The Kingdom Hearts Trading Card Game is a collectible card game released by Tomy and translated into English by Fantasy Flight Games. It was released in Japan before the English version was released in the United States in 2007. There are currently seven card sets in Japan and four in the United States. The card sets released in North America thus far are:
- Base Set - The first set of cards in the Japanese counterpart
- A Darkness Awakened - The second and third sets from the Japanese counterpart
- Light & Darkness - A combination of the fourth Japanese set and promotional cards released by Tomy in packs of pocky
- Break of Dawn - The fourth set released by Fantasy Flight Games, consisting of reprints from earlier sets to fit in with the new layout for the cards as well as cards from the currently unreleased Japanese sets
Much to the chagrin of its fanbase, Fantasy Flight Games announced that they were discontinuing their published TCGs, meaning that any future English sets will have to be published by another company if it is ever picked up again.
Deck and Player types
A deck consists of a minimum of forty-one cards, including the Player card and has a maximum limit of sixty cards including the Player card. The Player card chosen can change the deck type drastically, and there are three different types of Players to choose from:
Player/Light: These cards have the most cards available to them and are easiest to build decks for.
Player/Dark: These cards may not play Friend, Magic/Friend or Attack cards and instead play Dark/Heartless cards in place of Friend cards. These decks have a much more limited amount of cards available to them, but have the advantage of having a much wider range of Dark/Heartless cards than Friend cards to play since Dark/Heartless ignore the "Unique Card" rule.
Player/XIII: These cards function exactly as Dark/Player cards, but play Nobody cards as Friends instead of Dark/Heartless. The Player/XIII cards also have access to Equipment cards which give them devastating effects such as the ability to Challenge their opponent twice in one turn. Player/XIII cards may also use other Player/XIII cards in their deck as Friend cards. Nobody cards ignore the "Unique Card" rule, but Player/XIII cards used as Friends do not.
The game is a two player game (according to rules, more might be optional) and each player has a deck consisting of between forty-one and sixty cards, with one card from their respective decks as a Player card. To win the game you need to bring your opponent's Heart Points (HP) to 0 or attain a combined world level of 13 or higher. Each player's turn has four phases.
Draw Phase: During the draw phase, a player draws cards from his/her own deck until they have six cards in their hand. If the player's deck has no cards, the discard pile is then shuffled and becomes the player's deck.Action Phase: During this phase, a player can play a World card, Friend cards, Magic cards, Magic/Friend cards and/or Dark cards. The player can also choose to battle any Dark cards on his/her World card. With the latest rule-set provided by Fantasy Flight Games, a player may now also initiate a Form Change in their Action phase.
Challenge Phase: During this optional phase, a player may challenge his/her opponent. The loser of the challenge loses HP depending on which cards were played during the challenge.
Discard Phase: During this phase, a player may discard any unwanted cards from his or her hand and must discard any cards from the field that participated in a Battle or Challenge that turn. Magic/Friends are also discarded at this time.
Player: This card stays in play for the duration of the game. Each player card has a level, starting Heart Points, an attack value and a magic value. At the beginning of the game the player with the lowest-level player card goes first. There is no maximum number of Heart Points a player can have, as the printed number of Heart Points is merely the starting value.
Friend: Friend cards have a level, support value and a magic value. Friends stay on the field until they are used in battle against dark cards or after participating in a challenge. Friends can only be played during the action phase. The level of a friend card determines whether or not it can be played. You cannot play a friend card whose level is more than one above the highest level of any friend or magic/friend on your side of the field. For example, a level three friend cannot be played unless you control a friend of at least level two.
The "Unique Card" rule states that a player cannot have two friends with the same name in play at one time. If a player wishes to play a friend card from his/her hand and a card with the same name is already in play on his/her side of the field, the card on the field is sent to the discard pile and then the card from the hand is played.
Magic: Magic cards have a wide variety of effects. To play a magic card, the player's Player card or one of the player's Friend Cards in play must have a total magic value greater than or equal to the level of the magic card. Once played, the player follows the effects on the card and then sends the magic card to the discard pile.
Magic/Friend: These cards are considered Magic cards while in the deck, hand or discard pile. Once they are on the field, they are treated as friends.
Dark Cards: These cards are played on an opponent's World card. Dark cards have a level and a Power value. The number of Dark cards that can be on a single World card is equal to that World card's level. A Dark card can only be played if its level is equal to or less than an opponent's combined world levels.
World Cards: World cards are played on top of one another and can only be played once per turn. When a player plays a world card, he or she gains +1 Heart Points. When the total of a player's World card's levels is greater than or equal to thirteen, he or she wins. A player cannot play a World card if there are any Dark cards on his or her topmost world card.
Attack Cards: These are played when battling Dark cards or during challenges. When played, they boost the attack value of the Player card by the support value on the Attack card. After they are used, they are sent to the discard pile.
Equipment Cards: These function in a similar manner to Attack cards, but are not discarded at the end of a challenge. Unless otherwise stated, a card may only have one Equipment card equipped on it at any one time. The "Unique Card" rule also applies to Equipment cards, so that characters who can equip multiple Equipment cards may not wield multiples of the same card.
Form Cards: These cards are placed atop a Player card and give that Player card new stats and effects. The criteria for playing a Form card or losing it are detailed on the particular card in question.
Event Cards: These cards are unique in that they are unnamed and may only ever be included once in a deck. When played they are simply referred to as Event followed by a number (e.g Event 1). They have potentially game-changing effects when played, which is why they are limited to a single copy per deck.
Styles of Play
There are three main styles of deck building and playing the Kingdom Hearts TCG:
This style of play focuses around winning challenges. An 'Aggro' deck will likely consist of many cards that will support the Player in a challenge, lots of draw power and very few World cards, if any at all. This type of deck will more likely consist of lock-down and control cards to try and keep the upper hand in a challenge. These decks can be expected to be Attack and Equipment card heavy to increase their attack power in tight situations. Buying the Break of Dawn Valor Form deck would be a good choice.
World Racer/Rushing build
This type of deck relies on fulfilling the World Count 13 victory condition. These decks typically have lots of draw power, lots of healing cards and cards that will help them clear their World zone of Dark cards so that they can play more World cards. However, this deck will not include many cards to help them win Challenges and rely on the HP gain they can use to restore the HP lost in Challenges.
Jack of all Trades/Balanced deck
"Jack of all Trade" decks (Commonly referred to as JoaT decks) do not focus entirely on either win condition and instead try to include a balance of powerful challenge cards and enough World cards to fulfill the World Count 13 victory condition. These decks have no set theory behind them other than to fulfill either victory condition as soon as possible, and the deck will most likely depend on the Player.