From the official Japanese manual, version 1.0.
The Digimon Card Game is played with one exactly 50-card Deck (made up of Digimon, Tamer, and Option Cards) and one Digitama Deck comprising anywhere from 0 to 5 Digitama Cards. Each deck can contain up to 4 copies of a card with the same Card Number. (So for example, you can have x4 ST1-03 Agumon and x4 P-001 Agumon in your deck, but you cannot have x8 P-001 Agumon. The name doesn’t matter, only the number!)
There are four kinds of cards in the Digimon TCG: Digimon Cards, Tamer Cards, Option Cards, and Digitama Cards. Digimon Cards are used to attack the opponent, Tamer Cards provide support effects, Option Cards contain instantaneous one-and-done effects, and Digitama Cards provide free low-level Digimon to evolve from. All cards belong to a color, of which there are currently four: Red, Blue, Yellow, and Green. Digimon and Digitama Cards can only evolve into Digimon of the same color, and Option Cards can only be played if you have a Digimon or Tamer Card in the Battle Area of the same color.
At the start of the game, both players shuffle their Decks and Digitama Decks, and place the top 5 cards of their Decks face-down (without looking at them) into their Security Area. These face-down cards are your “Security,” and they protect you from your opponent’s attacks; if a Digimon attacks you directly while you have no Security remaining, you lose.
To win the game, you therefore need to send out Digimon to attack the opponent, remove their Security, and ultimately score a direct hit. You do this by paying costs from the Memory Gauge to place and evolve Digimon from your hand. Whenever you pay a cost, the marker on the Memory Gauge move towards the opponent a number of spaces equal to that cost. Digimon in the Battle Area can be in either Active (vertical) or Rest (horizontal) state, similar to the Untapped/Tapped and Standing/Rest positions of Magic: The Gathering and Cardfight!! Vanguard.
After randomly determining who will take the first turn and drawing 5 cards to form your opening hands, turns flow like this:
- Active Phase: During this phase, any Rest (horizontal) Digimon that you have are turned to the Active (vertical) state. (Of course, on the first turn you won’t have any.)
- Draw Phase: Draw 1 card from your deck. The player who goes first does not draw on their first turn. (If you reach your Draw Phase and you have no cards in your deck, you lose.)
- Raising Phase: You can perform 1 of 3 actions:
- “Hatch” a Digitama Card by turning the top card of your Digitama Deck face-up and putting it in the Raising Area. If there is a face-up card in the Raising Area already, you cannot hatch another Digitama until the Raising Area is empty again.
- Move a Level 3 or greater Digimon Card from the Raising Area to the Battle Area. (Only possible if you evolved your Digitama during the Main Phase of the previous turn; Level 2 cards cannot move into the Battle Area.)
- Do nothing and go on to the Main Phase.
- Main Phase: The core of the game. During this phase you may:
- Play Digimon Cards from your hand. Digimon cannot attack in the same turn they are placed, and you can have any number of them in play.
- Evolve Digimon in the Battle Area or Raising Area into same-color Digimon from your hand. Evolving a Digimon triggers the “Evolution Bonus,” allowing you to draw a card.
- Play Tamer Cards. You can have any number of Tamer Cards in play, but Tamer Cards cannot attack or block, only support your Digimon with effects.
- Play Option Cards. To use an Option Card, you must have at least one Digimon or Tamer Card of the same color already in play. After the Option is resolved, it’s sent to the Trash.
- Attack either the opponent or one of their Rested Digimon (your choice) by Resting your Active Digimon. If the opponent has Digimon with <<Blocker>> they may likewise Rest it to change the target of the attack to the <<Blocker>> Digimon, causing the two Digimon to battle: the Digimon with less DP (“Digimon Power”) is destroyed. (If DP is equal, both are destroyed.)
- End of Turn: As soon as they have 1 or more Memory, or you pass, it becomes the opponent’s turn.
When you attack the opponent and they do not block, their topmost Security card is “checked,” flipping it face-up. If it’s a Digimon, then that Security Digimon battles your attacking Digimon; if it’s an Option or Tamer Card, then they resolve its Security Effect, which is written on the bottom of the card. (Security Effects do not have costs, and Option cards resolved in this way do not require a card of the same color to be in play.) After the battle and/or Security Effect is resolved, the Security card is sent to its owner’s Trash. (Unless an effect moved it elsewhere.)
Security Digimon are not regarded as normal Digimon, and cannot be targeted by effects that would normally affect Digimon, nor can they use effects other than their own Security Effects.
Some things to note:
- During your turn, you may choose to pass while you still have Memory remaining. If that is the case, regardless of the counter’s position, it will be moved so that the opponent has 3 Memory.
- If a Digimon’s DP is reduced to 0, it is destroyed.
- To evolve into a Digimon, you must pay that Digimon’s Evolution Cost (instead of its Play Cost) and the Digimon you are evolving from must be exactly one level lower than it.
- Evolved Digimon are stacked on top of the Digimon they evolved from, which become its “Evolution Sources,” (進化元 shinkamoto, can also be translated as “Evolution Material” or “Evolution Base”) and any of their Evolution Source Effects (on the bottom edge of the card) are inherited by the evolved Digimon. (The effects on the center of the card are not kept.) Higher-level Digimon keep the Source Effects of all their previous levels. If an evolved Digimon is destroyed, all of its Evolution Sources go to the Trash with it.
- Level 2 or less Digimon (“Baby” Digimon) cannot be sent to the Battle Area on their own. They must be evolved first.
- “Moving” a Digimon from the Raising Area to the Battle Area is not “placing” it. Effects that have a timing of “When placed” will not resolve.
- For the same reason, Digimon moved from the Raising Area can attack in the same turn. They do not have to wait a turn before attacking, because they were not “placed” that turn.
- Some abilities like <<Security Attack +1>> will increase the number of Security checked. In this case, the cards are checked one at a time, and if (for example) the first card’s Security Effect destroys the attacking Digimon or moves it to another area like the hand, the attack will stop immediately without the rest of the cards being checked.
- <<Security Attack +>> effects only increase the number of Security checked. If you attack an opponent who only has 1 Security remaining with a Digimon that has <<Security Attack +1>>, it will only break 1 Security; you still need to successfully attack again to defeat them.
- The maximum amount of Memory either player may have is 10, and you cannot use any card or effect that would cause the opponent to have more than 10. For example, if you have 1 Memory remaining and want to play a Cost 12 card, that would cause the opponent to have 11 Memory. Since 11 is more than the maximum, you cannot play that card.
Types of Timings
Cards with effects have different timings indicating when they trigger. Although these are self-explanatory, they are listed and clarified here for convenience.
- “When placed” (登場時 toujou-ji) triggers when a Digimon is placed in the Battle Area directly from the hand. This does not include evolving, or moving from the Raising Area.
- “When Evolving” (進化時 shinka-ji) triggers when a Digimon in the Battle Area is placed on top of another Digimon to evolve. It does not include evolving in the Raising Area.
- “When it attacks” (アタック時 atakku-ji) triggers when a Digimon attacks. This is before the opponent declares blockers or any Security is checked.
- “At the end of the attack” (アタック終了時 atakku shuuryou-ji) triggers after a battle has ended. It will only resolve if the user is still present at the end of the battle.
- “When destroyed” (消滅時 shoumetsu-ji) triggers when a Digimon is destroyed, whether by battle or other effects.
- “During your turn” (自分のターン jibun no taan) is active from the beginning of your turn until the end.
- “During both turns” (お互いのターン otagai no taan) is active on both players’ turns.
- “During your opponent’s turn” (相手のターン aite no taan) is active on your opponent’s turn.
- “At the beginning of your turn” (自分のターン開始時 jibun no taan kaishi-ji) triggers at the very start of your turn.
- “Security” (セキュリティ sekyuriti) triggers when the card is checked from the Security Area.
- “Main” (メイン mein) effects can be resolved in your Main Phase.
- <<Blocker>> allows the user to be Rested when the opponent declares an attack in order to redirect the target of the attack to the <<Blocker>>.
- <<Security Attack +X>> increases the number of Security a Digimon checks by X when it attacks the opponent.
- <<Security Attack -X>> decreases the number of Security a Digimon checks by X when it attacks the opponent.
- <<Recovery +X (Deck)>> places X number of cards from the top of the deck face-down into Security.
- <<Piercing>> causes the user to check Security when it destroys an opponent’s Digimon by battle. This effect triggers even when blocked, but does not trigger against Security Digimon.
- <<Draw X>> draws cards equal to X when it triggers. There is no upper limit to the player’s hand size.
- <<Jamming>> prevents the bearer from being destroyed in a battle with Security Digimon. A Digimon with both <<Jamming>> and <<Security Attack +X>> will continue to check Security even after losing a battle with a Security Digimon.