For World of Warcraft players, you might think of the trading card version of the game as a form of group PvP that doesn't require an internet connection or a monthly subscription fee, and in which you'll never have problems with AFKers. The basic premises of both the online game and the card game are similar, just presented differently.
TCG concept: Your hero
Represented by a special hero card, your hero's faction, race, class, and talent build determine the type of gear you can equip, quests you can complete, and abilities you have access to. Each unique hero has a specific amount of health, and when you run out of health, the game you're playing is over.
Online concept: Your character
In-game, your character's faction, race, class, and talent build determine the type of gear you can equip, quests you can complete, and abilities you have access to. When your character runs out of health, the game may not be over, but you do need to make a corpse run back, eat, drink, rebuff, etc. You can think of death in either variation as a reset of the current gaming session.
TCG concept: Your allies
You may play ally cards during your turn. These allies can then assist you by attacking your enemies or casting spells on your command.
Online concept: Your party
If attempting to conquer a challenging quest or objective, finding a party of other players to assist you can make all the difference. However, you may have more trouble getting them to follow your directions than your TCG allies...
TCG concept: Your abilities
If you have the resources, you may play ability cards during your turn (or instant ability cards during anyone's turn) to do damage to your opponent, buff yourself or your party, heal yourself or your party, prevent enemy allies from attacking, etc.
Online concept: Your spells
If you have the mana, rage, or energy, your character can cast spells or use abilities that aid them in combat, offer a variety of buffs, heals, and many other things.
TCG concept: Resources
For each turn of gameplay in the TCG, you may play one card as a resource. To summon allies, use abilities, equip gear, or complete quests, you must pay a certain number of resources. So you can't summon your biggest, baddest ally during your first turn, just like a Warlock can't summon a Doomguard at level 1.
Online concept: Mana/rage/energy/time/gold/etc
In the online version of the game, you can equate resources to many different things. Perhaps it's the mana required to cast that spell, the time taken to complete that quest, or the gold spent to buy that armor. Online and in the TCG, you have a limited pool of resources to work with.
So how does the game actually play? Well, you start off with your hero and your deck of cards (which, hopefully, includes a balanced mix of allies, abilities, and quests!), and then you begin your first turn...
- Draw seven cards
- Play a single resource card. Quest cards can be played face-up as a resource and completed later, but if your initial hand doesn't have any quests, you can play any card face-down as a resource. (Though the card is essentially lost to you -- so if you do this, you'll want to play something you don't think will come in handy soon.)
- After you've played your resource, you can exhaust it (represented by turning it sideways) in order to play any card in your hand that has a single resource cost. So you can put an ally, ability, armor, or weapon into play.
Your opponent gets to do the same, and then for your next turn you...
- Ready any exhausted cards
- Draw a card
- Play another resource card (one a turn!)
- Attack your opponent with allies that you summoned last turn
- Use your resources to summon allies, play abilities, equip armor or weapons, or complete quests
And play continues like this until your hero or your opponents' hero runs out of health. And though it may sound complicated, the game is really quick to pick up and fun to play once you start to get the hang of it (for me, that came after watching the demo session and playing one game on my own).
The TCG probably isn't for everyone -- but for those of you out there who enjoy World of Warcraft
and are looking for a different type of gaming experience, the TCG is quick to pick up and fun to play and maintains a number of elements from the online version of the game.