The Gamestate: What It Is, and When It Matters

For a while, I was without ideas for a subject.

But, while exploring the unofficial Facebook group for Yu-Gi-Oh! Judges, I saw a post that gave me an idea of what to write about: The gamestate.

What exactly is the “gamestate”?  Put simply, it’s an unofficial term that refers to the current state of the duel and everything that’s happened so far.  This includes a lot of things, too many to actually list here one by one.  But in general, it includes whose turn it is and what Phase or Step it is, what actions players have performed throughout the duel and during the current turn, Life Points, and a host of other things.

The post I mentioned earlier was asking a question about Ultimate Offering.  It can be used as an example here, but so can a lot of other cards, such as Hand Destruction.  Let’s use both of those cards as two different examples.

Player A has Ultimate Offering face-up on the field.  He controls no monsters and has one card his hand.  Player B controls a Set Spell or Trap Card, and Player A suspects that it’s a popular Summon Trap, such as Bottomless Trap Hole or Torrential Tribute.  But Player A has a plan.

Player A activates Ultimate Offering‘s effect.  Player B has no response.  Player A then immediately activates Ultimate Offering’s effect a second time, chaining it to the first activation.  When Offering resolves on Chain Link 2, he will Normal Summon the Thunder King Rai-Oh in his hand.  Then Chain Link 1 will resolve- but since Player A does not have a monster in his hand and the one he just summoned is not a Gemini monster, Ultimate Offering‘s first activation resolves without effect.  But the key here is that there is still a resolution.  To complete the example, Player B’s Set card was indeed Bottomless Trap Hole.  But because the last thing to happen was an empty resolution and not Rai-Oh’s Normal Summon, it cannot be activated.

Let’s look at a second example.  I’m using one of my favorite decks, Gishki Deckout (or Gishkill).  My opponent has 3 cards left in their deck and I have 4.  I’m also holding on to ten cards, two of which are copies of Hand Destruction (my opponent has seven cards in hand).  I activate one Hand Destruction and my opponent has no response.  I then Chain with my second Hand Destruction.  The Hand Destruction on Chain Link 2 will resolve and both of us will drop 2 cards, then draw 2 cards.  Then the first one I played will resolve and we will repeat our actions.  But since my opponent has only 1 card left and must draw 2, he will lose.

It’s important that you know something about Hand Destruction: It cannot be activated if either player has less than 2 cards in their hand or in their deck.

You should see the common factor between these two examples.  A player is activating two cards or effects at the same time, even though the gamestate is no longer friendly to that card after one of them resolves.  Once the Chain reaches Link 1, the gamestate is now such that the activations of those cards would be illegal.

But those cards have already been activated, so it doesn’t really matter.

The lesson here is that when it comes to the gamestate, cards only look at right now.  They don’t predict the future.  Ultimate Offering wasn’t going to look ahead and say, “Oh, well, if that resolves, then there won’t be anything for me to summon, so I can’t be activated again.”  It just looks at its controller’s hand and goes, “Ooooh!  A monster I can summon!”  And it does this with each activation on that same Chain.  The same thing applies with Hand Destruction.  It doesn’t see that there will only be 1 card in my opponent’s deck later on.  It just looks at how many cards there are right now, and it sees 3.

This is a very useful trick and can be done with many different cards, not just the two I mentioned here.  Here’s a third example, one you’re much more likely to see in competitive play.

You have two copies of Mystical Space Typhoon in your hand.  You’ve also got a monster out that’s really big and really nasty just beating face all the live long day.  You play a Typhoon and target your opponent’s one Set Spell or Trap, but they Chain it and it’s a Safe Zone!  They target your Big Nasty, knowing full well that when Safe Zone is destroyed, it will take Big Nasty with it.

But you’re not down and out yet!  You Chain to Safe Zone with your second Mystical Space Typhoon!  Typhoon 2 resolves first and destroys Safe ZoneSafe Zone is a Continuous Trap and must remain face-up on the field to resolve properly, so destroying it before it resolves will prevent that from happening.  Its effect is never applied to Big Nasty, so he can continue beating face.  (If you’re wondering, your first Typhoon will also resolve without effect since its target is no longer on the field.)

Remember: When activating a card, it will only look at the CURRENT gamestate.  Activations care nothing for future events.

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