Daikaiju Sokogeki: Ruling Theory

DISCLAIMER: The following is merely an opinion which I hold based on numerous facts and observations.  Whether you agree with me or not, ALWAYS follow the rulings issued by the Head Judge of the tournament you are attending, whether you are judging or dueling.

How long has it been since I wrote something here?  I dunno, but it’s been too long.  Haven’t had the time for this blog, really, but I’ve got time now, and a great topic to discuss.

One of the newest TCG-exclusive archetypes seems to be doing to the meta exactly what you would expect creatures like these to do: Stomp on it.  The Kaiju have risen from the sea  and earth, and descended from the stars to rampage across the tournament scene!  They boast a unique play style, focusing on turning duels into a 1-on-1 giant monster smackdown: You feed one of your opponent’s monsters to a Kaiju and give control of it to them, but this lets you call out a Kaiju of your own for free.  Each Kaiju also has a unique ability that can be used by paying Kaiju Counters, which are accumulated by their perma-class Spell/Trap support.

GODZILLAAAAAA!

Two cards in particular have given rise to a whole new monster of a ruling problem.  While it has been officially resolved with regards to these two cards themselves, I firmly believe that this new ruling is making waves in the fabric of the rest of the game.  These two cards are Interrupted Kaiju Slumber, and The Kaiju Files.

interruptedkaijuslumber-bosh-en-sr-ue

So, how do we work?

thekaijufiles-shvi-en-c-1e

I ‘unno.

Each of these cards has something in common, an effect which first destroys monsters, then Special Summons Kaiju.  These two events happen sequentially (one after the other), and not simultaneously (at the same time).  The main reason these cards are sending ripples through the game is because the “Kaiju” monsters (please pardon the redundancy) all possess what is unofficially known as a Highlander clause, a condition which prevents more than one of a card or series member from existing on the field (one side or both).  In the case of the Kaiju, the text reads, “You can only control 1 ‘Kaiju’ monster.”  The basic implications of this condition are obvious- you cannot, for example, target a Kaiju with Call of the Haunted if you already control a face-up Kaiju- but this also prevents you from using the first summon condition of most Kaiju monsters to Tribute an opponent’s monster and summon it to their field if they control a Kaiju, even if you intend to Tribute that Kaiju first.

The Kaiju Files is a unique case, though.  Under previously issued rulings, its effect to summon a new Kaiju would be literally impossible to activate.  Because of this, Konami either has to make an exception, a rule change, or a rule clarification.  They never do exceptions without printing the parameters of the exception on the card itself.  This leaves either a rule change or rule clarification.

Before I explore that, I need to point something out: A while back, Julia Hedberg, head of the North American tournament system, confirmed a ruling from Konami of America’s Research and Development Department regarding Interrupted Kaiju Slumber.  They stated that Slumber COULD be activated while one or more Kaiju were face-up on the field.  This was about a month or two before the release of The Kaiju Files, though I suspect Files had already been designed and approved for release.  The timing certainly makes sense.  But what’s going on here?  Is this an exception to the rules, or a change or clarification of the rules?

I don’t think for a second that Files or Slumber are exceptions to the rules.  Konami doesn’t do that without putting it in parentheses on the card itself, and they haven’t done it since long before they introduced Problem-Solving Card Text at the dawn of the Xyz Era.   So does this mean they changed the rules?  Well, that could be the case, but this would mean the FAQ page for Gozen Match and Rivalry of Warlords would need to be rewritten.  It would also mean that cards such as Magical Dimension would also need to be ruled differently.  (Currently, you cannot activate it while Gozen Match is active if the only monsters you can summon have a different Attribute from the ones you control.)  Konami seems to hate changing the rules for older cards (*cough*), and we know they don’t do unwritten exceptions anymore.

But I don’t think this is a clarification.  If Files didn’t target, I would argue that it IS a clarification, but that’s not the case at all.  The Kaiju Files targets the Kaiju that is to be destroyed and replaced, which is essentially the same as Magical Dimension, which targets a monster, Tributes it, then replaces it with a Spellcaster-Type monster.  Yes, yes, I know, Tributing isn’t the same as destroying, but are they really that different?  The end result is the same, it just has a different label.  Tributing is often used as a Cost, sure, but again, so what?  As we’ve seen, Tributing can also be part of an effect INSTEAD of a Cost.  When Tributing is an effect, the only difference it has from destruction is the label.

The reason for the ruling on Slumber was that The Kaiju Files would be released soon, and Konami wanted consistency among the cards in the Kaiju series.  Files works exactly the same way as Magical Dimension.  Konami doesn’t do exceptions anymore without putting them on the card.  Therefore, I contend that the rules have been changed.  It is the only explanation that accounts for… well, everything, including the timing of the rulings and Konami’s past behavior.

Here’s hoping they don’t put an article up on the official strategy blog that says Slumber and Files are exceptions to the rules because “Screw you guys, we’re Konami!”  I think I would throw up.

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Sneak Peek 2: The New Challengers

Today I was able to participate in yet another Sneak Peek at my local store.  The New Challengers will be making its official release in the US on November 7th.

Same as the last Sneak Peek, participants received a world premier promotional card and five booster packs, containing nine cards each.  Any regular readers will remember my previous Sneak Peek article and how I went over the rules regarding the sealed format rules.  For those just joining us and those who have forgotten, here’s a quick refresher.

1) Each player receives five 9-card packs and one promotional card- 46 cards total with which to build their decks.  You are NOT allowed to trade, sell, or give away your cards until the tournament is finished, or unless you drop from the tournament.

2) The minimum number of cards your deck can contain is 20 cards instead of the usual 40.  All Fusion, Synchro and Xyz Monsters you receive are placed in the Extra Deck, though I imagine you can put them in the Side Deck if you want.  Pendulum Monsters are placed in the Main or Side Decks.  The 3-card limit does NOT apply.

3) All cards you do not put into your Main or Extra Decks are put into your Side Deck.  The 15-card limit does NOT apply for this tournament.  Your Side Deck can contain as many cards as you like.

4) Most Side Deck rules apply, meaning you can use your Side Deck in between Duels, but with one major exception: You can actively modify your deck by increasing or decreasing its size (but you cannot go below 20 cards in your Main Deck), or by exchanging cards entirely.  You do not have to “un-Side” after a Match.

Now, without further ado, let’s get to the deck list and strategy!  This month, I was as poor as dirt, but thanks to my good friend Bryson over at the YouTube channel Meta Makers, I was able to enter the tournament.  Be sure to give his channel a look-see, Like his videos, and subscribe to his channel!

First, the deck list.

Main Deck: 20
Monsters: 15
1x Lancephorhynchus
2x Elegy the Melodious Diva
2x Lindbloom
2x Serenade the Melodious Diva
1x Performapal Cheermole
1x Performapal Trampolynx
1x Ruffian Railcar
1x Satellarknight Betelgeuse
1x Scrounging Goblin
1x Shaddoll Hound
1x Superheavy Samurai Soulbang Cannon
1x Superheavy Samurai Soulshield Wall

Spells: 3
1x Celestia
1x Magical Star Illusion
1x Wonder Balloons

Traps: 2
2x Punch-in-the-Box

Extra Deck: 2
1x Frightfur Bear
1x CXyz Barian Hope

Side Deck: 24
2x Block Spider
2x Fluffal Cat
2x Shogi Lance
1x Deskbot 002
1x Fluffal Owl
1x Fluffal Rabbit
1x Gogogo Goram
2x Hexatellarknight
2x Oracle of the Herald
1x Laser Qlip
1x Mimiclay
1x Toy Vendor
1x U.A. Powered Jersey
1x Xyz Change Tactics
2x Yang Zing Brutality
1x Different Dimension Encounter
1x Performapal Revival
1x Qlipper Launch

As you can probably tell, the deck was much harder to put together this time around.  Much of my strategy actually focused on defense rather than attack.  But that’s not to say I didn’t attack at all.  If anything, I took a leaf out of the Superheavy Samurai book and turned my defense INTO my offense.  The key card in this strategy was Lindbloom, a new Wyrm-Type monster with a very interesting Trigger effect: During any damage calculation in which one of your monsters is battling an opposing monster, each monster’s ATK is changed to match its current DEF.  As an example, Lindbloom has 0 ATK, but 1800 DEF.  If it attacks a monster or is attacked by a monster, its ATK will become 1800 until the end of the Damage Step.  This powerful ability allowed me to turn many of my high-DEF monsters into heavy beaters that I could use to get around most other monsters.  The one major weakness of the effect was that my opponent could use their own high-DEF monsters to turn the effect against me.  But more often than not, I was actually prepared for that.

Using my DEF to fight wasn’t my only tactic, however.  Unlike in the last Sneak Peek, I was actually able to perform a Pendulum Summon!  By using the Scale 4 Performapal Trampolynx, and the Scale 7 Lancephorhynchus, I could Pendulum Summon one or both copies of the Level 5 Elegy the Melodious Diva.  This in turn would let Elegy use her effect to give all Fairy-Type monsters I control +300 ATK.  If both copies of Elegy hit the field via Special Summon, that wound up being a +600 boost for my Fairies.

Comboing off the Pendulum Summon, I would use Trampolynx to return Lancephorhynchus to my hand so that I could Tribute Summon it.  2500 ATK is nothing to scoff at (if you don’t have a Lindbloom, of course).  And if I had Performapal Cheermole in my hand, I could put it in the newly-emptied Pendulum Zone so that Lancephorhynchus its own +300 ATK boost.

Ruffian Railcar and Shaddoll Hound were put into the deck primarily for their Attack Points, 1800 and 1600, respectively.  Railcar had the added bonus of a damage effect I could use on the first turn of the duel at no cost to my turn, or in any situation where attacking would be unwise.

The two Superheavy Samurai Soul monsters definitely warrant an explanation.  I used them primarily for Soulbang Cannon‘s effect, a sort of last-ditch effort if I ever needed to get rid of some problem cards.  If my opponent had a card whose effect activated in the Battle Phase- such as Lindbloom– I could negate that effect’s activation and destroy that card, along with every monster on the field.

The Spells were present to help me gain any kind of advantage over my opponent’s monsters’ ATK.  The Field Spell Celestia, for instance, would turn Lindbloom into a 2100 ATK beater.  Magical Star Illusion was also quite handy, especially against a field full of Set monsters.  My opponent must have at least the same number of monsters as me, but they don’t have to be face-up!

The third Spell, Wonder Balloons, deserves its own paragraph.  This card proved nightmarish in this format.  Without Lindbloom to override it, Wonder Balloons would often spell doom for your opponent.  Once each turn, you can feed it any number of cards from your hand to give it the same number of Balloon Counters.  Each Balloon Counter would take away 100 ATK from your opponent’s monsters.

The only two Traps I used in the Main Deck were two copies of Punch-in-the-Box.  Quite frankly, this card is amazingly nasty, and nastily amazing.  When your opponent attacks while they have at least 2 monsters, you can send a different monster on their field to the Graveyard, then drop the attacking monster’s ATK by the sent monster’s ATK in the Graveyard.  Does this card target?  Yes.  It targets the attacking monster.  What about the other monster?  Does it get targeted?  The answer to that is a resounding NOPE!  You do NOT tell your opponent which monster you’re stuffing into that spring-loaded boxing glove until you actually resolve the effect of Punch-in-the-Box.  Oh, and one more thing: It “sends” to the Graveyard.  It doesn’t “destroy” the monster, meaning a lot of anti-destruction effects will not work against it.  For example: Stardust Dragon.  There is one thing I noticed about this card, though: While you can certainly choose any monster to send to the Graveyard, the ATK decrease is dependent on that monster actually REACHING the Graveyard.  If you choose to get rid of a Pendulum Monster, it will NOT go to the Graveyard, instead going to the Extra Deck.  In that case, the attacking monster loses no ATK.  Ditto any field with Macro Cosmos or similar cards in play.

The Extra Deck…. this was actually more useless than the last Sneak Peek.  At least I had the means to summon Pilgrim Reaper and Cloudcastle.  But a Fusion Monster without the proper Fusion Materials, and a Rank 7 Xyz Monster, well…. let’s just say those cards were only present as a formality.

I didn’t once use my Side Deck in this tournament, though I had given it consideration on many occasions.  Most of the cards were useless to me, but I did ponder using most of the monsters, except for Shogi Lance.  I had only considered using Mimiclay and Toy Vendor.  I hardly even thought about using any of the Trap Cards, and when I did, I only considered Different Dimension Encounter and Performapal Revival.

I ended up taking 3rd place in the tournament.  It wasn’t exactly my best day, though.  I had an awful crick in my back- still present as I write this- which made concentration difficult.  I also couldn’t remember some essential rulings with regards to ATK modifiers like Lindbloom and Wonder Balloons.  This and a balloon-based stall strategy cost me the first round.  The next two I won with some effort, though.  The fourth and final round, however, was sheer luck, plain and simple.  I got paired against the one guy who pulled Herald of Ultimateness.  And wouldn’t you know it, the Ritual Spell was a COMMON.  Short of depleting his hand and using Superheavy Samurai Soulbang Cannon, there was no way I would have won against that…. but his wife showed up and he decided to drop and go home, giving me the win.  I have no doubt in my mind that I would have lost, though.  I’m not going to pretend I could defeat Herald of Ultimateness.

I still ended up with a mat, though.  So I’m pleased.

I’m going to go ahead and wrap this article up, folks.  However, you should know that I’ve got two more articles in the works!  The first will be discussing Prohibition and how it interacts with cards like Harpie Queen.  The second will be a (hopefully simple) guide to ATK/DEF modifier effects.  I’ll also try to do a few card reviews if I can get the time to research some of the more interesting cards in The New Challengers.

Until next time, Duelists!  Duel fair and have fun!

UPDATE: Deck list now has links to the cards on the official database!

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!

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.