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How Has the One Piece Trading Card Game Changed Since Release?

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It's no secret that time changes everything. Individuals, landmarks, relationships - just about everything is affected by time. The One Piece Trading Card Game, like so many others, is no exception. The One Piece TCG has undergone many changes since its release on December 2, 2022. But how exactly has the One Piece TCG changed? While this won't be as lengthy or mind-boggling as Back to the Future, we will be traveling to the past on today's journey.

When the One Piece TCG was released, there were initially only four colors available to play: Green, Purple, Blue, and Red. I have another article here that covers what each color does, so we won't go over that today. However, this small number of colors made the game very limited initially. The release of Romance Dawn saw a time when aggro decks ran rampant, and the top leaders were Red/Green Law, Starter Deck Purple Kaido, Red Zoro, and Starter Deck Green Kid. Spot removal was limited, and the price of cards such as 3-cost Rush Zoro was through the roof, being over $23 for a single card. Now, cards like Rush Zoro have seen multiple reprints. Romance Dawn, like its namesake in One Piece, only set the stage for our journey.

In March 2023, about six months after the Super Prerelease for Romance Dawn, Bandai released its second set of the One Piece TCG named Paramount War, which also gave players their first look at a new color added to the game: Black. Paramount War consisted of a majority of leaders with the same power level and attributes as the previous set, except for the White Beard leader.

Upon release, aggressive decks were still rampant, and the White Beard leader only fueled this trend. White Beard is a Mono-Red leader with 6000 power and 6 life. The drawback? At the end of each of your turns, you draw one card from your life pile. Not exactly much of a drawback, adding counters to your hand to ensure you don't take further damage, right? This leader, alongside Zoro, elevated aggressive decks to a whole new level. Late games were hard to come by, matches were fast, but White Beard wasn't the only new feature from this set. At the forefront of Black's introduction came Smoker Leader, Garp Leader, and Zephyr Leader, all with the Navy card type. The Navy card type was significant since ALL Black cards within this set were Navy cards! Some staples from this set are 4-cost Kuzan and 4-drop Borsalino, both of which are still seeing play today. Before this, players didn't have to consider the cost of their cards, but now the cost of the cards played mattered heavily.

While this set became a staple with Blockers that couldn't be K.O.'d by effects, and cards such as the Magellan character who returned DON!! back to your opponent's DON!! deck on play and on K.O., we hadn't even journeyed to the end of the color pie yet.

A few months later, in June 2024, players were introduced to Set 3, Pillars of Strength. Set 2 set the guidelines for what we would expect from Black moving forward, but there wasn't much to prepare us for the attributes of Yellow, which debuted in this set. To this day, Katakuri Leader still stands strong as our first Mono-Yellow leader in the game. Katakuri is a 5000-power leader with the ability to attach one DON!! to Katakuri, look at the top card of your or your opponent's life pile, and then put that card at the top or bottom of their respective life piles, giving Katakuri leader +1000 power. This was revolutionary at the time, as prior to this set there was NEVER an ability that allowed you to manipulate life piles, much less your OPPONENT'S life piles! However, this wasn't the only shocking thing to come out of this set. Pillars of Strength also introduced One Piece's first and, to date, only alternate win condition, Nami Leader. I've previously written on this Leader, so if you want a detailed breakdown on her, check that out here.

However, this Leader also left players with mixed feelings. Before Nami Leader, you could only win by depleting your opponent's life pile, and now all Nami players have to do is decrease their library to zero for a win. Mind-boggling! Along with these leaders came other leaders such as Green Kuro, Rob Lucci, and Red Ace, a leader who revolves around events and stages, and other leaders of the sort. Pillars of Strength introducing Yellow to the One Piece TCG fulfilled our color pie, and moving forward, Bandai continued to explore the appropriate attributes of colors within future leaders.

This was displayed later with One Piece Set 4, appropriately named Kingdom of Intrigue, bringing in ONLY dual-color leaders as follows:

  • Green/Black Issho
  • Green/Purple Doflamingo
  • Purple/Yellow Crocodile
  • Blue/Yellow Queen
  • Blue/Red Vivi
  • Blue/Black Rebecca

Set 4 was a much calmer set. The color pie was complete, but now we got to explore further into what multicolored leaders were capable of with the introduction to two 5-life dual-color leaders. These 5-life dual-color leaders did come with a drawback: they couldn't attack. A LEADER THAT CAN'T ATTACK? Yes, it was something VERY important to consider, but not something we hadn't seen before (referring to Pillars of Strength leader Iceburg).

However, in return for a pacifist leader, a player would have access to one more life. Some notable leaders from this set were Doflamingo and Rebecca. Rebecca could dig through your library to get the pieces needed to work alongside their all-star character Monkey.D.Luffy -

- who could attack active characters AND restand himself as long as a certain number of cards were in the grave. As for Doflamingo, he simply unrested two DON!! at the end of each turn. A player could, in theory, tap all 10 DON!!, play the 10-cost Doflamingo character to freeze their opponent's board, and still have 2 unrested DON!! left for a counter.

Lastly, at the end of this journey came nothing but power in Set 5, Awakening of the New Era. Set 5 had a mixture of dual-color and mono-colored leaders with a wide range of abilities. Enel manipulated life piles if you went down to zero lif. Purple Luffy worked with DON!! by also allowing a player to fuel their hand by putting a life card into their hand. Blue/Black Sakazuki became THE control leader that was hard to contend against. Black/Red Sabo and Red/Yellow Belo Betty were our introductory leaders to the Revolutionary Army subtheme. Lastly, Corazon continued the Donquixote pirate theme from Set 4 while also becoming our first leader with the blocker ability. Need a character to stay alive? Corazon could block with his face, and you COULD draw a life card (considering your leader is taking damage). Awakening of the New Era also brought characters such as the 10-cost Luffy, who made you return ALL your DON!! to your DON!! deck and provided you with an extra turn as a 12000 power character, and the 10-cost Kaido, who had the ability to draw FOUR cards if your opponent had 3 or less life. These are just a few examples of powerful cards that came out of this set.

What an evolution the game has taken! Until next time, stay guarded out there on the vast seas!

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