A translation of an interview posted on the Digimon Partners website on May 28, 2021, with Kouhei Gotou, producer for the Digimon Card Game.
The Digimon Card Game releases its new booster, “Double Diamond”, on May 28! This year’s April marks the first anniversary of the game’s launch, and it’s getting people more and more excited. To commemorate that, we’ve held an interview with its producer, Gotou-san! We talked about matters related to the game’s initial launch, what he focuses on during management, and what we should expect in the future!
Kouhei Gotou1: From the Bandai Card Game Division. Producer for the Digimon Card Game.
Digimon Partners Staff: A person in their 20s who loves Digimon
Creating the rules in a way that fits Digimon
Staff: Firstly, please tell us what led to the launch of the Digimon Card Game.
Gotou: The reason for the launch was the start of the Digimon Reboot Project, and the accompanying decision to produce the new TV anime series Digimon Adventure:. We at Bandai were thinking about how to use the chance to generate hype for Digimon, and launched a plan to put the card game, which was once a very popular product from my card division, back on the market.
Staff: I had the impression that there wasn’t much time between the anime’s announcement and the actual broadcast, but how did it actually go?
Gotou: Naturally, we’d been working on producing the card game even before the information about the anime broadcast was revealed.
Staff: Were you the one who proposed the project?
Gotou: I was originally in charge of a card game called Battle Spirits. The Digimon Card Game release began in April 2020, so I had been participating in its production for about half a year before the release, and was eventually put in charge.
Staff: How did you feel about being put in charge of a Digimon game?
Gotou: To be honest, it was surprising for me since I’d been working on Battle Spirits for so many years, but the launch of a new card game isn’t something you get to experience very often, so I thought, “I have to do a good job of this.” I was also responsible for some of the collaboration products that Battle Spirits had with Digimon, so I felt I had a lot of connection with it.
Staff: How did you decide on the specific rules?
Gotou: Before I started participating on the project for real, the higher-ups got the assistance of the famous American card game designer Ryan Miller, and had firmly established the base of the rules such as the “memory gauge”. From there, I explained the current rules and project plans to the people involved and consulted their opinions, and, in the process of making it something that would fit Digimon, I felt that we made the best possible kind of ruleset.
Staff: The old DigiCa (*Digital Monster Card Game)2 had a very fixed route of evolution. What led to the decision to remove that system?
Gotou: In the end, it’s something that we felt would make it more fun as a card game. Back then, there was this sort of idea that “this Digimon should evolve into this Digimon, and the product line should not have them evolve into other Digimon.” However, we decided to prioritize making this fun as a card game, where you could enjoy the variety of ways to do deck construction and the fun of evolution, and so we made it into a system where you can evolve them into any Digimon as long as you pay the cost and use the right level and color. It feels like we’re looking back on the original premise of “Digimon don’t have a set-in-stone evolution path to begin with”.
Staff: This ruleset gives you a strong image of “you can raise your own Digimon in your own personal way.” Even with the same Ultimate-level Digimon, building it from different evolution sources will have different effects, so I think that’s one of the charm points of the current version of DigiCa.
Launching with the tide against it
Staff: Were there any difficulties during the launch?
Gotou: I wouldn’t call it a difficulty, but we were very worried all the way up until the release date that the customers wouldn’t buy it. We couldn’t hold things like real-life card game tournaments at the time, thanks to the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.
Staff: How did you feel when it actually released?
Gotou: Right before the release, we thought of creating a promotional team to gather all of the information together and generate hype. When we actually reached the release date, we received a huge response that exceeded our expectations. As a result, a lot of things sold out, and we had a lot of people left unable to buy, which ended up inconveniencing players. We were of course very happy that it was selling well, but it had some of those issues at launch.
Staff: A year has passed since that promotional project, and since then, there have been six boosters. How have the players been responding after a year?
Gotou: We at the Card Game Division were able to launch a card game that we can properly maintain, and I feel that this is thanks to the support of our fans. Of course, there’s both good and bad sides to it, so we’ll be listening carefully to what the players say and make improvements.
Staff: What kind of positive opinions have you been receiving?
Gotou: We received a lot of cheerful feedback such as “the art is good” and “the game is fun”. Beyond that, things like “thank you for including this Digimon in this game” also particularly stood out. From a business perspective, in order to sell cards, we have to include famous Digimon and Digimon that were in the anime, but we also found that there are players who are happy to see Digimon that haven’t been in the spotlight as much, so it gives us a sense of comfort that we can continue to keep developing DigiCa for a long time after this.
Staff: There are all kinds of Digimon that exist, after all.
Gotou: If a Digimon hasn’t appeared yet, it’s not that we hate it or anything (laughs). Please be assured that we’re just saving them here in the back!
Staff: We’re looking forward to future releases! On the other hand, were there any responses you got about problems with the game?
Gotou: There really were a lot…We got responses such as “I can’t buy it” and “the rare card pull rate is too low.” As far as the game system goes, things like “green is too strong” and “making judgment calls is getting too complex”…We’ve received a lot of those kinds of opinions from the players, so we’re doing our best to not ignore those.
Staff: Is it difficult to maintain the balance between colors?
Gotou: It is. Since there’s six colors, it’s fun to have all six of them have their own strengths, so we’re doing our best to maximize that…But when you actually put it out in practice, you might end up with a color deck that’s stronger than the others. So when that happens, the next thing you do is to watch the environment closely and listen to what the players say in order to make improvements.
To make DigiCa popular all over the world
Staff: Please tell us about the concept behind the 6th booster, “Double Diamond”.
Gotou: The first is the inclusion of the characters from the movie Digimon Adventure LAST EVOLUTION Kizuna, such as Agumon -Bond of Courage- and Gabumon -Bond of Friendship-. The second is that we added the top-ranking cards from our “Parallel Card Poll” as a special bonus for those who bought the box. This reflects the results of our player voting project for the first anniversary, involving making parallel versions of cards that didn’t have them. In addition, we also had a focus on buffing black, which is currently said by players to be in an unfavorable position, so we hope you can look forward to that as well.
Staff: Are there any environmental changes via factors such as effects?
Gotou: I feel like it’s a custom to add new gimmicks whenever card games go into another year, but when we thought about what kind of new gimmicks to add this year, we had an epiphany of wondering whether current players of DigiCa really even want a new gimmick in the first place. From there, we had discussions among ourselves in the company and decided that we wouldn’t make any huge new gimmicks for the second year. Of course, there are going to be more new effects, but as far as the feel of the game goes, the game’s difficulty level won’t be going through any significant changes, and we’ll be expanding the variety of the game in a lateral manner. Given that, in regards to new gimmicks, I don’t think it’s necessary to have a sort of schedule like “we’ll release a new one from the beginning of a certain year.” When we find a problem in the course of running the Digimon Card Game, we might consider a gimmick to resolve it. As a result, there’s a possibility one might suddenly appear during the middle of the second or third year.
Staff: In other words, for the sake of looking at the game balance as a whole. So then, could you tell us what your future goals are for DigiCa?
Gotou: Well, let’s see. Firstly, we’d like to do a proper job of keeping DigiCa going and make it into a huge thing. We want to hold official tournaments that we couldn’t due to the impact of the coronavirus, and get people even more hyped up. We’re also selling DigiCa overseas, and it’s doing very well there. We were reminded that Digimon is very popular all over the world. Therefore, we want the players to feel that the Digimon Card Game is being played all over the world, and thus that there are potential rivals for them all over the world. It’d be very attractive to be able to say that, by becoming the strongest DigiCa player, you’d also be the strongest card gamer in the world.
Right now, we’re in a situation where we can’t hold tournaments no matter how much we want to, but we’re making preparations to hold one the moment we’re able to, so please look forward to it.
We hope you can continue to support DigiCa going forward.
Staff: We’re looking forward to the day when DigiCa players all over the world can communicate! Thank you for your time today.
Since we’re here, I decided to play a match against Gotou-san’s meta deck made using Double Diamond cards! The staff prepared a blue V-dramon deck based on the UlforceV-dramon Starter Deck!
And the result…
Gotou-san wins by knockout!! Woe is me…!
The glorious synergy between Sistermon Blanc/Noir and Hackmon to Jesmon. The fact that you can keep putting Sistermon out on the field at no cost is incredibly powerful…! I was completely overwhelmed even long before Omegamon came out.
Here’s the card list for the deck he used!
- BT2-001 Gigimon x1
- BT6-001 PetitMeramon x4
- BT1-009 Monodramon x4
- ST7-02 Agumon x4
- BT6-009 Hakkumon x4
- BT6-082 Sistermon Blanc x4
- ST1-07 Greymon x4
- BT5-012 Monochromon x4
- BT6-084 Sistermon Noir x4
- BT6-011 BaoHakkumon x4
- BT1-020 Groundramon x4
- BT6-015 SaviorHakkumon x4
- BT6-016 JESmon x4
- BT5-086 Omegamon x2
- BT1-085 Taichi Yagami x4
- P-035 Red Memory Boost!! x2
- BT6-093 Striking with Fists x2
Let’s all get Double Diamond and play!
- Click here for the official Digimon Card Game website
- (Official) Click here for the Digimon Card Game Twitter (@digimon_tcg)
- (Official) Click here for the Digimon Card Game YouTube channel
- As of this writing I don’t have a reading for the producer’s name, so I’ve made my best guess.
- While the original Digimon card game is informally known as “Hyper Colosseum” to Western fans, the full title is “Digital Monster Card Game” (of which Hyper Colosseum is one ruleset). The similarities in names result in both the original card game and the current one being referred to as “DigiCa” in shorthand.