As the second part of my preparing for YCS Brighton articles I will be looking at aspects of game mechanics and how cards function which players might not have full understandings of, and will not delve into discussions on strategy, since this can be very much deck specific.
There are some aspects of the game that many players and judges do not understand, and will result in bad decisions. There are also many players who can play, and win, without knowing these things. However sooner or later you may encounter a situation where this can turn the tide of the game for you. Everyone in the main event should hopefully understand the basics of the game, but there are some more complicated matters that fewer people understand. By understanding them it can help you against players who aren’t completely up to speed on things, and can help you discern the players trying illegal tactics because they hope the opponent won’t understand well enough to argue. For judges knowing these things can help in settling disputes correctly.
This is not some magical ability monsters have that allows them to dodge trap cards, despite this being the instance where it is most commonly heard. Priority is simply your ability to make a move. In your own turn you have priority to make a move before it is passed to the opponent to respond. At different points in the game this allows you to do different things. In most cases you retain priority to activate spell speed 2 or higher effects, but there are a couple of exceptions to this, and several situations where people regularly overlook it.
The two main exceptions are when a monster is summoned, and during your main phase.
When a monster is summoned you are, at least in the TCG, also allowed to activate ignition effects, whether it be of the monster you just summoned, another monster on the field, or even a monster in the graveyard, such as Destiny Hero Malicious.
During your main phase, provided all other chains etc are clear you have priority to make whatever move you wish, whether this is playing a spell/trap, a monster, or merely switching a monster’s battle position. Usually this is of little importance and you can play without worrying about this, but situations may occur where this is important.
Some situations that are often overlooked are during the draw phase, and in response to the resolution of previous chains.
In the first situation priority is rarely an issue because little tends to happen during the draw phase, besides drawing. However on rare occasions knowing you have priority to make a move first can be vitally important. If you suspect the opponent has a card such as Trap Dustshoot face down, and you’ve just hit 4 cards in hand, if one of them is a quickplay you can activate it before the opponent can use their trap card on you, thus preventing them activating it. However this is not an excuse to try and weasel your way out of Trap Dustshoot should it be used on you and you just so happen to have had a quickplay in hand. Unless you had a reason for activating a quickplay that early (such as suspicion of Dustshoot), trying this sort of tactic will likely be looked upon poorly, and could result in penalties.
When a chain resolves the turn player retains priority to activate a spell speed 2 or higher effect, before passing it to the opponent. After this play may then resume as normal. This means that you can, for example, Mind Crush the card your opponent just added to their hand with Reinforcement of the Army before they can summon it.
2. Spell Speeds
This is in the Rule book, so really most players should know this. Surprisingly not all of them do. A card can only be added to a chain if it is of equal or higher speed than the previous card. The only exception to this is the fact that you cannot chain a Spell Speed 1 effect to another Spell Speed 1 effect. This means Ignition Effects (Spell Speed 1) cannot be chained to normal Spell Cards (Spell Speed 1), which in turn cannot be chained to normal Trap Cards (Spell Speed 2), which cannot be chained to Counter Trap Cards (Spell Speed 3). In many cases knowing this will help you understand if you are allowed to chain card X to card Y.
3. SEGOC (Simultaneous Effects Go On Chain)
If multiple effects meet their trigger at the same time they are resolved using SEGOC, which are the rules for how a chain is built. Effects are placed on the chain in the following order:
- Turn Player’s mandatory effects
- Opponent’s mandatory effects
- Turn Player’s optional effects
- Opponent’s optional effects
If two effects are of the same type then their controller may choose the order. This is why Blizzard and Black Whirlwind could be used to dodge Royal Oppression in the past. Both of the card effects are optional and have the same trigger (Blizzard being normal summoned), which means the player gets to choose their order. If Blizzard is placed first it means the current final chain link is Black Whirlwind, this means that Royal Oppression cannot be chained, since it must respond directly to an effect/summon. Were the order reversed Royal Oppression would be perfectly legal to add to the chain.
4. Responding to attacks
Most people are aware of how responding to attacks works. Player A attacks with Stardust Dragon, Player B responds with Dimensional Prison, for example. There are however some often overlooked details that can win you games. Firstly, you may only have one chain in direct response to the attack, and cards that specify this timing, such as Mirror Force or Dimensional Prison, can only be used during this chain. This means that if a Counter Trap, such as Seven Tools of the Bandit, is used the player responding to the attack loses anymore chances to use these cards.
After this, but before you actually move to battle, you are allowed an infinite number of chains, provided you have legal cards to activate. This includes cards such as Enemy Controller and Book of Moon. This means that, for example, if you attack a monster with higher attack than yours, and the opponent passes their chance to respond to the initial attack, because they think they’ll win the battle anyway, you may then use Enemy Controller to switch them to defense, and allow you to defeat the monster, without worrying about something like Mirror Force. This will come up on rare occasions, and can be vitally important. Some time ago I witnessed a famous English player taking apart a famous German player because he knew and understood about this, whilst his opponent didn’t.
5. The Damage Step
This is arguably one of the most confusing aspects of Yu-Gi-Oh! and going into the full details of absolutely everything would take far too long, so instead I’m going to focus on what gets asked the most, what you can and can’t use in the Damage Step. You may use the following:
- Counter Traps (with a few exceptions like Negate Attack)
- Cards which modify Attack/Defense
- Quick effects which negate things
- Cards which specifically activate in the damage step (Mystic Tomato, Kuriboh, Gorz etc)
- Exceptions, such as Michizure
Category 3 is slightly complicated by a few exceptions, but basically no one will use those cards anyway. So if you find yourself questioning whether you can activate a certain card during the damage step, just run through the list and see if your card fits into any of these categories. If not chances are you can’t activate it.
There are some additional restrictions ‘During Damage Calculation’ whereby only specific cards which modify attack and defense can be used. For example Honest can be used, but Shrink cannot. Counter traps and Quick effects etc. can however still respond to these cards.
6. Effects, Effect Veiler and Skill Drain
Understanding the differences between how these two cards work, and how effects themselves function can win you games. Despite their similarities, Effect Veiler and Skill Drain do not work in the same way, and knowing these differences can save you from making bad decisions.
The most important thing to know about effects is that they activate and resolve in the same place, regardless of where the final card ends up. For example Hand effects, such as Honest and Effect Veiler, activate and resolve in the Hand, despite the fact the actual card will usually end up in the Graveyard. A card that sends itself from the field to the Graveyard as a cost for its effect, such as Stardust Dragon, will still activate and resolve on the field.
With this in mind we can start to understand how Skill Drain and Effect Veiler differ. Skill Drain negates the effects of face up monsters, whilst Effect Veiler negates effects which activate on the field. Now you might think these two are the same, but there is a subtle difference between the two. Skill Drain only looks for the actual state of the card, whilst Effect Veiler generally couldn’t care less.
To demonstrate we’ll look at two examples using Stardust Dragon:
- Player A has Skill Drain and a face down Mirror Force. Player B attacks with Stardust Dragon. Player A responds with Mirror Force, Player B chains Stardust Dragon’s effect to try and stop it.
- Player A has a face down Mirror Force and earlier in the turn used Effect Veiler on Stardust Dragon. Player B attacks with Stardust Dragon. Player A responds with Mirror Force, Player B chains Stardust Dragon’s effect to try and stop it.
The first thing to know is that neither Skill Drain, nor Effect Veiler negates activations, so using effects is still okay, it’s whether or not they resolve properly which is the issue.
In situation 1 Stardust Dragon is no longer face up on the field when its effect tries to resolve, so Skill Drain will have no effect over it and its effect will resolve properly.
In situation 2, since Stardust Dragon activated on the field it will still be negated by Effect Veiler, even though it is no longer on the field.
As long as the monster is no longer face up on the field when its effect resolves, Skill Drain will have no power, whereas with Effect Veiler it’s very hard to escape its influence. Fortunately though flipping a monster face down, with Book of Moon for example, can sever this link.
7. Ending Phases
You cannot pass from one phase to another unless both players agree to. This can usually be safely overlooked during normal play, since it would only slow things down. However in some situations it is important to realise this. For example, if Player A wants to end his Main Phase, but Player B uses his Formula Synchron to summon Black Rose Dragon, then there has not yet been an agreement to end the Main Phase. This means that Player A can still make further plays before entering the Battle Phase.
8. Cards that don’t work like you think they would
There are several cards out there that function in ways that might not be immediately obvious to you, but it can be very important to know about them.
From reading cards like Gachi Gachi Gantetsu, Jain or Windup Zenmaines you might get the impression their first effects are trigger effects, when in actual fact they are continuous. This means cards like War Chariot or Dolkka cannot be used to stop them in this instance. This can be very useful to know when facing Dino Rabbits.
King Tiger Wanghu has a trigger effect, not a continuous effect. This means he can be hit by, for example, War Chariot or Doomcalibre Knight. It also means you cannot use an ignition effect of a monster if you summon something that will be killed by Wanghu, since Wanghu has already started a chain.
Reborn Tengu will activate even if you have no more legal copies to summon. This means it will get rid of Doomcalibre Knight even when all your copies are spent.
Utopia is not a quick effect. You cannot use it in a chain.
Karakuri Komachi mdl 224 “Ninishi” has a continuous effect to allow an extra normal summon of a Karakuri. This means things like War Chariot and Doomcaliber cannot negate this effect. In addition summoning extra copies of this card does not give you extra normal summons on top of the first one.
Hopefully someone out there has found this useful. If you have any more situations/ issues you’d like addressed or have any comments please let me know. Hope to see people at the event, and remember to have fun.