Arc of Light: Swing, Pendulum! Unanswered Questions

Pendulum Monsters are officially on their way!  They were announced and given the rundown on Konami’s official strategy blog, and you can read the article here.  However, there are still a few questions that need to be answered.

Before I get into these yet unsolved mysteries, let me give you a brief rundown of how Pendulum Monsters work.

First, Pendulum Monsters have the border of both a monster and a Spell Card.  This means that you can play them as one or the other.  They also have two text boxes, and special numbers are on the sides of the card.  The smaller text box contains the monster’s Pendulum Effects (if any; some Pendulum Monsters won’t have any Pendulum Effects), which are the effects you get if you play the card as a Spell Card.  The numbers on the sides are called the Pendulum Scale.

So far, there are only Normal and Effect Pendulum Monsters, so this means they go into your Main Deck when you’re building a deck.

Pendulum Monsters can be Normal Summoned or Set from your hand, and can also be Flip and Special Summoned.

The playing field has gotten an upgrade as well: Two new zones now exist on the left and right sides of the field, between the Field Spell and Extra Deck Zones, and the Deck and Graveyard Zones.  These are your two Pendulum Zones.  In order to activate a Pendulum Spell, you play it to one of these two Pendulum Zones.  They are NOT played to your Spell & Trap Card Zones.

Pendulum Spells are Spell Speed 1, as are their effects that activate, unless stated otherwise on the card.

If a Pendulum Card is sent from the field to the Graveyard for any reason, it is placed face-up in your Extra Deck instead.  This happens if it is a monster card (including face-down Pendulum Monsters) or a Spell Card.

Pendulum Summoning is the new summoning method introduced with Pendulum Monsters.  When you have set both sides of the Pendulum Scale by playing a Pendulum Spell to each of your Pendulum Zones, you can perform a Pendulum Summon.  This lets you Special Summon as many monsters as you like, from your hand or Pendulum Monsters face-up in your Extra Deck or both, to your field.  The Levels of your monsters must be BETWEEN the numbers of the Pendulum Scale.  So if you have a scale of 1 and 8, you can summon any monsters from Level 2 to Level 7.  Pendulum Summons can only be done during Main Phase 1 or 2, and can only be used once per turn.  You cannot “save up” Pendulum Summons either.  You get one per turn and that’s it.

So, what are these unanswered questions?  Let’s go over each one, as well as my proposed answers to them.

NOTICE: If you are a Judge reading this, please don’t take any of my answers as being absolute certainties.  They are just speculation at the moment.  When judging an event, please use YOUR OWN best judgment, or follow the rulings issued by your Head Judge.  Do this until we get actual official word from Konami.

1) What happens if a Pendulum Monster is sent from the hand, deck, or Extra Deck to the Graveyard?
A: I believe they will go to the Graveyard.  Everything we’ve seen up to this point has only stated they go to the Extra Deck if they were on the field.

2) What happens if Macro Cosmos is on the field when a Pendulum Card is destroyed?
A: No idea.  There are two ways this can go, and both of them make sense in their own way.  First, they might actually be banished.  The rule states they go the the Extra Deck if they would be sent from the field to the Graveyard, but the Graveyard is inaccessible with Macro Cosmos in play.  ON THE OTHER HAND, they might still go to the Extra Deck, since it is the game itself redirecting them rather than a card effect.  I’m leaning toward this second answer myself based on historical precedent: Synchro Summoning can still be done while Macro Cosmos or other such cards are in play according to the rulebook.

3) Can a Pendulum Spell be Set face-down?
A: I don’t believe they can.  If this is the case, then that’s going to make Anti-Spell Fragrance a really popular Side Deck card…

4) Can the activation of a Pendulum Spell be negated?
A: I don’t see why not.

5) What happens if the Summon of a Pendulum Monster or the activation of a Pendulum Spell is negated?
A: I believe the same thing that would happen if a Pendulum Card is discarded from your hand: It would go straight to the Graveyard.

6) Do Pendulum Cards count as Spells and monsters in your hand and deck?
A: I don’t believe so.  I think they count only as monsters.

7) If I negate a Pendulum Summon, what happens to the monsters that were going to be summoned?  What about the Pendulum Spells?
A: If you were to use, say, Solemn Warning or Black Horn of Heaven to negate a Pendulum Summon, I believe the monsters that would be summoned are destroyed and sent to the Graveyard- including if they were Pendulum Monsters coming from the Extra Deck.  So basically, the same that happens if you use these cards on a Synchro Monster or a Cyber Dragon.  I also believe that ALL of the monsters that would be summoned are destroyed, whether its one or a full five.  As for the Pendulum Spells, nothing happens to them, but you’ve used your Pendulum Summon for the turn so you can’t try again.  (And no, you cannot use Solemn Warning to negate the activation of a Pendulum Spell unless its Pendulum Effect involves Special Summoning on activation; just like you can’t use it on Infernity Launcher).

These are the unanswered questions I was able to think of.  If you have any more, post them in the comments, or email them to me.  Don’t forget to email Konami on July 11th after the official release of Pendulum Monsters!

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The Nature of “When”

“When” and “If” are two of the trickiest words in the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG.  Both of them are used on a wide variety of effects, and both are involved in the rules regarding what is commonly referred to as “missing the timing”.

Though not as common as the first, “If” is surprisingly easy to understand.  For this word, timing is never an issue.  All that matters is “If” something happened.  Doesn’t matter when it happened, just that it happened.  Simple.  (There is one exception, and that’s Eclipse Wyvern; however, that is for entirely different reasons, and it deserves its own article.)

“When”, though, is not as easy to grasp.  And to make matters worse, Trigger effects aren’t the only effects that are subject to this word’s complexity.  ANY optional effect that uses the word “when” in its timing clause- that is, the section of the effect that tells you when you can activate it, i.e. “When this card is sent to the Graveyard:”- can have a lot of crazy timing issues come up.

We’re all familiar with the “missing the timing” rules regarding optional “When” effects.  For those of you who aren’t, here’s a quick refresher: Suppose you have a Daybreaker in your Graveyard, and another in your hand.  Your opponent activates Mystical Space Typhoon to destroy your Set Call of the Haunted, and you Chain it and target Daybreaker.  You Special Summon your target and then the Typhoon destroys Call.  You do NOT get Daybreaker’s effect because you Summoned him in the middle of a resolving Chain.  You have to finish that Chain before youc an do anything else.  What’s more, any optional “When” effect can only be activated “when” its trigger happens.  If you’re doing something else, you have wait, so you miss your one chance to activate the effect.

But as it turns out, this rule can also apply to Quick Effects.  The rules of YGO are made of a lot of different components, and many of them can be combined in a lot of different ways.  Here’s an example of a Quick Effect “missing the timing”, as it were.

My opponent controls a face-up Maiden with Eyes of Blue in Attack Position.  I control Changer Synchron and Jester Confit.  I have Changer tune with Confit in order to Synchro Summon Formula SynchronChanger Synchron’s effect is mandatory, so it automatically activates once the Synchro Summon is complete, and becomes Chain Link 1, and its target is Maiden.  I also decide to activate Formula Synchron’s effect to let me draw one card.  In this instance, Maiden with Eyes of Blue cannot activate her second effect.  This is because it must activate “when” she is targeted by a card effect.  She can’t do that, though, because the last thing to happen wasn’t her being targeted; it was Formula Synchron’s effect being activated.  When the Chain resolves, I will draw one card and Changer Synchron will switch Maiden to face-up Defense Position.  Maiden’s second effect will NOT activate, and my opponent will NOT Special Summon a Blue-Eyes White Dragon.  (This, of course, means they can activate that effect later in the turn if the opportunity arises, or the Maiden’s effect to negate an attack.)

Here’s an example that might make a bit more sense to you.  I control Stardust Dragon, and my opponent activates Card Destruction while they have two cards in hand and I have none.  After resolving Card Destruction, my opponent activates the effects of the monsters they discarded: The Fabled Catsith and The Fabled Cerburrel.  My opponent decides to put Catsith on Chain LInk 1, and Cerburrel on Chain Link 2.  My Stardust Dragon cannot activate to negate Catsith’s effect.  We have all been told that it’s because these effects have to be Chained directly to the effect they are negating, and while this is technically true, it doesn’t really explain why.  It just repeats what we already knew in different words.

The reason Stardust cannot activate in the above Chain is because it missed its chance.  Stardust Dragon can only activate its effect “When” a card-destroying effect or card is activated.  The last thing to happen was NOT that, but was instead the activation of an effect that Special Summons a monster.

Just to drive it home, suppose my opponent put those effects on the Chain in reverse order: Cerburrel on Link 1, and Catsith on Link 2.  NOW Stardust can activate to negate Catsith, because the last thing to happen is the activation of Catsith’s effect to destroy a card.

Funnily enough, the rules of “When” also apply to Counter Traps.  In the above example, if The Fabled Cerburrel is on Chain Link 2, I could not activate the effect of Stardust Dragon, but I COULD activate the Counter Trap Solemn Warning.  Conversely, if Cerburrel is on Chain Link 1, and The Fabled Catsith is on Chain Link 2, I can activate Stardust’s effect, but I CANNOT activate Solemn Warning against Cerburrel.

It’s a very simple principle to remember, really: If a card or effect that is optional can only activate “When [X event happens]”, then that event must be the LAST thing to happen, and that this rule applies to ALL cards, regardless of Spell Speed.

Activation Negation: An Issue of Timing

It’s been entirely too long since I’ve written anything here, and for that I apologize.  I’m still investigating a few things for future articles, and my research isn’t going that well.  However, I have found something that I CAN write about.

Today’s topic is on negating activations.  This simple phenomenon has some surprisingly complex effects on a duel.  But before I get into any of that, perhaps we should define what “negate” actually means in Yu-Gi-Oh!

To “negate” something essentially means to cancel it out, to make it like it isn’t there.  It’s as simple as that, really.  If you negate an effect, you’ve canceled it out.  If you negate an activation, it’s like it never happened.

There’s a huge difference between negating an activation and simply negating an effect.  To negate the activation of a card or effect means that you have canceled that activation entirely.  There’s really no analogy I can give that would perfectly illustrate this, but here’s the best I can do.  The best example might be to say that it’s like erasing something from a record of events.  Like saying something exceptionally offensive in court and the judge orders it stricken from the record (with the exception of “Thank you”).

Negating an effect is very different.  Here’s an example that should illustrate it perfectly: You move to turn on a lamp, but someone else gets their first.  This other person unscrews the light bulb.  They don’t stop you from turning the switch on, but nothing will happen when you do.  That is what negating an effect is.  An in-game example would be activating a Trap Card while Royal Decree is face-up.  You can still activate the Trap Card, but it’ll do about as much good as flipping a light switch with the bulb unscrewed.

Negating an activation is a bit more complex than that.  As far as I know, there are no Continuous Effects that negate activations (Great Dezard is up for debate), so that makes things a bit easier.  However, it’s still tough to explain and understand.  We’ll look at an example to figure it out.

Rick activates Pot of Duality from his hand.  His opponent, Seth, Chains to it with Dark Bribe.  Neither player wishes to respond to that, so the Chain begins resolving.

Dark Bribe negates the activation of Pot of Duality and destroys it, while also letting Rick draw one card.  After all of that’s done, it comes time for Duality to resolve.  But since its activation was negated, nothing happens.  The gamestate has completely forgotten that Duality was activated at all.

Here’s what I mean when I say the gamestate has “forgotten” that Pot of Duality was activated.  Pot of Duality has two conditions on it: The first is that you cannot Special Summon in the same turn that you activate it; and the second is that you can only activate one copy of Pot of Duality per turn.  By negating the activation of Duality, Seth has made the gamestate “believe” that it never happened.  As far as the duel itself is concerned, Duality was never played.  This means that Rick can either Special Summon or activate another copy of Pot of Duality this turn.

I should probably note here that negating a Special Summon directly (i.e. negating a Synchro Summon with Solemn Warning) will NOT create the same situation.  An attempt at Special Summoning was still noted, so Duality could not be played that turn.  The same thing holds true if an effect that Special Summons is activated, but that effect- and NOT its activation- is negated, i.e. Effect Veiler is chained to the effect of Tin Goldfish.

However, if Monster Reborn is activated and the activation is negated (such as by Warning or Bribe), then no Special Summon was attempted- resolution of the card never happened, so you never got to try to Special Summon- and so Duality CAN be played this turn.

That should just about cover it.  Remember, feel free to ask any questions if you have ’em.  The next article will be discussing a tournament policy issue that I encountered while judging my first Regional Qualifier: Card sleeves and the Extra Deck.

The Mystery of Continuous Effects

There are many mysteries in the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game.  I find that the most fascinating of these is how Continuous effects work, especially with regard to resolving Chain Links.

A Continuous effect is basically any card effect that has no activation point, simply existing and applying as if it were a rule of the game.  The key difference between Continuous effects and things like rules and conditions is that they can be negated, such as with Skill Drain (which, funnily enough, also has a Continuous effect).

Continuous effects tend to have strange interactions with other cards, especially with each other.  For simplicity’s sake, Konami usually rules that Continuous effects override each other in these cases, i.e. if Zombie World is face-up and someone activates DNA Surgery, then DNA Surgery will override Zombie World’s effect to change monsters on the field into Zombie-Types (Zombie World still affects monsters in the Graveyard).  If DNA Surgery leaves the field, is flipped face-down, or is negated, then Zombie World will change monsters on the field into Zombies again.  Examining various cards, I believe that there are two basic types of Continuous effects.

    1. Continuous effects that always apply (Jinzo; Zombie World; DNA Surgery)
    2. Continuous effects that apply at certain times (Freed the Matchless General; Wind-Up Zenmaines; Dark Resonator)

The first kind is pretty obvious.  If that card is face-up on the field, its effect is currently applying.  (Gemini monsters are interesting in that their effect to treat them as Normal Monsters also applies in the Graveyard.)  If the card is not face-up on the field (again, excluding Gemini monsters), the effect does not apply.

The second category is a strange one.  These types of Continuous effects only apply at certain times.  Some of them are even optional!  (Yes, that means that if you don’t want to save Gachi Gachi Gantetsu, you don’t have to.)  But neither of these things means that these effects “activate”.  They don’t create Chain Links; needless to say, they cannot be chained to.  Again, it’s always easiest to think of them as acting like rules of the game that can be negated.

All of this is well and good, certainly useful information to have.  But what inspired me to write this article is the interaction between Continuous effects and resolving Chains.

In various rulings, we see that Continuous effects can apply through a resolving Chain, and can even begin applying between Chain Links.  Here’s an example: Kaiba activates Mystical Space Typhoon, targeting Joey’s Set Call of the Haunted.  Joey activates that Call of the Haunted and uses it to Special Summon Jinzo from his Graveyard.  After Call has resolved, Jinzo will begin to apply, negating Call of the Haunted’s effect.  Mystical Space Typhoon destroys Call, but Jinzo is not destroyed because Call’s effect was negated.

But the true mystery of Continuous effects and Chains is in the Chain Links.  While it’s certainly obvious that Continuous effects can apply THROUGH a Chain Link if they were applying already, a question I don’t see very often is, can they begin applying DURING a Chain Link’s resolution?

I honestly don’t know.

There are a few cards that actually ask this question, the two most notable being Ceasefire and Acid Trap Hole.  Both of these cards have rulings that state that a face-down Jinzo cannot stop either of these cards if they flip it face-up.  Some might tell you that this is because these cards are just “checking” the face-down cards in question.  This is NOT true.  “Checking” a card simply means picking it up and looking at it.  Same with “revealing” a card.  No, these two Traps actually FLIP the monsters, exactly the same as Book of Taiyou or Book of Eclipse (the End Phase effect).  The only logical conclusion is that Continuous effects cannot BEGIN to apply during a resolving Chain Link, but will begin applying immediately after resolution has finished.

So why is it that say I don’t know how Continuous effects and Chain Links mingle?  Because of another ruling on Acid Trap Hole, this one involving Enraged Muka Muka.  The ruling states that Enraged Muka Muka will get its ATK/DEF boost even if flipped up by Acid Trap Hole, and having enough cards in hand will allow it to survive.

Let’s be clear about something: Enraged Muka Muka’s effect is exactly that- an EFFECT.  It is not a condition or a rule, it is a CONTINUOUS EFFECT.  This ruling is in direct contradiction with the previous Jinzo rulings.

Any Judge who runs across this situation will be faced with a dilemma if he or she is aware of these rulings.  I can only offer three things that may help: Another piece of information, a bit of advice, and a glimmer of hope.

The info is this: All of these rulings have been labeled “Previously official” on the Yu-Gi-Oh! wikia.  Konami has not yet issued any statements regarding these cards’ rulings, so the call is yours.

The advice is this: Go with whatever makes the most sense.  Use simple logic and reasoning.  If it were me, I would rule that Continuous effects cannot start applying in the middle of a Chain Link, regardless of what that effect is.  Enraged Muka Muka will not get a boost, Gachi Gachi Gantetsu will not get a boost and cannot detach an Xyz Material to save itself, Gemini monsters will not be treated as Normal Monsters until after Ceasefire has resolved.  There are two reasons I would do this.  The first is that it’s a 2-to-1 ruling.  There are two rulings against and one for.  Majority vote.  The second reason is because it gives players a sense of consistency.

And the glimmer of hope?  That’s in the OCG rulings.  It turns out that there is a ruling in the OCG on Ceasefire and Gemini monsters, which states that a face-down Gemini monster flipped by Ceasefire will NOT treat itself as a Normal Monster until after Ceasefire has finished doing its thing.  I’m expecting a similar ruling to be issued on a certain upcoming OCG card.  If that happens, it should mean that the ruling will be issued for the TCG as well.

The Trouble with Thunder Kings: What Rai-Oh Can (and Can’t) Do

It’s happened to everyone.  You’re in a duel and you activate Monster Reborn, Miracle Fusion, or something similar.  And when you Special Summon your monster, your opponent Tributes their Thunder King Rai-Oh to negate the Special Summon.

It’s not entirely their fault.  Rai-Oh does say that it can negate Special Summons.  It’s just that these duelists are unaware of the rulings regarding summon negation, and if they ARE aware of them, they’ll point out that these are “previously official rulings” according to the Wiki since the TCG rulings are located on Horn of Heaven.  Even pointing out the OCG rulings doesn’t always work.

But that doesn’t make them any less wrong about it.

Thunder King cannot negate a Special Summon made through an activated card or effect.  It’s that simple.  It cannot negate a Special Summon made through Monster Reborn.  It cannot negate a Ritual Summon or a Fusion Summon.  It cannot negate a Special Summon made through Mystic Tomato.

But why is that?  Many would say it’s simply “because Konami said so.”  That’s not entirely true.  Sure, you could argue that EVERY rule is because Konami said so.  But nearly every ruling has logic behind it.  This ruling is no different.

There’s a rule that I don’t believe many people are aware of.  It is the rule that while a Chain is resolving, other cards and effects cannot activate.  And before you ask, this has everything to do with Rai-Oh because it explains why Rai-Oh cannot stop these Special Summons.  They are happening while a Chain is resolving, and Rai-Oh cannot activate at that time.

And you can’t just have Rai-Oh negate the summon after the Chain has resolved either.  By the time you CAN activate his effect, it’s too late.  The summon is already successful.  (There is one exception to this scenario, but I’m not sure I would call it an exception: An Xyz Summon made through Advanced Heraldry Art.  But that’s because Heraldry Art tells you to perform that Xyz Summon AFTER it has resolved, which is the point when Rai-Oh can activate.)

It’s not really a difficult rule to follow either.  A lot of players seem subconsciously aware that it exists.  Proof of its existence is in the “Missing the Timing” rulings (discarding Peten the Dark Clown as a cost or sending it to the Graveyard on Chain Link 2), and can also be seen on Drill Warrior (the rule that says you cannot use Bottomless Trap Hole or Torrential Tribute when Drill Warrior Special Summons himself from the banished pile if you add a monster to your hand afterward).

I’m sure most players can easily figure out what Rai-Oh can and cannot negate with his effect if they are aware of this rule.  Just in case, I’m going to provide a list of what the Big Three summon negation cards can actually stop.

Thunder King Rai-Oh

Solemn Warning

  • Can negate all the same stuff as Rai-Oh.
  • Can negate Normal and Flip Summons.
  • Can negate “extra” Normal Summons (such as through Swap Frog or Double Summon).
  • Can negate the activation of any monster effect or Spell/Trap Card that Special Summons.  (Goblindbergh, Monster Reborn, Call of the Haunted, Trap Monsters)
  • Can negate the activation of any monster effect or any Spell/Trap Card that, at activation, lets you know you have the option of Special Summoning on the card.  (Macro Cosmos, Starlight Road, Grapha when discarded by an opponent’s card effect)
  • Cannot negate the activation of a card or effect that does not expressly give a Special Summon option on its initial activation.  (Infernity Launcher)
  • Cannot negate Spell/Trap effects.
  • Cannot negate a Normal Summon through Ultimate Offering.  (Same reason Rai-Oh cannot negate a Special Summon through Monster Reborn).

Solemn Judgment

  • Can negate any Summon that doesn’t use the Chain.
  • Can negate “extra” Normal Summons gained through cards like Double Summon.
  • Can negate the activation of any Spell/Trap Card.
  • Cannot negate Spell, Trap or monster effects.

That should just about cover it.  Always remember: If a Chain is resolving, wait until its done.  If you’re ever in a duel and your opponent won’t believe you on this rule, you can show them this article if you like (I don’t mind getting additional followers, and I’m not ashamed of saying so), but it’s much better if you show them the wiki, some official source for rulings, or just ask the first registered judge that comes along.  They’ll tell you what’s up.

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.

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
DARK
Level 5
Machine/Synchro/Effect
At the start of the Damage Step, if this card battles a non-DARK monster: Destroy that monster immediately (without damage calculation).
ATK/2200
DEF/1200

Neo-Spacian Grand Mole
EARTH
Level 3
Rock/Effect
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).
ATK/900
DEF/300

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.