February 5, 2010

The Wings of Naxxramas Revolutionize WoW TCG's Raids

NaxxramasRaidDeck.jpgThe whole notion of a cooperative raid deck to a standard 1v1 Trading Card Game still remains an exciting prospect to us, even after the long series of raids over the years. They have had some drawbacks though. Some raids are long, arduous affairs that you might spend all day on. Others are just plan impossibly broken hard.

Thankfully the latest Naxxramas Raid Deck [Amazon, Troll&Toad] fixes a lot of the things we find lacking in others, and then some. Here are top 5 reasons why we think its head and shoulders above all of the other raid deck experiences to date:

5. Variety Most of the raid decks have a plethora of bosses all under the umbrella of a specific theme. Well Naxxramas is composed of four different wings of bosses , each falling under the same Undead Bastage theme, but each wing providing a different attitude toward bad guys. The Spider Wing is littered with quick acting bosses that attach multiple times, the construct quarter is full of hard hitting, high health scary behemoths that would make Jack Palance crap twinkies, and so on. Each wing challenges your group in different ways for a spurt of 3-4 bosses, and that makes the whole deck building experience pretty darn interesting.

4. Multiple Climaxes These Wings we spoke of also change the flow of the raid entirely. The standard practice of multiple boss raids like Molten Core or The Black Temple had players run full gamuts of 10+ bosses in a row, and then hopefully the players had enough left in them to take on the final boss in a climactic battle of epicness. Problem is, Upper Deck's cramming of 10 bosses in a row required some of the bosses to be pansies and ultimately forgettable in previous raids.

Not so in Naxx. Whenever your group finishes a wing, everyone reshuffles their deck and starts anew on the next wing. The net result: Upper Deck has scaled up the bosses, each becoming more difficult, lethal and ultimately a more interesting fight. And on top of that, the game is balanced to make the final boss in each wing become a climatic fight of epicness, because why not? -- the game is going to reset after you defeat him anyway. So that's 4 times the climactic, tough battles, condensed into bar form.

3. Treasure Packs Sold Separately
While each raid deck ships with its own treasure pack, you can buy additional treasure packs separately, too. The implications for collectors is obvious, but for gameplay it's even better: You can reward your players phat loots after every wing. While technically you're not supposed to let players alter their decks between wings, traditionally in the MMO that's just what happened: your raid would tackle one wing, grab the loot, and use that loot to help defeat the second wing. And that's truly what raiding is all about - the getting to the next wing, raid, boss, etc.

2. The Raid Leader and Strategery
A new and very welcomed move in this raid deck is the addition of a Raid Leader. Every once in awhile one of the raid events will engaged the Raid Leader and have him make some pretty interest decisions. Things all the way from the Leader choosing to discard multiple cards himself, or have each raid player discard a single card, etc. These events are also sometimes beneficial, so directing the beneficial ability to the correct player at the correct time could mean the difference between success and failure.

But that's just the icing on the cake. Each of the themed wings also provides a buff to the raiders once the wing has been defeated. Some add damage to abilities, others increase the effectiveness of equipment, etc. It's up to the raid leader to decide which wing to tackle and in which order, using bonuses from one to defeat one of the harder wing, or to even bypass some wings all together and push to the final boss fight. The strategy lies within these choices and weighing such variables as what sort of classes you bring to the raid, how many people are in your party and the quality of their decks. Yep, there are definitely some good decisions to game.

1. Multiple Sessions
Raid Decks require a huge block of time - like upwards of four hours per session. Traditionally they were reserved for special weekend game night sessions, or we would hold off to play them on our quarterly dork fest, scheduling them between smaller games. In the weekend gaming sessions WoW TCG Raids landed somewhere on our Saturday mornings (through afternoon) gaming calendar like a giant gorilla dropped from a 747 flying 10,000' over a Saturday brunch in the country.

But this notion of Naxxramas wings, each a complete prepackaged experience, and when complete include a step where players reshuffle their decks to reset the state of .. everything, and start anew, is a mechanic that happens to provide an incredibly perfect breaking point. Now Raid Decks can be on normal game nights without the risk of our players becoming dead beat dads, or lining themselves up for an early 30's divorce.

In other words an already amazing experience has just become more approachable and game night friendly. It's also become an epic experience that occurs over multiple days of fresh, rested layers, instead of dragging in one long, tiring block. And that is an absolutely fantastic win-win for gamers.

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Posted by Critical Gamers Staff at February 5, 2010 3:45 PM

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