Monster Rancher Battle Card: Episode 2 for the PlayStation is the continuation of the first Battle Card game from the Gameboy Color.
The story begins when you as the player decide to throw a birthday party for your friend Colt (your assistant from Monster Rancher 2) with the help of Master Pabs. Because of a mystical curse, Colt ends up being transported to another dimension, and you and her other friend Cue must free her by collecting all the missing monster battle cards. This means participating and winning in tournaments and playing with other battle card players who are part of the MCA.
The gameplay transitions between the storyline, told through dialogue, and the actual card games where you bet a card to try to win new Monster Cards or several Skill Cards. You have the option of following the story by choosing the location on the map where you want to go. Each month you will receive a tournament proposal where you can choose the ranking and battle to win a specific Monster Card. The goal is to try to get the missing cards and complete the Monster Plate.
An important detail brought directly from other Monster Rancher games is that you can go to the Shrine and try to get a specific card from reading some other disc you own in your home, which is a trademark of the franchise.
There are three ways to get cards during the course of the game. Through tournaments, following the story and facing other people at game events, or challenging someone specific in so-called training battles.
Each month there will be a tournament event that can be attended while visiting the Battle Card Center on a particular day of the month. In this case you will choose a ranking (A, B, C, D, E) which will determine the difficulty of the opponents, and each month these rankings have different monsters. This is the best way to get a monster you really need as well as their Skill Cards. However, if you're only looking for a monster to finish the game quickly, make sure you choose a tournament in which you'll only get that monster in a very distant event. You may also want to play a ranking with a monster you already have in order to get more Skill Cards from that monster.
Visiting the different places in the game, you will meet new people who will challenge you by betting their monster cards or just some skill cards. These events may be a bit boring in the course of the game, but are necessary to get to the end of the story. They are also extremely useful for getting a good variety of skill cards to build a better deck. Keep in mind that some events will only be available after you win a specific tournament or even beat any of the competitors within the tournament itself.
In places you visit where there are no more events in the main story of the game, you can challenge someone you've played with before. This can have two uses, such as practicing with one of your teams to test the balance, or getting new skill cards for a certain kind of monster. Generally, opponents will give more cards from the main monster on their team. This is not the best way to get skill cards, since they do not give you many cards, but can be useful at the end of the game when you are looking for only a few specific cards to complete the game. In training battles they can also give you monster cards of the mixed breed type, once you already have the Phoenix Card.
The battles are divided into turns, as in any other card game. What differs in Monster Rancher is the deck assembly and the number and order of the turns. First, you set up a team of three monsters with fifty skill cards in total in the way you prefer. It is important to note that if you choose many cards of a specific monster, when that monster dies in a match all of them will become useless during that match. Therefore you must consider the possibility of balancing the team or using a support monster to keep another monster alive.
There is more than one way to win a game, which can vary between defeating the opponent's three monsters by KO or having the opponent use all the cards on his deck, causing him to run out of remaining actions.
The turns are divided between turn of action, turn of GUTS and turn of defense:
In this turn, each player may only use cards marked with a red type, which may be POW, INT, SPE or ENV. The cards can only be used if you have the amount of Guts accumulated for the cost of certain actions, much like the original Monster Rancher games. Each monster can perform only one action per turn, unless it has a special card to override it, as does the breeder themselves. Once you've executed all the actions of the turn, or if you do not have sufficient Guts to do something, you must proceed to the next turn, the turn of Guts.
This is the turn where you can accumulate the Guts needed to perform any action in the game, either attack or defense. You'll need to choose as many cards as you want, up to five, and discard them from the game so you can turn them into Guts. It's a kind of sacrifice, where you throw away certain actions in order to execute others. That's why your team must have a variety of balanced moves so you can have a greater diversity of strategies in the same game. It's very important to consider that if you throw away many cards at once to try to use your most powerful attacks, the opponent can use a lot of defense cards too, and you can end up losing for lack of cards.
Last but not least, the turn of defense occurs every time your opponent tries to perform any kind of action. The game automatically moves to your turn of defense where you can interfere with the action taken if you have any corresponding cards, which are the cards marked in blue (BLK and DGE). In general, BLK cards can work better against POW moves and often only remove some of the damage. DGE cards, on the other hand, may work better for other types of attacks, usually stronger attacks, dealing damage from weak attacks more easily. There are also a few defense cards that cancel ENV or SPE actions.
Each monster has a unique way of playing. You can set up a different game strategy by combining three different monsters on one team. In addition they also have their HP listed and an attribute (Aerial or Ground) that can also influence the strategy of the game.
For example, large monsters like Golem or Dragon have more HP than most, more powerful attacks and better block moves. On the other hand, they have few or no dodge moves and their attacks consume a very high amount of GUTS. Lighter monsters like Pixie or Tiger have less HP, no block moves and much weaker attacks. However, they can attack more often by spending fewer GUTS in doing so and are also stuffed with dodge moves, which make them difficult to kill. Finally, there are also monsters like Jell or Mew that can be considered support. Often they can be more difficult to use, but with special cards specific to a strategy, they can lead to a more controlled type of play.