A Bit of Digimon Card Game History: The First Version


Digimon Card Meta just received a bunch of old digimon cards, those are first version, or 1st Edition of the card game (English and Japanese). Today we would like to share a bit of history of the beginning time and how the card looks like, what is different…
Digimon was initially known simply as "Digital Monster", inspired by a virtual pet toy named Tamagotchi. In 1997 the Digital Monster Virtual Pet (V-pet) device was introduced as a more "masculine" version of the Tamagochi (which is more popular with female audiences). Later versions of the V-pet are also known as the Digivice. Bandai would later create a franchise of anime, manga, video games, films and trading card game products following the success of the V-pets. The first Digimon cards to be printed (as far as our knowledge goes) were vending machine cards in 1998. 

The Vending Machine Card: 1998 - 1999

This was in the beginning of the Tamagotchi/Digimon hype. Bandai was capitalising on their Digimon IP by selling Digimon cards in vending machines. With no obvious game rules, these serve as information cards: with only a vague HP indicator at the front, and more Digimon information at the card back. We believed that these cards serve to augment and enhance the Digimon V-pet experience (like a prerequisite to knowing the monsters' abilities or effects).
The first card is Yugioh card, the middle is Koromon, the Ver.1 in Digital Monster card in 1998, and the last card is current digimon card [St1-01] Koromon
The front of these cards indicate the type of the Digimon, it's name and card ID, optional description, and health points (HP). There are 3 main types of digimon (indicated by the symbol shown at the top left corner of the card): Vaccine, Data, and Virus. 
At the back of the card, its digivolution information is shown: top left indicates which Digimon it can digivolve from ("G": at top left) and bottom right indicates which it can digivolve into ("E": bottom right corner). It seems that SkullGreymon (an Ultimate form Digimon) is the highest level of digivolution back in 1998 (because it cannot digivolve to any other digimons). 
Front side of the Card
Back Side of the Card
Fun Fact! Did you know that when 2 of these cards are placed side-by-side, the patterns on the card border always connects into a matching pattern from all sides (left, right, top, and bottom). 

The Official First Version Digital Monster Card Game: 1999

The first Booster box was introduced in June 1999, and within the same year they released another 2 booster boxes. A total of 25 booster boxes were released by Bandai from 1999 to 2005, in addition to many other expansion boxes/sets. There are 54 cards in each booster boxes 1 to 3, and from booster 4 onwards there is only 48 cards.  Wikimon.net has a very good and complete collection of these cards, you can check them out here
The front of these cards show:
  • [Top left corner] A: representing Vaccine Type, B: representing Data Type, C: representing Virus Type
  • [Top left corner] Digimon level: Child > Adult > Ultimate > Perfect
  • [Top bar] Digivolution requirements.
  • [Middle right, in the card art] DP: Digimon Power
  • [Bottom left corner] Attack types A, B and C.  
  • [Bottom left corner] Lost points: indicating how many points you lose when you lose a battle.
  • [Bottom right] Additional effects.
Examples above show the A type [Bo-16] Angewomon, B type [Bo-41] Boltmon and C type [Bo-21] Minotaurmon, the option card [Bo-51] Let's Stop Fighting. The A, B, and C in red, green and yellow circles indicate their different type of attacks or defenses. Information  at the top for digivolution requirements, and the information at the bottom right for digimon cards or bottom for option cards are their effects. These cards and effects become more complex as the game evolves through the years.

The First Digital Monster English Card Game: 1999

Digimon cards were introduced to American and European audiences in 1999, but due to poor reception only 6 booster sets were ever printed before they were discontinued. The english card design are similar to the Japanese version (with minor redesigns) but they made huge changes to the game rules and was deemed "not as good as the Japanese version". 
Among some of the changes in the English version: the A B C symbols were replaced with circle, square and diamond, "Lost Point" was changed to "Score" in English card. Due to this change in scoring method, the winning conditions become very different between the 2 regions (West and East) as if they were playing a different card game!
Luckily for the latest Digimon Card Game in 2020, there are no repeat of these past mistakes so we can all enjoy the same game regardless of card language!

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