In April, Bandai revealed a peculiar numbered block beneath the identification ID of the Pulsemon (P-028) promo card, as well as other BT-3 reprints that came with the Tamer Battle Packs given out at the April Tamer Battle event in Japan. Now, it has been announced that these blocks will appear in the English version of the game. Could this mean that a set rotation is coming to the Digimon TCG?
What is Set Rotation?
A set rotation in a TCGs is when cards from older sets, or selected sets, are removed so that only the most current cards are legal to play within official events. Often, the reason for this is to control overwhelming power creeps as card libraries grow larger, as well as balance the game and promote a fresh meta environment.
With the new numbered blocks appearing on future cards, could this be an indication that Bandai intend on incorporating a rotation into the Digimon TCG? Well, in April, small blocks with numbers in them began to appear on Japanese cards. It was later explained on the Digimon TCG’s Japanese Twitter account that the reason was to identify cards for any future rotation or card restrictions implemented within different competitive formats.
How would Bandai implement a rotation?
It is likely that Bandai will use the numbered blocks to communicate what cards can be used in several formats – some stricter than others. In Magic, which uses a rotation system, there is a ‘Standard’ format, where the last few sets of cards are legal to play, and a ‘Legacy’ format, where all cards can be played, except for the banned ones. Could this be the intention for the Digimon TCG?
If Bandai were planning on limited the rotation to just recent sets, then having a numbered block wouldn’t be necessary, as players can clearly see set numbers in the card’s ID number. It could be that the numbered blocks are only printed on promos and starter deck cards to group them up with a specific band of sets. For example, BT1- BT7 could match up with block ‘1’, while promos and event cards printed from then on could belong to block ‘2’.
It could be that the blocks have nothing to do with a set rotation and will just be a means of identifying playable cards for special events and formats that venture away from the standard game. For example, Tournaments that limit players to just cards from Block 1, 2, 3 or 4, or a combination of just some numbers to mix things up.
Are Set Rotations bad for the game?
A rotation system could be offputting for players who feel that they will have to constantly buy new sets to be able to compete in certain competitive formats. This will be true for casual players who would prefer to play their older decks, rather than being forced to stay on top of the current rotation requirements.
Making some cards less relevant in the current meta could prevent older cards that are out of print from increasing to eye-watering values because of their scarcity. This was seen in the DBS CG with cards like ‘Cell Xeno, Unspeakable Abomination’. The way that Bandai seems to be dealing with that issue is by exploring reprints of certain expensive competitive cards, while also being wary of upsetting collectors and players by inadvertently devaluing their collection. Set Rotation in the Digimon TCG will mean that older cards won’t be played in standard formats, which would help control the market somewhat.
What are the alternatives?
Many players believe that a set rotation isn’t needed and that the game can be managed fine with ban lists and extensive playtesting before cards are released into the community. Bandai have shown that they are not fans of set rotation, with one of the only games they did use the system with being the Naruto TCG, which didn’t have great results. Bandai’s sister game, the DBS CG, never incorporated a rotation but has had to work hard to control certain archetypes from becoming broken as more sets are released. The ban and errata lists do go a long way in balancing this but can take a while to be updated to provide balance. The DBS CG has a thriving competitive community, which has only strengthened over the past four years. This proves that ban lists, limited cards and errata are enough to keep a TCG healthy when done the right way.
It seems a little too early to worry about a set rotation being introduced into the Digimon TCG. Nothing has been mentioned about these numbered blocks within the Japanese version of the game, which is months ahead of the English version. Having these blocks could just be a precaution and a way to provide options if the game needs balancing in the future.
Mathew Parkes – Ludkins Media
Have a story? Let us know.