Digimon Card Game 2020: A quick review

It's no secret to anyone that reads my articles that aside from Warhammer, card games have been my go-to in order to get my competitive fix over the years. From Pokémon to YuGiOh (and of course Legend of the Five Rings) in the traditional paper sense, and Legends of Runeterra in the digital space there is something about playing with a carefully crafted deck that is unique to you in terms of your playstyle and personality which has always appealed to me.

This brings us neatly onto the my latest craze; The now soon to be re-released Digimon CCG. Growing up in the 90s and early 2000s, I have fond memories of the original Digimon anime (the one aired on FOX Kids) with it's ear-worm of a musical score, cool character designs and still to this day memorable story arcs and villain lineup even if after Myotismon they seemed a little flat and two-dimensional. I also do vaguely remember the first version of the Digimon card game which I admit I had no idea how to play as the instructions were wholly cryptic to my then 14 year old brain.

Fast forward to today and Bandai have just finished the pre-release of their 2020 version of the game with new, updated mechanics and what (so-far) seems to be a fun and interesting playstyle and resource mechanic which really pushes the risk-reward feel of the game.

What is it?

The Digimon Card Game is a competitive trading card game. Each player has a companion Digimon in the battle area to attack the opponent. Your Digimon evolves, gets stronger, and gains new power! You win by beating your opponent’s security (reducing your opponent’s Security Area cards to zero) and delivering a knockout blow! ~ Bandai
Taking the description of the game directly from Bandai's advertising team; Digimon is a competitive CCG with the themes of building your characters over the course of the game into new, ever-stronger forms and reducing your opponent's security (or shields, or lives, whichever you like) whilst also defending your own.

Super peppy launch trailer aside; at this point I would like to point out the reason why I no longer actually play most CCGs (collectible card game) over my now favorite LCG (living card game) format. As with any competitive card game, you will need access to the best cards in any particular set to compete at the highest levels. As card drops are essentially random in any particular pack or set that you buy there will always be a cost involved to keep on-top of the curve in a deck-building sense and when it got to being required to spend up to £180 on a playset of 3 cards for YuGiOh I knew that it was time to get off the train. Therefore I am hoping that the distribution of cards within a particular Digimon box don't result in specific cards being short-printed within any particular rarity and that the game is relatively affordable for people to actually play (which from what I am seeing so far with the pre-release pulls seems to be the case).

You mentioned that it was fun?

My experiences with the game so far have all been positive. It is worth noting that I have been playing with cards from the first two UK releases which I believe encompass the first three Japanese sets, but this format seems to be decently balanced which is always a plus in terms of having a good experience with the game (outside of Green but that's probably just because I have no idea what I'm supposed to be doing with the deck).

The inherent mechanic of the game itself; Building up characters and climbing the ladder to your stronger Digimon(s?) feels very rewarding as does the idea that you never really have a 'brick' hand as you can always play any Digimon that you may have as long as there is enough resource (memory in this case) to go around.

In terms of Diaboromon here; you can either spend your 9 memory over several turns (the 'Evolution' cost in the purple circle) Digivolving him from the previous levels whilst also picking up useful additional skills along the way such as extra power, or the ability to draw more cards or you can spend 14 memory in one go as long as it is available to buy him outright

In terms of the ladder mechanic itself, unlike Pokémon where you are restricted into the evolution line of the particular Pokemon that you play, Digimon is far more free-form; allowing you to build the next rung from any Digimon of the right level (going from 2 to 7). Considering that many Digimon also have abilities that can be passed up to the card that it Digivolves into, what you get is a structured but also strangely free-form mechanic that would technically allow you to taylor your higher level characters to do various things depending on which Digivolution path you chose. Very cool in my opinion.


Memory is the resource of this game and where in my opinion, I think that the main strength and tactical depth of the game lies. The gauge itself (a mechanic I understand was featured in Chrono Clash and has also been various other Bandai card games that I can't say that I have had the opportunity to play) is shared by both players and is used to pay the costs for playing your various cards. It starts at 0 but you are allowed to dip into your opponent's side of the gauge (up to 10 memory worth) at the cost of immediately ending their turn. As the gauge is shared by both players, if you want to dip into your opponent's side you are actively giving them more resources to use on their turn.

You are allowed to continue playing cards as long as you are still on your side of the Memory Gauge and have the memory left to play them, and if you don't want to play anymore cards whilst still having memory you pass the rest of your turn setting your opponent's gauge to 3 so you never have no memory to use in any particular turn.

No hablo inglés? Essentially the above Memory Gauge example shows player 1 starting with 2 memory. They then play a card that costs 5 memory to play (lets say they wanted to hard-cast the Kurisarimon from above instead of Digivolving it from Keramon). This pushes the memory gauge over to 3 on your opponent's side, automatically ending your turn and giving them 3 memory to play with.

This makes the Memory Gauge a very different kind of resource system from those found in Magic: The Gathering or Pokémon. Instead of having to draw a specific card dedicated to being a resource and play it each turn, or generating a set amount of resource as per Legend of the Five Rings, the game is a constant back and forth of giving and taking memory, trying to be efficient in your moves and denying your opponent as much memory as possible to use on their turn.

So how do I play this?

As I mentioned before, the pre-release has just taken place with the full release being planned for January 2021 where we will all be able to get our hands on the first three structure decks and Special Booster ver1 with Special Booster ver1.5 set to be released in February.

To learn how to play there is also the free Digimon Card Game Tutorial App available on both IOS and Android. It is worth noting that the quality of the app is very high so this could be good news for a possible mobile or online versions of the game (like YuGiOh Duel Links or Magic: The Gathering Arena).

BoneShanks's Digimon TCG 2020 plugin for TTS

If you own Table Top Simulator, I have been using BoneShanks's Digimon TCG 2020 workshop content which is regularly updated with new cards and translations as they are released. The full cardlist (both english and japanese with translations) can be found over on digimoncard.dev and I would also like to give a shout out to the Digimon Card Game TCG facebook and discord groups and ofcourse the official website (world.digimoncard.com) which have a wealth of information for anyone looking to find out more about the game.

Closing Thoughts

Overall, I am really enjoying what I have seen so far of Digimon 2020. Ultimately what will push the game into further investment for me is a thriving local scene and future online support. Until then, online play via the various channels provides a welcome entry point into what I hope will become a lasting addition to the growing number of CCGs out in the wild.

No comments