I liked the Yu-Gi-Oh anime.
I was into Pokemon (but mainly the videogames).
And a friend showed me Magic one time, but I wasn’t that great.
Apart from that, I’ve played no Collectable Card Games whatsoever. It’s totally new to me; a subculture that I’ve observed from afar, but has always felt slightly impenetrable. I always felt that it was something that you had to be into from the start, in order to understand the mechanics and contexts of the above listed games.
Last Thursday the DragonBall Super Card Game was released in the UK. I’ve followed the anime for over 2 years now, and have watched DragonBall Z multiple times. I’m a big fan.
So, I’ve used this opportunity to take the plunge. My own fandom tying in with my underlying curiosity of the medium, seemed to be the perfect storm. So I’ve gone for it.
I’m going to get into the DragonBall Super Card Game.
Or at least try.
Damn, this costs a lot.
My initial investment into the game was a relatively small one. I bought the first starter deck, with a fancy picture of Super Saiyan Blue Goku on the cover, and a ‘Special Pack’ of boosters, with another picture of Super Saiyan Blue Goku on the cover. Together, that came to just under £26.
Now, I’m frugal when it comes to my other passion: videogames. I’m the thrifter: the one who is happy to be patient about a game, and then play it for pittance years down the line. And in all honesty, I only buy a full price game maybe 3 or 4 times a year.
So this £26 seemed like quite the investment. Particularly when I’m certain that I’ll need to be buying more.
The cards themselves seem worth it though. They’re beautiful. The art seems to be taken straight from the anime as times, whilst others have obviously been drawn specifically for the cards. Some of the foil cards (shiny-shiny) are particularly easy on the eyes. Check out my sparkly Vegeta:
But a game is not just for looking at! We’re here to play, and we’re here to win. So, armed with my Rule booklet, and the inserted paper play mat, me and my partner set off to a nearby pub to see if we could play a practice match against each other.
…Are seriously difficult. Like, this seems really complex to me.
Each card has a number of different utilities. You can use them to battle with, comparing
penis power level size to see who would wins. There’s also a bunch of special conditions that each card has too. Not only does my Beerus beat your Gohan, but when he does so he annihilates your Energy cards too, or something.
Alongside this, each card can also be used to provide energy. By playing them upside down, they become power silos, enabling you to battle with stronger cards.
But that’s not all, playing a card sideways means they can ‘combo’ with others.
And some cards can be played at any time.
And some can only be played on top of other cards.
It’s quite overwhelming.
I felt like I needed the comforting embrace of a videogame to help me learn the rules. Perhaps this is because I’ve dabbled in digital card games before. I’ve put a good 20 hours into Gwent, and installed Hearthstone on my old tablet.
An in all honesty, the DragonBall Super Card Game isn’t that much more complicated than those. But in Gwent I’ve had a computer there to help guide me through the systems. On a screen, cards can be greyed out, indicating that they’re unable to be played. Options can be highlighted. Rounds are clearly indicated by an automated system.
In real life, there is no such luxury. In the pub I just had a guidebook, an oddly worded FAQ section, and occasionally a quick Google on my phone. And the game seemed much more impenetrable because of that.
After an hour or so of stumbling through, we seemed to get the hang of it. There actually is a videogame to tell you all this stuff, and that helped a fair amount. I get the feeling this will become second nature, but initially I was super confused.
Couldn’t shake that feeling that we were doing something wrong though.
It’s already started. I can feel it.
I’m already searching online for synergies between cards, checking up on strategies and optimal deck builds. The card game community is incredibly dedicated: there are plenty of guides, even for a new game such as this. It’s great and the depth in the game is evident.
I’ve also recently joined an organised play group in Leeds, so that I can get together with like-minded people and test our decks out (and hopefully they can teach me the rules again). I’m excited to see what other people’s opinions of it are.
But I’m worried for my wallet. An individual booster pack comes in at £3.99. Which isn’t too bad, considering you get 12 cards in a pack, buuuut only one of those is usually of note. From my own experience, I got 8 common cards, 3 rare cards and 1 super rare card per pack.
I’ll probably still buy them. I’ll nip to the comic book store to pick up a Graphic Novel, and then just end up adding a pack to my purchase – I can tell. And that worries me a little.
I can justify it by saying it’s a physical asset. I’s not like a Star Wars Battlefront II lootbox where I get only get a digital experience booster, because I actually get to hold these cards in my hand! Right? Right??
I’m wary. I’m not fully convinced in it’s long term potential as a collector’s item, and who knows if I’ll even enjoy the game once I understand the rules properly. I’ll have to wait and see on that front I guess, but my wallet won’t be able to wait for long.
In the end, I started to feel that my experience was mirroring that of the game.
We were both new entries to the market. Trying to figure out where our place is, whilst also making a name for ourselves.
And whilst the initial interest is incredibly impulsive, there are serious question marks over the long term potential.
But hey look at this sweet Champa card I got:
Follow Cleon on Twitter for a free card*
*Note: It’s a picture of a card****Double note: That he’ll tweet at you.
DISCLAIMER: The news article about the DBS Card Game being released was also written by me. I usually wouldn’t have linked to it on here, but I did so because there is literally no other news article heralding its UK release. If there is, and anybody is unhappy with me linking to my own stuff, I will be happy to replace that link with another article.