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Tabletop Game / Digimon

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As seen on TV.

The Digimon franchise, one of Bandai's many cash cows, is no stranger to the Collectible Card Game—seven 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 was 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, with some minor modifications, 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 only retired around the launch of Digimon Data Squad to make way for Alpha, but even so was revived for special prestige releases.
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  • Digimon Adventure: Card Tactics was the second Japanese Card game, designed around an electronic card reader allowing for a variety of complex mechanics and directly based on the anime. Lasted only one set though.
  • 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 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.
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  • Digital Monster Card Game Alpha—or just Alpha—was the third, and second primary, Japanese card game, released concurrent to Digimon Data Squad. 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 also exist somewhere.
  • Super Digica Taisen was the fourth Japanese card game, released concurrent to Digimon Fusion.
  • Digimon Jintrix was the fifth Japanese card game, released concurrent to Super Digica Taisen and Digimon Fusion. 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 would regularly introduce completely new mons, moreso than any previous card game.
  • Digimon Fusion was the fourth international TCG, released to promote the anime of the same name. It was short-lived, lasting only one set.
  • Data Carddass Appli Monster Card Game was the sixth Japanese card game, designed as one of the tie-ins to the Digimon Universe: App Monsters sub-franchise. Designed to be compatible with Hyper Colosseum.
  • Digimon Card Game is the seventh, and third primary, Japanese card game, released concurrent to Digimon Adventure: (2020). It was localized worldwide about a year after its initial release. Unlike Hyper Colosseum and Alpha before it, this iteration uses entirely brand new mechanics for its system.

Tropes present in the older 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 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.
  • Meta Game: In keeping with the Lensman Arms Race of Hyper Colosseum, each new release of cards would have a handful of cards that would become the centerpiece of that generation of gameplay... and it would often have a handful of cards specifically invalidating the centerpiece of the previous generation's. If your card negates the effect of a specific card, chances are that that specific card was top-tier in the preceding metagame.
  • No-Sell: Many, many Hyper Colosseum cards explicitly declare themselves immune or unable to affect certain cards of types of cards, usually those that are prominent in the contemporary metagame or that the card game wanted to promote.
  • Power Creep: A huge problem with Hyper Colosseum and its successor Alpha Evolution.
  • 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.

Tropes present in the current iteration, Digimon Card Game:

  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: There are seven primary colors in the game, each following a specific theme or gameplay mechanic. Cards released after New Awakening now have multiple colors. Note that color matching is primarily used for Digivolving and option cards.
    • Red is mainly used for the main leader characters and often associated with Digimon based on dinosaurs, birds, dragons, or fire. In terms of gameplay, red is the aggressive color, often having easy access to high levels of DP and Security Attack bonuses. Their means of controlling the board is through DP based deletion.
    • Blue is mainly reserved for the lancer characters with Digimon based on beasts, aquatic life, and cold life. In terms of gameplay, blue is the technical color, usually having means to extend their plays by gaining memory and card draw, and will usually have a means to add extra attacks through unsuspending and replaying Digimon from their own sources. Their means of control is to bounce Digimon back to the hand, removing that Digimon's sources in the meantime, or to strip away sources from Digimon to remove inheritable effects, some effects will even punish Digimon who don't have any sources under them.
    • Yellow is usually meant for Digimon based on angels, holy beasts, and light. In terms of gameplay, yellow is the stalling color, often having abilities to recover security, buff security Digimon to make it riskier for the opponent to fight against, they can even use effects to remove their own security to gain a major advantage. They can also play lower level Digimon without spending memory to swarm the field. Their means of control lie squarely in their ability to reduce a Digimon's DP allowing them to delete Digimon that have 0 DP or lower or simply reducing it enough to allow another Digimon to defeat them. They can even reduce an opposing Digimon's Security Attack to maintain their defense.
    • Green is typically designed for Digimon based on insects, plants, wood, and electricity. In terms of gameplay, green is the powerhouse color, often wanting to attack other Digimon utilizing high DP and will often have piercing to deal damage when defeating another Digimon. They typically have a means to play and Digivolve for lower cost, accelerating their game and an easier time searching for other Digimon. Their means of control is through suspending Digimon, making them easy battle targets for your stronger Digimon. Some will even lock down Digimon disabling their ability to unsuspend at the start of the turn.
    • Black is the color meant for Digimon based on machines, cyborgs, metal, earth, and the primary source for the X-Antibody. In terms of gameplay, black is the defensive color, having the most blocker Digimon in the game. Effects will also reinforce DP on the opponent's turn an will often turn to the reboot ability to both make an attack and then hide behind their strong defense. Their means of control is to delete Digimon based on their play costs which is supplemented by their ability to De-Digivolve their opponent's Digimon, not only allowing these effects to activate easier, but reverting them to a weaker state to easily suppress their power and abilities.
    • Purple is mainly meant for Digimon based on demons, fallen angels, corrupted or evil forms of Digimon, and darkness. In terms of gameplay, purple is the counterplay color, having the means to gain advantage through multiple means, even sacrificing their own Digimon to achieve victory. Purple also has a lot of effects that fill the trash pile to allow players to play cards from the trash to recycle them. Their means of control is to delete Digimon based on their level, often removing weaker Digimon. Their Digimon also comes with retaliation to delete Digimon that defeated them in battle.
    • White is often theme-less but usually reserved for ascended Digimon like Omnimon, or unusual or undefinable Digimon. In terms of gameplay, white is a supporting color, usually reserved for very specific plays. Decks that are mainly white are unconventional decks that perform a very specific strategy. Note that white is defined as its own color unlike other games which would designated as a colorless card.
  • Mythology Gag: Digimon based on the various series and games will often emulate events and gimmicks onto the game itself.
    • Much like in 02, DNA Digivolving involves two Digimon of specific colors combining and Digivolving a new, singular Digimon.
    • Also like in 02, Digimon can Armor Digivolve into an Armor Digimon, losing said armor if the Armor Digimon attempts to be deleted.
    • In reference to Frontier, the spirits of the Ten Legendary Warriors can use a tamer as a host to Spirit Evolve a tamer into a Digimon.
    • Similar to Fusion, multiple Digimon can combine together to create their unit.
    • Various Digimon related to Leomon often have effects when they are deleted, often fulfilling the role that Leomon has become infamous for. In fact, Fist of the Beast King, Leomon's signature move, can be found in the Digital Hazard booster box set and can be used when Beelzemon is on the field, referencing the death of Leomon in Tamers.
  • Retraux: The themed booster set Classic Collection from the Digimon Card Game utilizes art from the original Hyper Colosseum cards for almost every card in the set, including options. There are also rare alternate art cards that have a special edition frame which matches the Hyper Colosseum frames almost exactly, with the only changes being the ones necessary to keep the cards playable in the modern game.
  • Vanilla Unit:
    • The game has a wide variety of vanilla cards. In a game where lots of weak Digimon have beneficial effects to give to their Digivolutions, this can be seen as a downside, but they tend to shine in two main areas. 1) Vanilla Unit Digimon tend to have a higher printed DP than other cards of their level, especially 5000 DP Rookies in a tier mostly consisting of 2-3000 DP ones, as well as 12-13000 DP Megas instead of the more standard 11000 DP. 2) These same Digimon tend to be cheaper, in terms of play cost and/or being lower-rarity.
    • There are also lots of virtually vanilla cards (for both Digimon and Tamers) that only have effects when they are played or Digivolved, and are vanilla after that.