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How to play Digimon Card Game: rules, how to build a deck and how to win the Digimon TCG explained

Fulfill your role as a DigiDestined.

Image credit: Bandai Namco

Learning how to play the Digimon Card Game is a great way to continue or begin your journey in the DigiWorld.

How to play Digimon Card Game

Digimon are digital creatures and the face of a media franchise which began life as a counterpart to Tamagochi in 1997. Digimon became popular in the early 2000s because of the anime series Digimon Tamers, which introduced Greymon, Angemon and many other famous Digimon to people around the world.

Like the Pokémon TCG, the Digimon Card Game allows you to make decks with cards of your favorite creatures and characters. Each Digimon has special abilities that can be carried on when Digivolved into a new creature. With a very unique resource mechanic, the game forces you to consider every action you’re taking and how it might benefit your opponent.

Read on to learn how to play the Digimon Card Game and take your first steps into the DigiWorld.

The rules trailer for the Digimon Card GameWatch on YouTube

What is the Digimon Card Game?

The Digimon Card Game is a fast-paced trading card game based on the classic anime show in which kids team up with creatures from the digital world. In the TCG, two players face off using the famous creatures with multiple possible transformations from all the seasons of the anime.

In this game, you get to use the famous Digivolutions, as well as Tamer and Option cards, to power up your Digimon. The goal is to deplete your opponent’s defences and claim the victory.

Digimon Card Game gives room for you to try different strategies and build decks around specific mechanics or combinations of cards. You can either go for a deck focused on Digivolution or combos using Tamer cards.

There are hundreds of different Digimon Card Game cards you can include in your deck. | Image credit: Bandai Namco

How to build a Digimon Card Game deck

To build a Digimon Card Game deck, you first need to come up with a strategy. In other words, what you want to achieve during a match. It’s around such a strategy that you can begin selecting the cards for your deck.

Digimon Card Game decks must have a total of exactly 50 cards - no more, no less. There isn’t any sort of basic requirement to add a card to your deck, like in the One Piece Card Game where the leader’s colour determines the colours of the rest of the cards; you can include any card you like in your Digimon Card Game deck. But it’s important to keep in mind whether the cards you want to use synergise or not.

In the game, there are three types of cards: Digimon, Tamer and Option. These have different effects or mechanics that depend on synergising with other cards. For example, to transform a Digimon card into another, you need to meet the card requirements. So, to use many cards in the game, you need to prepare a deck that will lay the ground for them.

When preparing your deck, you shouldn’t have more than four copies of the same card in the deck.

A secondary deck is the Digi-Egg Deck, which is composed of zero to five Digi-Egg Cards. By following the same four-copies rule, players can build a Digi-Egg Deck, although it is not required to play the Digimon Card Game and it does not count as part of your main deck. Digi-Egg Cards are low-level Digimons that can only be placed in game through the Breeding system. Once they are placed in the Breeding Area, you need to digivolve them into a stronger Digimon to put it in the Battle Area. The Digi-Egg Deck is optional because digivolving is not restricted to these cards but some decks can be based on Digi-Egg Cards as their core strategy.

Each player draws five cards during setup, before drawing a card at the start of each turn. (Except the first player on their first turn.) | Image credit: Bandai Namco

Digimon Card Game setup explained

Shuffle your deck and Digi-Egg deck, if you’re using one.

Place the decks facedown in their respective areas. Your main deck should be in the Deck Zone, in the top right corner of your field, while the Digi-Egg Deck stays in the left bottom corner.

Place the Memory Gauge on the table between you and your adversary.

Decide who goes first by rock-paper-scissors. The winner takes the first turn.

Each player draws five cards from their main deck. If a player is not happy about their hand, they may redraw their hand by performing a mulligan. Players need to announce their intention to do so before they shuffle their hand into their deck and redraw five new cards. This can only be done once per player.

Without looking at them, each player places five cards from the top of their decks facedown in their Security Stack zone, with the first card of their decks being the last one in their Security Stack. The Security Stack should be placed in the top-left corner of your side.

Put the Memory Counter on the number 0 on the Memory Gauge.

More great trading card games that aren't Magic: The GatheringWatch on YouTube

Digimon Card Game rules

In the Digimon Card Game, there are four main phases, followed by an end phase. Each player's turn consists of the following four steps, before play passes to their opponent:

  1. Unsuspended Phase
  2. Draw Phase
  3. Breeding Phase
  4. Main Phase
  5. End Phase

1. Unsuspended Phase

In this phase, you can unsuspend cards you have previously used. Digimon cards have two statuses: Suspended and Unsuspended. The latter is represented by placing the card upright, while the former is indicated by rotating the card sideways - similar to tapping in Magic: The Gathering.

Every Digimon card and Tamer card enters the game unsuspended. Digimon cards are suspended to indicate they are either performing an attack or blocking.

Skip the Unsuspended Phase during each player's first turn of the game.

2. Draw Phase

When you’re in the Draw Phase, you need to draw one card from your deck. However, the starting player doesn't draw a card on their first turn. If you ever have no cards in your deck left for you to draw, you lose the game.

Your layout should look something like this. | Image credit: Bandai Namco

3. Breeding Phase

This phase is applicable if you’re using a Digi-Egg deck. If so, during the Breeding Phase, you can perform one of the following actions:

Hatch a Digi-Egg

Hatching a Digi-Egg involves flipping one card face-up from your Digi-Egg deck and placing the card beside the Digi-Egg deck in the Breeding area. Hatching a card has no cost in terms of Memory and can only be done when there is no other card in the breeding area. Digi-Egg cards, when hatched, are considered level 2 Digimon.

Move a Digimon to the Battle Area

If you already have a Digivolved Digimon in the breeding area, you can choose to move them to the Battle Area. This is only possible when the Digimon has Digimon Power, making digivolving the hatched Digi-Egg into a stronger Digimon before you move them.

Because this action is not considered as playing a Digimon from your hand, there is no cost to put it in the Battle area, no On Play effects will activate and you can attack with this Digimon.

If you choose not to perform either of these two actions, you can pass this phase and go to the Main Phase.

Digimon fans both old and new will recognise the monsters on the cards. | Image credit: Bandai Namco

4. Main Phase

In the Main Phase, you can perform a series of actions, from putting a Digimon in the Battle Area to attacking your opponent.

The only limitation concerns the Memory Gauge. If any actions you perform lead to the Memory Counter moving to a number greater than zero, your turn ends and it’s time for your opponent to play.

Here are all the actions you can perform during the Main Phase:

Play Digimon, Tamer and Option Cards

In the Digimon Card Game, you can take a Digimon card from your hand and put it on the field by paying its Memory cost.

To pay, move the Memory counter toward your opponent’s side of the Memory Gauge according to the cost of the card. For example, you’re playing Greymon which has a Memory cost of five and your Memory counter is on the number four. In this situation, the Memory Counter must be placed on the number one on your opponent’s side. If a Digimon is played from your hand, they enter the game unsuspended and can’t attack during that turn.

The second type of cards you can play during the Main Phase are Tamer cards. These function as passive abilities, almost like enchantment cards in Magic: The Gathering, staying in the game until another card’s effect says otherwise. Playing a Tamer card follows the same rule that Digimon cards do in terms of Memory cost, but they can’t attack or block. You can place as many Tamer cards on the field as you want and their effects stack in the case of similar cards.

The last type of card is the Option card. These have main effects that are activated when you use them. While you need to pay the Option card’s Memory Cost, this is not the only requirement to use them. Option cards have “color requirement”. You can only play an Option card if you have at least one Tamer card or Digimon card in the Battle Area or Breeding Area of the same colour as the card you want to use. Different from Digimon and Tamer cards, Option cards are placed in the trash (in the right-hand corner of your field) once their main effect is resolved.

Did you know there's an offical song to teach you the Digimon Card Game rules? And it's a total bop? You do now!Watch on YouTube

Digivolve a Digimon

To digivolve a Digimon card means to transform them into a stronger creature. In the Digimon Card Game, digivolving can only happen during the Main Phase and you can digivolve cards in your Battle Area or Breeding Area. In both cases, you need to meet the card’s digivolution requirements.

The most basic prerequisite is having a card with the level and colour required by the card on the field while also paying a Memory cost. For example, if you have a Biyomon in your Battle Field, which is a level three red card, you can digivolve it to Birdramon, since it requires a level three red card to digivolve from and two Memory.

Some cards’ requirements are more specific, naming particular Digimon from which they can evolve. You should always check on the card description or in their Digivolve Cost for the exact requirements.

When you digivolve a card, you put the new card on top of the one already in the Battle Area or Breeding Area. The bottom part of the digivolved card must be kept visible below the new card so the Inherited Effect is shown. These are abilities that one Digimon inherits from the others they digivolved from.

Be sure to always check the latest official Digimon Card Game rulebook for new methods of digivolution introduced by new cards.

Digivolved Digimon cards are stacked on top of each other. | Image credit: Bandai Namco


Battling in the Digimon Card Game is pretty simple. During the Main Phase, you either attack a suspended Digimon or your opponent.

In the first case, the DP of both Digimon cards is compared. The lowest loses the battle, resulting in it being deleted and placed in the trash. If it’s a tie, both are deleted. Digimon cards don’t lose DP by taking damage during battles. The surviving card in the confrontation is suspended by rotating it 90 degrees.

When you attack your opponent directly, a Security Check begins. When this happens, your opponent must flip the top card of their security stack face-up. Depending on the type of the card, a different interaction comes up.

When the flipped card is a Digimon card, it becomes a Security Digimon. Your attacking Digimon and the Security Digimon battle by comparing their DPs as in a standard Digimon battle. However, even if the Security Digimon wins the face-off, they are placed in the trash. Additionally, no effect from the Security Digimon is performed during a Security Check.

If the flipped card from the Security Stack is either an Option or a Tamer card, there are two possible outcomes. The first is that nothing happens to your attacking Digimon and your opponent’s card is placed in the trash. The second possible situation is the flipped card having a Security Effect, a specific ability that is performed after it is flipped. Once the Security Effect is resolved, the Option or Tamar card is placed in the trash unless its Security Effect says otherwise.

If your opponent has a Digimon card with the Blocker status, they can redirect an attack to that Digimon, forcing your Digimon and theirs to battle. Only Blockers can do that and only when they are unsuspended. If they blocked an attack, the cards is suspended.

5. End Phase

In general, your turn ends when you perform actions that make the Memory counter go to a number higher than zero on your opponent’s side of the Memory Gauge.

You can end your turn sooner by passing your turn. By choosing to do so, the Memory counter is placed on your opponent’s side on the number three regardless of how much Memory you spent during your turn.

Some cards will activate their abilities when revealed from your Security Stack. | Image credit: Bandai Namco

How to win the Digimon Card Game

To win a match in the Digimon Card Game, you need to attack your opponent when they don’t have cards in their Security Stack anymore. This can only be done after you have already beaten their last Security card in a previous turn.

Another way for a player to lose the match is to have no cards left in their deck.

Digimon Card Game keywords explained

  • Blocker: A descriptor found on some Digimon cards that allows them to block attacks from the opponent.
  • Digi-Egg: A special type of Digimon card with a white back that can only be used in a Digi-Egg deck.
  • Digivolution: Transforming a Digimon card in the Battle Area or Breeding area into a different one by meeting the requirements specified in the cards.
  • Hatching: Flipping face-up one Digi-Egg card and placing it in the Breeding Area.
  • Security Check: The phase when one player attacks the other player directly. When this happens, the player who is being attacked must flip the top card of their Security stack. The conflict is resolved differently depending on the type of card that came from the Security stack.
  • Security Digimon: When a player flips a card from their Security stack and it’s a Digimon card, it becomes a Security Digimon during the Security Check.

Can you play the Digimon Card Game with more than two players?

Unfortunately, the Digimon Card Game official rules don’t support matches with more than two players. Because of how the Memory Gauge works, it’s difficult to adapt the game for more players.

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