Each player starts the game with a total of 10 life unless stated otherwise by an effect such as that of Dragon Ein. The primary objective of a Future Card Buddyfight game is to protect your own life while attempting to reduce the opponent's life. Once a player's life is 0, or a victory by effect is declared, that player's flag is destroyed as an indication that they has lost the game.
The player's life can be reduced through the following methods:
- Attack damage: When a monster or item succesfully attacks a player directly, that player's life is reduced by that card's current critical value. Monsters and items can only attack directly when the opponent's center area is open, with the "Shadow Dive " effect, or if the card's effect includes the opponent as the target (Example: Demonic Demise Dragon, Azi Dahaka). This is called "dealing/taking damage by an attack". (Example: Dragon Knight, El Quixote).
- Effect damage: When a card's effect that states "deal/take X damage" is resolved, that player's life is reduced by that amount. This is called "dealing/taking damage by an effect". (Example: Penetrate).
- Effects that state "You lose X life" aren't considered effect damage.
- Paying life: Many effects and costs require paying a certain amount of life. This isn't considered taking damage either. (Example: Divine Dragon Creation)
- Becoming N: When an effect that states "Your life/your opponent's life becomes N" resolves, that player's life automatically becames the stated value regardless of it's previous value. This isn't either losing nor gaining life. (Example: Darkness Final Mission Card "World End").
The player's life can be increased through the following methods:
- Buddy Gift: When you successfully performs a Buddy Call with your buddy, you gain 1 life.
- Card effects: When an effect that states "You gain X life" resolves, your life is increased by that amount. Example: Dragon Dreams.
The most common way to protect the players' life is to prevent being attacked directly. Some decks do this by calling monsters that are difficult to take down to the center then use effects to prolong that monster's longetivity. These types of decks usually run fewer item cards since their center area ideally shouldn't be open, and/or use items that can attack regardless if the center is occupied or are used for support instead of attacking. The main weakness of these decks is effects that can deal damage even when the center is occupied such as Penetrate.
Other decks instead leave the center area open and defend themselves with a large amount Counter to reduce damage and nullify attacks. These types of decks tend to run more item cards and use effects that activate when the center area is open. They also tend to use monsters with Move to protect the center when necessary. The main weakness of these decks is that they are almost always vulnerable to direct attacks and won't always have enough Counter effects to stop the opponent's attacks.
While normally having a high amount of Life is benefical to prevent losing, many effects in the game require the player to have a certain amount of life or less (Example: Survival Chance) so sometimes it can be better to let the opponent deal damage to use this effects. Likewise, many effects activate when the opponent's has a certain amount of life or lower (example: Gargantua Punisher!!) so it's not recommended to let your life drop too low.