Rise of the Digimon TCG: the new collectible card game taking the world by storm

In 1997, in the middle of the virtual pet craze, Bandai published the Digimon critically acclaimed virtual pets, followed only six months later with a second generation of devices, and then a third generation in 1998. This was the start of what has become a global phenomenon, much like the Pokemon franchise – and has since spawned countless TV shows, movies, video games, toys and, most importantly, collectible card games.

Released first in Japan in 2020 and then in the West in 2021, the card game had already established a strong player base in its home country. Since its subsequent global launch, the Digimon Trading Card Game (TCG) has slowly made a name for itself as one of the best TCGs around. But what exactly is the Digimon TCG? To understand it better, let’s go back to the year 2000 and visit Digimon TCGthe older brother, the Digi-Battle card game.

So what is the Digimon TCG and where did it all start?

In February 2000, Bandai distributed its Digi-Battle Western card game. Based on the hugely popular Digimon Hyper Colosseum in Japan, the initial release contained two 62-card starter decks and four 30-card half-decks. This was followed soon after by the first booster pack, containing 54 cards. During its pitiful two-year lifespan, only six booster packs were released, bringing the card’s total to 324 before it was finally scrapped.

There were a few reasons behind the game’s untimely death for the rest of the world. The first being the lack of community support. In his homeland of Japan however, Digimon Hyper Colosseum had the massive support of a thriving fan community. Each year, tournaments were held which brought together existing players and aimed to attract new players. Despite this, TCG culture was still fairly new in the West, so these sorts of groups and events didn’t really exist yet, which made it much harder to find like-minded people to play with.

Second, learning to play the game was rather difficult. Unlike today, where we have YouTube and other Internet resources at our fingertips to help us learn, a child in 2000 trying to learn to play would have had to read a long, boring rules sheet – and who wants do that ? You would have thought that the Pokémon TCG would have had the same problem, but the brains of nintendo beat Bandai at its own game (pun intended) and came up with the brilliant idea of ​​helping kids get to grips with its rules with the introduction of a digital version of the TCG for the GameBoy color.

Finally, there were major distribution issues. Bandai first put the Upper bridge in charge of distributing the game in the West, since the company previously only dealt with sports delivery of trading cards, the method was totally wrong, which only allowed large stores such as Target to receive Digi-Battle card games, while small local game stores barely peeked. The final nail in the coffin was when, after the release of the second booster pack, Bandai decided to take over its own distribution of the game in the West, which only made matters worse. The cards were also redesigned in 3D at the time, which did not sit well with fans, making it the least printed set in the card game’s short history. Just two years later, Bandai discontinued it.

Fast forward to 2020 and we were introduced to the release of Digimon Adventurea reboot of the original 1999 anime. To coincide with this project, Bandai surprised everyone by releasing the Digimon card game. An all-new, completely redesigned Digimon TCG which had fans excited, albeit a little worried. Would this one be a complete flop like its predecessor? You will find your answer a little later.

What do players think of the game?

The Digimon TCG (2020) actually has a pretty simple concept. Two players assume the role of the “Didigestined” – a person who has been chosen to protect the digital world from evil forces – and compete with their Digimon, “digi-volving” them to make them stronger and “break” the other players’ five security cards (think of them as firewalls). Once all of a player’s security has been destroyed, one final attack will finish them off and win you the game. It seems simple enough at first glance, but just like an iceberg, there’s so much more to it than meets the eye, a very encouraging sign for any newbie TCG.

To understand why this game is attracting so much attention from the TCG community, SCREENSHOT spoke to enthusiasts Digimon TCG (2020) players to better understand what makes it so special. Sven Laughlin, Mark Paquin, and Anthony T’Challa are all big fans of the game and shared similar feelings about what drew them to the community.

“I’ve always been a huge fan of Digimon Since I was a child. I loved watching the original series and even playing the original card game,” Laughlin said. “So when I saw a new game, I knew I had to play!” T’Challa was much the same, and even managed to create several communities made up of dozens of players, “I’ve been a big fan of the Digimon series since i was a kid [too]. My best friend and I saw some of the original starter decks in 2021 and thought “Why not?”. Since then he has not looked back. “Honestly the best decision we’ve ever made!” We’ve gone from having three friends at our kitchen table to building a local community of dozens of gamers at several local game stores!

So, it seems pretty clear so far that the game is causing a lot of nostalgia for its players, which is to be expected. As many of us grew up during the show’s heyday, it’s understandable that this was a big motivation for fans to start playing. But what about the game itself? Is it even good?

Paquin definitely thinks so. “Creating fun strategies or seeing people being able to build their decks around their favorite Digimon is exciting,” he said. “Additionally, the memory system is an excellent resource balancer.”

Contrary to Magic: The Gathering (MTG), or the Pokemon TCG, which respectively use resource cards such as land or energy, the Digimon The TCG uses a memory meter going from 10 to zero and then back to 10. This system is shared by both players, so by spending memory to play cards you will slowly move the memory meter to your opponent’s side . Once that happens, it’s the other players’ turn. So not only does this really make players think about how best to use their memory, so as not to give the opponent the upper hand, but it also allows for more customization of their decks without worrying about how many. resource cards they need.

Laughlin agrees with Paquin on the excitement around the game, but for a different reason. “The game is so fun to play mainly because of the community. I’ve made a lot of new friends since I started playing. It seems like the community is a big part of this TCG, which is hot in the heart, especially since it is far from the original Digimon TCG that did so poorly in part because of its lack of community.

Can Digimon “digivolve” into a top tier TCG?

So we know there’s a strong sense of nostalgia for the game, it plays pretty well and has a really strong community behind it, but the next logical question would be: can it reach the heights of the big three? Yu Gi Oh!, the Pokemon CTM and Magic: The Gathering. This holy trinity TCG has been around for a long time and individually rooted as the pinnacle of what collectible card games should be. Is the Digimon TCG enters the big leagues? Do they all have the potential to stand the test of time?

Pokemon perhaps. I don’t see much Pokemon play, at least where I reside,” Paquin said. “Magic would be a little handy with its longevity and diehard player base. We should see if Digimon stick around for years to come. T’Challa, however, has a much more positive view of the game “Absolutely. At first, I had my reservations. But the popularity of the game has skyrocketed since we started playing […] more people from different TCG communities like MTG and Yu Gi Oh! migrated to us.

It seems that the Digimon TCG has all the makings of an amazing collectible card game. It’s still in its infancy and will definitely have to prove its worth against the big three, but with so much love and support for it already, it looks like it’s well on its way to becoming the next big game in collectible cards. T’Challa sums it all up nicely. “The game is so accessible, the cards are relatively inexpensive compared to other TCGs, and the community is fantastic and welcoming. I haven’t been this happy playing a card game since playing it. MTG like a kid.” If that doesn’t mean it all, I don’t know what it does.

Digimon card game Digital Hazard Booster Theme [EX-02] will be released in Europe, Latin America and North America on June 24, 2022.

Garland K. Long