Yu-Gi-Oh! Rulings FAQ
The game of Yu-Gi-Oh! has many complex interactions between card effects, some arguably unintuitive. This post will aim to list common ruling mistakes that lead to false bug reports.
Many sources in this post will reference the official TCG Rulebook. Rather than link it each time, I will simply do so here.
Note that YGOPro Percy uses OCG rulings, however the official TCG Rulebook and other TCG sources are referenced because they are in English. For fundamental game rules, there is no significant difference. Where necessary, sources will be in Japanese as a result of coming from the OCG.
Another source is the OCG Perfect Rulebook. A partial translation of it can be found here
. This website is not official, but the linked article is a translation of an official source. It is used in place of the official source, because the Perfect Rulebook is A) a physical product and 😎 not free. Because the translation is unofficial, however, and also because the article is long, I’ve tried to reference the TCG rulebook instead where possible and valid.Reviving Special Summon MonstersThis question has an illustrative tutorial in Gideon’s custom puzzles.
Monsters from the Extra Deck, as well as Ritual Monsters, are “Special Summon” monsters - this means they have a certain procedure they must be summoned by, and if you send them directly to the Graveyard or banish them, or summon them ignoring that procedure and then they’re sent to the Graveyard or banished, you cannot Special Summon them again. This rule is not the same thing as a summoning condition, and cannot be ignored by card effect.Examples
SourcesCosts Are Not Card Effects
- Summoning “Stardust Dragon” with “Starlight Road”, then Tributing “Stardust Dragon” to activate its effect. It cannot Special Summon itself during the End Phase.
- Discarding “Blue-Eyes Chaos MAX Dragon” to activate “Trade-In”, then wanting to activate “Fulfillment of the Contract”. You cannot.
- “Dark Flattop” cannot Special Summon “Flying Fortress SKY FIRE” from the Graveyard if it was not first summoned properly, even though it ignores the summoning conditions.
In card effects written with Problem Solving Card Text*, costs are written before semicolons (;) and are paid when an effect activates, and effects are written after and applied when the effect resolves. Some cards have effects that activate only when a certain action is done to them by a card effect. Such effects will not activate if that action is done to pay a cost.*See AppendixExamples
SourcesCosts Must Be Paid As Written
- Discarding “Grapha, Dragon Lord of Dark World” to activate “Trade-In”. “Grapha, Dragon Lord of Dark World”’s effect will not activate.
- Sending “Shaddoll Falco” from the Deck to the Graveyard to activate “Dante, Traveller of the Burning Abyss”. “Shaddoll Falco”’s effect will not activate.
What a cost is, and how to tell, is described in the above question. If there is a card effect or rule of the game preventing you from paying the cost as it is written, you cannot activate the effect.Examples
- “Wonder Wand” equipped to “Double Iris Magician”. Because Pendulum Monsters go to the Extra Deck, and not the Graveyard, you cannot activate “Wonder Wand”.
- “Wonder Wand” equipped to “Aleister the Invoker”, while your opponent controls “Masked HERO Dark Law”. Because of “Masked HERO Dark Law”, cards are banished instead of going to the Graveyard, so you cannot activate “Wonder Wand”.
Missing The Timing
- “Costs”, Perfect Rulebook starting pg. 131
If an effect is written “When (condition): You can (cost and/or effect)”, the condition being fulfilled must have been the most recent thing to happen in order to activate the effect. You cannot activate a card during the resolution of a Chain, so if the “timing” window for the effect comes and goes during a Chain, you have “missed” your chance. This does not apply to effects worded “If (condition):”, nor mandatory effects.Examples
- Destroying “Suanni, Fire of the Yang Zing” with “Nine Pillars of the Yang Zing” at Chain Link 3 or higher, such that Chain Link 1 still resolves normally. You cannot activate “Suanni, Fire of the Yang Zing”’s effect.
- Using “Formula Synchron”’s effect to Synchro Summon “Black Rose Dragon” at Chain Link 2 or higher. You cannot activate “Black Rose Dragon”’s effect.
Negating Special SummonsThis question is about a specific application of the same rule as the above question. Please ensure you understand “Missing The Timing” first.
- “Effects that Meet Their Activation Requirements in the Middle of the Resolution of an Effect or Chain”, Perfect Rulebook starting pg. 134
A card effect that activates “When a monster would be Summoned” cannot be activated in response to an activated card effect that Special Summons. When that card effect resolves, first the monster would
be Special Summoned, and then, before you can activate cards in response, the monster is successfully Summoned, a different timing window, and the appropriate window for the card you want to activate has been missed. Such card effects can only negate built-in Special Summons, by either game mechanic (for example Synchro, or Xyz) or summoning condition (which is not an activated effect - you can tell the difference because activated effects have a colon (:) or semicolon (;) ).Examples
SourcesSpecific Card Text
- Your opponent activates “Polymerization” while you have “Solemn Strike” set. You cannot activate it.
- Your opponent activates “Darklord Superbia” while you have “Black Horn of Heaven” set. You cannot activate it.
- Your opponent Synchro Summons “Stardust Dragon” while you have “Steelswarm Roach” on the field. You can activate it.
- Your opponent Special Summons "Cyber Dragon" while you have “Solemn Judgement” set. You can activate it.
Exactly what a card says is often important. There are multiple ways cards can be sent to the Graveyard, and exactly which way matters for the activation of card effects. Effects that “destroy”, “discard”, “Tribute”, just “send”, and “return” cards to the Graveyard are all different, and are determined solely by what the card performing such actions says, not where the card came from or anything else. However, all but “return” are also classed as “sending”. Also, whether an effect targets or not is also determined entirely by card text, not by how many cards it affects or anything else.Examples
- “Souleating Oviraptor” sends “Babycerasaurus” from the Deck to the Graveyard. “Babycerasaurus” must be destroyed, so it does not activate.
- “Dragonic Diagram” destroys “Babycerasaurus” in your hand. “Babycerasaurus” does activate, even though it was sent from the hand, because “Dragonic Diagram” states `destroy`.
- “Dragonic Diagram” destroys “Grapha, Dragon Lord of Dark World” in your hand. “Grapha, Dragon Lord of Dark World” does not activate, even though it was sent from the hand, because “Dragonic Diagram” states `destroy`, not `discard`.
- “Dragonic Diagram” destroys “Shaddoll Falco” in your hand. “Shaddoll Falco” does activate, even though “Dragonic Diagram” states `destroy`, because it was sent to the graveyard.
- “Burial From the Different Dimension” returns “Shaddoll Falco” to the Graveyard from being banished. “Shaddoll Falco” does not activate, because it was `returned` to the Graveyard, not `sent`.
- “Artifact Moralltach” is summoned and destroys the opponent’s “Leo, Keeper of the Sacred Tree”. This is legal, as “Artifact Moralltach” does not state that it “targets”.
The Ways Effects Refer to Cards
- “Destroy”, TCG Rulebook pg. 53
- “Discard”, TCG Rulebook pg. 53
- “Send to the Graveyard”, TCG Rulebook pg. 55
- “Tribute”, TCG Rulebook pg. 55
- “Effects that target”, Perfect Rulebook starting pg. 136
Be careful not to confuse the different ways card texts can refer to other cards. Monster types, like Dragon-type, and card types, like Synchro, are written without quotation marks (“). Archetypes, part of a card’s name, are written with quotes, like `”Zoodiac” monster` or `”True Draco” card`. However, a card’s exact name is also written with quotation marks - the difference in this situation is that it will not say `card`, `monster` or anything similar after them.Examples
- “Supreme King Z-ARC”’s Fusion Materials are `4 Dragon-Type monsters (1 Fusion, 1 Synchro, 1 Xyz, and 1 Pendulum)`. This means cards like “Stardust Dragon”. The effect of “Astrograph Sorcerer” requires monsters `(1 each with "Pendulum Dragon", "Xyz Dragon", "Synchro Dragon", and "Fusion Dragon" in their names)`. This means cards like “Clear Wing Synchro Dragon”. Double Iris Magician states `(This card is always treated as a "Pendulum Dragon" card.)`. Because of the quotation marks, this means the latter category - you can use it with “Astrograph Sorcerer”’s effect, but not a Fusion Summon of “Supreme King Z-ARC”. This example has an illustrative tutorial in Gideon’s custom puzzles.
- “Dark Magical Circle” states `1 Spell/Trap Card that specifically lists the card "Dark Magician"`. This includes cards like “Dark Magic Attack”, which states `If you control "Dark Magician":`. Note how that phrase ends immediately after the quotes. Compare “The Eye of Timaeus”, which states `Target 1 "Dark Magician" monster`. As it says monster, it lists the archetype, not the specific card, and cannot be added to your hand by “Dark Magical Circle”. This example has an illustrative tutorial in Gideon’s custom puzzles.
Destruction is not NegationThis question has an illustrative tutorial in Gideon’s custom puzzles.
- “Card Name” TCG Rulebook pg. 6
Removal of a card from the field does not negate the activation of its effects. However, Continuous Spells/Traps, Field Spells, Equip Spells, and Pendulum Monsters treated as Spell Cards must remain face-up on the field for their effects to resolve.Examples
- “Mystical Space Typhoon” is chained to the activation of “Compulsory Evacuation Device”, destroying it. Its effect still resolves, returning the targeted monster to the hand.
- “Mystical Space Typhoon” is chained to the activation of “Fire Formation - Tenki”, destroying it. When it resolves, its effect is not applied.
Xyz Materials and Leaving the FieldThis question has an illustrative tutorial in Gideon’s custom puzzles.
- “Effect Resolution”, Perfect Rulebook starting pg. 126
- “Continuous Spell Cards”, Perfect Rulebook starting pg. 117
- “Field Spells”, Perfect Rulebook starting pg. 119
- “Continuous Traps”, Perfect Rulebook starting pg. 124
Xyz Materials are not considered to “leave the field” at any point, neither when being overlaid for an Xyz summon or being detached to activate an effect or because the Xyz monster left the field.Examples
- If “Sangan” is used as Xyz material or detached, its effect will not activate.
- If “Elder Entity Norden” Special Summons a monster from the Graveyard, then is used as Xyz material, the summoned monster is not banished.
Activated Cards vs Effects
- “Leaves the Field” TCG Rulebook pg. 51
The activation of a card and the activation of a card effect are technically different things. Many Counter Traps and other effects activate `When a Spell/Trap Card, or monster effect, is activated`. Activating a card is placing it face-up on the field. Some Spell and Trap Cards have effects that activate other than when the card is activated, such as in the Graveyard, or Continuous Spell/Trap Cards that are already face-up on the field. This is not the activation of a Spell/Trap Card, and effects such as those mentioned above cannot be activated in response.Examples
- If “Invocation”’s effect in the Graveyard is activated to add “Aleister the Invoker” to the hand, “Nine Pillars of the Yang Zing” cannot be chained.
- If "Disciples of the True Dracophoenix"'s effect to shuffle cards into the deck is activated, "Nine Pillars of the Yang Zing" cannot be chained.
Starving Venom Fusion Dragon and Ultra PolymerizationThis question has an illustrative tutorial in Gideon’s custom puzzles.
- “Activating Cards and Effects”, Perfect Rulebook starting pg. 130
“Ultra Polymerization” cannot Special Summon the monsters used for the Fusion Summon of “Starving Venom Fusion Dragon”. This is because “Starving Venom Fusion Dragon”'s Fusion Materials are `2 DARK Monsters on the field`, while “Ultra Polymerization” will `Special Summon all the Fusion Materials used for its Fusion Summon from your Graveyard`. Combining those two phrases, Ultra Polymerization will `Special Summon all the 2 DARK Monsters on the field used for its Fusion Summon from your Graveyard`, but cards in the Graveyard are not on the field, so it is not valid and cannot be done.SourcesDecode Talker’s Upwards Marker
Decode Talker cannot Tribute your opponent’s monster it points to for its effect, as Tributing is an action you perform only to cards you control unless a card effect specifically says otherwise.SourcesAppendixWhat is PSCT?
Problem Solving Card Text is the name for the standardised way Yu-Gi-Oh! Card text has been written starting in 2011, to simplify card effects to the point that most situations can be resolved simply by applying logic. This card text is key to understanding some of the rulings laid out in this FAQ, so it only discusses cards which have them.
Edited by moderator
| Reason: minor punctuation tweak