I made a post about this years and years ago now (about 14 actually, where does the time go? link here), so you may have heard of this before.
I am willing to bet, however, a lot of fans of the game still have no idea this ever existed.
Legend of Mana Card Duel released in 1999 along with Legend of Mana, and the “Making of Mana” book actually has some comics with characters from Legend of Mana playing with the cards. I’ll have to scan and translate that someday.
The entire set consists of 150 different cards, broken into 5 separate types: Lands (27), Monsters (40), Support cards (40), Characters (40), and Items (19). Players would build two decks, the main of which would consist of between 40 and 60 cards, with no more than 4 of each copy. The other type of deck is discussed below. Cards exist in holofoil, rare, uncommon, and common rarities. The holofoils here are unique, in that it’s essentially a separate rarity; there are only 10 possible cards that can be holofoil and they will never not be holofoil. Some of the rare cards are actually much more rare than holofoils. Another painful thing about holofoils, is that they have a lot of factory defects. I counted that around 50% of holofoils have some sort of problem with their cutting.
Lands exist as both an Artifact and the land they represent. A large portion of the game revolves around playing lands in a grid to mimic the land make system. In total, there are 4 lands for fire, water, earth, and wind, there are 2 lands each for wood, metal, light, and dark, and 3 other neutral lands. The breakdown of rarity is 1 holofoil, 5 rare, 9 uncommon, and 12 commons. Although, whether the lands can actually be considered “rare” is debatable (see below).
Next up are the Monsters, 8 for each of fire, water, earth, and wind, and 4 each for wood, metal, light, and dark. The rarity breakdown by element is seemingly random, with some elements having more rares than others, and elements like water having no rares at all. Each one has a power and toughness level, in addition to some abilities that tend to trigger when they are flipped face up. You see, the monsters are played face down onto the lands and wander around on them, waiting for a group of characters to challenge them to battle. With some smart bluffing, you can catch a character group off guard. The rarity breakdown is 1 holofoil (a Chocobo), 12 rares (all bosses), 13 uncommons (bosses and regular enemies), and 14 commons. The art depicted on the card is typically a bunch of sprites from the game, but all the demi-human monsters have their hand-drawn art displayed.
Support cards are basically “spell” cards from other games. NPCs like Nunuzac may help you summon monsters, while Kathinja Sensei might straight up destroy another character. Here, a variety of NPCs offer their help to you. The NPCs follow the same elemental breakdown of the Monsters, but differ slightly in rarity. The rarity breakdown has 2 holofoils (Treant and a Lilipea), 11 rares, 14 uncommons, and 13 commons.
Character cards are very interesting in this game. They actually have a completely separate back to them compared to all of the other cards, because you would need to create a “Character deck” (of 8 cards) while playing. From this deck, you would create a team of 3 characters who can equip various items (up next) and set out to fight against Monsters on the Lands you have set up. The characters available here are quite interesting, your team could consist of something typical, like the Heroine, Niccolo, and Bud, but you could also have a team of a Rabite, Matilda, and Cap’n Tusk. Different characters have “synchro” effects with others (Skippie and Hamson make a good team for instance), and different rules about what items they can use. Here is where the rarity breakdown gets crazy. In total there are 6 holofoils (Hero, Heroine, Blackpearl, Elazul, Elle, and Sandra), 5 rares, 8 uncommons, and 5 commons.
The final type of cards are the Items. These consist of both Weapons and Magical Instruments. There are 11 weapons (just like in the game) and 8 instruments (1 for each element, 2 of each type). These can be equipped onto a character, and using the Mana that your Lands have created, you can activate different attacks or spells to buff up your characters. The rarity breakdown goes 7 rares, 7 uncommons, and 5 commons (all weapons).
The cards were available in two different forms: A “Starter Deck” of 60 cards and in your typical “Booster Packs” with 10 cards each. I’ve never actually opened a booster pack, although I own a number of them (and even a sealed booster box with 15 of them stored within). The starter decks aren’t really what they might seem. I opened that pile of them because they actually come with a random assortment of cards… mostly. As far as I can tell (after opening around 15 of them) every starter deck comes with the Male Hero card (making it a very common holofoil), and you seem to have a chance at getting any other card as well. There are quite a few rares I never saw when opening these decks, however, but that could just be due to sample size. The weird thing is, the starter decks come with a lot of rare land cards, to the point that the rare lands are actually more common than a lot of the uncommon ones. The only actual rare land, however, would be the single holofoil land, the Mana Sword/Mana Tree.
For those of you who want to collect the cards, good luck. They’re not that easy to come by, and purchasing singles is definitely not going to happen. There are maybe only two Japanese websites that even mention this card game, one of them is just a list of cards (with a few details wrong) and the other explicitly states the site is not for selling/trading. Typically, only starter decks show up on auction sites, and you could get away with one for about $25 on a good day. Boosters are much more rare, but I’ve paid around $15 for those. You may also find a few random assortments of cards for sale, but they tend to only include a few commons and uncommons, something that would easily be found inside a starter deck.
I actually have a complete set of all 150 cards, and I’m only one card away from having a second complete set (if you have a Rosiotti please let me know/give it to me). I’ve collected these cards since around 2004, and I did not complete my collection until around 2016. Overall, my entire collection is around 1500 individual cards (~680 commons, ~480 uncommons, ~270 rares, ~60 holofoils), a few unopened starter decks, a decent number of unopened boosters, and even a sealed booster box. Based on that sample, I think I have a good idea of what the rare cards are.
Rare card seekers should look out for: #28 Hitodama, #34 DuCate, #41 Iron Centaur, #52 Vanadise, #56 Jajara, #68 Putty, #74 Rosiotti, #87 Tote, #96 Olbohn, #118 Elle, #125 Rubens, #126 Tusk, and #138 Spear (of those only Elle is holofoil). Those also happen to be cards I would love to get more duplicates of. I also have one card that I’ve got no idea where it came from. It’s a cheat-sheet for the turn-order of the game, and it has a plain white card back to it, very unprofessional seeming. Whether this came from inside boosters (never opened one) or was available at a release event or some kind of tournament, I’ll maybe never know.
Anyway, that’s my in-depth writeup about this card game that few people actually know about. I wonder how many people have actually played a game with these cards. Were there ever any tournaments back in the day? All my searching online over the years leaves me thinking that we’ll never really know.
If you want more information on the game, as well as the most in-depth and complete card list on the internet, you can check out the new page I created just for this game!
I hope to have add scans and translations for the cards and rules in the future. But seeing as this is the first page added to the website in nearly a decade, don’t be surprised if it takes a good while.