What a weekend! After a year of build-up, The North American WCQ is finally over, and six Duelists have earned the right to represent the continent at the 2014 World Championship in Italy. Those six players will spend the next few weeks preparing for that prestigious tournament and the journey of a lifetime, while the rest of us prepare for the future of the TCG which is already upon us! There's a brand new Monster card type, a new Summoning mechanic, a new Forbidden and Limited list, and some rule changes. Lots and lots to go over!

This week on Black and White, I'll detail all of these changes as much as I can. There's quite a bit to go into, so let's not waste any more time.

Pendulum Monsters And Pendulum Summoning
This is arguably the most hyped of all of the newest changes. Pendulum Monsters and Pendulum Summoning are the focus of the fifth Yu-Gi-Oh! television series Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V. The main protagonist, for all intents and purposes, invents Pendulum Summoning just by happenstance when three of the cards he's holding – Stargazer Magician, Timegazer Magician and Odd-Eyes Dragon – just magically transform from Effect Monster cards to Pendulum Monster cards. He plays the cards successfully (which is weird because Pendulum Zones shouldn't be a thing on his Duel Disk), and since the system didn't say it was illegal, Pendulum Summoning is born from nothing.

Luckily, real life isn't like this. Pendulum Monsters aren't a mysterious phenomenon that only a single 14-year-old student can create out of nowhere. They're actual things that anyone, you, I or your grandmother, can now use to win games.

I'm not going to re-hash what Konami's already written and produced about Pendulum Monsters, but I'll link to their resources and briefly describe what's in them.

Want a video tutorial? Click this and pay attention for five minutes. The video demo will give you the basics of Pendulum Summoning and how Pendulum Monsters can be used to compliment the current forms of Summoning we already have (Fusion, Synchro and Xyz Summons). The examples Konami used also show how a single instances of Pendulum Summoning can end the duels in a single turn.

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Two articles about Pendulum Summoning can be found here and here. They go over the very basics of what the new Pendulum Monsters are and how the play field and game mats have changed. They also go over some very basic combos and give a preview for some cards from Duelist Alliance.

There's also a summary on the particulars of Pendulum Summoning on the Konami Strategy Site, which you can find here. This contains more of the finer points on Pendulum monsters and how they interact with game rules and current game mechanics. But if you keep reading that article, you'll notice even more changes than just Pendulum shenaniganry…

Rules Changes
Some of Yu-Gi-Oh's very core rules have changed as well. The last big rules change we had was two years ago with the elimination of a turn player's priority to activate Ignition Effects after a monster was Summoned during a Main Phase. This time, we have two big rule changes…

1) The first player in a duel does not draw for their normal draw on the first turn.

2) Both players may have a Field Spell active at the same time.

No Normal Draw During The First Draw Phase
Not drawing on the first turn throws a big huge monkey wrench into general gameplay strategy because you have to decide if your deck can set up a field reliably with only five cards. The choice to go first or second is now an actual choice you have to make going forward, and each option has its own pros and cons. Going first means setting up with little interference, but going second means attacking first and seeing your sixth card first. For those that are comparing this change to Magic: The Gathering, keep in mind that dropping the first land in Magic is important since it gives you the ability to play cards later on, but Yu-Gi-Oh! doesn't have a resource system, so the comparison isn't the same. Your cards are your resources, and going first now means having fewer options. It's an interesting gambit that I'm sure will be the subject of future articles.

Personal note: Guarded Treasure was high-risk high-reward before, but thanks to the new rule, it's nigh-unplayable. That makes me super-sad.

As a judge, I'd advise everyone to read the Penalty Guidelines regarding the difference between a Drawing Cards – Minor infraction and a Drawing Cards – Major infraction. If you judge locals, you'll need to remind your longtime players that drawing on the first turn isn't a thing anymore. If it does happen, you need to know how to properly deal with it. Know which infraction actually occurred and what penalty is appropriate.

Also, pay close attention to Yu-Gi-Oh! Tournament Policy as it regards to deciding who goes first. The player who decides who goes first must do so before drawing their hand. If they draw a hand before deciding, the choice defaults to the deciding player automatically going first. This used to be an obvious choice, but now duelists may not want to go first, yet policy makes this clear: if you draw your hand before deciding, you must go first.

Players, be mindful of this. Make sure you flip your coin or roll your dice before drawing opening hands, then decide who's going first before drawing five. You'll avoid Procedural Error infractions, which is better for everyone involved.

Both Players May Control A Field Spell
The Field Spell rule change takes complex game mechanics and simplifies them to a point that makes it super-intuitive. Remember how I wrote about Field Spells some months ago? Almost all of that goes out the window. Your opponent plays a Field Spell? Great. Awesome. Fantastic. Good for them. Your Field Spell isn't going anywhere thanks to the new rule. Two Field Spells means both effects apply at the same time. Of course, that makes things a little awkward when I'm playing Dark World and my opponent's playing Necrovalley

There is one slight game mechanic change that came with this rule update. Quoting the Strategy Site article from before…

Both players may now control an active Field Spell at the same time. You may send your Field Spell to the Graveyard in order to play a new one. The old one is not considered destroyed.

Did you hear that? That was the sound of thousands of Geartown players crying.

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The reason they're sad is because this mechanic change nerfs an occasionally played strategy that can easily trigger Geartown's Special Summon effect with no help needed from the opponent.

Before the rules change:

1) Play Geartown
2) Set any other Field Spell to the Field Spell Zone.
3) Geartown is destroyed by game mechanics, Geartown's destruction is considered "the last thing to happen" after the set occurs. Geartown may activate.

After the rules change:

1) Play Geartown
2) Set any other Field Spell to the Field Spell Zone.
3) Geartown is sent to the graveyard. It's not "destroyed". Geartown's trigger didn't occur. Geartown doesn't activate.

And of course, since the rules now allow both players to control a Field Spell, your opponent resolving a Field Spell won't force your Geartown off the field, so it can't be destroyed like that either. Players who liked to splash Geartown into other decks will now have to consider other options.

Although… this new rule does buff a lot of other Field Spells. Fields that protect themselves from card effects are now a pain to get rid of, so Ancient City – Rainbow Ruins becomes super-good and The Seal of Orichalcos is now a big circle of hurt that you have to get rid of twice. No rules-related loopholes to exploit now.

New Forbidden And Limited List
And oddly enough, this change got a lot of press and talk before the WCQ, but now afterwards, talk seems to have died down. But we have a new list, and as such, a slightly different environment to deal with. Geargia takes a hit, Noble Knights and Six Samurai get a buff from the newly Semi-Limited Reinforcement of the Army, and Goyo Guardian gets to make an impact for the first time in over three years.

In previous years, when a new Summoning mechanic was introduced, the Forbidden and Limited list was shaken up to take advantage of the new monsters. This list doesn't have that huge shift in cards, but maybe the previous list was stable enough to allow a seamless transition into the new era. I'm looking forward to seeing how Pendulum Monsters get adapted into current strategies!

New Summons, new monster types, new rules, new list, and a fresh start for a new year of dueling! I'm of the opinion that change is good to keep things fresh, and these changes will certainly make the game more interesting. If you have any questions on the new rules, or other card interactions 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 edition of Court of Appeals!

-Joe Frankino