Yu-Gi-Oh! Explaining the End Phase

The most important tournaments for most competitive players are on the horizon, the WCQs. To aid in preparation for these, I thought it would be an appropriate time to take a look at some of the rules and game mechanics that are likely to crop up during the course of these events. An important thing to remember is that none of what I say should be interpreted as official word from Konami.

To start things off I’m going to be looking at the End Phase in detail, and trying to explain some of the intricacies involved. For most of the lifespan of Yu-Gi-Oh! the End Phase has been of little consequence to the general flow of play. It was merely when a turn ended, and maybe you had something happen during the End Phase, like the effect of Lightsworn monsters. However recently some of the finer details of the End Phase have become rather more important to performing well at the game.

Resolving effects during the End Phase

You've caused so many problems Effect Veiler.No one beats me in a waiting contest.

When you reach the End Phase there will often be two things you’re concerned with. Either effects which activate in the End Phase, or effects which last until the End Phase. How these two interact can be quite important, especially if an effect that lasts until the End Phase is preventing you from properly resolving an effect with activates in the End Phase. The situation gets even more complicated if some of the effects are mandatory whilst others are optional. When these issues arise, there’s a sequence of events you should follow to try and resolve the issue.

1. The turn player may activate or finish effects. If they do, restart the cycle. If not go to Step 2.

As usual in Yu-Gi-Oh! the first player who has the choice of making an action during the End Phase is the turn player. At this point they could activate or finish any of the mandatory or optional effects they have. This might be relevant if both players have an effect that activates in the End Phase, but the turn player wants to use their one first to prevent the opponent from using theirs.

Remember when I was a problem?

For example, let’s say both players have a Wind-Up Zenmaines on the field, ready to use their effects. However the opponent’s one doesn’t have any materials left, meaning that if it were to be destroyed again it wouldn’t get a chance to use its effect. In this scenario the turn player can choose to activate the effect of their Zenmaines first, destroying the opponent’s and preventing them from using the effect of Zenmaines.

Once this is over we return to the start of the cycle and start all over again. This can be important for a couple of reasons. Firstly it means that the turn player has the opportunity to activate or finish all of their effects which work during the End Phase before the opponent does. This can give the turn player a lot of control over how the flow of the End Phase goes, and will even prevent the opponent from getting a chance to use some of their effects. Secondly there is the fact that the effect you’ve just activated or finished will have changed the game state. This might result in even more effects that want to activate, so it’s important not to miss them out.

Miss me?

As you’ll see later, after each step it’s possible to return to the beginning and start over again.  By leaving some of your optional effects until this point it’s possible to get around your opponent’s mandatory effects. This will be very relevant for Prophecy players, because they’ll want to use Justice during their End Phase without things like a pesky Effect Veiler getting in their way. It is possible to return to this point once all or some mandatory effects have been dealt with, but we don’t necessarily need to have ended the turn yet. This is the perfect opportunity to slip in effects like Genex Neutron or Justice of Prophecy, now that they’ve been freed from Effect Veiler’s influence.

What this means, is that optional effects that activate in the End Phase cannot be stopped by cards like Effect Veiler or Forbidden Chalice. Provided of course that the user of those effects is careful and knows how to navigate the End Phase.

2. The opponent may activate or finish effects. If they do, restart the cycle. If not go to Step 3.

After the turn player is done, it now moves onto the opponent who has a chance to make the same actions. Usually you will reach this step once the turn player has finish with all of their actions, or else they’re deliberately passing for some reason. There might for example be an action the turn player wants to try and make, but something of the opponent’s might be preventing this.

Just like with the turn player, on return visits to this step it’s possible for the opponent to bypass the mandatory effects of the turn player, by waiting until after they’ve been forced to resolve them. Just like with the turn player, they can wait to allow some of their optional effects to get around cards like Forbidden Chalice.

3. The turn player must activate or finish a mandatory effect. If they do, restart the cycle. If not go to Step 4.

Once both players have passed on making an action we reach a point where the turn player has to make an action with regards to one of their mandatory effects. If an effect is mandatory it has to happen, even if the player might not particularly want it to happen at that point. This can be where the interaction between the players becomes very important.

If the turn player has a monster which has had Effect Veiler used on it, they would really rather wait until after Effect Veiler has stopped working to use that monster’s effect. However, if the monster’s effect is mandatory they will have to use it before Effect Veiler finishes, unless the opponent chose to end Effect Veiler during step 2. This gives the opponent a degree of control over whether certain actions will happen or not. So they can for example prevent Lightsworn monsters from milling, or Spirit Monsters from returning to the hand.

Stop draining all my strength!I'm finally starting to see some play again!

The fact the cycle restarts if an action is taken during a step is very important here for cards like Light and Darkness Dragon. For example, if the turn player has a Spirit on the field and the opponent has Light and Darkness Dragon, once we reach this step the Spirit monster has to try and return to the Hand. Light and Darkness Dragon will however negate the activation of this effect, preventing the Spirit from returning to the hand. When we start this process again, we will eventually reach the same point, and the Spirit will try once more to return to the hand. If Light and Darkness Dragon still has enough Attack and Defense it will negate the activation of the effect once again. This pattern will repeat until eventually Light and Darkness Dragon runs out of negations and the Spirit monster can finally return to the hand. Ultimately, not only will Light and Darkness not do anything to the opponent, but it will also run out of the ability to use its effect.

4. The opponent must activate or finish a mandatory effect. If they do, restart the cycle. If not go to Step 5.

Once the turn player is done with all their mandatory effects it’s now time for the opponent to start dealing with their own. Often the opponent will not finish effects such as Effect Veiler until this point, because it will prevent the opponent’s mandatory effects from working properly. However as mentioned earlier it’s possible for optional effects to get around this, because you don’t necessarily have to use them until you’ve reached a restart from this step.

5. End the turn.

Now once that’s all over and done with, we can finally get around to ending the turn. By this point they both should have used all the effects they want to, and are ready to move on with the next turn. You might be wondering what happens if we’ve still got some optional effects left, because both players passed without making any actions, perhaps hoping the other one might do something. In those cases it is now too late to use those effects, both players have agreed not to do anything, so it’s now time to move on with the game. Being optional means you have the choice of using an effect or not, so if you forget to use it, there’s nothing you can do about it.

Of course, remember that at all of these steps, when an effect activates you have the possibility of chaining to it and normal rules with regards to this apply.

What actually happens at the end of the turn?

Remember when I was good?Hands up if you knew I existed.

Once that is all said and done, you might think the turn is now over and there is nothing more to be done. However you’re forgetting one very important matter and that’s the issue of hand size. In Yu-Gi-Oh! the maximum number of cards you’re allowed in your hand at the end of the turn is 6, unless you’ve used some card to increase this limit. If you’re over the limit and you reach the end of the turn, the last thing you will usually do is discard for the hand size limit. So this means that if for example you have 7 cards in your hand at the end of the turn, you’ll need to discard 1 of them. Once that’s done the turn is over and it’s time to move onto the next turn.

However, there are some very special circumstances where other events may occur once you’ve discarded for hand size limit. If you discard a card that will activate, such as Dandylion, the effect will still activate. Similarly if you have a card like Dark World Grimoire, which actually interacts with the hand size limit discard, you can activate that. Once this chain has begun you may then add on chain links to this, just as you would for a normal one.

Time to draw my whole deck.

Some of you might be wondering if this is actually relevant to anything though, since most of the time by this point you no longer really care what happens. In decks which run Super Rejuvenation, such as Dragon Rulers this could be quite important though. With Dragon Rulers it can be quite easy to go past the hand size limit, especially with multiple copies of Super Rejuvenation. If you draw extra copies of the card due to the effect of the first one, it’s perfectly fine to use the 2nd or even 3rd copy whilst still in the End Phase to draw even more cards.

However if you’ve already broken the hand size limit, you might want the opportunity to draw even more cards, by adding on those that you discard due to the limit. Normally this isn’t possible, because you’re not allowed to manually start a chain once this discard has happened. If you want to do this you’ll need to discard cards like White Stone of Legend, which will start a chain, and allow you to add on another Super Rejuvenation. Since most of the cards that would cause this do not really fit into a Dragon Ruler deck, this is more something you’d try in a deck like Dragon Exodia. Dragon Rulers could however use Eclipse Wyvern for this type of play.

Once this is all over, if your hand is once again over the hand size limit, you will need to discard again until you’re back down to the limit. If any chains happen in response to this, you will repeat the pattern until you finally have the right sized hand and no more chains occur.

Until the end phase Vs until the end of the turn

Beware the cockroaches!Fairies are a little different in Japan.

One final thing that it’s important to be aware of is the difference between effects which last until the End Phase, like Effect Veiler, and those which last for the duration of the turn, like Maxx “C”. In the former case you need to follow the rules as set out earlier on. In the latter case the effect will continue until the turn is completely over. So for example, you’d still draw from the effect of Maxx “C” if the opponent summoned tokens from a Dandylion discarded for the hand size limit. Similarly they wouldn’t be able to use Dandylion’s effect if currently locked down by Shock Master.

Hopefully some people might find this useful as they get ready for their shot at the World Championship. Alternatively, those helping at the events might find this a useful refresher in case they have to deal with any of these during those events. I’m going to try and get a few more finished before the WCQs start, hopefully covering a few more important areas, and also some lesser known details that I find interesting.



  1. The part in which you describe discarding for the hand limit is the LAST THING TO HAPPEN, you said that once you discard down for hand size, you can use more cards. You cannot activate another Super Rejuv, or apply the effect of another card, after discarding for hand size. Discarding for Hand size is the very last thing, always. There is only 1 card that I can recall that deals with that time of the turn, and that’s Dark World Grimoire.


    1. Did you read it properly?

      I even mention Dark World Grimoire in the article, and have a picture of it.

      As I said in the article, under normal circumstances you cannot do anything after discarding for Hand Size Limit. However if you set off a chain, with for example Dark World Grimoire, or Dandylion, you could add to that. You can’t manually start a chain though, so this will rarely come up. If this causes another break of hand size limit, you’ll just have to discard back down again.

      Also it’s worth noting that this in general a debatable part of the game, and nothing that I say is official. There seem to be 3 different ways to interpret this.

      1. Only cards such as Dark World Grimoire or Dandylion which trigger due to it can be used. Nothing more.
      2. You may chain to these, but only with cards that will negate them, i.e. Divine Wrath.
      3. You can continue the chain as normal in response to the cards from point 1.

      I’m inclined to take 3. as my point of view, since it doesn’t make sense to me for the game to throw the rules of chains out of the window here. However, it might be that this is not how Konami wants things done, in which case you should follow whatever Konami hands down.


  2. I usually just say it this way, when explaining to people:

    Mandatory Effects — Opponent Chooses
    Optional Effects — Player gets to choose

    But this explanation is really useful!

    After I’ll read it through completly, I’m gonna probably link people to it, if they will want explanation about resolving stuff in the EP.


    1. Glad you found it useful. Remember that some of this is my take on things as I currently understand them, so make sure to check at an event beforehand to make sure.


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