franchise, one of Bandai's many cash cows
, is no stranger to the Collectible Card Game
- six prominent official card games have existed, each with generally different rules and mechanics.
- Digital Monster Card Game / Hyper Colosseum was the first Digimon card game, and generally the most famous; this is the game that featured in Digimon Tamers, and was depicted completely accurately in that there actually were digital card readers able to be used in playing the game. It was brought to the rest of the world, mostly unmodified, as the Digi-Battle Card Game. While it was retired in the west circa Tamers presumably out of lack of interest, it kept going in Japan even through the franchise's anime hiatus and was retired around the launch of Digimon Savers.
- D-Tector Card Game was the second international card game, and the first to be an entirely western creation; it was designed as a tie-in to the then-current Digimon Frontier anime, and specifically Bandai's line of tie-in D-Tector Digivice virtual pets; the game's main draw was that each contained a "Digi-Digit" to input into the Digivice to add that card's Digimon to one's collection on the device.
- Digimon Collectible Card Game was the third and final international card game, also a creation of Bandai of America. It's a bit of an anomaly; it was released in a period during which there was no anime and Digimon was effectively comatose in the west, nor was Bandai of America doing any other merchandise of the franchise at the same time.
- Alpha Evolve was the second Japanese card game, launched alongside the Digimon Savers anime. It was something of an expansion to the gameplay of Hyper Colosseum - most mechanics were maintained, but Digimon cards now had HP and speed values. Special game-bridging compatibility rules apparently exist.
- Super Digica Taisen is the third Japanese card game, released concurrent to the Digimon Xros Wars anime.
- Digimon Jintrix is the fourth Japanese card game, released concurrent to Taisen and the Digimon Xros Wars anime. It's a fairly unusual game: cards are purchased in physical form, then codes from them are inputted into the game's website, on which the game is actually played. It's considered particularly notable by the fandom because new releases of card sets regularly introduce completely new mons, moreso than any previous card game.
Tropes present in the various Digimon card games:
- Covers Always Lie: Sort of - looking at the back of a Hyper Colosseum card, would you automatically peg that as a piece of Digimon merchandise? The appearances of the logo on it are both very small and you'd be forgiven for completely missing them.
- Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Hyper Colosseum / Digi-Battle and Alpha Evolve follow this principle with the three Digimon attributes: Data, Vaccine and Virus.
- Evolutionary Levels: As in the anime, of course; generally disregarded in Taisen and Jintrix.
- Expy: Jintrix has lately taken to introducing new mons based on classic literature; Set 3 introduced numerous mons based on Journey to the West, while Set 4 introduced mons based on Peter Pan in addition to a few more Journey to the West ones.
- Fake Balance: In practice, the Digivolution gameplay mechanic of Hyper Colosseum was horribly unbalanced. Essentially, whoever evolved their Digimon first had a tremendous and unstoppable advantage for the entire game.
- Merchandise-Driven: The role Hyper Colosseum played in Digimon Tamers; one of the better-executed examples.
- Powers as Programs: The Item and Program cards of Hyper Colosseum.
- Promotional Powerless Piece of Garbage: Inevitably there are plenty of examples; a standout is Digi-Battle's promotional Infermon and Diablomon cards released as part of a tie-in to Digimon: The Movie. Their evolution requirements made them completely useless for several sets until cards of Keramon and Chrysalimon, their pre-evolutions, came along.