The World of Warcraft Trading Card Game (also known as WoW TCG) is based on the enormously popular online role-playing game and virtual community of the same name from 2004. The idea for the game was announced in 2005 and the first set of cards, Heroes of Azeroth, was released in October of 2006 by sports-and-entertainment-card publisher Upper Deck, which, in 2010, lost its license to Cryptozoic. WoW TCG is less sweeping in scope than games like Magic: The Gathering, whose success it is trying to emulate.
World of Warcraft, which has become a household name through its viral online reach and offline complement of action figures and trinkets, is a classic massively multi-player online role-playing games (MMORPG). The movement abilities and weaponry options available to a player’s online avatar are nearly limitless.
Creating a collectible trading-card game based on the online version was a natural, if challenging, progression. To accomplish the transition, the card-game’s designers produced 10 different types of WoW TCG cards. They are: Hero, Master Hero, Ally, Ability, Loot, Location, Armor, Weapon, Quest, and Item.
Some of the most collectible WoW cards are those that offer direct tie-ins to the online game. Many Loot cards, for example, feature a patch that can be scratched off to reveal an online code, although most Loot cards offered for resale have never been scratched.
WoW TCG cards are usually good for more than one purpose. For example, Loot cards are often also Mount cards, which means the card is a surrogate for a creature that the player can “ride” in a game. Highly prized cards include Spectral Tiger, Wooly White Rhino, Blazing Hippogryph, Ethereal Plunderer, and El Pollo Grande, which depicts a seriously stern-looking chicken.
Game play is fairly similar to other trading-card games. In the case of WoW TCG, you play as one of two factions: the Horde or the Alliance. The game can be played one-on-one or in Raid format, which is when a group using a Raid deck competes against a single, larger enemy.
As in Magic: The Gathering and other like-minded trading-card games, the goal is to kill or be killed. However, because Magic does not have an online counterpart, the goal for those collectors is simply to build the best deck, while the goal of the WoW TCG player is also to enhance one’s online presence.