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Posted by Raine Hutchens on Dec 14, 2011

Review – World of Warcraft Dungeon Decks (Tabletop/TCG)

It’s no secret that I’m a huge World of Warcraft fan. I play the MMO like clockwork, and I even read the books. While it’s true that video games are certainly my forte, I also like to get into some tabletop and TCG (trading card games) every now and then. Just recently Cryptozoic, a leading producer of themed board and card games, released a new expansion set, so to speak, for the World of Warcraft trading card game. These new products are called “Dungeon Decks,” and they are essentially themed A.I. decks that have players coming together to form raid teams of either Alliance or Horde that will tackle the dungeon and all of its fury. Players can earn achievements, level up their decks, and even pick up some sweet dungeon loot cards in the process to make their decks come out stronger than before. I decided to gather up my time with these new decks in order to bring them to players, so here’s the review.

Setup and Contents

All of the dungeon decks run the same way, and they’re set up all the same. However, in order to get to how the game is set up we’ve got to cover what comes in the box.

First, there are currently three different Dungeon Decks to choose from, each of which mimic actual dungeon instances from in the game. Players can choose to take on:

  • Scarlet Monastery – “Can you not see it, brothers and sisters? There is but one way to wipe the Scourge from the face of Azeroth. The Scarlet Crusade offers you the protection that you so desperately desire, and if you will pledge yourself to us, surely we will reach our ultimate goal. Defy us, and you will be dispatched in a blaze of golden light unlike any you have ever witnessed. My father, known to many as the Ashbringer, one of the most powerful paladins ever to walk the path of the Light, fell to my hand. What hopes could you possibly have, if even he could not stand against us?” – Scarlet Commander Mograine

  • Shadowfang Keep – “Weakness… that is all you have managed to show me. Genn, you and those other disgusting mongrels that plague Gilneas, I sought death before I would serve you again. Enter the Banshee Queen, Sylvanas. You showed your true nature when you allowed Crowley to leave with his life, and so I took yours instead. You would do well to remember all that I have done, but if you still dare to enter my keep, all you will find is the lonely silence of death.” – Lord Godfrey

  • The Deadmines – “Lies, greed, and deception—these are the things that my father stood against. For years, he worked tirelessly, helping to rebuild your devastated city, and what thanks did he or anyone else get for it? Nothing. What choice did they have but to turn on those who the crown favored to get payment, one way or another? Fate, it would seem, has led me down this path. Even with the murder of my father, your foolish attempts to destroy the Defias have been in vain. I am, now more than ever, my father’s daughter, and the Defias Brotherhood will rise once more…” – Vanessa Van Cleef

Each deck comes with its own special cards and contents, but for the most part they are all built the same. Out of the box you’ll see a sixty-card dungeon deck that acts as the main A.I. in the game. This dungeon deck is composed of dungeon allies, abilities, and equipment that can be used by the dungeon hero (we’ll get into turn progression later). Inside the box you’ll also find character sheets. These sheets are used to track progression of your character, or personal deck. The sheets are accompanied by the obligatory rulebook, which is essential to play the game. There are also achievement cards in the package which serve as rewards that grant XP which is later used to level up. Two dungeon boss cards are included, and they serve as the “end boss” for the actual dungeon. These cards look much like the hero cards that players have, as they have their own health points, abilities, and more, but they’re much larger than the normal-sized cards. Finally you’ll find a nine-card treasure pack which contains epic loot cards, allies, equipment, and more. Plus, these treasure cards are all foil cards.

As for the contents, the types of allies and abilities will change depending on the dungeon, but these are the basics for what to expect to see when you open up a Dungeon Deck box.

Now it’s time to look at setup. I’ll break it down into how to get everything arranged, then we’ll head into how the game plays out. When you sit down to play a round with the Dungeon Deck, it’s recognized as “entering the dungeon.” You’ll take out the dungeon hero and place them on the table in an upright, or “readied” position. Depending on what level your personal decks are, they will determine what level the dungeon hero starts out as. As you take on different runs with the dungeon deck you’ll earn experience that will level up your raider decks. As your decks level, so does the dungeon hero. This will determine what level card to use for the dungeon hero himself.

Next you’ll want to shuffle and place the A.I. deck next to the hero, either to the right or to the left (preference doesn’t matter.) Make sure you leave enough room for a discard pile, and spots below the hero for allies and equipment. For the dungeon to function, however, this is all you need.

Then the raiders, the players, set up their decks on the table opposite the dungeon hero and A.I. deck. Things for the raiders will be set up as normal, such as placing their hero at the bottom left of their play space, putting their playing deck to the right, and leaving the necessary space in between for equipment and allies as well. Once each raider is set up, has their dice ready to roll, and has plenty of snacks, it’s time to crack the doors on the dungeon and shake up some mischief.

Turn Progression and Defeating the Dungeon

Now we’ll get into the good stuff. Steady on the draw there, Leeroy, we’ve got some bases to cover before we get into the boss room, such as turn progression. Turns will always progress the same way, only differing depending on the level of the dungeon. Raiders will roll a die to decide who takes the first turn, and turns will progress clockwise from the first acting raider. The only exception to this rule is that on higher dungeon levels sometimes the dungeon will take the first turn.

When a raider takes their turn, they take is as if they were playing a normal game. They’ll play resources, allies, and the such just like usual. The catch here is that they aren’t to target any other raiders unless they are healing or using abilities. You’re not out to attack each other. This really brings in the feel of working in a team, much like with the MMO. That being said, when you sit down to play the dungeon, I’ve found that it’s great to have raiders play roles like within the game. You’ll want to have a player run as the tank, with a lot of protector cards in their deck, one run as a healer who can help injured raiders, and a couple of DPS decks that will deal with picking off the dungeon allies and eventually the hero.

When raiders attack, they always attack the dungeon hero, unless allies are present. When the dungeon has allies on the field, raiders can choose to take them out, or deal straight with the dungeon hero. The exception to this rule is when a dungeon boss ally is put into play. While in play, raiders must defeat the boss in order to progress back to the dungeon hero. Think of these as “minibosses” that will hinder your trip through the dungeon.

After the raiders have taken their turns, it’s time for the dungeon to take action. On a dungeon turn cards will be flipped from the top of the A.I. deck and be put into play, after everything on the dungeon side has been readied. The dungeon hero’s level will determine how many cards to flip per turn. For example: High Commander Morgraine at dungeon level 2 will flip, or play, two dungeon cards per turn. This means two cards are flipped over into play from the dungeon deck. Then the dungeon will take actions.

At this point a die needs to be rolled to determine the raider upon which the dungeon will rain down its fury. This raider is known as the “marked” raider. Once this happens, all available dungeon allies and the dungeon hero will attack the marked raider’s hero. During this time, other raiders can protect to block incoming damage, play instant abilities, and do whatever else is necessary at the time. After all protectors and abilities have been exhausted, damage is calculated. This is where it gets tricky. You see, once the dungeon hero has accumulated specific amounts of damage on each raider, the hero can then level up. Leveling up for the dungeon hero is almost always bad. The damage they’ve sustained and all abilities attached will stay, but they can become very nasty. This is when you’ll want to take them out as soon as possible. To determine when a hero levels, know that it’s always at the start of the dungeon turn after all dungeon cards are readied.

Now that turn progression has been covered, let’s move on into how to actually defeat the dungeon. The dungeon is defeated when raiders have effectively brought the dungeon hero down to zero health. It’s really that simple. Through the course of the game, raiders will need to concentrate efforts into picking away at the dungeon hero’s health. This will mean a successful run, and will help with avoiding getting wiped while playing.

You know what that means, right? You can actually lose when attempting to conquer the dungeon. If the dungeon hero successfully brings each raider to zero health, you have failed the dungeon. At this point you’ll lose a certain amount of experience gained in the dungeon, and have to start from the beginning. It’s a great sense of bringing the game to the table, though it can be heartbreaking.

Lastly, it’s important to note that these Dungeon Decks are designed to be used with Class Starter decks from the WoW TCG. This is how you will level up your personal decks. As you gain experience, you can level up and add different cards to the starter decks. Eventually you’ll move up to starter decks that are forces to be reckoned with. Don’t let that stop you from using your own constructed WoW decks, though. The rulebook has specific guidelines on how to start out the dungeon with these decks.

Conclusion

We fought hard, we were brave, and eventually Morgraine’s might had seen its final hour. The Dungeon Decks for the WoW TCG are extremely fun, encompassing, and stay very true to the MMO. These decks are designed for multiple players, though I’ve managed to get through them with just two raiders. If there’s one thing to note about them, however, it’s the fact that they should not be underestimated. They can leave you begging for a resurrection is mere minutes if not planned out. I am glad these were brought into light by Cryptozoic, and if you’re a fan of the game you’ll enjoy them too. If you play the TCG, you can pick these Dungeon Decks up for around $20 a pop. That’s not bad considering what you pick up. If you’ve got the time and want to add a little spice to your card gaming, be sure to snag one of these decks for yourself.

The Good

  • tons of fun to play
  • loot cards make the purchase worthwhile
  • great to play with friends
  • stays true to the MMO
  • encompassing card play and strategies

The Bad

  • can be difficult at times
  • not especially easy to just “pick up and play”
  • can be tough with a low number of players

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