After 15 Years Of Immunity, Vanir Succumbs To Nerd Poker

2009 September 25
by Vanir

The Next Expansion

For the longest time, and even up until last year, I had two inviolate rules about gaming.

  1. No MMO’s. I didn’t have the time and they seemed like having a second job that I paid instead of it paying me.
  2. No CCG’s. They cost an insane amount and it seemed like too much stress.

Last year, about this time, I broke Rule #1 and started playing World of Warcraft. I levelled like mad to try to catch up to my buddies who had been playing for years, and enjoyed that. Eventually, I got to 80 and the daily quests and constant grinds for gear caused me to quit. (Although, I did start back up again this week to try some PvP, which I hadn’t done before. I understand relapses are part of this game.)

This month, I finally broke Rule #2. The same friends who talked me into playing WoW started playing the WoW collectible card game. At first, I was skeptical. I’d played a little bit of Magic: The Gathering before, but there were a lot of complex steps (and I was NOT playing with patient people so it left a bad taste in my mouth). Suddenly I’m playing a game like Magic, but streamlined and WoW-flavored. There were classes that did different things and ally cards with people I recognized. A friend let me borrow his Death Knight starter deck over lunch one day, and after that I got hooked.

The Red Bearon’s Treasure

I started my collection by buying a box of the Dark Portal set. They were on clearance at Wal-Mart (though more expensive than the link I posted). I also picked up a couple boosters from Drums of War. It just so happened that in one of these boosters I got The Red Bearon, which is a Loot Card that can be redeemed for an in-game item in the WoW PC game. I wanted $90 more than I wanted to ride around on a bear, so basically I got the rare and pleasant experience of having a lot of guilt-free money to blow on more WoW cards. Especially given my previous predjudice toward CCG’s, it was exhilarating to do something rash with no fear of repercussions.

The box and the boosters I’d purchased by this point had given me several options as to what kinds of decks I could build. Since I played a female orc enhancement shaman in the PC version, I decided to go with the stuff I was familiar with. Sure enough, a lot of the powers and totems I knew were represented, and I threw a deck together.

And promptly got my ass handed to me by SirGeekelot’s mage deck. And my friend Brian’s Death Knight deck. (The same one he’d hooked me with! O cruel irony!). So I started buying some more boosters and getting some more cards. But it seemed like I was getting a lot of chaff I didn’t want. So my Magic-veteran friends introduced me to a new world: that of buying single cards.

Meet Hot 5/5 Protector Singles Today

Initially, the prospect of reading up on what I wanted and just getting those cards seemed incredibly cheap and wonderful. And for a few minutes, it was so. Some of the totems I wanted were a dime, some allies were 40c. I found a healing spell I wanted for $2. I could deal with this. Then I got to the old Shamanic staple, Earth Shock.

TEN BUCKS? For ONE card?!! Naturally, when I began to complain to my friends about such things, they laughed and said “and you’ll probably need 4 in your deck if it’s a really good card”. A chill ran down my spine, and I realized I needed to do some reality checks before I started blowing money like crazy.

In the end, I did wind up buying one Earth Shock, and 4 of its cheaper (both in-game and IRL) cousin Tremor Shock. And since I had a bunch of free money, I bought a hideous crapton of Shamanic goodies like totems and shocks and weapons. I accidentally the whole free money. (The whole thing!) And it was EXHILARATING.

Who Says There’s No XP Awarded In CCG’s?

I learned a lot in the past month. Here are some of the highlights, in convenient bulleted form:

  • Always Use A Condom – Those sleeves are for protecting your cards AND for helping you shuffle. And shuffling with sleeves is way different than regular card shuffling (which I never learned to do, so it prevents Card Game Embarassment Syndrome).
  • Organization Is Your Friend – Imagine, if you will, a box containing 500 cards of various types. Imagine now stacking them all by type and then throwing them into a loose bag and praying they stay together. Imagine also it taking me 20 minutes to FIND my deck before I could even think about playing. Once I got a deck box and then a long cardboard box designed for cards, I put my play deck aside and arranged the rest by type/class/etc. I’ve been MUCH happier since.
  • Have A Plan – The more I play, the more I see how the cards interact with each other. Know your own deck, and know your friends’ so that you can design yours to better counter theirs. It will help your game, and also make shopping for cards a bit cheaper since you’ll be hunting for something specific instead of having a “gotta collect everything” mentality. (Usually.)
  • Respect The Beast – This game is incredibly fun, but you have to keep at least a few brain cells on what you’re spending. I’m having trouble now because I’m still in “shopping spree” mode from my Red Bearon card, and I still want more. Set a budget for yourself. Don’t exceed it. The rent and food are more important.

I’m having a lot of fun with this game, and I wholeheartedly encourage you to give it a try. Even if you’ve played Magic for ages, there are some game mechanics that make the game refreshing that you might want to take a look at (like raid decks, which I’ll be covering soon).

I’m off to go prepare my deck for this weekend’s festivities. Until we meet again, remember: “If It’s Not Shaman, It’s Crap!

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