Just two days ago, the popular trading card game Duel Masters in Japan has released their latest expansion set, titled “DMR-20: Gyuujinmaru’s True Identity!!“.
The Duel Masters OCG (original card game, a term used amongst trading card game communities with both an English and Japanese release version which may differ significantly) has commenced releasing “DMR” series booster sets ever since their last conventional set, DM-39: Psychic Splash, was released five years ago as the final set before the current story block. Like many trading card games, Duel Masters has an extensive universe with a rich and complex storyline that is directly interrelated with the new mechanics and themes introduced in their booster sets. Some of these include mythical or fantasy species such as Dragons, Phoenixes themed after celestial objects, Gods, Samurais, Ninjas, Shinobis (in fact the original Japanese word for ninjas) and Psychic beings existing in “hyperspatial” dimensions, while others make references to historical figures such as the Ancient Roman leader Julius Caesar. While its gameplay may be compared by many to similar TCGs such as the Western-produced Magic: the Gathering or the Yu-Gi-Oh! trading card game, Duel Masters has evolved over its 14 years of production to have its own distinct flavour and style, remaining continually relevant even as other emerging game publishers such as Bushiroad have come up with new trading card games such as Cardfight!! Vanguard and more recently, Luck and Logic.
The “Duel Masters” franchise, however, that most people outside of Japan would be more familiar with, was a brief attempt by Japanese company Takara Tomy to partner with American game publisher Wizards of the Coast of Dungeons and Dragons and Magic: the Gathering fame, to bring the game to the English-speaking world with English releases of the expansion sets to be marketed to a worldwide audience. The English TCG however was abruptly terminated after the first twelve sets over controversies surrounding an increasingly imbalanced perception of the competitive metagame particularly in the North American continent. Players who have continued to keep up with the Japanese OCG releases would surely be able to attest that the game and its themes has evolved drastically since then: the Japanese releases of Duel Masters in fact have storyline concepts that draw more from Japanese legends and folklore, including a card literally named after the Shinto deity Amaterasu.
For those new to the game, the first 39 “conventional” sets are grouped into blocks of four sets each, termed “sagas” in the game to reflect a chronological period in the series’ universe. Themed decks, denoted with codes beginning with DMC or DMD, feature pre-constructed deck concepts inspired by player-characters (called “duelists”) in the anime series. The DMR series is the latest amongst many releases in Duel Masters and themes each of its sets according to “episodes”, thus suggesting an extension of the storyline from the original “sagas”. For an idea of how the Japanese Duel Masters game is able to continue to remain relevant and thriving even today, it would be useful to point out that “DMR-20: Gyuujinmaru’s True Identity!!” was released just two days ago on the 19th of March, 2016, and is part of the “Revolution“-themed block of sets: the insurrectionary theme suggested by its name itself can be seen with the introduction of two new creature races, “Revolutionary” and “Invader“, to the booster set.
Perhaps what stands out the most, however, would be the prominent role of the titular creature named in the set itself, in which Takara Tomy (the producer of Duel Masters) seems to be teasing players with what appears to be a revelation at long last of this legendary being’s true identity. Its launch is no less dramatic either: the card which the set is named after, “Gyuujinmaru, Legendary Identity” is a creature with a whopping mana cost of 71 in a trading card game where players can only have a maximum of 40 cards in their decks, with a card mechanic appropriately named “Genius Sympathy” allowing its exorbitant summoning cost to be reduced by multiples of 10 by meeting a condition, and whose card effect would – by hook or by crook – achieve the winning condition in the game through both the conventional manner of breaking all of the opponent’s shield cards, as well as an alternate win condition which would eliminate the opponent’s entire field presence, and potentially win the game automatically for the player. Such effects only appear in a grand total of ten cards in the entire game’s years of existence since 2002.
Gyuujinmaru‘s card race, then, is aptly named “The Answer“: from what our reporters can gather from the ongoing storyline in the game, it indeed seems to be intended to finally reveal several concurrent mysteries in the plot of the Duel Masters universe.
Perhaps DMR-20 then has finally revealed to players what their “answer” – both to the storyline’s mysteries and to their search for deck builds to play – is.