Mega Digimon Fusion: Here's why it is Digimon's only banned card

The new Digimon TCG started out not very long ago in 2020. We reached our third year of release and as such, periodically, have seen about a dozen cards or so put into the Limited list. A limitation, like many other TCGs, means that instead of being able to play four copies in your deck, you’re only allowed a single one. All in all, this is part for the course.

However, the Digimon TCG has a single banned card eliminated from play altogether. That card’s name is Mega Digimon Fusion. It’s been almost a year since then with several ban lists in between with no sight of any similar situations in the near future. What made this card so powerful for the new Digimon Card Game that it had to be banned?

Mega Digimon Fusion: Getting to know the card

For new players that haven’t really checked out the game, the new Digimon TCG bases itself upon a mechanic called the "Memory gauge." Both players share the same "Mana" resource and on their turn, spend it in order to use cards in several different manners. Players can play Digimon from their hand or they can evolve lower forms into stronger ones for a cheaper cost than playing a Digimon while getting stronger benefits. Aside from this, players can also play Tamers (think of enchantments from Magic or continuous spells from Yu-Gi-Oh!) and options (sorceries and normal spells). A lot of strategy comes from optimizing the usage of this memory resource in how you play or evolve your cards in order to "choke" your opponent out of meaningful moves by leaving them with little memory at the start of each turn while you maintain a leading position.

With that said, Mega Digimon Fusion takes a lot of this previous concept out of the gate. This is a white-colored option card that costs zero to play. It’s free. Its effect allows you to reduce the Digivolution cost of your next Digimon that Digivolves into a Level 7 Digimon (the highest level available, only reserved for some of the strongest boss monsters) by six memory. There’s a catch, as said Digimon will be returned to the bottom of the deck at the end of the turn.

On first read alone, it does seem pretty strong, even to newer players. Sure, there’s a drawback in that you lose your Digimon at the end of the turn but most experienced card players may recognize that a single turn may be enough to guarantee you a win. This card practically saves you six entire resources if you need to, which is a big upswing in tempo.

However, there’s another disadvantage to note here. This is a white option card, meaning you need to have a white card on the field to play it. You can play any color of Digimon or Tamer from your hand onto the field without issues, but options do require having a color source on the field to be activated. White is a unique color in Digimon. It’s the "outlier" seventh color. You can find many red, blue, yellow, green, black and purple decks, but there’s only two truly white decks. White is a color reserved for supporting Digimon or Tamers that are meant to be somewhat generic or have the disadvantage of not melding totally into a strategy.

Mega Digimon Fusion and Omnimon Zwart: Strong, but intended

At the time of its release, back in BT5 Battle of Omni, Mega Digimon Fusion was one of the first white options cards released. To be used, you needed to play one of three available Tamer cards. Practically every other white card was the level 7 Digimon that you already wanted to evolve into… those being Omnimon in most cases.

Like the name of the set implied, Battle of Omni introduced a lot of different Omnimon related cards. In total, there were four new Omnimon Digimon included. Most of them had powerful Digivolving effects and some also had incredible attacking effects. Regular Omnimon could attack once again after Digivolving into it. Omnimon X was a Digimon that could delete anything below its DP threshold for free on attack. Omnimon Zwart Defeat was also a strong Digimon that could kill a Tamer on Digivolution, a unique effect that no other Digimon had at the time of its release. And we’re not counting other relevant level 7 Digimon from previous sets that also had powerful Digivolution effects. The card had a lot of potential in different builds as long as you decided to include white Tamers, which wasn’t necessarily hard to do as two out of three of the ones introduced in BT5 were somewhat generic in their use.

But the strongest user of this option card at release was the fourth Omnimon from BT5, the edgy and dark (but not too edgy and dark) Omnimon Zwart. It usually costs six to evolve into, which is very expensive, but its Digivolving effect allows you to mill three cards and then revive two black and/or purple Digimon from your trash with a play cost of eight or below. He gives you a lot of good value by reviving essentially two level five or lower Digimon. Also, when he attacks, he can return a level six Digimon from its sources (which he assuredly has after being evolved into) in order to delete an opponent’s unsuspended Digimon that’s 12 play cost or below, essentially deleting most level sixes or below - a big chunk of boss monsters. So, with Mega Digimon Fusion, Omnimon Zwart gave you both free setup for next turn and also was able to delete stuff on attack declaration - for free. This was a strong combo, but it wasn’t a reason why the card was banned. After all, this was what it was meant for in the first place.

Demon Lord Lilithmon enables an unintended loop

Even then, Omnimon Zwart was still one of the reasons for why people started fearing the power of this card. But he wasn’t alone, as he had a partner in crime. That partner was the Demon Lord Lilithmon from BT3. This purple level six Digimon has two very simple effects. One, on Digivolution, if you had 10 or more cards in your trash, she would return two purple option cards from your trash to your hand. And then, when you activate an option card during your turn, once per turn, she gains you two memory.
Filling your trash is part of purple’s general color identity and lifestyle choices. It’s not very hard to do. And you usually do want to fill it up when you’re playing both Lilithmon and Omnimon Zwart alongside Mega Digimon Fusion in your deck because then you can reap more benefits out of the option card Jack Raid from BT4 Great Legend. It is a zero-cost purple option card (which may suggest a pattern) that gives you a memory for every 10 cards in your trash. When paired with Lilithmon, a single use of this option card can give you at the very least three memory for free if you have 10 cards in your trash.

Now, imagine that you actually get to do this simple combo, gaining three or four memories and then using Mega Digimon Fusion to evolve Lilithmon into Omnimon Zwart for free and revive two level five Digimon. You can then evolve one of said level five Digimon into another Lilithmon for the three memory you gained earlier, returning a copy of Jack Raid to the hand alongside another option (maybe even a second Jack Raid). No cards in Digimon are "hard once per turns." You can activate as many Jack Raids as you want. So, you do so and activate this new copy of Lilithmon’s effect to gain another two memory on activation of an option card. Then, you use Mega Digimon Fusion again to evolve into Omnimon Zwart and repeat.

Essentially, this creates a loop in which as long as you have the necessary pieces in your hand, you get a lot of memory and bodies on the field for essentially free. Digimon cards usually have summoning sickness like other TCGs, making them unable to attack the turn they’re played. But there are cards that have Rush, allowing them to indeed attack the turn they’re summoned. And even then, you can decide to use Omnimon Zwart and Lilithmon to spam a huge amount of blockers instead if you prefer to go on the defensive. Due to this looping nature, the deck became known as Lilith Loop.
This loop was not an intended use of the card. Or at least, it was an unintended extension of its main use. Sure, Omnimon Zwart can lead to crazy good setup for free with Mega Digimon Fusion, but I’m sure Bandai wasn’t planning on having extremely long turns leading to a field full of level five Digimon.

Mega Digimon Fusion still wasn't top of the meta. Until ... 

Here’s the funny thing. It wasn’t top of the meta. It was good, for sure, high tier most probably, but it was a combo deck that required several key different pieces in either your hand or trash and had a somewhat slow setup. For the BT5 Battle of Omni meta, it wasn’t as strong as the consistent LordKnightmon deck, for example. The BT6 Double Diamond set introduced new key pieces for the deck such as a secondary boss level six Digimon in Titamon and also gave the deck Ginkakumon Promote, a level four purple Digimon with easy access to Rush that also gained you a memory when resurrected with the right materials. And even then it wasn’t top of the meta still. It still needed some setup and wasn’t as fast as meta decks like Jesmon or GabuBond.
This is why out of the two decks that abused Mega Digimon Fusion, Lilith Loop was the lesser of the two. The second and most prominent decks came in the following set, BT7 Next Adventure. Mind you, their use of Mega Digimon Fusion is a far simpler matter.

If you’re familiar with the Digimon anime you may remember the fourth season, Digimon Frontier. It was distinct from its predecessors in that the humans didn’t have partner Digimon but instead transformed into Digimon themselves. Very reminiscent of tokusatsu (think Power Rangers). BT7 Next Adventure was mostly dedicated to Digimon Frontier and its protagonists’ Digimon forms, which all have the "Hybrid" trait. All Hybrid level four Digimon are able to Digivolve from Tamers and the Frontier Tamers themselves have beneficial effects for their Digimon. BT7 introduced strong Hybrid strategies for every main color (except poor black).
To unify every single differently colored Hybrid strategy, BT7 also introduced a new Secret Rare card from the show, the legendary warrior Susanoomon. It’s a white level seven Digimon that can evolve from level six Digimon of every single color for seven cost and has two simple effects. On Digivolution, he can delete any Digimon for free and it has an inherent Security Attack +2, meaning it’s one of the biggest beatsticks around. However, Susanoomon also has an alternative evolution condition. If you return 10 Hybrid or Tamer cards from your hand or trash to the bottom of the deck, you can evolve Susanoomon over any Tamer as if it were a level 6 Digimon. This can be affected by Mega Digimon Fusion.

Mega Digimon Fusion finally gets banned

Mega Digimon Fusion doesn’t ask you to evolve into an Omnimon, just any level seven Digimon. And it doesn’t specify that you have to have a level six Digimon on the field, just that you’re gonna evolve into a level seven one. Susanoomon circumvents the requirement of having an actual level six Digimon on your field to evolve into a level seven and instead uses what can be compared to a level three Digimon (one which most decks aren’t even able to delete or deal with and also provides constant utility) that can instantly evolve into a game-changer for a mere one memory.

And you know what else? Hybrid decks had extremely easy access to white cards. Sure, you could run some generic white tamers - the decks didn’t mind it that much - but Hybrid decks also had access to the newly introduced Bokomon. This is a very powerful piece of support that searches a lot of cards and gives you memory for evolving a Digimon off of a Tamer that’s balanced by the fact that he’s a white level three Digimon and as such, he can’t be evolved over nor can he evolve over your Digitamas. He’s a bit of dead weight when not used properly. But being white means that he can also be used as the conduit for Mega Digimon Fusion if you don’t have a white Tamer online.

Which is even more damning when both blue and yellow Hybrid decks were easily top of the meta. Even without Mega Digimon Fusion. The decks reached extreme prominence in the BT7 meta during its initial Japanese release. Both featured an annoying game plan based around fortifying themselves through playing a great amount of Tamers that gained you more and more memory while using Hybrid Digimon to either freeze your opponent’s Digimon (making them unable to attack or block) or recover Security (your shields that protect you from losing the game) and attacking into security for chip damage. Then, when they had enough Tamers or Hybrids available, they could get Susanoomon out and delete a big threat and punch into the security very hard. Not to mention that both blue and yellow Hybrids also had access to other currently limited cards that made them even stronger.

Bandai saw the state of the BT7 and BT8 meta in Japan and on February 2022 released a new list limiting down the power of some of the most powerful cards from previous formats like BT6 SaviourHuckmon, EX01 Ice Wall or BT6 Reinforcing Memory Boost and banning Mega Digimon Fusion altogether on all territories a week before BT7 hit western territories. This is no coincidence. No other card has been banned since then.

Mega Digimon Fusion would have limited design space

And like I said before, even without easy access to Susanoomon, blue and yellow hybrid decks dominated BT7’s competitive landscape in western territories. It even dominated the following set’s metagame, having a resurgence after people stopped playing the newest decks available. Even with new strategies like BlackWarGreymon that could delete Tamers easily, these decks still edged out the competition through their more defensive tactics (and subsequently received further hits in the ban list). And that was without one-cost Susanoomon.

Mega Digimon Fusion’s ban can be attributed to a one-two punch of powerful unintended and unpredicted interactions by Bandai that resulted in relevancy in the competitive landscape. First, it had a deck that had extremely long turns with powerful blowouts that seemed insurmountable. Even then, it still relied on level six Digimon and needed setup and key pieces in hand. While strong, it wasn’t necessarily oppressive, just maybe not very fun to play against. Then, not even a year later, two top meta decks come out that annihilate the competitive landscape and have easy access to an extremely strong level seven Digimon without even needing to get a level six on the field. They just had to get Tamers and low-leveled Digimon out. Then, it was easy for them to abuse Mega Digimon Fusion.

All the other cards that have been limited through the game’s lifetime share the fact that they’re very strong. They provide too much value or they are extremely useful defensive tools. But they still do what they were designed for even if they are a bit overtuned. Mega Digimon Fusion not only was very powerful on its own without the need of archetypal support, but its use stopped being a Hail Mary to end games in a pinch and instead became the originator of big strong boards or dirt cheap game-changers. The artwork may show the birth of an Omnimon and I’m sure they wanted players to make use of BT5 Omnimon’s protection or BT5 Omnimon X’s effects in conjunction with this card, but that didn’t end up being the case after all.

Its extreme power was an unintended consequence of the printing of both new white cards (of all types) and level seven cards. As long as Mega Digimon Fusion existed, they would need to limit the design space available for these. Seeing how not only it created a somewhat unfun looping deck, but also boosted two very overpowered decks, the decision was somewhat clear to limit down this card in some way, shape or form. Even then, Mega Digimon Fusion was still a troublesome card even at one copy as it allowed huge upswings in tempo for essentially no cost. It would have been the sackiest one-off available in a game in which most limited cards are already considered by players to already be extremely sacky one-offs. It couldn’t stay limited. That’s why Mega Digimon Fusion is the only banned card in the game.

Let’s hope it stays as such for a while.

Juan López

Autor: Ultimate Guard

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