All rise!

Hello duelists, and welcome back to Court of Appeals! Every two weeks I'll answer your questions about card interactions, game mechanics and tournament policy submitted to askjudgejoe@gmail.com. I get quite a few submissions, and I most likely can't get to them all. To improve your chances of your e-mail making it to the column, please follow these ground rules...

-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.

Please be seated.

Mike Grisa writes…

Joe Frankino,

Always interested, and take the time to view, and read Court of Appeals, I've recently been considering a strategy with both Mark of the Rose and White Magician Pikeru. (You have piqued my interest. - Joe)

I understand I can activate Mark of the Rose by banishing a Plant from my graveyard and equipping it to a monster my opponent controls to gain control of it until the End Phase. If I were to equip Mark of the Rose to my opponent's White Magician Pikeru, I'm sure I'll still gain 400 Life Points for each monster I control on the field during my Standby Phase since I'll first gain control of White Magician Pikeru equipped with Mark of the Rose before the effect of White Magician Pikeru activates. Is this true?

Hello Mike!

Well, that's indeed true. White Magician Pikeru will switch control during your Standby Phase, and since you're still in the Standby Phase, White Magician Pikeru's effect will activate and you'll gain Life Points.

I… guess my only question would be… in order for that situation to play out, your opponent would need to have a White Magician Pikeru for you to take in the first place. I mean, you could play the Magician too and have the same result, but… yeah…

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Mad Morli writes…

Subject: Mermail Abyssbalaen PSCT (You have my full and undivided Attention! -Joe)

Hi Joe,

Thanks to your recent article regarding PSCT, I gained a whole new understanding about game mechanics that I didn't have before, and was never mentioned in Konami's official PSCT articles. I never knew there was difference between "activate" and "use" previously, but after reading your article it suddenly makes sense.

What I still don't know understand is the unique use of parentheses in Mermail Abyssbalaen's text. There are the words "(if possible)" and "(if any)" there. I do wonder why that text is included, because without it we still know what its effects are. I have a vague inkling of what it could mean, but it would help if you could clarify it.

Thanks for your help before, I appreciate it!

Hello Mad Morli! I'll answer any and all questions regarding WHALE! I love Whale. Don't judge me.

The inclusion of the phrases "(if possible)" and "(if any)" simply mean what they imply. While you'll usually have Mermails in the graveyard from Mermail Abyssbalaen's cost, the possibility exists that those Mermails are no longer there, like if you chained Localized Tornado to Mermail Abyssbalaen's Special Summon effect for whatever reason.

Regardless, the words "(if possible)" are in the effect because even if you have no Mermails in the graveyard when Mermail Abyssbalaen's Special Summoned, its second effect to give it another 500 ATK will still activate and resolve properly.

Rembero Olmos writes…

Hey Joe, I always dig your articles since they help me better as a player. On to my question. If my opponent attempts to summon Lava Golem onto my side of the field, can I activate Solemn Warning, or Vanity's Emptiness to save my monsters from being Tributed?

Hello Rembero!

Unfortunately, the monsters are Tributed as part of Lava Golem's attempted Summon. Vanity's Emptiness isn't a good option since the Special Summon doesn't use the chain, meaning you won't have the opportunity to activate Vanity's Emptiness until after the Summon's already happened. Solemn Warning can negate Lava Golem's Summon but the monsters remain Tributed, similar to negating a Tribute Summon. Because Lava Golem can simply get rid of two monsters of the player's choice without using an activated effect or anything the opponent can respond to, Lava Golem remains one of the best pieces of monster removal in the game. The trade-off is that you have to deal with a Level 8, 3000 ATK monster you just handed to your opponent.

Alex Gravely writes…

Hi Joe!

My question presently makes me hide into a corner that I generally only go into whenever someone mentions Shrink, so I was hoping you can handle it for me.

Let's I have Necrovalley' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Imperial Tombs of Necrovalley">Imperial Tombs of Necrovalley set and any face-up "Gravekeeper's" monster, and I then activate Necrovalley. If my opponent activates Mystical Space Typhoon targeting Necrovalley, can I then activate Necrovalley' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Imperial Tombs of Necrovalley">Imperial Tombs of Necrovalley legally?

Hello Alex!

That seems like a "yes" to me. A Field Spell, when activated, is placed in the Field Spell Zone. I'd call that "on the field" even if the spell hasn't resolved yet.

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Alan Scarr writes…

HI Joe, I've been reading your articles for a while and find them really informative and helpful. My query is regarding a face-down Ghostrick Yeti with no other face-up Ghostrick monsters on the field, with an attacking monster that has a higher ATK than the defense of the Yeti. Is the Yeti destroyed or can it activate its effect on itself to protect it from destruction? Our thinking is no, but we're still not sure as to the answer. Your help is greatly appreciated. ~Alan

Hello Alan!

Your intuition's correct. Our current understanding of the Damage Step (which you can read here) is that damage calculation's performed before FLIP and "flip-face-up" effects are activated. Ghostrick Yeti has already been determined to be destroyed by battle, and because of that, it's not a legal target for its own effect.

Keeping with the Damage Step, Jason (not Grabher-Meyer) writes…

Hello! This scenario has come up many times in my locals and I'm tired of fighting with people over it. Not to sound like I know everything... But I'm sure I'm right about this. The scenario involves Honest and Bujingi Crane almost all the time, and sometimes Crane by itself. Crane activates during damage calculation, the final part of the Battle Phase, while Honest activates during the Damage Step (before damage calculation).

Most people I duel say the Damage Step and damage calculation are the same thing. The head judge at my store ruled them as separate (step before calculation) and I know a lot of them come to this page and read your articles. Please clarify, and explain the faults if any.

Hello Jason!

There's a bit of misinformation floating around your question with all parties involved. It's no one's fault mind you, because official resources for the Damage Step are very limited. But let's clear things up.

First, check out the damage step article I wrote some months ago which consolidates everything we know about the Damage Step. Notice that the Damage Step consists of many different parts, and "damage calculation" is one of those parts. Some things that activate in the Damage Step can possibly activate in damage calculation too. Honest is one of those cards. You can activate its effect at any time in the Damage Step up to and including indamage calculation.

Also, the final part of the Battle Phase is the never-mentioned-but-in-the-rulebook End Step, which cards and effects will simply call "the end of the Battle Phase." For instance, that's where the Gladiator Beast monsters activate their effects to return to the deck.

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Last question!

Bryan Koger writes…

I have a question about Solemn Warning. Recently I played against a Harpie Deck and Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack came out first turn. A few turns after, I set a Solemn Warning and passed. My opponent had Dracossack and one Mecha Phantom Beast Token on the field. He activated Dracossack's effect by Tributing his last token to target my set Warning.

I responded by chaining Warning. I was wondering if that was the correct response? A monster effect was activated and includes an effect to Special Summon a monster.

Hello Bryan!

I love this question because it reminds me of the old World Championship games for the Nintendo DS. If you'll allow, a brief diversion… (well, I guess you don't have a choice, do you…)

Back in the day, Konami released a series of video games for the Nintendo DS that hit shelves near the beginning of the year and would be used in its own World Championship tournament. Like the TCG's World Championship, each region had a tournament to determine who its representatives would be. For North America, the Video Game WCQ was held at the same place and time as the TCG's WCQ. The Video Game tournament had a little bit of a different format than its TCG counterpart. For one, the tournament structure was different (it was single-elimination the entire way, if I remember it correctly, and played primarily on DS consoles over the internet instead of locally), and the Forbidden and Limited lists were different too.

The Video Game World Championship F&L list was usually based on the TCG's Advanced Format list but would always have some unusual additions. One of those additions was Royal Oppression, and for a while, I couldn't figure out why random cards like Royal Oppression were outright Forbidden in the Video Game but weren't even on the radar for limitation in the TCG. It wasn't until I tried playing with one of those cards in-game when I finally realized it; when Jack Atlas activated Sword Master's effect from his hand after I destroyed a monster of his in battle, I knew why that card was on the World Championship Forbidden List; the card is straight-up broken in-game. It doesn't do what the card was written to do in real life.

When I looked up this strange behavior online, I found many stories of Royal Oppression doing things Royal Oppression had no business doing, like negating Grandmaster of the Six Samurai's effect to return an in-grave Six Samurai from graveyard to hand. Like… huh? I'm guessing early versions of Royal Oppression just looked for the phrase "Special Summon" in card text to determine if it could negate an effect, and hence created a version of the card in the videogame that was totally broken - literally.

… so what did that have to do with Solemn Warning? Well, in your question, Dracossack isn't Special Summoning anything, so you can't activate Solemn Warning. I'm fairly confident I've gone through enough QA testing to ensure my answer's correct, unlike Sword Master and Royal Oppression.

Anyway, that's it for this week's Court of Appeals! If you have any questions about card interactions, 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!

Court is adjourned. ­

-Joe Frankino