I do love a one-on-one card battler. I however have not watched any anime for a very long time. It has been many moons since I watched the likes of Akira, Wicked City and the Manga/Anime of my youth. My kids however love the modern stuff, so when the chance came to write a ‘how-to-play’ for a One Piece collectable, deck-building one on one battler, I thought it would be a good fit for my household.
In the One Piece card game, you will require two decks to play. These decks can be custom built or you can use a pre-built starter deck, as we did. Each starter deck consists of one leader, a deck of fifty cards and a small deck of ten ‘Don’ cards. Also as an added bonus, the rulebook doubles as a play mat to keep all your areas and cards organized. Although I think the idea of having it on the same item as the rules is a weird choice indeed.
So after laying out your mat, lay your leader in the ‘leader’ area and shuffle your deck to make a draw pile. All standard fare so far. Create your Don deck by placing the ten Don cards in a pile in the relevant area. After that draw five starting cards into your hand and take cards from the top of the deck equal to your leader's life value and set them into the ‘life’ area of your mat. You can, if not happy re-draw your five cards at the start of the game if you wish. This just helps to make sure both players have a chance of a good starting hand. After that, you are ready to battle.
Game Arc & Winning Condition
In the One Piece Card Game you are trying to beat the other player by reducing their leader’s life to zero or by reducing their draw deck to zero. You do this by playing characters and attacking each other. As with most of these games, it's how you attack, in what order in conjunction with special powers, combos and blocking that will determine the eventual winner.
The turn structure in One Piece is simple, if you have played any modern card battler you will slide into its easy russet like getting into a warm, cosy bed. Your first job, which will not be relevant on your first turn is to unrest all your characters and return ant attached Don cards. (More on that later) Then draw a new card from your deck and place two Don cards from your Don deck into the ‘cost’ area of your play area.
Don cards are like mana in something like Hearthstone. They allow you mainly to play cards from your hand but also they act as boosters to characters when you battle. After you have taken two Don cards it's time for your main phase. The main phase is your meat-and-potatoes phase and is where all the juicy stuff happens.
The Main Phase
There are four actions you can do in your main phase and you can do them in any order you wish and as many times as you wish, as long as you can pay the costs for doing so. Firstly, you can play cards from your hand into either the ‘character’ area if they are characters or to the discard pile if they are events, which are one-time effects. Both of these cost Don cards and how much Don you spend you must exhaust from your cost area by turning them sideways. It's a novel way of tracking and increasing what you can do each turn for sure and unlike any other battler I have played.
Your second option is to attach one of your Don cards to your leader or character cards. These cards add one-thousand attack power to the card it is attached to but also, therefore, give you one less Don to spend until it is returned to the cost area of your play mat. The third thing you can do is use the abilities of cards in your play area, these cards may require spending Don or may require the card to have an attached Don card but these are all explained on the card itself.
The last thing you can do in your main phase is the best bit, biffing your opponent on the nose.
Biffing Your Opponent On The Nose
To attack your opponent you select either your leader or a character you control and then exhaust it. This may trigger other card effects, which again, are written on the card itself. You designate who you are attacking, which can be the opponent's leader or any of their exhausted characters. The player who is being attacked can then use any of their ‘blocker’ abilities or play a ‘counter’ card from their hand.
After all that back-and-forth shenanigans, you work out who biffed the hardest. You compare the power of both cards, the tracker will win if its power is greater than or equal to the defender and then the following happens. If the leader is attacked, reduce their life by one. To do this your opponent takes a card from their life pile and adds it to their hand. If it has a ‘trigger’ ability, you perform that straight away for a nice little juicy bonus. If a character is attacked they get trashed and if it's the attacker that lost, nothing happens. Easy as peas.
You keep biffing, drawing and Donning until someone's life or draw deck is depleted and then you obviously raise your hands in the air and call your opponent a loser. Not really, you offer them your hand in congratulation and wish them better luck next time.
All in all One Piece is an easy-to-play card battler with a few twists on the standard formula. I hope this how-to-play gave you a snippet of how the game flows. It's a fun little game, especially if you like One Piece, like my son and daughter. Right, time to biff them both on the nose, laters gamers!