There was a great comic from a couple of years back that I'm sure many of you saw. It involved the board at Blizzard introducing Satan as a consultant, who suggested that they could completely destroy lives if they put out a related CCG that included cards that would grant extra abilities in the online game.
Not sure if the CCG was out at the time, but it sure seems prescient if they didn't. Although, to be sure, a very obvious choice.
Because I have the willpower of a toddler, I decided to get into this game for a couple of reasons, and so far I'm pretty glad I did. I've purchased three starter packs, plus another four boosters, so my total cash outlay so far is not too bad. I've been sticking with the Dark Portal cards alone for now, in case you care about these things. Here's why I like this above the other CCGs I've been sucked into:
1) Theme. It's a lot of fun to see characters, abilities, monsters, and items that you see in the actual game. I discovered this with the boardgame after playing it many times without having played the online version, then suddenly finding out what Murlocs were really like (and how they sounded).
2) Excellent starters. You can buy nothing but two starter sets and have enough cards to play the game several times. Each booster has one more character, so you'll have three to start with (plus up to three more if you count the ridiculously oversized character cards they throw into the box as well). However, you are unlikely to be able to use more than about 30% of the cards in the boosters in a given starter because of class/faction/race limitations, so having two sets to mix and match helps a lot. It's unfortunate that Upper Deck didn't at the very least tell you what faction each starter supports - I've gotten three Alliance, and while you can play against your same faction, it makes more of the cards unusable. So that's a bit of a problem, but with six boosters you should have enough of a given class/faction's special cards to form up two 60 card decks.
3) Manageable deck-building. Because abilities are usually limited by faction or class, the pool of cards you can use to build a deck tend to winnow down a bit. A game like Magic completely loses me because there are too many options for deck-building, so having built-in limits, while it does have it's drawbacks, is actually appealling to me.
4) Interesting mechanisms. There are a couple of these, but my favorite is that you play cards (usually quests, as you can still use them as quests) to a resource pool. Every turn, you use these resources to play cards, including completing quests. However, the quests are a minor part of the game, especially compared to the online version, and are usually there to help you manage your hand or get some insight into what your opponent has.
Another interesting twist is that there are expansion sets that let one player act as a game master for a group of players, similar to Descent or Doom: the Boardgame. If the players win, they get two swag cards each, otherwise they only get one. I'm looking forward to giving this a whirl in the next couple of weeks now that I have enough cards to build up to a 60-card deck or two. A semi-cooperative CCG? I like it.
I'm planning on playing every Wednesday night at Jesse's store for the rest of the summer (or most of it), I'll keep you posted on whether or not it keeps it's sheen after a few weeks.