I play completely free and I have a decent sized collection of legendaries, many being pack-only.
Yeah, you pretty much need to just do a whole crap-ton of quests for some of the better cards (Dido, anyone?). A good idea is to do a bunch of drafts on a good SNC day after Mega Brawl. Megabrawls give you a ton of draft packs, so you can use them to go for 10/15 drafts for SNC (at least after 2). Basically you need to be good at drafts to get good cards because it’s the best and cheapest way to get good cards.
A few draft tips (from moderate experience, not claiming to be awesome here):
Obviously, go for better cards (purple and up), but avoid depleting cards that are uncommon and worse (green/gray name), because those generally just suck. ALWAYS go for epic+ (orange and red title) cards unless you somehow have 4 of them already (there are exceptions but if you pay attention to chat and ask about unknown cards you’ll figure it out). Go for healing, unpreventable and cards that are build-specific especially, good talismans (slaying, fortitude, (class)‘s, pretty much anything that’s rare and up except barbed broach and greater barbed broach), potions (ESPECIALLY healing, but just in general pretty much any bonus), good and overall good stat/effect.
Unless you get really good cards for a specific class, or one or two really good potions for the class, it’s best to avoid Assassin and Druid.
Basically, your cards should fit one of a few strategies:
Random goodstuff (sent or pyre, almost always): This is where you just shove the best cards you have, focusing on magic or weapon, into a deck and pray. Good for beginners. A variant is where you get a bunch of class-specifics (like sling and shuriken and Brew) and use those as your goodstuffs. Your default unless you notice good cards for another category, and your base for ANY build. Variants are pretty much whenever you get a good card (usually something with on-deplete) and slightly alter your cards yo build around it.
Turtling (sentinel, almost always): This is when you notice you got lots of healing potions, Cleric of Reshna or Talisman of Fortitude, and you grab a lot of high shield/healing cards and hide. Not so good anymore because of availability of counters.
MC-guzzling (pyrelord, almost always): This is where you have a lot of cards like “Charged Blast”, maybe Light my Fire, Aid from the Abyss, ect. You take these plus any MC-gaining cards like Djinn and Tonic (Very good!), Potion of Arcane Energy, Sorcerous Snowball… and put them into a deck, plus other good cards. A variant is MC-hoarding, when you draw cards like Beast Within, Pyromancer Elyssa and Queen Lena, and hope you draw them while gaining MC. You should add a Turtling base to this because you want to maximize draw rates.
Rush (Assassin, sometimes Pyrelord): This is where you get high damage cards and attack. Cards you want are unpreventable and high damage, and you don’t worry so much about the rare deplete cards or defense. You might throw in a few MC guzzling cards and a MC-potion, but that’s not as likely. This is for when you get cards like Darius’s Haste Potion or Leasea/Gnomish Knock, plus a lot of high, high damage cards.
General play tips: When your enemy throw up many shields, play something with very low attack or something unpreventable. That way you basically make them waste their shields. Also, play high-attack cards when you have an increased chance of crit/double damage, and high shield cards when the opponent has pretty much any timed buff, but especially timed attack bonuses.