One Piece Booster
Beyond the Box Cover Table Top

Beyond the Box Cover: One Piece TCG

I’m not a big One Piece fan. That isn’t to say that I might not enjoy it, it is just something I haven’t jumped into yet. But I kept on seeing the boxes for the One Piece TCG starter decks at Target. And it kept on looking interesting to me. After playing Lorcana and that craze and demoing the Star Wars TCG coming from Fantasy Flight and of course the Magic the Gathering Universe Beyond sets for Lord of the Rings and Doctor Who, TCG’s are back on my radar. Where will the One Piece TCG land amongst them?

How to Play the One Piece TCG

If you know trading card games, you are going to know a lot of the basics of this game. Playing out creatures, them not being able to attack the round they come out, spending a resource for them. All of that is present in the One Piece TCG. But it is not just a clone of Magic the Gathering in all that it does. But the basics, plus getting your opponents life down, those do match what TCG’s are known for.

The basics of your turn go, refresh cards. So characters that attack and Don, your purchase power that you used all refresh. Then you draw a card and you draw and play two Don. Then you get to play out cards, attack with cards, and do what you want to do until you say that you’re done.

When attacking you pick your target. This is something we see in TCG’s more now like Lorcana and Star Wars Unlimited. You either attack a spent enemy card, one that attacked last turn, or their leader. The math on it is simple, if you hit with more or equal attack power you win and knock out your opponents character or knock down the leaders health by one. After the leaders health has been hit one more time than they had health cards, you win the game or lose.

Unique or Interesting Elements

One Piece Starter Deck
Image Source: Bandai

There are a few areas in the game that stand out that feel different from other TCG’s. I say different, I mean that loosely. It isn’t Magic the Gathering, but it’s close or offers an interesting decision space even if it isn’t always completely unique.

Don Cards

Let’s start with the Don cards. There are a few things that stand out to me about them. Firstly, you always get two into your resource area every turn. Well, I say every turn, there are ten that form your Don deck, so for your first five turns, six if you’re the starting player, you are adding to your Don. As compared to something like Magic the Gathering, One Piece really keeps you from drawing dead in terms of card play and mana by always adding Don cards.

The other thing with Don cards is that they offers boosts as well. Each one gives you +1000 to attack. So, like I said in game play, you need to meet or exceed your opponents health total. The Don are one way to take a weaker character who might never be targeted or attacked with and launch an attack. But it is +1000 for the turn, then it goes back to your pool of resources. And they are only value if you are the attacker.


Now, the Don cards with their +1000 are balanced by this idea of Charging. Charging is how the defending player is able to boost, or one of the ways, their characters power. Some of the cards, I believe only characters, in your hand will on the side of the card have a charging amount. To use that, you simply discard the card and you get a boost to the character who is being attacked.

I like this decision space in the game. While the Don are a resource that you can use over and over again to boost, charging is not. You use that card once and it goes to your discard. So two things are happening there, firstly, when do you just take an attack. Sometimes you might, even to your leader to save a card with Charge on it for later or to play into your line of characters. The other thing is, when you charge with it, it’s discarded and gone. So the new question is, do I want to play it or not. Two very solid decisions in the game.

Life and Triggers

Finally, I want to talk about life and how that works. I wrote down life and triggers because they tie together so closely, but we’re going to start with life. The leader you play with has a life amount. Generally from what I know thus far, it’s going to be in that five to six range, maybe down to four, but that’d be a powerful leader. So it is a small life pool that you are defending. If you hit your opponents leader six times successfully with an attack, in most cases that is enough to win.

But your life is cards from your deck. So when you build up your life pool, you take cards from your deck, not knowing what they are, and lay them out in the life area. So you might just have taken out some of your best cards from your deck, you don’t know. The cards that become your life are random.

Then, when you take damage, those cards are taken off the life total one card at a time. And this is another area I really like, you add them to your hand. When they go to your hand, they might have a trigger keyword on them. That gives you a special bonus, that you can sometimes use, when it is taken from the life pool. It might be dry an extra card, that’s nice. Or it might be, put this card into play and that is for free versus paying the cost. So it can be useful, at times, to take a damage and go fishing for card with a trigger on it.

Who Is This For?

It’s interesting, I think that Star Wars Unlimited and Lorcana are built more towards casual gamers. One Piece isn’t quite there with them. Mainly because there are triggers on cards that just add to the complexity. And because when it is my opponents turn, I need to pay attention. There are things like charging or events that I need to pay attention to.

On the other hand, it is also much easier than Magic the Gathering. There is no stack of actions that needs to be resolved. So it’s do an action, see if opponent responds and repeat that process through your turn. It’s a singular action and response system. So that makes it much easier.

Overall, though, this game is for fans of One Piece. The game play doesn’t stand out in the starter decks as being the most unique, but for a fan of One Piece, the trading card game is going to work better.

First Impressions of One Piece TCG

Generally, I feel like I want to play it more. The game and system are fun and they work smoothly enough. It’s not as smooth as Lorcana or Star Wars Unlimited, but it is more complex. That to me is the value that you get from playing a game like the One Piece TCG. There is more game there, at least in the starter decks.

And I do want to say, this is only in the starter decks that I’ve played for Lorcana, Star Wars Unlimited, and the One Piece TCG. But for a starter deck, it gave me enough of a feeling of the game to know that I enjoyed it. Deck building is simple, just cards that match your leaders color, so that is not going to be a major part of what you do. But it is just a solid setup where I do want to see a deck that has more cards with triggers or maybe fewer charges, different options or ways to play.

Overall, I like the game. And it is one that I shouldn’t collect more of. But I that ship has sailed. A box of cards is on it’s way. Though, my plan is that is it. I want to know more of what is the game and maybe do a little deck building and play like that. But if you are looking for a new TCG, and Lorana is too simple (and expensive) for you, One Piece is a nice step up.

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