Conditions, Activations, and Effects
As far as rules go, the most important info on a card are its Timing, Targeting, and Conditions. These are also the things that cause the most questions. For example:
- Timing – If we make a chain, do I do things when I activate my card or when the card resolves?
- Targeting – Does this card target something? If it has more than 1 target, what happens if one target goes away?
- Conditions – What if something changes between the moment I play the card and the moment it finishes up and goes to the Graveyard?
The problem-solving card text fixes all of these problems, completely and forever. The trick was how to do it but still have the cards read the same way if you’re not interested in these kinds of details.
Starting in July, any card that hits on any of these key areas will have its text rewritten to answer all of your questions.
Here’s how it works…
I’m going to explain this all using colors, since our brains understand things better with colors. During this article:
Anything that explains CONDITIONS to activate a card, or limits WHEN or HOW OFTEN you can activate a card, will be written in green and called ‘green text’. Green text limits when you can do things.
Anything that happens WHEN YOU ACTIVATE a card will be written in red and called ‘red text’. This includes things like costs and targeting.
Anything that happens when you resolve a card will be written in blue and called ‘blue text’. This is what happens when the card effect actually happens.
Remember that your actual cards will still be printed in black! The colors are just training wheels to help us explain.
On your cards, instead of using colors, punctuation will let you tell what kind of text everything is.
Conditions (green text) are now always followed by a colon (:).
Activation text (red) is separated from the card effects (blue) by a semicolon (;).
The basic structure is CONDITIONS : ACTIVATION ; RESOLUTION.
Let’s take the new Sangan
as a simple example:When this card is sent from the field to the Graveyard: Add 1 monster with 1500 or less ATK from your Deck to your hand.
Everything in green (before the colon) describes WHEN and under what conditions the effect happens. Everything in blue (after the colon) describes what happens when the effect resolves.
If there’s a semicolon, then everything after the conditions is divided between what happens when you activate the card (red text, before the semicolon) and what happens when the card resolves (blue text, after the semicolon):
When this card is destroyed by battle and sent to the Graveyard: You can target 2 Level 2 monsters in your Graveyard; Special Summon them, but their effects are negated.
When you activate a card or effect:
- Make sure the green part (before the colon) is being followed.
- Do the part in red (before the semicolon) if there is any.
- After that, other cards and effects can be chained in response. If there’s a chain, you don’t do your card’s effects (blue, after the colon / semicolon) until the chain resolves, in backwards order, like this:
Let’s take an example of a 3-card Chain.
Player #1 Summons Trident Warrior
and chooses to activate its effect. This starts a chain:
When this card is Normal Summoned: You can Special Summon 1 Level 3 monster from your hand.
Player #2 chains Raigeki Break
, targeting Player #1’s monster:
Discard 1 card to target 1 card on the field; destroy it.
But the card Player #2 targeted was a Gemini monster, so Player #1 responds with Gemini Spark
Tribute 1 face-up Level 4 Gemini monster you control to target 1 card on the field; destroy it and draw 1 card.
Using the colons and semicolons, you can build the chain like this:
- Player #1’s Trident Warrior: (it has no red text, but it still goes on the chain structure even though nothing happens yet)
- Player #2’s Raigeki Break: Discard 1 card to target 1 card on the field; (at this point, Player #2 discards 1 card, and targets Player #1’s monster)
- Player #1’s Gemini Spark: Tribute 1 face-up Level 4 Gemini monster you control to target 1 card on the field; (at this point, Player #1 Tributes his monster and targets one of Player #2’s cards)
- Player #1’s Gemini Spark resolves: destroy it and draw 1 card. (Player #1 does these things)
- Player #2’s Raigeki Break resolves: destroy it. (The monster isn’t on the field anymore so nothing happens)
- Player #1’s Trident Warrior resolves: Special Summon 1 Level 3 monster from your hand. (Player #1 does this)
Red goes on top, Blue on the bottom. In other words: everything before the semicolons happens first (all piled together in order), then everything after the semicolons (again, all piled up in order).
If there’s a colon or semicolon in the text, that always means an effect that starts a chain. If there is no colon or semicolon, the effect does NOT start a chain and cannot be chained to.
starts a chain. You will know this because it uses a colon:When this card is sent from the field to the Graveyard: Add 1 monster with 1500 or less ATK from your Deck to your hand.
does NOT start a chain. You will know this because it does not use a colon:If your opponent controls a monster and you control no monsters, you can Special Summon this card (from your hand).
Spell and Trap Text
Spells and Traps always start a chain at some point, because activating the Spell/Trap starts a chain all by itself.
Some Spells & Traps won’t have a colon or a semicolon. But they still start a chain when you activate the Spell or Trap. (Summoning a monster doesn’t start a chain, so that’s why they’re different).
, for example, has no colon or semicolon. In fact, its text is exactly the same as before because everything on Creature Swap
happens when the effect resolves:
Each player chooses 1 monster they control and switches control of those monsters with each other. Those monsters cannot change their battle positions for the rest of this turn.
Many Trap Cards have Conditions, so they will have a colon in the text. This doesn’t make them play any differently from a Spell/Trap without a colon, though. The new Seven Tools of the Bandit
looks like this, for example:
When a Trap Card is activated: Pay 1000 Life Points; negate the activation and destroy it.
The colon is there to show that this card has specific conditions to activate it. The semicolon is there to separate what you do when you activate this card, vs. what you do when the card resolves.
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