As in all trading card games, the easiest way to get started with Digimon The Card Game, is to buy a starter deck. All Digimon Starter decks include everything one player needs in order to start playing: a full deck of 50 cards, 4 digi-eggs card and a 2-parts memory gauge. If you do not have a friend that is already playing or a local group to join, buying two different decks or two copies of the same deck can be a very good start. In the first case, you can test two different type of decks to find out which type of strategy you prefer. The other approach would instead provide a full playset (4 copies) of all those powerful cards that usually comes only in two copies in every starter deck.
Since the game was first published in UK in 2020, Bandai formally released 13 starter decks although in reality Starter deck number 11 was a reprint of older cards and it was only published in Japan. All the Starter decks have been released progressively to match the game growth and to exploit any new game mechanics as soon they have been introduced. As a result, there is now a very good range of Starter decks available that can easily match everyone play style.
Considering which Starter Deck to check out and buy to get into Digimon, the Card Game is not an easy decision and I decided to write this article in an effort to provide some thoughts to help new player to explore their options between all the starter decks.
What It Takes To Have A Great Starter Deck
As I mentioned, Bandai released 13 different Starter decks in the last 2 years in group of 2 or 3 decks each time. Among them, I would not recommend to buy any of the initial 6 Starter decks (ST1 to ST6) as they are now quite old and has become quite expensive as collectible items. It is true that these decks contain a lot of very good staples that can still be used competitively but they have all been designed to be “colour” based deck featuring different Digimon of the same colour with poor or no synergy among them.
All modern Starter Deck are instead “Archetype” decks as they are based on cards that works very well together and that shares similar characteristics or attributes. The engine of most of these decks focus on bringing out a very specific “Boss” Digimon monster in order to beat the opponent. These type of decks are not only very strategic but they can also be improved adding cards of the same archetype or support cards that can work well with the deck mechanics. In this article, I will mainly focus on this type of deck as they fit the more modern way to play the game.
In order to help ranking the decks, I decided to look for three main factors: learning curve, value of the deck and upgrade potential. The first factor will consider how easy would be for a new player with poor or no experience of Trading card game to pick up the deck. Then, I will take in consideration how valuable are the cards provided within the deck and if the deck features any bonus cards or extra material. The last aspect I would like to review is how easily each Starter Deck can be improved to make it suitable for tournaments (“meta” competitive play).
Basing on the three main aspects above, I would consider the below 5 Starter Decks as good options for getting into Digimon, the Card Game. Together with a small summary of the deck composition/mechanics, I also wanted to provide a reason a new player may want to pick that specific deck.
Gallantmon Starter Deck ST-7 (the “Easy to learn” one)
The 7th Digimon Starter Deck was released in October 2021 featuring the Royal Knight Gallantmon, one of the guardian deity of the Net. This starter deck is a red mono-colour deck that features a very simple and easy to learn strategy. The main evolution line of this deck is centred around Guilmon and Growlmon and focuses on dealing a lot of damage as quickly as possible. Most of the cards have DP boosting and/or removal effects to interrupt the opponent's strategy and to gain tempo.
The overall value of cards included in this Starter deck would be pretty low if it didn't include 6 bonus “Memory Boost” cards. These 6 cards have a very good competitive and collectible value making worth getting the Starter Deck just to get them. A lot of support for the archetype has been released in EX-02 (Digital hazard) and in BT-09 (X-record) making quite easy to improve this deck. Gallantmon players will also get soon more useful cards in BT-12 (Across time). If you would like to know more about this deck, you can check its review here.
Ancient Dragon Starter Deck ST-9 (the “Easy to expand” one)
Ancient Dragon is the 9th Starter Deck released in Europe in May 2022 and it features the “ultimate digimon that existed since ancient times”, Imperialdramon. This Dragon Digimon can evolves from both Blue and Green Digimon making this a double colour Starter deck. This starter deck also exploits the “DNA digivolution” mechanics that allows Imperialdramon to evolve from a Blue AND a Green Digimon creating a large and very powerful stack. The deck requires some strategic planning in order to bring key Digimons to the board and then deal multiple attack at the same time to the bring down the opponent's security stack.
Imperialdramon is consistently played competitively thus making this deck quite valuable. It also includes 2 copies of “Megadeath”, a blue/green option card that is among the best cards in the game and a must have for every blue or green deck. The starter deck includes almost everything you need to play competitively and improving the deck is quite easy. A lot of support can be found in the recent BT-11 booster pack (Dimensional Phase) and more will be provided in the upcoming BT12 (Across time) although depending on your preferred strategy you may need to look for some cards in older expansions. If you would like to know more about this deck, you can check its review here.
Jesmon Starter Deck ST-12 (the one most “Strategically varied and balanced”)
If you are looking for a very well structured and all-rounded Starter Deck, ST-12 would definitely be your best choice. Jesmon, the Boss Digimon featured in this deck is a Royal knight that is said to be the first one to sense chaos and danger and to arrive when help is needed. Not a bad start...
Although the deck is largely made-up by Red cards (including Jesmon itself), a few Black and White cards are also included to create an interesting synergy. The presence of White cards in particular is quite rare for a Starter Deck.
With respect to the other Starter Decks, ST-12 includes a wide range of special effects and ability that synergize in order to create a very solid strategy. For example, Jesmon allows a Sistermon Digimon to be played from hand or trash in order to gain one additional security check when attacking. If Sistermon Blanc is brought to the playfield by this effect, it can then use its decoy ability and be deleted in lieu of Jesmon to protect your boss Digimon. You may have already realized it but Blanc can then be bought back again the next turn creating a loop that can protect and strengthen your Royal Knight constantly.
Although the Deck is quite fun to play and can work efficiently against most of the other decks, Jesmon is surprisingly not played frequently at competitive levels. The general value of the standard deck is therefore not very high as such although it includes 6 alternate-art Tamer cards that are quite valuable and worth getting. On a positive, the deck has a great potential with a lot of very good support cards that can be easily found for example in BT-10 (Xross Encounter). More cards will also be soon available in the upcoming BT-12 (Across time) and BT-13 (vs Royal Knights).
Beelzemon Starter Deck ST-14 (the one with “High competitive value”)
ST-14 is not only the latest starter deck released for Digimon Card Game, but it is also an amazingly strong advanced deck. Themed around the fan favorite Beelzemon, one of the "Seven Great Demon Lords”, this deck is a purple mono-colour that includes only silver foil cards and a few holographic ones.
Being a purple deck, its main mechanic revolves around trashing as many cards as possible. A few cards of the deck are only designed to mill through your deck as fast as possible while other have very useful effects that trigger every time that card is trashed. For example, your BT2 Impmon is the best card to digivolve from your eggs as it can do some early cheap damage to the opponent's security and trash 3 cards if it gets deleted. If your Impmon survives, you can either repeat the process or evolve it into the new ST-14 Witchmon that will allow the player to trash 2 cards from the deck when digivolving. The new Wizardmon provides 1 memory back if trashed from the deck as a few other Digimon and options.
The Boss of this Deck, “Beelzemon”, and it further evolution “Beelzemon Blast mode” also generate memory when they digivolves and they can easily finish the game in one round in the right conditions. Overall, the strategy of this deck is not a linear one and players will likely require a few games to learn how to master its mechanics. The main risk of this deck is to trash too many cards and deck-out before being able to deal enough damage to win. On the other end, the more cards you will trash the more powerful your Digimons will become. This fine balance is the soul of a deck deck that is very strategic and very fun to play at the same time.
In terms of value, this deck is probably the best one a new player can choose. At a first glance, the initial investment may look quite substantial considering that the price of this deck is higher than all the other standard decks and that you will still need two sets to make the best out of the deck. In reality, this deck can be very efficient and consistent in competitive matches even without adding any cards making the initial investment very valuable. Eventually, EX2 Beelzemon and the X-antibody cards from BT12 (Across time) would be great way to improve your deck.
One word of advise: EX2 Impmon has been recently added to the list of limited cards by Bandai thus adding an alternative from BT12 or other set would be needed
Mastermon Starter Deck ST-10 (The “Highly strategic” One)
The last Starter deck in this list is ST-10 “Parallel World Tactician”, a purple and yellow double colour deck released in May 2022 at the same time of ST-9. The main boss of this deck is Mastermon, a Yellow and Purple Digimon that can DNA Digivolve from two Lv5 Digimon.
The starter deck is fuelled by the combination of the Recovery and Trash effects of the yellow and purple cards. Most of the Digimons in the deck synergize well with the Digimons of the opposite colour allowing a player to first maintain a tight control of the board by trashing and then playing or recovery cards to their hand. At the same time, the recovery effects driven by the yellow cards allow the players to extend the game duration allowing the deck to exploit its best combo.
The main limit of this strategy, unfortunately, is to be slower than most of the more competitive deck limiting the use of this deck in competition and tournaments.
Overall, the deck can be a nice starting point for players that enjoy a more strategic gameplay and that can appreciate the subtle mechanics of the purple-yellow interaction. Mastering the deck can require some time to the less experienced gamers but it can be very rewarding. Tuning the deckfurther to a player style would also be quite easy as there are a lot of different version of Angewomon and LadyDevimon, two key Digimon for this deck. If interested, BT9 (Xrecord) and BT11 (Dimensional Phase) collection would be the best source of useful cards and tamers for this deck.