As I mentioned in my previous article, we’re still in the midst of our discussion on rulings that you’ll likely run into at the upcoming WCQ! I not only want to cover these rulings themselves, but also break down why the cards interact and function in these ways.
Unbelievable as us players make it seem, the “BKSS” theory (“Because Konami Said So”) doesn’t apply as often as we think. There are mechanical details about this game system in general, and even more intricate details on the level of individual cards, that all mesh together the more we understand this game. Look at it as a programming language rather than something straightforwardly mathematical. While something may appear the same, and you’d otherwise be able to use logic to infer the outcome, the tiniest bit of difference in wording can totally change what a card means and does, and furthermore its interaction with other cards.
Today, I’ll be covering two of the biggest ones. Let’s start!
1. Activating a card doesn’t immediately apply its effect. It must then resolve once the chain is finished building.
2. Chains build upwards and resolve backwards. Example: Chain Link 1 is Mystical Space Typhoon and Chain Link 2 is Call of the Haunted. Call will resolve before MST.
3. Effects cannot activate during a resolving chain.*
The last thing to occur in the game state defines when cards with certain activation conditions can be used. For instance, you Summon Tempest, Dragon Ruler of Storms, and the cards you banished as a cost to Summon it were two other Dragon Rulers. In this case a chain forms:
-Chain Link 1: Blaster, Dragon Ruler of Infernos’ effect to search.
-Chain Link 2: Redox, Dragon Ruler of Boulders’ effect to search.
You don’t “chain” Droll & Lock Bird at this point. The line, “If your opponent adds a card(s) from their deck to their hand” means the adding of cards must’ve already happened.
Once the chain has resolved, turn player has the opportunity to activate a Spell Speed 2 or higher effect (‘fast effect timing’) or pass that opportunity to you. You can now activate Droll & Lock Bird at this point.
If your opponent activates Sacred Sword of Seven Stars banishing a Redox, it works a bit differently. Once Sacred Sword resolves, your opponent has drawn two cards and Droll has met its condition to be activated. But Redox is still in question. Your opponent can, at this point, choose to activate its effect as Link 1 before you can respond with any effect, since it met its condition on a previous chain. Always ask your opponent if he’s choosing to activate that Dragon Ruler effect in this situation before chaining Droll & Lock, since he can catch you with semantics if you just assume he’s going to activate it. That would allow him to backtrack and choose not to activate the effect, giving him another opportunity to use it later in the turn.
With Redox as Link 1 and Droll as Link 2, the latter will resolve first and prevent the Earth Dragon’s search.
In case there’s any confusion, I’ll note that some cards’ activations have a window of opportunity for them to be activated. In Droll & Lock’s case, it’s an optional “If, you can…” and similar to cards like Mermail Abysslinde or a mandatory effect, they do not “miss timing”. Cards that can miss their window of opportunity to activate are optional “When… you can” effects or cards with specific manual activation conditions.
Bottomless Trap Hole and Torrential Tribute are prime examples. Unlike Droll & Lock Bird, they require the last action that occurred in the game state to be the activation condition. While Droll & Lock can activate after a chain like this one…
…Bottomless Trap Hole and Torrential can’t activate after a chain like this…
Chain Link 1: Threatening Roar
Chain Link 2: Call of the Haunted
In order to activate Bottomless or Torrential, the monster Summoning effect must have occurred on Chain Link 1. There aren’t any exceptions. Once that condition was met, Bottomless or Torrential can activate at any position on the chain, occurring in response to that Summon. For instance, if you Tribute Sangan to Summon Caius the Shadow Monarch, Sangan will be Link 1, and Bottomless or Torrential can be Link 2 or higher.
One last thing about this: an individual card effect can have multiple actions that change the game state within the same effect. Upstart Goblin and Allure of Darkness work this way. Though they have draw effects, Upstart’s “opponent gains 1000 Life Points” and Allure’s “banish a Dark monster” occur AFTER the draw part of the effect, not simultaneously. That’s why these cards cause optional triggers like Infernity Archfiend’s to miss their timing. In Droll’s case, it’s an “if” effect as earlier clarified, so that change doesn’t matter in order to activate it – as long as the condition was met somewhere in the previous chain.
But for effects that can miss their timing, the distinguishing factor is the word or punctuation that separates the sentence(s). When a card says “then”, it’s a dead giveaway. But when a card says “also”, both parts of the effect are occurring at the same time.
Book of Life is the latter. It has a banish effect along with its Special Summon, but “also” means it occurs at the same time on resolution, allowing you to activate Bottomless or Torrential.
Another example of an individual card that would, on its own, prevent Bottomless or Torrential from being activated is ZERO-MAX. The actions of Special Summoning an Infernity monster and destroying all monsters with lower ATK don’t occur at the same time. If you Special Summon Infernity Archfiend with ZERO-MAX, Archfiend would miss its timing in the same manner as Bottomless Trap Hole and Torrential Tribute would miss their windows for activation.
Problem-Solving Card Text uses keywords like “then,” “and,” or “also” to help players distinguish the difference, but not all cards have updated text, so always double check with a judge!
Fate Non-Targeting Tricks
Most of you know that Spellbook of Fate’s effect is like Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier; it doesn’t target. But unlike Trish, paying this card’s banish cost at activation gives away which effect your opponent’s planning to use. For example if he banishes three cards, he can only choose the third effect on resolution.
That gives you room to preemptively chain cards to try and outplay Fate: if you control, say, Jowgen on the field locking your opponent in the mirror match, and your opponent activates Fate and banishes three he’s likely trying to banish your Jowgen. In that scenario you can read your opponent’s intent; chain Spellbook of Wisdom in response; declare spells; and target your Jowgen. On resolution, your opponent will have to choose a different card to banish if he wants Fate’s effect to resolve correctly.
Spellbook of Power
Players often misconstrue the difference between cards that say “destroy by battle and send to the graveyard,” and cards that simply say “destroy by battle”. Both effects activate at the end of the Damage Step regardless, the only difference is that the former requires the monster with the effect to still be on the field at the end of the Damage Step (like Blackwing – Shura the Blue Flame), and the other does not (like Spellbook of Power).
Since it doesn’t attempt to search on activation, Spellbook of Power can be activated under Thunder King Rai-Oh. If the boosted monster destroys Thunder King by battle, you still get your search effect, even if your monster was also destroyed by battle along with it. Thunder King’s sent to the graveyard at the end of the Damage Step, and search effects are applied afterwards.
A while back in a video I mentioned a ruling regarding Spellbook of Power and Mermail Abysslinde, and it’s still pretty relevant. If your Power’d monster destroys Abysslinde by battle, both cards’ effects will form a chain. Power will always be Link 1 since it’s mandatory, and Abysslinde’s ability will go on Link 2 as an optional “if” effect. Upon resolution, Abysslinde will Summon a monster and then Power will search a Spellbook.
If Abysslinde searched Mermail Abysspike, its effect will miss its timing to activate for the same reason as if you were to search Abysspike off an Abyssphere that was chained to Mystical Space Typhoon targeting it. If Abysspike’s being Summoned through an effect, that effect has to be Link 1 or it has to be the last thing that occurred in the game state. That isn’t the case in this example, so Abysspike’s optional “when… you can” effect can’t active.
As always, I hope this helped clear up the understanding on these cards. If you have any ruling questions you’d like to suggest for another article, feel free to leave a comment!
*Anything that meets its trigger during a resolving chain will form a new chain if it doesn’t miss timing, and anything you want to manually activate must also wait until the chain is finished. Note that this doesn’t apply to continuous effects, which are immediately applied when their conditions are met.