Triggered: When Effects Activate (And Why You Should Know)

Today’s discussion was suggested by a friend of mine.  It will contain relevant rules that you should know regarding Chains and Trigger effects, and I’ll be looking at one of today’s top tournament decks to help illustrate.  That deck is the Genex Atlantean Mermail deck.

The Genex Atlantean Mermail deck (G.A.M. for short; also known as “Merlantean”) combines the Atlantean and Mermail archetypes while using Genex Undine and Genex Controller as a sort of “engine boost”.  The Atlantean monsters typically activate their effects if they are used to pay the activation cost of a WATER monster’s effect (so, only stuff that creates Chain Links).  The Mermails are used primarily as a means of activating these effects, but have a few other tricks as well.  Genex Undine is also used to trigger Atlantean effects (which is also why Genex Controller is present).

As I stated previously, the effects of the three primary Atlanteans used are Trigger effects that activate if they are used as an activation cost for a WATER monster’s effect.  But what a lot of newer players may stumble over is when these effects activate.  The common mistake is that they believe these effects are chained to the initial effect that was activated.  Let me illustrate with an example.

The turn player- we’ll call him Craig- is using a G.A.M. deck and has Mermail Abyssmegalo, Mermail Abyssgunde, and Atlantean Dragoons in his hand.  Craig also has a Mermail Abysspike in the Graveyard.

Craig activates Abyssmegalo’s effect from his hand (that’s right, it’s an Ignition effect, not a Summon condition).  To pay the cost, he discards Abyssgunde and Dragoons.  Both effects are triggered, but they will not activate just yet.  Trigger effects almost never chain to other kinds of monster effects, and only chain to themselves if they are triggered at the same time.  The reason is simple: Except for Trigger and Flip Effects, Spell Speed 1 effects never chain to each other.  You can find these rules in the rulebook in the Spell Speed section and the Other Rules section.  I know of no way for any Spell Speed 1 effect other than a Trigger or Flip effect to be activated in response to another effect.

So when do the effects of Abyssgunde and Dragoons activate?  After the current Chain is resolved, of course.  Once Abyssmegalo has resolved his effect, then the effects of the discarded monsters will activate.  Craig can also activate Abyssmegalo’s Trigger effect to add an “Abyss-” Spell or Trap from his deck to his hand.

At this point, Craig would apply the SEGOC rules- Simultaneous Effects Go On the Chain.  Atlantean Dragoons’ effect is mandatory, so it goes on Chain Link 1.  Abyssgunde and Abyssmegalo’s effects are both optional, so Craig gets to choose which one goes on Chain Links 2 and 3.

Something I should probably mention is why Abyssmegalo goes on this Chain even though its deck searching effect is triggered by something else entirely.  It’s a simple matter of timing.  Even though they were triggered by being discarded, Dragoons and Abyssgunde had to wait until Abyssmegalo’s summon effect was resolved to activate.  As such, they activated “in response” to Abyssmegalo’s Special Summon.  As to why they are treated as being in response to the summon, it’s because that was the earliest opportunity for them to activate.  Simple as that.

I will also briefly touch on “missing the timing”.  Craig decides to target the Mermail Abysspike in his Graveyard with Abyssgunde’s effect.  However, when Abysspike is Special Summoned, its own Trigger effect will NOT activate because Craig is in the middle of resolving a Chain.  It missed its chance to activate; this will be the case whether Abyssgunde is on Chain Link 2 or 3.  Because of Atlantean Dragoons, there is no way for Abyssgunde to be on Chain Link 1.  This is true of all optional Trigger effects that begin with “When”.  Optional Trigger effects that begin with “If”, such as Abyssgunde, are immune to this rule and can never miss the timing.  I will go more in depth about this rule in a future article.

The G.A.M. deck is the big thing that must keep this rule in mind.  Not too long ago, it was Wind-Ups (Wind-Up Magician and Wind-Up Factory would have been relevant to this article).  There are many other decks that must abide by this rule, and there will be many more to come.  So always remember: Spell Speed 1 effects don’t chain to each other unless they activate at the EXACT same time.


Wattsquirrel: How It Works and Why

A friend of mine was building a deck based on the “Watt” archetype and asked me how Wattsquirrel worked.  Today I’ll be talking about just that.  Let’s dive right in and look at the card.

Level 3
This card can attack twice during each Battle Phase. If this card battles, negate the effects of the monster it battled after damage calculation (including in the Graveyard).

So this little critter has two different effects.  The first one is pretty obvious: A Continuous effect that lets declare two attacks during each Battle Phase instead of one.  But what about the second effect?  Well, according to the TCG rulings, this effect is a Trigger effect.  If we compare this effect to Red Dragon Archfiend’s original text, we can also see that the effect activates after damage calculation.  And as for what the effect does, that’s also very simple: It negates the effects of whatever monster Wattsquirrel battled.

The tricky part of the effect is the last bit in parentheses.  What exactly does “including in the Graveyard” mean?  Well, I’m going to tell you.  But first, let’s set up an example.

James controls a face-up Treeborn Frog in Defense Position, and one Set Spell/Trap Card.  His opponent, Pete, controls a face-up Wattsquirrel.  It’s Pete’s turn, and he decides to attack with Wattsquirrel.  James activates his Set card Waboku.  As a result, Treeborn Frog survives the battle, but Wattsquirrel has negated its effect.  Pete moves to Main Phase 2 and activates Dark Hole from his hand, destroying the two monsters on the field.  When James’ Standby Phase rolls around, he tries to activate Treeborn Frog’s effect to Special Summon it, but it is still negated.

“Wait a minute,” you might say.  “How can it be negated?  It changed places!  Shouldn’t the effect have disappeared?”

And that’s the tricky part I was talking about.  You see, the “including in the Graveyard” part of Wattsquirrel’s effect doesn’t simply mean that monsters destroyed by Wattsquirrel in battle will be negated.  It means that the monster’s effects will be negated, including if it goes to the Graveyard by any means.  In essence, this effect lingers even if that monster goes to the Graveyard.

But that’s not the end of it.  There are a few times when that monster’s effects will no longer be negated.

  • If a monster being negated by Wattsquirrel is on the field or in the Graveyard and returns to the hand or Deck (Main or Extra), or is banished, then it’s effects will no longer be negated.
  • If it is in the Graveyard and is Special Summoned back to the field, its effects will no longer be negated.
  • If it is on the field and is flipped face-down, it will no longer be negated when it is flipped face-up again.

This also applies to a few other monsters, such as Ally of Justice Nullfier (see its rulings), Barbaroid, the Ultimate Battle Machine, and Evilswarm Obliviwisp.

So, what does this mean for monsters like Necro Gardna or Stygian Street Patrol?  Same thing it means for Hand of Nephthys when it’s revived by Junk Synchron: You can activate the effect, but it will still be negated.

But what about monsters like Grapha, Dragon Lord of Dark World who can be Special Summoned from the Graveyard by their own Summoning conditions?  Those are negated too.  As it turns out, Summoning conditions are, for the most part, effects.  Conditions that prevent summons (i.e. “cannot be Special Summoned by other ways”) are NOT effects that can be negated.  But the actual Summoning method can be negated.  You can find the specific ruling on Grapha.

There are more monsters out there that work like Wattsquirrel.  You can make very good use of them if you find them.

Ally of Justice Catastor vs. Neo-Spacian Grand Mole

A common question that I see is this: Who would win, Catastor or Mole?  Well, the answer may surprise you.  The simplicity of the explanation may be even more surprising.

Grand Mole wins every time.  Why?  Because he’s optional.

This might not make a lot of sense at first, so let’s establish a foundation for the answer.  We’ll start by looking at the stats of each card.

Ally of Justice Catastor
Level 5
At the start of the Damage Step, if this card battles a non-DARK monster: Destroy that monster immediately (without damage calculation).

Neo-Spacian Grand Mole
Level 3
At the start of the Damage Step, if this card battles an opponent’s monster: You can return both monsters to the hand (without damage calculation).

Right off the bat we see that both of these cards activate at the same time, which is at the start of the Damage Step.  But there’s a fundamental difference between the two effects.  No, it’s not that one destroys and the other returns monsters to the hand.  The fundamental difference I’m talking about is that one is optional and the other is not.

So, why is that important?  Well, when two or more Trigger Effects or Trigger-like effects activate at the same time, they form a Chain.  There are two key factors that determine which cards go on which Chain Link: Whose turn it is and which effects are optional or mandatory.  This is a special rule commonly known as SEGOC (Simultaneous Effects Go On the Chain).

The order goes like this.

  1. Turn Player’s mandatory effect(s)
  2. Opponent’s mandatory effect(s)
  3. Turn Player’s optional effect(s)
  4. Opponent’s optional effect(s)

Remember that Catastor is mandatory, while Grand mole is optional.  This means that it doesn’t matter who controls which card, or whose turn it is.  Catastor will always go on Chain Link 1 because it is mandatory.

So, how does this mean that Grand Mole wins over Catastor?  It’s simple: Chains resolve backwards.  When it’s time to resolve a Chain- that is, to actually perform all the effects on that Chain- you start with the last Chain Link and work your way back to the first one.  Since Grand Mole will always be Chain Link 2, Grand Mole will always resolve first, bouncing himself and Catastor off the field before Catastor (sitting on Chain Link 1) can destroy him.

So basically, Catastor and Mole both try to get in line.  Catastor, being mandatory, is shoves his way to the head of the line.  Grand Mole, being optional, just shrugs and gets behind him.  And then Catastor learns that the players are going to start from the BACK of the line instead of the front, making it a very sad machine.

The SEGOC rules can be applied in a wide variety of situations.  Try to use them to your advantage whenever possible!  More information about SEGOC can be found here on the Yu-Gi-Oh! wiki.