At long last, after over six months of waiting, we finally have an updated version of the TCG rulebook! We usually get a bunch of revisions when a new series debuts, since a new TV show usually carries with it a new Summoning mechanic that requires a few tweaks to the ruleset.

This week on Black and White: Rulebook 9.0! We'll go over the changes contained in the official Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG rulebook.

The Big Stuff
You're probably already familiar with the most groundbreaking changes, since we've been playing with them since the day after the North American WCQ last year.

The first player of the duel doesn't draw for their normal draw during the Draw Phase and Both players may control a Field Spell at the same time. We found out about these changes on Konami's strategy site before the WCQ, so this doesn't exactly take us by surprise. This is the first time it's in the rulebook though, so it makes sense to highlight it. Hopefully all of you have been playing with these rules since July. The Field Spell rule is on pages 5 and 25. Page 31 also includes the reminder that the first player doesn't draw during the first turn.

New section for Pendulum Monsters. This seems obvious since Pendulums are the newest type of monster in the TCG, but this spells out the basics of the Pendulum Summoning guide that you can find here. The addition of these two pages pushes everything in the rulebook back, so if you noticed all references to page numbers are two more than they were in rulebook 8.0, that's why.

Other Changes
"Life Points" is now "LP". This change has been a long time coming, I think. The shows and manga use "LP" during duels, the video games use "LP" on the displays, players and judges alike use "LP" instead of "Life Points" when talking about it online… literally the only place "LP" wasn't used was in the TCG itself. The cards started using "LP" for Battle Pack 3, I believe. But this is the first time we're seeing the abbreviation in the rulebook.

Some of the zones have changed names. For instance, "Monster Card Zone" is now simply "Monster Zone". This change also applies to Spell and Trap Zones and the Field Zone. It's a small change, butcard text will be less clunky going forward, which is good.

Attributes: Rulebook 8.0 states that there are six attributes that a monster can have. Rulebook 9.0 omits the mention of "six" and simply says that "every monster has an attribute". I wouldn't read too much into this change; it seems like Konami made it to allow for the Divine attribute to fit in with the others and not have the rulebook conflict with the three Egyptian God cards.

Flip Effects are now Trigger Effects. Rulebook 8.0 listed five different categories of monster effects: Ignition, Trigger, Quick, Continuous and Flip. Rulebook 9.0 now groups Flip Effects as a Trigger Effect instead. This change goes along with a change on Flip Effect monsters themselves. You may have noticed that cards from Duelist Alliance have "Flip" listed on the same line as the monster's type along with any other special characteristics of that monster, making Shaddoll Falco's type-line longer than any other's in the game at the moment (Spellcaster/Flip/Tuner/Effect), although Formula Synchron and other Synchro Tuners come close (Machine/Synchro/Tuner/Effect).

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Functionally, this isn't really much of a change to Flip Effects. They still work the same as they did before.

Sidenote: the example Quick Effect listed on Page 10 is one of the most busted effects I've ever seen. "During either player's turn, when an effect is activated: You can target 1 card in your graveyard: Special Summon it." It's a shame this effect is completely fictional and isn't on any card in the game.

Xyz is pronounced "ik-seez". We knew this already, but the only place this was mentioned was on the animated show which not all players watch, and in a press release posted in 2011. Now it's in the rulebook. For the sake of accuracy, they're not "exceed" monsters.

"Special Summon monsters". I think this change is just a clean-up of language in the rulebook. Page 19 of rulebook 8.0 had a statement under the section "Special Summon" that said Xyz, Fusion, Synchro and Effect Monsters that Special Summon themselves are called "Special Summon monsters." Rulebook 9.0's "Special Summon monsters" section is nearly identical with two exceptions: Pendulum Monsters are naturally included in this section, and the statement "These monsters are considered 'Special Summon monsters'" has been removed.

I don't think this is a complete elimination of the term since "Special Summon monsters" gets mentioned in rulebook 9.0 in other places, so I think this was just removing a redundant sentence from the rulebook.

Page 33 includes an additional reminder that the first player can't enter the Battle Phase during the first turn. Reminders are nice.

"Battle damage" as a phrase was previously written as "Battle Damage". Rulebook 9.0 removes the capital letters from the phrase. This doesn't affect gameplay at all, but from a language and writing standpoint it's interesting. Capped phrases in Yu-Gi-Oh! are specific: "Normal Summon, Special Summon" and so on. I'd hazard a guess that Konami decided this phrase was too generic to include as one of these phrases and just made it fit standard English rules instead. Most of you won't care about this too much, but it's something I found during my comparison.

Pointing out a lack of change, the section on Priority has remained unchanged between the two rulebooks. The community moved away from the term "priority" years ago when Fast Effect rules were released that changed what the term represented. Previously, players used the term "priority" exclusively to refer to the turn player's ability to activate an ignition effect after they Summoned a monster, assuming no Trigger Effects were activated. However, the game term was supposed to represent the ability for a player to take any action as specified in the Fast Effect rules.

Since the chart didn't exist at the time, many, many games of Yu-Gi-Oh! devolved into arguments between players about activating cards when they didn't have "priority" to do so. Since the chart came out, judges have dissuaded players from using an outdated game term to prevent confusion. But as we see here, the word itself is still part of official game lexicon. Personally I still won't be using the word, but the section is still there and describes the basics of what the Fast Effect page describes in greater detail. If you have questions about "Priority" just read the Fast Effect page. The page better explains who gets the chance to activate card effects at specific times.

Page 46 lists what Public Knowledge is, but doesn't mention cards that are face-up in the Extra Deck. I'm not sure if that's an oversight or not, but I would've assumed that face-up cards in the Extra Deck are public knowledge just like cards in the graveyard.

A Few Other Reminders
Since there were actually two versions of rulebook 8.0, I feel like I should go over a few other revisions again.

Excavate is defined in the glossary on page 50. The first version of 8.0 didn't include the term; it was first introduced in the rulebook that released at around the same time as Legacy of the Valiant as that set features the Sylvan monsters that heavily use the excavate mechanic.

Equip Cards were clarified and better defined in the second rulebook 8.0 and that also carried over to 9.0. Monsters that equip themselves, Equip Spells, and certain Traps that equip themselves are considered "Equip cards" Trap cards are still trap cards, but monsters that are equip cards are considered Spell Cards instead. Effects that could move equip cards to other monsters can't move monsters that are equips, but there is an exception for Union monsters specifically mentioned in the rulebook.

Fusion Summons used to require Polymerization since that's what the rulebook used to say. As such, every card that wasn't Polymerization said "this Summon is treated as a Fusion Summon." Last year, that changed when the second rulebook 8.0 changed the section on Fusions Summons to read "a card like Polymerization". Now, cards that Fusion Summon specifically say "Fusion Summon" while the definition of "Fusion Summon" is in the rulebook and not just written on one specific card.

Well! That's a bunch of changes, some big, some small. But as the rules of this game change – hopefully for the better – I'll detail them here as they come up. I was kinda hoping there would be a little more, like the Damage Step, but as I've come to expect, change doesn't happen quickly especially when it comes to the rules. If you have any questions about these changes, other game 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