It only seems like yesterday that we got the first promo cards for the Digimon Card Game, while eagerly awaiting the release of the first-ever booster set, Special Booster 1.0. In those early months, getting your hands on boosters and the first starter decks were near impossible in some regions as a cocktail of distribution delays, scalpers and an overall lack of produced products made the beginning of the English Digimon Card Game a little bumpy, to say the least. Fortunately, Bandai responded quickly with further waves of booster and starter deck prints. As time went on, the game continued to become more readily available, with each set outdoing the last.
January was exciting for the Digimon Card Game, as Bandai began looking toward the next booster by sharing the first previews of Special Booster 1.5. Unfortunately, the train was stopped when distribution issues caused delays to the release of Special Booster 1.0.
At the end of January, the first Starter Decks, which included a Special Booster 1.0 booster pack, were released after delays pushed them back. Unfortunately, they were incredibly difficult to get hold of because scalpers brought them all up to sell for a profit.
By February, the Special Booster 1.0 had been released in most regions, although boosters were snapped up faster than toilet paper during the start of the pandemic. Initially, retailers said that there were no reprints on the way, which was a statement Bandai quickly corrected by promising further print runs of both Special Boosters 1.0 and 1.5. It was the alternate art Omnimon that everyone wanted to pull when the first set came out along with the alternate art Beelzemon.
It was during February that the Digimon Card Game and its sister game, the Dragon Ball Super CG, teamed up for a sweepstakes competition with a Digimon promo binder and two DBS CG cards up for grabs. At the beginning, everyone was hoping that they would be the lucky winner. That excitement died a little when people found out that pretty much everyone who signed up got the binder and promos. Those who pre-ordered the Tamer’s Evolution Box began receiving their products during February. Collectors who didn’t have the hindsight to pre-order this set were left kicking themselves, as the popularity of the product rose along with its value.
Special Booster 1.5 came along in March for most regions, completing the second half of the previous set. This time, it was Omnimon Alter S and Imperialdramon Dragon Mode that were the big chase cards. The first competitive event hit the Digimon Card Game with the Premier TO event, although the prizes didn’t include the much sought after WarGreymon prize card. Due to the pesky delays, cards from Special Booster 1.5 weren’t legal to play in this tournament, which meant everyone was forced to stick with cards from the first booster. All events were hosted over webcam around this time, as Covid restrictions prevented most in-game tournaments.
April & May
The Great Legend pre-release was also met with a few snags, as it was postponed along with starter decks 3 to 6. There was also a system error that meant that stores couldn’t register their information properly, which didn’t go down too well.
The first Premium Pack released in May, which came with two packs of Special Booster 1.0, two packs of Special Booster 1.5 and a RizeGreymon promo. Although this set was nice, by the time of its release, many were looking toward the Great Legend booster. With that being said, it was a good product for those dipping their toe into the Digimon TCG for the first time.
The Great Legend booster set was eventually released in June, with the top chase cards being the three alternate arts illustrated by Naochika Morishita that all connect together into one big art piece, which looks more like a renaissance painting than a Digimon TCG card. Bandai also revealed the first card of the Classic Collection and opened up its pre-orders just a month before the official Japanese release.
Starter Decks 3 to 6 came along in June, swapping out poor T.K and Angemon for Izzy and his green bug/plant themed deck. These would be the last Starter decks of 2021 to include a current booster pack with the product and was also the last ones to focus on the first generation of the Digimon anime series.
One of the biggest things to happen in June was the Premier TO tournament, where the top prize was WarGreymon, which is still among the most valuable cards in the entire TCG. In fact, It was this card that kicked off a series of prize cards that still dominate the Digimon TCG market in terms of value. To learn more about the prize cards of the Digimon Card Game, you can click here.
July mostly saw Battle of Omni reveals, as well as the Official Webcam Lobby Test Event, which was designed to let players use a little avatar to make organising and getting into webcam games more easy. Unfortunately, this just reminded a lot of players that the Digimon TCG is yet to get a fully digital online client.
In July, the Evolution Cup kicked off, giving us our first glimpse of yet another Omnimon variation. Although this version is an alternate art of the original Omnimon that came with Special Booster 1.0, it is currently one of the most valuable cards in the game due to its exclusivity to event winners.
August & September
In August, the Battle of Omni set came along, injecting even more Omnimon variations into the game and increasing its population to 16 types, including the Evolution Cup prize card. The Tamer Set 3 was also made available on the US Premium Bandai store, which consisted of a play mat, some 1st Anniversary Digi-Egg sleeves and a set of sleeves with the iconic Hyper Colosseum card back art printed on them.
The Online Regionals also took place in August, with the prize pool consisting of the 2021 Championship Digi-Egg Sleeve Set, Memory Gauge, Deck Case and Playmat, as well as the Online Regionals Participant, Finalist and Champion Set. The Evolution Cup also returned in September, with the same prizes seen in June up for grabs.
In-Store tournaments returned in September, which encouraged players back to their locals to enjoy the Digimon Card Game. It was around this time that we got yet another online event, the DC-1 Grand Prix, with the top prize card being the UlforceVeedramon alternate art, which is still worth over $1000.
October brought more delays, which resulted in the staggered release of the Double Diamond booster set. While Europe and Oceania got their booster boxes on October 15th and October 22nd, North America pulled the short straw and had to wait until November to get their products. This set was a very special one, as it included the incredibly rare ‘Ghost’ Omnimon card, which is believed to have a one in three case pull chance. Considering that there are 12 booster boxes in one case, it’s easy to see why it’s so sought after. In October, the first eBay sale of ‘Ghost’ Omnimon happened, which went for an eye-watering $1900. This card has since dropped in price, but considering it achieved this much on release is pretty impressive.
Starter Decks 7 and 8 saw similar delays to the Double Diamond and were incredibly difficult to source due to distribution issues. These Starter Decks were the first to shy away from the original Digimon Tamers from the Digimon Adventure series and instead had two focus Digimon. Interestingly, this was also the first time that a booster pack didn’t come with the Starter Decks, which were swapped out for six memory boost cards that were part of the first anniversary celebrations. When it comes to the competitive side, the DC-1 Grand Prix made a return, giving players another chance to win the elusive Omnimon alternate art promo card.
November & December
The first cash prize event in the Digimon Card Game, Digi-Showdown, began in November. This tournament pit top players against each other for the chance of taking on one of the Champions to pocket even more prize money. This tournament is currently being shared in a series of videos on the Official Bandai Card Games Channel, which will continue into 2022.
To polish 2021 off, the last set of the year is the Classic Collection, which pays homage to the predecessor of the Digimon Card Game, Hyper Colosseum. To accompany this set, Bandai released the first Gift Set, which comes with four Classic Collection booster packs, a WarGreymon promo card, two large memory Gauges, one of four new memory counters and a cool little case to keep them in.
The Digimon TCG is still in its infancy, with the game still celebrating its 1st Anniversary. Despite delay issues, Bandai has achieved an incredibly polished game with incredible artwork. With so much already done with just a year under its belt, it will be exciting to see where the TCG goes in terms of future sets and the evolution of the game itself.
Mathew Parkes – Ludkins Media
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