Coming to you live from Orlando International Airport, because that was somehow the cheapest way to get to Las Vegas from Long Island, it's COURT OF APPEALS! I'm your host Joe Frankino and today we're going to cover Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG questions of all sorts! Card interactions! Game Mechanics! Tournament Policy! You want some? COME GET SOME!

Ok, for realsies.

-I will not answer new questions in the article Comments. If you have a related follow-up question to a question I answer here, you can ask it in the Comments and I will answer it in a reply.

-Please ask only one question per e-mail. Grammar and clarity helps, too.

-All answers I give are unofficial unless backed up by an official source.

-I'll be using official game terms whenever possible. If I use jargon (even jargon that is perceived to be universally accepted), I'll note that it's jargon.

-I'll note sources whenever possible.

-I'll always use the official card database as my card text reference. You can find the official card database here: http://www.db.yugioh-card.com/yugiohdb/

-I will not answer any questions about cards not released in the TCG.

And here are our contestants!

Ivan De Guzman writes…

Hello Judge Joe. I'm a bit confused. This is the scenario: I activate Infestation Terminus targeting my Evilswarm Thunderbird and two of my opponent's cards. Can I chain Evilswarm Thunderbird's ability to dodge Infestation Terminus' effect, then return two of my opponent's cards to the hand? I'm confused because Terminus' effect is quite the same with Scrap Dragon's effect, that I can target my set Mystical Space Typhoon then chain it, and Scrap Dragon still destroys the other card that it targeted.

Hello Ivan!

This is a question I've answered previously, but there's no harm in going over it again.

Scrap Dragon and Infestation Terminus actually work differently. Take a look at the latest versions of both of their effects in the card database. Problem-Solving Card Text puts costs and targeting between a colon and a semi-colon, and effect resolution after the semi-colon (or after the colon if there's no costs or targeting for the effect). Scrap Dragon reads in part "You can target 1 card you control and 1 card your opponent controls: destroy them." Infestation Terminus reads in part "banish the first target, and if you do, return the second targets to the hand."

In PSCT, the use of the words "and if you do" mean that you have to do the first part of the effect in order to do what follows it. When Infestation Terminus resolves, it can't banish the targeted Evilswarm Thunderbird because it's already left the field. Because of that, you stop resolving Infestation Terminus and the other targets don't return to the deck. Scrap Dragon simply says "destroy them." You don't need to destroy one target in order to destroy the other. If it did, it would say "destroy both cards" or something similar.

#####CARDID= 9966#####

Johnathan Gulley writes…

I've been wondering about this situation for a while and I still don't get it. Why does Dupe Frog miss its timing when Tributed for a Tribute Summon or used as a Synchro Material, when, the Summon has no spell speed and does not start a chain, and Dupe Frog would not miss its timing if destroyed, for example, by Dark Hole. Dark Hole going to the Graveyard (after it destroys Dupe Frog and sends it to the Graveyard) would be the last thing that happened, right?

I can accept that it is just a ruling they put deliberately into the game to make sure Dupe Frog wouldn't be successful, but is there any good explanation to "Why"? Is there a difference in the timing of a monster being Tribute Summoned, and a card like Dark Hole being sent to the Graveyard after resolving? (If there is, wouldn't you be able to activate compulsory after they tribute, but before Jinzo comes to the field?)

Also, would a tribute set using Dupe Frog make any difference?

Hello Johnathan!

I can explain this as best as I can, but the mechanics I'm citing are not currently in a published document, so you'll have to take my word for this one.

The main crux of your question deals with what game actions are considered "the last thing to happen" for purposes of trigger effect activations. As I currently understand it, a Tribute Summon has the Summon of the monster as the "last thing to happen," and the Synchro Summon of the Synchro Monster as "the last thing to happen." Spells and Traps going to the graveyard after a chain resolves can trigger effects like Vanity's Emptiness, but the "last thing to happen" will always be provided by what happened by chain link 1, or by whatever action just occurred that doesn't use the chain such as the Normal Summon of a monster or setting a spell or trap card.

Xavier Rouss writes…

Howdy !

I was recently going over the new Mega Monarchs and trying to see if I could make them work. Browsing through possible support, I stumbled upon Precious Cards from Beyond which reads: "When you successfully Tribute Summon or Set a monster that required 2 or more Tributes, draw 2 cards from your deck."

Here's the scenario : I have Precious Cards from Beyond face-up and I summon Mobius the Mega Monarch by Tributing one monster. Would I draw two since the monster itself requires two Tributes? Thanks !

-Xavier

Hello Xavier!

The answer to this question is made clear by the card's most recent card text (which is PSCT). "When you Tribute Summon a monster using 2 or more Tributes: Draw 2 cards." This statement makes it clear. If you don't use two monsters, you can't activate the effect.

This card, by the way, was reprinted in a Duelist League where cards that don't have PSCT can get their PSCT with very little press. It's always worth a look every now and then to see what cards come out in a Duelist League release, as a PSCT revision may change what your card does. Don't believe me? Open up the database and look up Starlight Road. You'll notice the text that was changed in Gold Series 5: Haunted Mine has been reverted.

A lot of people reading this are thinking…

Ok? So what does that mean? Does Starlight Road work differently now?

Yep! Well, kinda.

If you remember how Starlight Road worked before Gold Series 5: Haunted Mine was released, you'll recall that Starlight Road only negated the effect of the card it was chained to. The negated card's activation wasn't negated, which meant when resolving the chain, that chain link still happens, but the effect is negated. In other words, a chain link resolves that does nothing. This seems like semantics, but it actually makes a difference.

Let's assume Dark Hole is activated and Starlight Road is chained. With its Gold Series 5 text, Starlight Road would negate the activation of Dark Hole, so the "last thing to happen" would be whatever happened during Starlight Road's resolution; this is usually a Stardust Dragon Summon. And because the "last thing to happen" is "Stardust Dragon is Special Summoned", cards like Torrential Tribute and Bottomless Trap Hole are good to activate.

But! Pre-Gold Series 5 and Post Duelist League 17 Starlight Road negates only the effect. That negated Dark Hole still technically resolves, but it resolves as a negated chain link; a chain link where literally "nothing" happens. So Starlight Road Special Summons Stardust Dragon, then a negated Dark Hole happens. The "last thing to happen" is, for lack of a better term, "nothing". Bottomless Trap Hole and Torrential Tribute can't be activated in this case. And that's how this interaction works going forward.

Convoluted? Unintuitive? I think so too.

#####CARDID= 9664#####

Abril Diaz writes…

Hola Joe!

I just finished reading your last article on TCGplayer and something familiar with the Fire Kings / Soul Drain discussion happened to me a couple of days ago, but with Angel of Zera. This happened on an automated dueling application. (Joe: *eye twitch*)

I had a set Soul Drain and then my opponent summoned Angel of Zera with Eccentric Boy (I don't know if this matters much). I responded with Torrential Tribute, Angel of Zera got banished by Eccentric Boy's effect, and my opponent ended his turn. In my Draw Phase next turn, I activated Soul Drain, and still in the Standby Phase, Angel of Zera summoned itself.

Like I stated before, this happened on an automatic dueling application, and because Angel of Zera's text is similar to the one in Fire King High Avatar Garunix, I assume the application is not programmed right and that Angel of Zera shouldn't have been able to Summon itself... or am I wrong?

Sorry if it's almost the same question as last article, but I just want this to be clear for me, so I know better when this happens in real life.

Thanks a lot for your time!

Greetings from Mexico City - Abril Diaz

Hola Abril!

Your situation aside, this is a cool interaction because Eccentric Boy's seemingly negative effect turns into a positive effect for Angel of Zera.

But yeah, your intuition's correct. Angel of Zera's effect to Summon itself is an activated effect as indicated by its card text and the use of colons and semi-colons. Soul Drain would prevent that effect from activating.

Cain Fouard writes…

Hi Judge Joe!

Just a curiosity I'm sure you've noticed before, but I thought I'd point it out just in case you haven't seen it.

The old card rulings of The Shining Darkness, Machina Mayhem, Duelist Pack Collection Tin 2010, Absolute Powerforce, Ancient Prophecy, Raging Battle, and Crimson Crisis all mention 'Missing the Timing' and Crimson Crisis mentions Conditions when describing Debris Dragon's effects. This isn't the rule book, but as the rulings are an official source, would these count as official terms, then? Enough for us to use them when describing a ruling to others, like you do in your articles.

I agree it would be nice for these phrases and words to be put in the glossary section of the rulebook, but until Konami decides to do that, is this enough? Also a question of opinion, or maybe I just don't know: why do the rulings like that end at Extreme Victory? Why aren't more ruling made by Konami?

Links below for your convenience! Thanks for your time!

-Cain

Hello Cain! Good questions here!

I am aware of the use of the terms "missing the timing" and "conditions" in these ruling documents. I don't use the terms myself for a few reasons. First up…

No one knows what "missing the timing" actually means.

By that, I mean there's a lot of people that misapply what mechanic the phrase is supposed to convey. As seen in the Saga of the Blue-Eyes White Dragon Structure Deck, optional effects that activate "when" something happens can't activate if that something wasn't the "last thing to happen". If "missing the timing" was still a phrase Konami used, they would've used it here because this is literally the mechanic that "missing the timing" is meant to describe.

I'm a member of a few Judge-related facebook groups, and I'd estimate that players and judges alike will three times out of four use the phrase "missing the timing" when describing a situation that has nothing to do with optional "when" trigger effects activating.

The use of the shortcut phrase "missing the timing" is no longer a shortcut; it's now an additional Stumbling block that a lot of people trip over. As such, I don't use it. Instead, I aim to educate players and judges on the mechanic itself. The use of the shortcut phrase doesn't mean anything unless you already know what the mechanic is. When you're attempting to describe the mechanic to someone that doesn't know it by using the words "it misses timing", you might as well be speaking Swahili or parseltongue. "Missing the timing" doesn't mean anything to anyone who doesn't already know what "missing the timing" means. It's high time we as a community stop using the phrase. It's a barrier to entry for new players understanding how the game works, and we shouldn't be making it harder for new people to play this game.

The word "condition", on the other hand, is less cut-and-dried. The concept of a "condition" certainly exists, but it's hard to describe. I can best describe it as "an effect that can't be negated" (as a face-up Skill Drain won't allow you to Synchro Summon a non-Dragon with Debris Dragon). But it gets more complicated since Problem-Solving Card Text also uses the term condition. The part of the effect that appears before the colon that tells you when your effects can activate is formally called the "condition".

Unfortunately, this is another part of the game that's lacking in official resources. Problem-Solving Card Text currently doesn't distinguish between negatable effects and non-negatable "conditions". You just kinda have to take a best guess if the effect can be negated. Generally, effects that say "you can't use this as a Tribute / Synchro Material/ Xyz Material" can't be negated and would be considered "conditions", but listing out everything that is and isn't a condition would be a waste of time and would end horribly, because that would kick off an endless string of questions in the form of "is THIS CARD a condition? What about THAT CARD?" It would get messy quickly. I really hope Konami is in the process of clearing this part of the game up.

And finally, card ruling documents are no longer published because most of the info in the rulings documents detail how individual cards work; do effects start chains? Do they target? What happens if the targets are no longer valid? We now get all that information on the card itself, so rulings documents are no longer needed for that. Rulings documents also contained a few rulings that detailed interactions with specific cards. These rulings are what I called "mechanics" rulings that gave hints as to how this game actually works. Judges who were good at pattern recognition would attempt to extrapolate published rulings with cards with similar texts in order to define mechanics that would apply to situations where there was no official resoruce to dictate how the interaction was supposed to work. This approach, however, was flawed in that extrapolating known rulings didn't necessarily result in the mechanic being what we thought it was.

Judges nowadays will apply PSCT and play cards as written in order to determine how they work. This is a lot easier than having to be a walking encyclopedia to play a card game.

Last question!

Loukas Peterson writes…

If my opponent activates Upstart Goblin, and I counter it with Dark Bribe, do I still gain the 1000 Life Points?

… are you serious? It probably took you 15 seconds to type that out and e-mail it to me. You're never getting those 15 seconds back.

As per the card's PSCT, the entire card is effect. You don't gain the LP until Upstart Goblin resolves. If it's negated by Dark Bribe, you don't gain 1000 LP.

You can top a YCS, but I can't get my invite. Yet I need to tell you that you don't gain LP from a negated Upstart Goblin. That's fair.

And that's it for this week's Court of Appeals! If you have a question about card interactions, game mechanics or tournament policy, send me an e-mail to askjudgejoe@gmail.com and your question could be answered in a future Court of Appeals!

Stay tuned for The $25,000 Pyramid followed by Price is Right!

-Joe Frankino