I usually tend to avoid rehashing material I've already gone over, but given how it's one of the few documented pieces of Yu-Gi-Oh's game system, and there's a certain monster card that was released in Legacy of the Valiant that behaves differently than most other monsters, I think it's worth refreshing our knowledge of this concept.

This week on Black and White: Fast Effects and some Card Text Updates! We'll recap what fast effects are, how they're important, how they impact player communication, and the one example from Legacy that sees play that will reward you for knowing how to best utilize fast effects. And after that, we'll go over some card texts that were updated in recently released products.

The Basics Of Fast Effects
The term "fast effect" was born when the fast effects timing page was published in April 2012. The page updated one of the core rules of the TCG at the time, stripping from players the ability to activate a monster's ignition effect after a successful Summon. The page itself also codified what a lot of judges knew about the game engine intuitively but couldn't properly explain without official resources to back them up.

A "fast effect" is very simply any Spell Speed 2 or higher effect. According to Rulebook 8.0 page 39, these are effects of Normal and Continuous Traps, Quick-Play Spells, Effect Monster's Quick Effects (Spell Speed 2) and Counter Traps (Spell Speed 3). The fast effects timing page tells us when these can be activated and who has the next chance to activate a fast effect.

The fast effect page also created the term "open game state" in which the turn player has the opportunity to perform any action they're able to do in that phase or step; in a Main Phase, the turn player can Normal Summon, Special Summon (this includes Synchro and Xyz Summon), Flip Summon, activate a Spell Card or activate an Effect Monster's ignition effect. In the Battle Phase (specifically the Battle Step), the player can declare an attack in an open game state.

The Specifics: How Fast Effects Are Practically Used
The most prevalent use of fast effects occurs in the Main Phase, primarily dealing with responses to Summons. A lot of duelists take it for granted, but activating Effect Veiler before a monster can use its ignition effect is the fast effect timing rules in action. Using Mind Crush after the opponent resolves an effect that adds a card to the hand is another common use of the fast effect rules.

But fast effects can also be used by a player responding to their own action. I had a Batteryman Deck five years ago which revolved around using Inferno Reckless Summon on a Batteryman AA. Knowledge of fast effects is key in knowing when it's possible to activate Inferno Reckless Summon legally; my deck used an array of Special Summon effects to make that play possible, and I knew from studying up and putting pieces of ruling patterns together that if I didn't activate Inferno Reckless Summon immediately after my Special Summon effect resolved, I'd lose the chance to activate the card. Adjusting to this play was difficult because I grew accustomed to always allowing my opponent a chance to respond to actions (so I wouldn't prematurely take an action and have my opponent protest that I didn't give an opportunity), but in this case, the game's rules forced this to be the correct strategic option.

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When an attack is declared, an opponent could conceivably activate a number of cards like Mirror Force, Dimensional Prison, Sakuretsu Armor and such. But if you're playing a Spellcaster-based deck, you have access to Magician's Circle, which can be activated when a Spellcaster declares an attack. Thanks to fast effects, you know that you can declare your attack with your Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer than immediately flip-up your Magician's Circle before the opponent has the chance to respond to your attack. I

Without the fast effect timing page giving structure to when players can actually play cards, everything would become a race to flip over cards or put them from the hand to the field, and that would be no fun at all.

So Why Bring This Up Now?
I'm bringing this up now because a new card in Legacy of the Valiant will force players to get out of the habit of auto-flipping or activating cards without knowing if they're the ones that actually have the next chance to do so.

That one card? The money card of the set: Evilswarm Exciton Knight.

Mouse-over for its text, because there's one parenthetical statement in there that makes this card break the norm you've been used to: "this is a Quick Effect". This single statement changes everything in terms of when this Fiend's effect can be activated, and that timing can mean the difference between being able to activate the field-clearing effect, or being stuck with a 1900 ATK monster left out in the open.

As I mentioned before, a player can only activate a monster's ignition effect in an open game state. The entire problem is that Evilswarm Exciton Knight's very clearly a Quick Effect. What does that mean? Consult the chart and you'll see; as soon as Exciton Knight's Summon is successful, the turn player has the first chance to activate any fast effect, including Evilswarm Exciton Knight's effect. This is critical because if the conditions are correct to activate the effect, the turn player has to get that option before the opponent can activate his own fast effect which could change the card count and mitigate Exciton Knight's threat to the field. The opponent can only respond after the turn player passes on the opportunity to activate Evilswarm Exciton Knight's ability. I'm fully aware that this is backwards from how we've trained ourselves to play this game over the last few years, but Exciton Knight being a Quick Effect is the entire reason this interaction works the way it does.

I bring this up because at a recent tournament I was the Head Judge for, I witnessed that exact play. The player who just Summoned Evilswarm Exciton Knight didn't make any motion or statement saying that he was going to use the effect or pass. His opponent immediately flipped up a Raigeki Break, discarded a card and targeted another card on the player's field. Keeping to my need to be impartial, I didn't interfere since doing so would be coaching, but when I was called by the players, I was simply asked if Exciton Knight's effect could be chained in this instance, to which I was forced to respond no because the card totals were now equal instead of in favor of the opponent. Inside, I wanted to yell "FAST EFFECTS ARE A THING, YOU GUYS" but since they didn't question the sequence of events and I didn't suspect foul play was involved, I was forced to let it go. But the situation could have gone horribly wrong had the turn player attempted to assert his opportunity to use fast effects.

It may come as a surprise to a few of you, but I don't particularly enjoy being the messenger of bad news. Having to sort out the argument "he didn't give me the chance to respond" is never pleasant because that conflict is rooted in either miscommunication or a misunderstanding of the rules of the game, and no one likes being told they don't know something, especially when that lack of knowledge will lead to a loss that could've been prevented.

If you have friends that are playing Evilswarm Exciton Knight, urge them to take a look at the fast effect timing page because this knowledge will save a game of three. In your games, please please PLEASE communicate clearly and allow for effect activations especially when they're appropriate. Declaring the changing of phases is important for Effect Veiler and now for Evilswarm Exciton Knight because it can activate during either player's turn in specific phases.

And Now For Something Completely Different
Talking about fast effects, while necessary, is redundant since I went over fast effects last year, and I'm sure you guys don't want to read the same things again. So to end this week's Black and White, I'll briefly review a couple of functional changes to cards in recently released packs.

Cyber Dragon Revolution Structure Deck

A few reprints here, notably Cyber Phoenix which no longer needs to be attacked while face-up in order for the draw effect to activate, and new text for Limiter Removal makes clear that it only affects the Machines you controlled at both activation and resolution. Super Polymerization and Power Bond get a text clean-up thanks to rulebook revisions regarding Fusion Summons. Jade Knight was initially printed in Crossroads of Chaos with incorrect text which was corrected in a hard-to-find PDF page on the official site, but now has correct text on the card.

And THANK YOU THANK YOU Reflect Bounder now has PSCT.

Astral Pack 4

A bunch of cards got PSCT reprints, and notably, some cards that didn't say "excavate" now use the term. Specifically, Morphing Jar #2, Magical Merchant, Reasoning, Ma'at, and Archfiend's Oath now excavate.

Other cards get PSCT for the first time, and Black Garden is now in the running for longest text ever, but it did need to be clarified since the card's own text, while already verbose, wasn't specific enough in how it's supposed to work.

Star Pack 2014

A few cards get functional changes here. Some of the "excavate" cards from Astral Pack 4 are also reprinted here, while Number 7: Lucky Straight – a favorite card of mine – loses a bit of its luster as it now specifies that the ATK boost from its own effect lasts only until the opponent's next End Phase.

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Three Nordic monsters, specifically the Tuners for each of the Aesir, get PSCT reprints which is fitting because the three Aesir monsters, Thor, Lord of the Aesir, Loki, Lord of the Aesir and Odin, Father of the Aesir all got PSCT reprints too. They also received small functional changes that won't likely affect duels too much, but it is a change.

Previously, as per the published Storm of Ragnarok rulings document, if an Aesir's attacked while face-down and gets destroyed by that battle, its effect to Special Summon itself couldn't activate. Now the text doesn't mention that at all, and the text is similar to Cyber Phoenix's new text that removes the reference to it needing to be face-up at the start of the Damage Step. So going forward, should an Aesir be turned face-down, destroying it by battle will allow its Special Summon effect to activate.

Hopefully you found this week's Black and White informative on at least one front! If you have a question about dumb-stupid-powerful Rank 4 game changers, new card texts, card interactions, mechanics or tournament policy, send me an e-mail (one question per e-mail please!) to askjudgejoe@gmail.com and your question could be answered in a future Court of Appeals!

-Joe Frankino