A 27-year-old nerd who loves writing, history and just learning as much as possible about the world around him.
So for most of the international community who grew up in the early 2000s, Duel Masters is an infamous card game created by Wizards of The Coast that ran from March 2004–November 2006, where the current set block at this point ended abruptly without releasing its final booster set DM-13, Eternal Phoenix (which we'll get to in a second). Years later, Duel Masters was re-released as Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters, which was an American-exclusive adaptation of the ever-popular game, but like its predecessor, due to bad marketing amongst a host of other issues, Kaijudo died at 12 sets as well.
In any case, thanks to fan simulators like the recently shut-down Tradecardsonline.com, OCTGN, and Untap.in, lots of old fans internationally (myself included obviously), kept tabs on the progress with the game and continued to be active players down to present day.
However, it's because most of us are old players, that there've been splits between the group. On one side, you have those who embraced the new mechanics, who keep up with the current Japanese metagame (and the anime to some extent) and are interested to see how much the game has changed. They're considered OCG Players.
On the other hand, you have nostalgics who deem the OCG too complicated and broken by the original 12 sets' standards, as well as massive power creep and etc. They're TCG Players.
And then there's a third group; The group who's played the TCG, and want to delve into the OCG, but are overwhelmed by the sheer number of booster sets, which granted in my case, when I began playing in summer of 2010 on Kaijudo Portal (one of said former fan simulators) It went up to set 17, whereas the game itself was entering DM-36. A decade later, with DMRP-12 hitting Japanese shelves in roughly two weeks at the time of writing, we're talking about 60+ set catch up, as compared to my 24.
But that's where I come in with these handy set of guide to give you an abridged version of what you missed. So with that said, Let's just jump right into it with actually a bit of a recap of the first 12 sets, to see how the lost DM-13 fits into all of this.
Brief Recap + the Missing 13th Booster Pack: DM-13 Eternal Phoenix
Okay, so real quick, for those who need a refresher, Duel Masters pits two players with decks of 40 cards each. The object of the game is to break your opponent's five shields and declare a direct attack to win. Players use Creatures and Spells divided up into five civilizations: Light, Water, Darkness, Fire and Nature. And from DM-01 Base Set, to DM-09 Fatal Brood of Infinite Ruin, things kept the simplistic, vanilla routine, with minor mechanics and new creature races to keep things fresh, like Evolution Creatures, Charger Spells and ectera.
But then when it came to DM-10, things were thrown for a loop. Because now, we had Multicivilization (or Rainbow Civilization alternatively) Creatures, and DM-11 and 12 introduced spells, and as well as the concept of Vortex Evolution, which was essentially the basic Evolution Mechanic with a Fusion element thrown into it, with the Five Avatars.
Now, the thing with DM-10-12 was the fact that these new Multiciv cards, were cards that were paired with what would be considered "Ally" Civilizations (Light/Water, Water/Darkness, Darkness/Fire, Fire/Nature, Light/Nature) and we know this as past sets starting from DM-04, ShadowClash of Blinding Night had cards that supported each other, Nature supporting Light and vice versa, Fire supporting Darkness and vice versa, and Water dipping its hands on both ends of the spectrum. DM-13 though, kinda threw that out the window.
DM-13: Eternal Phoenix flipped the script on "allies" by introducing new Multiciv cards belonging to Light/Fire, Light/Darkness, Water/Fire, Water/Nature, and Darkness/Nature. Some Creatures with these combinations all carried with them the mechanic called: Symphathy where the creature's cost is reduced by 1 for each race the creature specifies. An example, would be the Light/Fire Asylum, the Dragon Paladin, who reduces his 6 mana cost for each Angel Command and Armored Dragon you already have.
The other thing worth noting was Eternal Phoenix, Phoenix of the Dragon Flame, what would've been the 6th Avatar had it been brought into English, as well as the first mono-civ Vortex Evolution creature (I call it the Avatar of Eternity, given his name). We can figure this, as according to the set's lore, the Shattered Rainbow in DM-10 was what created the Multi-civ creatures. The Wave Strikers from DM-11 were a task force called the Infinite Army, and were brought together to hunt down these creatures, and as these two factions went at it, the Avatars all rose up and went on a rampage wiping everything out. Eternal Phoenix here, a neutral party in the conflict went about and destroyed each of the Avatars one by one, before going back to sleep, leaving the creature world utterly devastated.
Some OCTGN TCG Players are willing to play with DM-13, as it could be regarded as part of their metagame due to it being the missing pack in the set block, and in some cases its this one pack that would lead some into exploring futher. And speaking of further, let's talk about Cross Gears.
DM-14 to 18: Reprints, Upgrades and Cross Gears
In June of 2005, while we were gearing up for DM-07, Thundercharge of Ultra Destruction booster set here in the states, Japan was gearing up for its first Japanese Exclusive Set Block in the form of Reincarnation Saga. Why Reincarnation Saga? Well like every Set Block its designed to be the yearly base set for new players and a refresher for current ones. And this set introduces a new card-type, new races and upgrades to fan-favorite creatures. So let's start off with the big thing: Card Types.
Cross Gears, introduced in DM-14 Generate Gear were the 3rd card type in the game, in addition to the traditional Creatures and Spells. Lore-Wise, these weapons were created and it was their manufacturing that sparked the flames in a world where Eternal Phoenix decimated two centuries prior. Along with this, dead creatures by the world's standpoint, Bolmeteus, Alcadeias, Ballom and Crystal Lancer, were reborn into the even more powerful Bolmeteus Sapphire, Alphadios, Dorballom and Crystal Zweilancer, being significant reincarnations to their former selves. Before I get more into detail with them, let's talk about Cross Gears.
How to use Cross Gears
Like Creatures, Cross Gears are put into the Battle Zone by tapping Mana to Generate them. However, there's a catch. By themselves, Cross Gears are just there. In order to make use for them, you have to Cross by paying their cost again and sliding underneath your designated creature. Afterward, the Crossed creature gains whatever benefits the Gear would give it. If said creature were to leave the Battle Zone, the Cross Gear remains, unless there's a card that specifies its removal. In laments terms, they're like Equip Spells, or artifacts, or other similar concepts to other TCGs.
As an example, let's use Crimson Rifle. Crimson Rifle is a 1 cost Fire Civ Cross Gear that gives the crossed creature a tap ability that destroys a creature with 2000 or less. Tap Abilities (Introduced in DM-06, Stomp-A-Trons Of Invincible Wrath) are effects that some creatures have that activate when you tap a creature during the Battle Phase instead of attacking.
In order to play it, you tap 1 mana to Generate it into the Battle Zone. Now, let's tap another mana to Cross it onto Bronze-Arm Tribe. Now in addition to its original effect, Bronze-Arm Tribe now has a tap ability which allows it to destroy any creature with power 2000 or less.
In other words, Creatures crossed with any Cross Gear will gain whatever ability the Cross Gear gives it. They can become blockers, become unblockable, become another race, the list goes on. Its a rather simple mechanic that revitalized the game and put a new spin on it.
Other new mechanics introduced in this set block were the following:
- Metamorph: which meant that cards gained additional effects once its user had at least 7 mana,
- Saver: Technically debuting in DM-05, DM-13 brought the ability back. It's based on Kip Chippotto's effect, allowing you to sacrifice one of your creatures to save your other creatures whose race corresponded to the former's requirement. Fun fact, in the Japanese printing of Kip Chippotto, this effect actually carries the Saver keyword.
- Accelerator: abilities certain creatures had that activated once crossed with a Cross Gear,
- Shield Trigger X (cross): Cross Gears with Shield Trigger that could automatically be generated and crossed.
- Gravity Zero: If certain conditions were met you could summon said creature for free
- Strike Back: Similar in theory to Shield Triggers, instead of adding a broken shield to your hand, you can discard it, to play a card in your hand/cast a spell with this ability.
- Evolution Cross Gears: As the name implies, Cross Gears that can evolve. Of the initial five that were made, they're all multiciv, and they evolve over matching civilizations. If the target for the evolution is already crossed on a creature, then the evolution Cross Gear is crossed onto it as well. Outside of that they work the exact same as any Cross Gear.
DM-18: Best Challenger, was all-in-all, a reprint series of the aforementioned DM-01 to DM-09 sets filled with notable cards and fan favorites. In a way, it allowed the series at this point to come full circle, especially since the next set block was in a way, considered a reboot for the franchise, that of which, i'll go into further detail in the next article.
Top Ten Cards From Reincarnation Saga (In No Particular Order)
These top ten cards that I've picked out are just cards that stood out to me, based on experience using/going up against them, relevance to today's standard and overall impact in the game overall. So starting off is number 1:
- Jenny, the Dismantling Puppet introduced in DM-16, as far as I can remember has been a Darkness Civilization staple due to its ability to force your opponent's hand and discard a card. Not only are you able to glimpse into your opponent's hand, but the ability to choose and discard a card allows you to remove immediate mid-game and late-game threats, and she and her water counterpart Pakurio, see a lot of play in control decks involving them.
- Dorballom, Lord of Demons An upgraded form of the classic Ballom, Master of Death, not only wiped out any and all non-Darkness Creatures but did the same to each player's mana zone. And being a native Nature Civilization player, needless to say, I dreaded facing off against Darkness decks because I knew more or less it would be GG as soon as I saw my opponent hit 10 mana. Speaking of upgrades...
- Alphadios, Lord of Spirits Likewise an upgrade of fan-favorite Alcadeias, Lord of Spirits. Not only did Alphadios lock down all non-light spells, but it completely negates the summoning of any non-light creatures. Like Dorballom, this titan locked the field down and that was that. But you know, you'd think these two would be brutal, but they were designed to be Closers. You didn't think of seeing them until late game. That said, it was because of this, and the fact they were Evolution Creatures, that they were never touched in regards to the Hall of Fame banlist. But this guy was...
- Bolmeteus Sapphire Dragon just about completely dethroned Bombazar, Dragon of Destiny as one of the most obscene things to ever hit the game. Literally, Bombazar was Banned and replaced by Sapphire. Bad enough regular Bolmeteus destroyed two shields whenever it would break shields, but Sapphire handed over its beer to it. Speed Attacking, Triple Breaking, Shield Burning. 10 mana, yes, but being a dragon gave it access to Cocco Lupia, which decreased a Dragon's cost by 2. Couple that with Nature's trait of Mana Acceleration, and this beast would be out in almost no time laying waste to you. Bolmeteus's presence was so bad the metagame was nicknamed Sapphire Hell, due to its obnoxious presence, and eventually, it was banned for the game's overall survival, as players began to leave in droves. However in 2015, it was released as restricted, meaning only one copy is allowed, due to the game progressing to the point where it's not as big of a threat.
- Bajula's Soul: A Cross Gear that gave any creature +2000 power, an extra shield break and the chance to burn two mana from your opponent, just like the inspiration, Uberdragon Bajula from DM-08, Epic Dragons of Hyperchaos. At the time it wasn't broken by any real means, but combo this with Bolberg Cross Dragon, who allowed Cross Gears to be crossed onto it for free, or Metalchaos Dragon, whose Accelerator ability would allow it to attack twice, and you can see what makes this card such a deadly tool in the right hands.
- Time Tripper, Shadow of Stagnation: Paired with Jenny made facing off against Mono-Darkness decks such a chore it wasn't funny. Time Tripper would force you to put any mana into your Mana Zone tapped, a restriction normally left on Multi-civ cards. Its sole purpose was to slow you down early game while you get discarded by Jenny and slowed down until big bad Dorballom dropped on your head. Outside of that, he, like Jenny, was a valuable staple in Darkness decks for a number of years.
- Bolberg Cross Dragon is the mascot of the Reincarnation Saga if at all for the reason that it allowed Cross Gears to be crossed for free. This completely sidesteps the 2nd payment requirement and allows you to potentially load him down with a multitude of different abilities.
- Marshall Queen is one of my favorite cards of all time, because of her effect. Reminiscent of Emeral, a creature that allowed you to swap one of your shields with a card in your hand, Marshall Queen allows you to do this with three cards. But on top of that, her effect doesn't hold the restriction "you can't use the shield trigger abilities of the shield." Meaning, shield trigger heavy decks, or Shield Trigger X heavy decks can make full use of her, setting triggers from your hand, and then picking those same cards up to be used automatically. One combo I used was in combination with the card listed at number 9.
- Octillion Force was a personal staple if I ever made a deck using Cross Gears. Not only does it have Shield Trigger X, but when it's crossed onto a creature, that creature gets Power Attacker +9000 and Triple Breaker! This makes even tiny creatures lethal threats when going on the offense as when attacking they're boasting at the very least 10,000 power.
- Grand Cross Catastrophe is my last card on my list. A Light/Nature Evolution Cross Gear, it grants blocker, untaps your creature at the end of the turn, and the kicker: Whenever this creature would be destroyed, it stays in the battle zone instead. Now, before anyone claims this is busted af, remember, Water can bounce the creature very easily, and Nature can turn it into mana. Darkness, which is what this card is meant to counter, allows the creature to survive anything thing that might kill it. Pairing this Cross Gear with Saver Creatures would allow you to circumvent the destruction of both creatures; the target itself, and the Saver who would've taken the fall, as the GCC would negate its destruction.
Well, that's all I have for now on this set block. Hopefully, with this info, it gives you a basic idea about what's going on directly afterward where most of us have left off, and with any luck will motivate you guys to look more into it. Everything I covered here is more or less a basic rundown, so I'd suggest going to the DM Wiki to get more in-depth information on the Set Blocks as well as gloss over what other gems are in it.
All in all, being that Reincarnation was my initial re-introduction into Duel Masters, it has a special place in my heart personally, and with any luck I hope it does the same for you guys. That said, thanks for checking this out, and I'll be back with the follow-up set block: Phoenix Saga, where we'll gonna cover the Galaxy Vortex Evolution creatures as well as the brand new races and what they bring to the table.
© 2019 Nolan Johnson