The World of Warcraft TCG - The Basics
The World of Warcraft Trading Card Game is a multiplayer collectible card game that can be played competitively or casually one on one, or in a player vs encounter scenario as a team. This video will cover the basics of a typical 1v1 game of WoWTCG. Advanced topics will be in separate subsequent videos, but after this video you should have enough information to play a typical one on one game.
In the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game you are represented by a hero card. Your hero is the leader of your party, who fights alongside your allies. The cards that you play will allow you to equip your hero with weapons and armor, use abilities and talents, complete quests, and invite allies into your party. The objective of the game is to defeat your opponents before they defeat you.
Over time, your hero and allies will deal damage to your opponents’ heroes and allies. If your hero takes damage equal to or greater than their health, you lose the game. Both players begin by shuffling their decks and randomly deciding a first player. Each player’s respective hero card starts the game in play with its front side up. Your hero card represents you, the leader of your party.
Each hero has a health value printed in the lower right corner which tells you how much damage the hero can take before they, and more importantly you, lose the game. Your hero can attack and defend but this will be covered a bit later. Each hero card has a class icon in the top right which signifies the types of cards you can put in your deck. Deckbuilding will be covered later, but just know for example that a paladin can usually only play paladin cards.
Each hero card is double sided. The front face of a hero card is the one with the class icon in the top right. If your hero has a power (we will cover powers shortly), using this power will flip the card to the other side, occasionally the backsides of heroes have powers and effects as well. Before the start of the game, each player draws 7 cards.
At this point, if a player does not like their hand of cards, they may decide to mulligan. In order to mulligan, shuffle your opening hand into your deck and draw a new opening hand of 7 cards. Each player can only mulligan once each game and only at the start of the game. After each player has settled on an opening hand, the first player’s turn begins.
Players take turns, going clockwise from the first player. Each player’s turn is divided into three phases, and some phases are divided into steps. Over the course of this video we will be returning to this graphic when it becomes relevant, but for now just know that during the Start and End Phase most things happen automatically, and during the Action Phase is where most of the choices you make happen, like playing cards and combat. The start phase is when you get ready for a new turn. It's divided into two steps, the ready step and the draw step.
At the beginning of your ready step, you ready all your cards in play. Cards in play are typically in one of two states: ready, or exhausted. An exhausted card means that it was used for something, this is represented by the card being sideways ninety degrees. A ready card is upright, and signifies that the card is ready to be used and/or exhausted. How cards end up being exhausted will be explained in a bit, but for now just remember that a sideways card is thought to be exhausted, and an upright card is thought to be ready. Like previously mentioned at the beginning of your ready step, you ready all of your exhausted cards in play, meaning turn upright all sideways cards.
Following this is the draw step, during which, you draw one card. However, if it's the first player's first turn of the game, they do not draw a card. To summarize the Start Phase, you begin with the ready step by ready-ing all your exhausted cards, then move on to the draw step where you draw one card.
Next is the action phase, this is the main phase of a turn where most of your decisions will take place. During your action phase, you may perform any of the three actions in any order: Play a card, place a resource or propose a combat. We will go over each of these actions individually, starting with the place a resource action.
To place a resource, take any card from your hand and put it face down into your resource row. The resource row is the row of cards that is usually next to your deck. If the card is a quest or a location card, you may choose to place it in your resource row face up. Quest cards represent tasks that your hero does to gain small advantages, like drawing extra cards or looking at the top cards of your deck. Using them will flip them over and cause them to be facedown resources for the rest of the game, but we will go over this in detail later.
Location cards are a bit more complicated and will be explained in the advanced topics video, but for now just know that both quests and locations can enter play only as resources during the place a resource action. Placing a resource is the one action during the action phase that you may only take once a turn. But most of the time you will want to use the place a resource action every turn, because resources are the main way to play cards. Most cards in the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game cost something to play, this cost is shown in the top left corner of cards.
This number represents the number of resources you must exhaust to play this card. As we saw before, exhausting means turning the card ninety degrees so it is sideways. For example, if a player wanted to play this Kara Vesstal card from their hand, they would first need to make sure that they have two ready resources. Then, during their action phase, they can exhaust two resources paying the cost for Kara and putting her into play. Remember that during the Start Phase all of your cards ready, so during the action phase after you exhaust resources to play cards, on your next turn these resources are going to be able to be used again for different cards. There are three main types of cards that you can play.
Allies, Abilities and Equipment, which is further divided into Armor, Weapons and Items. Lets go over each of these individually. At the start of the game, your party contains only your hero, but as the game progresses you may invite allies to join your party. Your party is the row of cards in play usually above your resource row.
Allies in your party can attack and defend against opposing heroes and allies, and many of them have additional powers that you can use when they are in play. Each Ally card has its cost in the upper left corner, which tells you how many resources you must exhaust in order to play the card from your hand. The number in the bottom left corner is its attack value, which is how much damage the ally does. There is also a symbol around the attack value that tells you what kind of combat damage the ally deals.
There are 8 different types of damage, but you only need to worry about them when specific cards refer to them, for now you can just focus on the number, which is its attack value. The health value in the lower right corner tells you how much damage the ally can take. An ally that takes fatal damage (meaning damage that is equal to or greater than its health) is destroyed, and goes to its owner's graveyard, which is typically to the right of their deck. Damage in WoWTCG is permanent unless it is healed, and usually represented with counters or dice. All cards in the WoWTCG have a type line which describes what the card is and what is its subtype.
If you are ever unsure about what type of card something is, it will be written in the typeline. Similarly, Allies and most cards have a text box that describes the powers that the card has. Sometimes the powers are a keyword, which is represented by the bold text, this signifies a common effect.
And sometimes powers have a cost associated with them, we will describe how to use these later. The typical purpose of inviting allies into your party is to deal damage to the opposing hero, but some allies have utility effects that assist various strategies that contribute to the same goal. Weapons, Armor and Items are cards that you play to suit up your hero with offensive and defensive capabilities. Generally, your hero starts the game with no attack value, but if you have a weapon in play you may increase that attack value using a weapon card.
Armor cards are used to reduce the amount of damage that your hero might be taking. The nuances of how to attack with weapons and defend using armor will be covered in the combat section of the video. Items are equipment your hero can have in addition to weapons and armor. Rings, trinkets and potions are examples of items. All of these cards are played exactly like Ally cards: By paying its cost in the top left by exhausting that many resource cards and putting it into play from your hand. Equipment is thought to be equipped by your hero, and typically goes to the left of them in play.
Abilities are cards that represent your hero’s class’s skills and spells. Much like the other card types we've covered, each ability has its play cost in the upper left corner. And most abilities when played cause an effect that is described through its power.
But unlike the other cards we have seen, after the ability cards effect happens the card goes to your graveyard. For example: a player plays this Blistering Fire by paying the cost as normal. Its power happens, which reads “your hero deals 3 fire damage to target hero”, then after the effect has occurred the card goes to its owner's graveyard and the turn proceeds as normal. Some abilities have the Keyword Ongoing, which basically means this ability stays after playing it. The text following the Ongoing keyword will describe the effect that happens while it remains in play.
For example: If a player plays this Infinite Brilliance card, instead of going to the graveyard like a regular Ability, because it has the Ongoing keyword it stays in play like an ally or equipment card. This particular card's power reads “At the start of your turn, draw a card” this is in addition to the one that you draw during the draw step as normal, netting you two cards for the turn. Now that we have briefly gone over the types of cards that you can play, let's quickly recap the play a card action during the action phase. To play either an Ally, Equipment or Ability from your hand, exhaust the amount of resources that is equal to the number in the top left corner of the card that you want to play.
You may take the play a card action as many times as you wish during the action phase, assuming of course you have the required ready resources. The last type of action that you can take during the Action Phase is proposing a combat. Combat is one of the primary ways that you deal damage to your opponent, and get them towards fatal damage, which if you remember is the win condition of the game. In the WoWTCG combat happens individually between two characters (meaning heroes and allies).
When you propose a combat action during the action phase, five things happen in order. First, Propose: You choose a ready character in your party to be the proposed attacker and an opposing character to be the proposed defender. The proposed defender can be either ready or exhausted. Second, Attack: Your proposed attacker exhausts and attacks. After attack, there is something called the Protect Point, a section of the combat step that allows characters to Protect other characters. This will be covered later.
Third, Defend: The proposed defender starts defending. Fourth, Damage: The attacker and defender simultaneously deal combat damage to each other with their ATK value, which is in the bottom left of their cards. This is the only damage that counts as combat damage. If there is no attack value, like on a hero card, then that card deals no damage. Fifth, Conclude: The combat step ends.
Here is an example between two allies. During Sylvanas’s Action Phase she wants to use Draga’zal to attack Cerwyn. First she proposes combat announcing her ally as the attacker and the opposing ally as the defender.
She then exhausts Draga’zal to show that he is attacking. Cerwyn is the defender in this combat. We move on to damage where both cards simultaneously deal damage to each other equal to their attack values. Cerwyn is dealt 3 damage from Draga’zal, which is fatal. But because the damage is simoultaneous Draga’zal suffers one damage from Cerwyn. The combat ends and Cerwyn goes to its owner's graveyard because they have damage that is equal to or greater than their health, Draga’zal did not and remains in play exhausted, with one damage on him.
As a reminder, damage is permanent and stays throughout turns. Next turn when Draga’zal readies during the ready step, he can attack once again during the Action Phase. One final important thing to note is that allies take a turn preparing after joining the party, meaning that they cannot attack the same turn they enter play. If a hero is a part of a combat, as either the attacker or defender, there are additional actions players may take if they have Weapons or Armor equipped.
After the defender starts defending during combat, you can strike with a weapon to add its attack value (found in the bottom left) to your hero’s attack for the rest of the combat. To strike with a weapon, pay its strike cost (which is found in the bottom right) and exhaust it. You can only strike with a weapon before combat damage is dealt, but if you have multiple weapons you can strike with all of them adding each of their attack values to yours. Because the weapon exhausts when striking, you may only strike with each weapon once during a single combat, and thus once a turn.
Here is an example: Sylvanas proposes a combat between her and Jaina. Because Sylvanas is the attacker she exhausts as normal, then after Jaina has been established as the defender, Sylvanas chooses to pay the strike cost of her Lightning Whelk Axe and exhaust it to add two attack to her current attack value of zero. When damage happens Sylvanas deals two damage to Jaina, and simultaneously takes nothing in return, because Jaina has an attack value of zero. If Jaina in this instance had a weapon ready and the resources necessary to pay its strike cost, she could have used a weapon to increase her attack after she became a defender but before damage to deal some damage back to Sylvanas. As a reminder, when your character is a defender you do not exhaust them during combat, you do so only when they are an attacker.
If you have Armor equipped when your hero is going to take damage, you can exhaust your armor to prevent damage to your hero equal to the armor’s defense value, which can be found in the bottom right corner. Unlike striking with a weapon, this effect does not cost any resources. This means that during the last example if Jaina had Bloodbane’s Fall, an Armor Equipment equipped, she could have exhausted it to prevent some damage. Because Sylvanas in that combat dealt two damage, Jaina still takes one damage during that combat. Two damage minus the one prevented by the armor equals one damage.
While defenders are always chosen by whoever is initiating the combat action, the protector keyword allows characters to jump into the fray and protect or tank for that character. If your opponent attacks one of your characters, and you have a ready hero or ally that can protect (usually signified with the “protector” keyword in its text box), you can choose to have that character step in for the proposed defender. This always happens during the Protect Point, the time during a combat step in between attack and defend. When the proposed defender would start defending, you may exhaust the character with protector, having it become the defender for the combat instead of the originally proposed defender.
For example: Jaina proposes a combat between Kara Vesstal and Sylvanas. Kara exhausts and Sylvanas is currently the defender. However, before damage, Sylvanas chooses to exhaust Icaros the Sunward to protect her. Icaros is now the new defender in combat replacing Sylvanas.
Combat proceeds to damage, and each ally deals damage to the other based on their attack values, in this instance neither is dealt fatal damage. To summarize the combat action, pick one of your ready characters (meaning heroes or allies) and an opposing character to be the defender. Then the two characters deal damage to each other simultaneously, if either was a hero they can pay resources to strike with a ready weapon, exhausting it. If a hero that has armor equipped takes damage, they can exhaust it to reduce the amount of damage equal to the cards armor value. Any player with a ready character with the Protector keyword can exhaust it during combat to be the new defender in that combat.
As a reminder, you can propose as many combats as you have ready characters in your party. Lets cover once again what you can do during the action phase: Place a resource, meaning taking any card from your hand and putting it face down in your resource row. If it is a quest or location card you can place it as a resource face up.
You may only use the place a resource action once a turn. Or you can play a card from your hand, meaning paying the cost in the upper left corner by exhausting resources in your resource row and putting it into play. And you can propose a combat. Meaning propose an attacker and defender, exhausting your attacker, and have both the attacker and defender deal damage to each other simultaneously. As a reminder you can take any of these actions as many times as you would like, except for the place a resource action, which you can only do once a turn. Any of these actions can be taken in any order or not taken at all.
After you are done playing cards, placing resources and proposing combats in your action phase you move to the end phase, which just contains the wrap up step. During the wrap up step if you have more cards in hand than the maximum hand size of seven, you must discard to your graveyard until you have only the maximum hand size. After a player’s wrap-up step is over their turn is over, and the next player's turn begins with the start phase then action phase and finally their end phase. Then it goes back to the next player starting with the start phase again. The game then continues back and forth between players until one player's hero takes fatal damage. If a player goes to draw during the draw step and their deck is empty, they lose the game also.
The most important rule is that If the power of a card contradicts the rules, the card always takes precedence. Most of the time a card's power is static and active at all times, but sometimes an effect will happen when a specific described event occurs. This is more commonly known as a trigger.
One of the more common triggers is when the card is played from hand, the power will be written like on this Father Charles card. However, as covered before, if it's a common effect it will be bold to show that it's a keyword. Sometimes in parenthesis reminder text about the keyword will be described.
We will be covering some common keywords at the end of this video. The other type of power that a card can have is a payment power. A payment power is any power on a card that has an arrow symbol in its text.
The text before the arrow is the cost to use the payment power, and the text after the arrow is the effect that happens. To use a payment power, pay its cost (usually exhausting resources) and then do whatever the text after the arrow says to do. Hero cards commonly have payment powers because they are the primary method of flipping them.
Baron Blackwood has one such effect but its payment power has a cost in addition to 5 resources, flipping the card (this is signified with the comma). This just means the flip happens before the effect, then after all payments for the power have been paid, the effect to the right of the arrow happens, which in this case deals 4 fire damage to each opposing hero, and 1 fire damage to each opposing ally. It's important to note that card powers on the side that are face down are not active, this applies to all cards like quest cards for example, not just hero cards. Some payment powers have an activate symbol as part of their cost. To pay that cost, exhaust the card that the power is on. These powers are called activated powers, because you activate or exhaust the card that they are a part of.
Weapons, Armor, Items and Abilities can use activated powers the same turn that they enter play. Allies take a turn preparing after entering play and thus cannot use an activated power or attack the same turn they entered play. Unless the card says otherwise, you can use a payment power as many times as you would like, as long as you can afford to pay the cost each time. Quests function similar to payment powers but are worded a bit differently. Paying the cost on a quest card, usually resources, completes the quest.
This often has some sort of reward associated with it, but it will always flip the quest card so it is facedown, even if it does not say to. The first line of a Quest card describes when and how much you have to pay to complete the quest, like a payment power if it is a number that is how many resources you must exhaust. Upon completion of the quest flip the card and get the reward described after the reward keyword. Because it flips when completed, you cannot complete the quest again, unless you find a way to flip up the quest card. But remember like the other resources, a facedown quest still functions as a normal resource card.
Because quests are also resource cards while they are face up, you can exhaust the quest you are using, to pay for the resource cost of completing itself. Simply flip it over as you are exhausting it. Some cards in the game will have the Instant or Basic prefix to its type. Instant means that the card can be played at any time during your turn, not just the action phase, and more valuably also at any time during the opponent's turn. The Basic prefix means that that card can only be played during its owner's action phase. If a card does not have any prefix on its type it is assumed to be basic.
Payment powers and activated powers on cards can also be used on an opponent's turn. Some cards will have their payment powers with the instant or basic prefix as well. If a payment power does not have the basic or instant word marker on it, it is assumed to be instant. This might seem a little confusing, but just remember that a card can only be played during your action phase unless it is instant. And a power on a card can be used at all times unless it says it is basic. The order in which cards resolve their power if players want to use multiple powers or play multiple instant cards at the same time is determined by something called the chain.
This advanced concept will be covered in a different video, but to sum it up the last power or last card played has its effect happen first. To the right of the typeline of some cards there is sometimes the Unique tag. Any time you control more than one card with the same name that also has this tag, you must immediately put all but one of them into your graveyard.
You choose which one to keep. Likewise if a card has a tag and a number next to it, that's how many of these cards with the tag that you may have in play at a time. This is most commonly found on equipment cards. If you ever control more cards than the tag specifies, you must keep destroying those cards with the tag until you have the correct amount. Hero and Ally cards are usually a part of one of two factions, Alliance or Horde.
A cards faction is visible through the banner in the top right corner. While some cards may refer to a specific faction, it is usually only relevant during deckbuilding. Horde allies may only be in decks with a Horde hero and Alliance Allies may only be in decks with an Alliance hero.
Some equipment, abilities and quests are also tied to a specific faction, again, these cards can only be included in decks with heroes that match that faction. Neutral and Monster allies are not a part of any factions, visible by the lack of banner in the top right corner and thus can be included in decks with heroes of either faction. Factions, class cards, and different types of heroes will be covered in depth in the deckbuilding section of the advanced topics video. Mend. This keyword is followed by a number. At the start of your turn, the card with the Mend keyword may heal that amount of damage from target hero or ally.
Healing damage means removing it from the character. Whenever healing a character, you cannot overheal them higher than their health value. Ferocity. An ally with ferocity can attack on the same turn that it comes into play. However, even an ally with ferocity can’t use activated powers unless it has been in play since the start of your turn. An ally with ferocity can still use regular payment powers that don’t require an exhaust.
Elusive. An elusive hero or ally cannot be attacked, meaning it cannot be proposed as a defender. However, it itself can still attack as usual. It can also be targeted by abilities. Assault.
This keyword is followed by a number. The number is how much attack the character gains when it is its owner's turn. If multiple instances of the Assault keyword are present, they stack, granting attack from all combined. Attach. While not an actual keyword this common effect is seen on many ability cards.
If an ongoing ability tells you to attach it to a card in play, you put the ability underneath that card as the ability enters play. The first line of the card will have conditions on what kind of card you can attach that ability to. The text following the Ongoing keyword will describe the effect that happens to the attached card. When a card leaves play, each ability attached to that card goes to its owner’s graveyard.
To reinforce everything that we have covered let's watch the first couple of turns of a basic 1v1. In this game one player has Jaina Proudmoore as their hero, a mage, and the other has Dark Lady Sylvanas Windrunner, a hunter. We will follow the perspective of player Jaina. To start, both players shuffle their decks and randomly decide who goes first. In this case, Jaina won the coin flip. Both players then draw their opening hand of seven cards.
Jaina looks at her hand and decides because it has a good spread of different card types at a lower cost, to keep the hand and not mulligan. Sylvanas keeps her opening hand as well. The game begins with Jaina’s turn. She proceeds to her first start phase, because it is the first turn of the game she does not draw a card. Moving along to the action phase she decides to place one of her ally cards from hand as a resource face down. She then decides to play Corin Stallnorth from hand, paying with the resource that she just placed.
Because Corin joined her party this turn, he needs a turn to prepare before he can attack. With nothing else that Jaina can do, she proceeds to the end phase. Because she has less than her maximum hand size of seven she does not need to discard, Jaina’s turn ends. It is now Sylvanas’s turn.
During her start phase she draws a card and then proceeds to the action phase, during which she places the quest The Key to Freedom face up as a resource. Sylvanas announces no further actions during the action phase, moves to the end phase and then ends her turn. It's now Jaina’s turn again. She first readies all of her cards during the ready step and then draws a card during the draw step. In her action phase, Jaina places the quest The Last Living Lorekeeper as her resource for the turn.
She then decides to propose a combat between Corin Stallnorth and Sylvanas to start getting some damage in. After proposing, she exhausts Corin, because Sylvanas has no protectors in her party and thus no further actions she can take, the two cards deal damage to each other. Corin takes nothing in return because Sylvanas has no attack value. Sylvanas now has one damage on her. After this Jaina sees that she has no other cards in hand that she could play or any further actions that she can take, so she proceeds to the end phase and passes her turn.
Sylvanas readies all of her cards and draws. During her action phase she places a card facedown as a resource. Then she exhausts both her resources and plays Zip, afterwards still in the action phase, she proposes a combat between Zip and Corin. Zip has the keyword ferocity, meaning that they can attack the same turn that they joined the party. Because Jaina has no protectors or anything else that she can do, they go through combat and deal damage to each other. Sylvanas has no further actions that she can take and ends her turn, but still moves through the end phase.
Jaina readies her cards and draws a card. She begins her action phase by placing a resource face down from hand. She then sees she has a Frostbolt card in hand, which would be useful for dealing with Zip, but because it is an instant card she does not need to play it immediately, and can wait till the last possible moment in case a bigger threat comes up. She decides to save Frostbolt and instead starts a combat between Corin Stallnorth and Sylvanas, it proceeds to damage without a hitch and Sylvanas suffers another damage. After the end phase, Jaina passes the turn. Sylvanas readies her cards and draws for the turn.
She notices that Jaina did not play anything in the last turn so she decides to start her action phase by proposing a combat between Zip and Corin. After she proposes, Jaina announces that she is playing Frostbolt targeting Zip, in order to prevent Corin from taking fatal damage. Zip takes three frost damage and goes to the graveyard because he was dealt fatal damage. This combat action ends. Sylvanas places a Last Living Lorekeeper quest card as her resource for the turn and exhausts all three of her resources to play Bloodbanes fall.
Thanks to the effect of the Armor card, through the Assault keyword, her hero now has one attack during her turn, so before ending she decides to propose a combat between her and Jaina. Because Jaina has no further cards to play or protectors to protect she takes the one damage. Sylvanas then ends her turn.
Even though Jaina has dealt with Zip, Sylvanas now has armor equipped that will negate the one damage that Corin would be dealing each turn. Jaina will have to play more cards that pose a threat to her opponent and Sylvanas will have to hold her defensive line while also playing threats of their own. This concludes the basics video. The game has more card types, deck building information, keywords, and game modes but these will all be covered in the Advanced Topics video. Thanks for watching.