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.