I'd love to make a solo deck, but I totally lack the cards for it, I think. My card pool just isn't that deep and I don't want to spend more than a trivial amount on a pack every now and again. I suppose I'll see how close I can get though, haha.
 
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Joe Stude
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The abovementioned Rogue deck is as close to a solo deck as I've ever played. Since the deck is a little slow to get off the ground I've got 4x Grunt Baranka in there just to fend off the beasts to give me some time, 3x Blood Knight Kyria to further cover health losses due to being overwhelmed with allies, and a couple of Cromarius Blackfists to deal with annoying abilities. Still, it's not as solo as I'd like.
 
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Mike Haverty
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We've each bought a box of Dark Portal since they are on sale for $29.99 at Wal-mart and Target, and each of us have also ordered some singles.

Ally rushing still seems pretty strong, but we've each dabbled in solo decks now (rogue, warrior and paladin). Since our group is so small, our metagame is skewed toward how we play. The fact that we sometimes face solo decks has made cards that only work against allies less attractive, but at the same time it behooves you to pack AE attacks to clearing the board of hostile allies, if possible. We're having a good time with deck building and playing.
 
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SiddGames wrote:
I'm a bit of an eccentric in gaming and it kinda irks me that so many games feature restrictive card draw, such that drawing engines are often fundamental to their play. I hate feeling like I'm forced into including card draw in a game just to be competitive...


This comment caught my eye.

What exactly do you mean by 'restrictive card draw' and what would be the alternative?

This series of reports are a fun idea though I'd have liked to see more appraisal on the notable differences/pros/cons of each.
 
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Mike Haverty
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DAMMIT I had written a response to this and my recent "session times out all the time" error lost it when I hit submit. Sigh.

Anyway... what I mean is a game in which card advantage is a big factor and the rules only provide for very limited card draw, with the result that card draw is an important component of deck-building.

Examples of the two extremes:

1. Magic. The rules give you 1 card per turn. Card advantage is pretty big in Magic, therefore card drawing is important in deck-building.

2. Overpower. The rules make you discard your (remaining) hand at the end of each round and draw a fresh, full hand at the start of the next. Card draw is non-existent in deck-building.

There's a little more to it than that, but those are sort of the opposite ends of the card drawing spectrum. When I'm making a Magic deck, I feel like I am "gimping" myself if I don't include SOME sort of card draw, even just cards that let you draw one when you play it, or replay it from the graveyard (virtual card draw), or pull a card from your library (even if it's just land), etc.

WoW is a little more palatable to me. Yes, the rules only give you 1 card per turn, but card draw is often a reward on quests, which also double as dedicated resource cards in your deck, so it feels better to me. Card draw is also a theme with Gnomes, which is pleasant for people who like to build things like Gnome decks. But, getting those cards one way or another seems pretty important in the game.

Examples of games with card drawing that I like: Spoils and Warhammer. Not surprising in the case of Spoils since it was designed as a tournament-oriented game (and which I'll be visiting eventually on the Journey). In Warhammer, card draw is actually part of the card draw / income / offensive capability triad and works wonderfully when balanced in that fashion; I think there is some card draw available when deck-building but it is totally optional there because the rules give you so much control over it already.

Shadowfist isn't bad either: you can discard 1 card per turn, then draw up to your hand limit of 6, OR if you forgo income for the turn you can discard any number of cards and draw up to 6. I like stuff like that where it's a decision you have to make about card draw DURING game play and not just at deck-building time.
 
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It's terrible but I hadn't even really thought about 'drawing up to X' rather than 'drawing X' during the draw stage.

Though it sounds like Overpower has no extinguishable resource that caps what you play (so if I'm right you're basically guaranteed to be able to use all cards every turn) it'd be an interesting exercise to use that rule in Magic.

Obviously card-drawing would be near-useless but perhaps potent as a decking tool. I imagine decks would need to be larger. I imagine most folk would play far cheaper spells and fewer lands - given that you can only play one of the latter each turn - and 0mana and 1mana spells would become far more relevant.

In balancing cards, I guess rather than a 2mana card being less than twice as good as a 1-mana (and so on) it should be MORE THAN twice as good since though the card itself is now still a small cost (being limited to X per turn) it's now the mana that would be the real limiting factor.

I guess every Magic deck would be White/Red weenie with the current existing cards since 5 1-mana cards are invariably better than 1 5-mana card each turn.

I think that with every CCG I've played, the experience of deck-building is as significant a part of the game as piloting the deck and it does seem unfortunate that you need to invest so much time in to get a true flavour of the experience.

Modal cards help as do Magic's targetted spells or Wow's targetted attacks. The objective - to keep the game simple but provide meaningful choices - seems the same as in any game but given that in a CCG the cards add another layer of complexity, I think it needs to be that extra step simpler than where you want the final game to be.

Shadowfist's rule DOES sound like it'd definitely give a brilliant added choice:complexity ratio.
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