Friday, April 30, 2010

TSHD Sneak Preview Part 5: The X Factor

X-Sabers were one of the first themes introduced in the first era of Duel Terminals. Being gathered as a group of EARTH Monsters, they were supposed to be 9 swordmasters under the command of Gottoms, effectively honoring their name of X (ten). X-Sabers were also one of the first themes to disappear from the Duel Terminals, and in some sort of compensation, they received ridiculous amounts of ridiculous support for their theme. Initially, the first 80 Cards of The Shining Darkness released in Japan did not contain any Cards for the X-Saber theme. Yet, thanks to the addition of exclusives that the TCG has, they ended up becoming one of the main attractions of the set that is about to be released.

In this article, we'll look at the first 10 original X-Sabers. Well, actually, nine, since Anu Piranha is a Normal Monster. Let's start with the leader, Commander Gottoms, Swordmaster:

All face-up  "Saber" monsters  you control  gain 400 ATK.

A very simple Continuous Effect. Nothing too impressive to say about it, other than it extends to monsters simly named "Saber", instead of just "X-Saber", so it works with Cards like Sabersaurus. Not too flashy, I guess.

We continue with one of the most popular X-Saber monsters, Airbellum:

When this card inflicts Battle Damage to your opponent by a direct attack, discard 1 random card from your opponent's hand.

This Tuner monster has a Mandatory Trigger Effect. It activates at the "After Damage Calculation" Sub-Step. It will only activate if the attack was direct, and if Airbellum inflicts Battle Damage. So even if you attack over a zero ATK monster, Airbellum won't activate, as the attack was not direct.

Moving on, we have X-Saber Axel:

While you control this face-up card, when a "Saber" monster  is destroyed by battle and sent to the Graveyard, draw  1 card.

Axel has a Mandatory Trigger Effect, which activates at the End of the Damage Step. Similar to Gottoms, it also works with monsters whose name is "Saber", without being "X-Saber" monsters. Note that Axel must be face-up at both the activation and resolution of its effect: If it is destroyed in battle, it won't activate, and if the opponent chains an effect that causes Axel not be face-up, it will resolve without effect.

Next, we have X-Saber Galahad:

If this card attacks an opponent's monster, this card gains 300 ATK during the Damage Step only. If this card is attacked by an opponent's monster, this card loses 500 ATK during the Damage Step only. When this card is selected as an attack target, you can Tribute another "Saber" monster to negate the attack.

Galahad has three effects, which is the most of all of the first batch of X-Saber monsters. And that's pretty sad. The first two effects, which are pretty similar, are Continuous Effects which start applying since the Start of the Damage Step. The second effect is a Trigger Effect. It tributes one "Saber" monster as a cost. Once again, it works with monsters that aren't named "X-Saber" specifically, and you can also use face-down "Saber" monsters. This effect is activated upon attack declaration. None of Galahad's effects target.

Another X-Saber monster is X-Saber Uruz:

When this card destroys an opponent's monster by battle and sends it to the Graveyard, you can Tribute this card to return the destroyed card to the top of its owner's  Deck.

Uruz has an Optional Trigger Effect, which you can activate at the End of the Damage Step. Tributing Uruz is a cost, and the effect doesn't target. Note that the destroyed monster IS sent to the Graveyard before being returned to the top of the Deck, so if it has an effect that activates in the Graveyard like Mystic Tomato or Sangan, these effects will activate.

The last legal X-Saber monster is X-Saber Urbellum:

1 Tuner + 1 or more non-Tuner monsters
When this card inflicts Battle Damage to your opponent, while they have 4 or more cards in their hand, place 1 random card from their hand on top of their Deck.

With a name so similar to Airbellum, it's effect isn't too different either. It is also a mandatory Trigger Effect that you activate at the "After Damage Calculation" Sub-Step. Only this time, instead of discarding a random Card, the Card is returned to the top of the Deck. A key difference is that Urbellum doesn't need to attack directly to activate its effect. Additionally, it has an activation requirement that asks for the opponent to have 4 or more Cards in his/her Hand. However, this is only needed upon activation, and if the Hand size is smaller during Urbellum's effect's resolution, a Card is still returned.

The last three original X-Saber monsters are not tournament legal YET. Two of them will become legal once they are released in The Shining Darkness, and one will become legal when the next Starter Deck is released. Nevertheless, we already know what their texts look like, and like you have seen so far, X-Sabers aren't necessarily complicated.

Let's start with the ones that will be released in a few days. First we have X-Saber Palomuro:

When another "Saber" monster you control is destroyed by battle and sent to the Graveyard, you can pay  500 Life Points to Special Summon this card from the Graveyard.

Yet another lazy guy that works with any "Saber" monster. This Tuner monster has an Optional Trigger Effect that activates in the Graveyard at the End of the Damage Step. Paying 500 Life Points is a cost. Note the "another" in the text, meaning that Palomuro cannot Special Summon itself when it is destroyed in battle. You can, however, Special Summon 2 different Palomuros when each other is destroyed in battle. You can also Special Summon more than 1 Palomuro when a Saber monster is destroyed in battle.

The other saber weilder arriving in TSHD is X-Saber Pashuul:

This card cannot be destroyed by battle. If this card is in face-up Defense Position, you take 1000 damage during each of your opponent's Standby Phases.

Pashuul has two effects, the first one being Continuous, and the second one being a Trigger Effect. The first effect is self-explanatory. As usual, since it's not mentioned otherwise, Damage Calculation is applied normally. The second effect is a Mandatory Trigger Effect that activates during the opponent's Standby Phase, in order to inflict effect damage to you. Note that Pashuul must be in face-up Defense Position upon activation and resolution, so if you flip it face-down, change its position, or Remove it from the Field in a chain, you will not take damage.

The last original X-Saber is X-Saber Wayne, who is still illegal for a little longer:

1 Tuner + 1 or more non-Tuner monsters
When this card is Synchro Summoned, you can Special Summon 1 Level 4 or lower Warrior-Type monster from your hand.
Oh well, nothing too amazing. Wayne has an Optional Trigger Effect, which Special Summons a Warrior from your Hand. Note that it doesn't target the monster in the Hand. It's a really simple effect.

And those are the first batch of X-Sabers. We'll look at the rest of their support while anxiously waiting for the new set. Stay tuned for the next part! If you have any questions, feel free to drop me an e-mail at ness00[at]gmail[dot]com.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

TSHD Sneak Preview Part 4: Back In Black

We have already reviewed most of the existing Cards that build and support the Blackwing theme, and we still have a few more to go. Ever since they started in CRMS, they have only taken a break in the latest set so far being Absolute Powerforce. This means that we have some Blackwing Cards in Ancient Prophecy and Stardust Overdrive. And whether you are a Blackwing player, or you are just sick of them, you will love (or hate) to know that there are almost new Cards for them in The Shining Darkness.

But back to the the present, or probably the past, let's start looking at Ancient Prophecy. We start with Blackwing - Fane the Steel Chain:

This card can attack your opponent directly. When this card attacks your opponent directly and inflicts Battle Damage to your opponent, change 1 Attack Position monster your opponent controls  to Defense Position.

Fane is very simple. Its first effect is a Continuous Effect, which we have reviewed a number of times already. Its second effect is a mandatory Trigger Effect. It activates at the "After Damage Calculation" Sub-Step when Fane inflicts at least 1 point of Battle Damage, and it targets 1 Attack Position monster.

The next monster from the same set is Blackwing - Mistral the Silver Shield:

If this card on the field is destroyed  and sent to the Graveyard, reduce the Battle Damage you take from the next attack this turn to 0.

This Tuner monster is also very simple, but slightly more complicated than Fane. Mistral has a Mandatory Trigger Effect which activates at the End of the Damage Step. This effect actually places a condition that will reduce Battle Damage the next time you take Battle Damage during this turn. This condition doesn't use the chain once you apply it. Note that this condition will be applied immediately for the next time you will take Battle Damage, meaning that you don't get to choose which attack to block. Your opponent is likely to attack with a weaker monster before using his/her most powerful monster, and Mistral will only stop the least threatening attack.

These two monsters aren't too surprising, or even worth of too much analysis. So let's move to where the juice is at. The last Blackwing monster from ANPR: Blackwing - Vayu the Emblem of Honor:

If this card is face-up on the field, you cannot use it for a Synchro Summon. If this card is in your Graveyard, you can remove from play this card plus 1 non-Tuner "Blackwing" monster in your Graveyard, and Special Summon 1 "Blackwing" Synchro Monster from your Extra Deck whose Level equal the total Levels of the removed monsters. The effect(s) of that Synchro Monster is negated.

Now this is something worth looking at. This Tuner monster has a Continuous Effect and an Ignition Effect. The Continuous Effect prevents it from being used as a Synchro Summon, which is somewhat counter-productive, but you can still use Vayu with Cards like Tuner's Barrier. The important thing here is that, being a Continuous Effect that is applied on the Field, it can be negated. So if you use Skill Drain, or the very negation caused by Blackwing - Shura the Blue Flame, you can perform Synchro Summons with Vayu.

The Ignition Effect targets the other Blackwing monster in your Graveyard. It is not a cost to Remove either Card from Play. When Vayu starts resolving, first, you check that both Vayu and the targeted Blackwing monster are still in the Graveyard. If not, nothing is Removed from Play or Summoned. If they are, you remove both monsters from Play and look for a Synchro Monster that matches the sum of their Levels. If at resolution you fail to find any (because an effect caused it to no longer be there), then nothing is Summoned, but Vayu and the other Blackwing stay Removed from Play. If there are no problems with the effect, the Blackwing Synchro Monster is Special Summoned. This Summon is not a Synchro Summon. Additionally, the effects of the Synchro Monster are negated as long as it remains face-up on the Field.

A question as common as the Blizzard+ Whirlwind "trick" is in regards to Vayu vs. Royal Oppression. Many have heard a ruling saying that "you can't negate Vayu with Oppression", or that "Vayu is unaffected by Oppression". Both are using incorrect words. Vayu can certainly be negated by Oppression, and can certainly be affected by it. If Oppression, or any similar Card tries to negate Vayu, then the Synchro Monster won't be Special Summoned. That's pretty evident. The real reason why it is inefficient or pointless to negate Vayu (which are very different from "impossible") is because Vayu has no cost. If Vayu's effect is negated, then Vayu and the targeted monster will remain in the Graveyard, and the Synchro Monster will remain within the Extra Deck. In other words, Vayu has just met the requirements to activate its effect again. Using effect negation on Vayu is similar to trying to negate Treeborn Frog while it sits in the Graveyard during the Standby Phase: It will just activate again.

There is one more Blackwing monster before our brief break in ABPF. Blackwing - Silverwind the Ascendant was included in Stardust Overdrive. Let's take a look:

1 "Blackwing" Tuner Monster + 2 or more non-Tuner monsters
When this card is Synchro Summoned, you can select and destroy up to 2 face-up monsters on the field with DEF lower than this card's ATK. You cannot conduct your Battle Phase the turn you activate this effect. The next time a "Blackwing" monster you control would be destroyed by battle during your opponent's turn, it is not destroyed; this effect only happens once.

The first thing to notice is that you need at least 3 monsters to perform a Synchro Summon of this monster. Since adding 8 Levels using 3 or more monsters is somewhat complicated for Blackwings, most players simply use Vayu's effect targeting Armor Master. Since Vayu doesn't perform a Synchro Summon, it doesn't need to fulfill Silverwind's demands for three monsters.

Setting that aside, Silverwind has a Trigger Effect and a Continuous Effect. The Trigger Effect is optional, and it targets up to 2 monsters. Their DEF must be lower than Silverwind's ATK upon the effect's activation and when it starts resolving. If you activate this effect, and the activation isn't negated, you can't conduct your Battle Phase (even if Silverwing falied to destroy the monsters because it was flipped face-down). Like we learned in a previous article, you can't flip this restriction around by conducting your Battle Phase and Summoning Silverwind during Main Phase 2 (the effect can't be activated).

The Continuous Effect is a little picky. The first time a Blackwing monster will be destroyed during the opponent's Battle Phase, that monster is not destroyed in battle. This effect can only applied once while Silverwind remains face-up on the Field. If the same monster is attacked again, this protection is gone. You cannot choose when to apply it. And of course, if Silverwind is flipped face-down and face-up, you can apply it once again.

It sure has been a long way to look at all the Blackwing Cards, but we still have one more theme to review while waiting for The Shining Darkness. Stay tuned for the next part! If you have any questions, feel free to drop me an e-mail at ness00[at]gmail[dot]com.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

TSHD Sneak Preview Part 3: Darker Than Black

With the arrival of Raging Battle, Blackwings received tons of support in order to get the first batch of birds moving. This is where it began to be pretty obvious that they would keep getting even more support, but for now, let's focus on this peculiar set, and the 9 support Cards included in it for this theme.

The first one we have is Blackwing - Elphin the Raven:

If you control a face-up "Blackwing" monster, you can Normal Summon this card without Tributing. When this card is Normal Summoned, you can change the Battle Position of 1 monster your opponent controls.

Elphin has a Summoning Condition similar to that of Sirocco. Afterwards, it has an optional Trigger Effect. This effect targets 1 of your opponent's monsters in any position, and switches that position (if the monster is in face-down defense position, it is flipped). This effect can be negated by Pulling the Rug and similar Cards. Keep Elphin in mind, as we'll address it in a minute.

The other Card you need to keep in mind for a second will be Blackwing - Blizzard the Far North:

This card cannot be Special Summoned. When this card is Normal Summoned, you can Special Summon 1 Level 4 or lower "Blackwing" monster from your Graveyard  in face-up Defense Position.

First, we have a Summoning Condition that stops you from Special Summoning Blizzard. It doesn't really blend too well in a theme with lots of Special Summons, but oh well. Next, we have an Optional Trigger Effect. It targets 1 Blackwing monster in your Graveyard, and it Special Summons that monster in face-up Defense Position. This position can be changed during your next turn manually.

These two Cards are pretty simple. And the reason I asked you to remind them was Black Whirlwind:

When a "Blackwing" monster  is Normal Summoned to your side of the Field, you can add 1 "Blackwing" monster from your Deck to your hand that has less ATK than that monster.

This is a Continuous Spell Card with a Trigger-like effect. When you Normal Summon a Blackwing monster, it will start a chain.This effect doesn't target anything. When it resolves, it looks at the current ATK of the Summoned monster, and then it allows you to search for a Blackwing monster with less ATK. The Summoned Blackwing monster must remain face-up, otherwise its ATK cannot be checked, and so, you will not get to search any Blackwing monster (not even a 0 ATK one). Being a Continuous Spell Card, Whirlwind needs to remain face-up in order to resolve properly, so you need both, the Spell and the monster, to remain on the Field until the effect resolves.

Now that we have assembled the unholy trinity of Blizzard, Elphin and Whirlwind, we can proceed with the dreaded ruling about manipulating SEGOC effects. If you Normal Summon Blizzard/Elphin, and you wish to activate Whirlwind's effects, they are two Optional Trigger Effects that you control. If you remember our chat about SEGOC, you can manipulate these effects in any order you wish, be it:

Blizzard/Elphin -> Whirlwind


Whirlwind -> Blizzard/Elphin

So what's the point? If you make the monsters link 1 and have Whirlwind be link 2, the nothing can be chained to these monster's effects. For example, Elphin cannot be negated by Tytannial, and Blizzard cannot be negated by Oppression. This happens because no effects can be activated while building a SEGOC chain. And since neither Tytannial or Oppression can be chained directly to the Card they want to negate, they cannot negate these effects. 

The opposite chain also has its purposes. If Blizzard is link 2, then neither player can respond to the successful Summon of the targeted Blackwing monster (such as with Bottomless Trap Hole or Torrential Tribute). As for Elphin...well, I guess one can't use Tragedy in response to the position change -_-

Elphin and Blizzard are the only Blackwing monsters with Optional Trigger Effects upon their successful Normal Summon, so these two are the only ones that can mess around with Whirlwind. This question is extremely common, so I hope this explanation is clear enough.

The next Card is Blackwing - Kalut the Moon Shadow:

When a "Blackwing" monster you control attacks or is attacked, you can send this card from your hand to the Graveyard during the Damage Step to have that monster gain 1400 ATK until the End Phase.

Before we start, sorry, but I won't address Honest vs. Kalut here. That really deserves its own article Q_Q

With that said, Kalut has a Quick Effect. You must send it from your Hand to the Graveyard as a cost. Kalut's effect can only be activated during the first four Sub-Steps of the Damage Step. That is to say, any time before Damage Calculation, and surprisingly, during Damage Calculation too. You can activate Kalut's effect if you attack directly, and you can activate more than one copy. Kalut's effect doesn't target anything. Since sending it to the Graveyard is a cost, if a Card like Macro Cosmos or Banisher of the Radiance is active, you cannot activate Kalut's effect, as you can't pay its cost.

Moving on, we have Blackwing - Shura the Blue Flame:

When this card destroys an opponent's monster  by battle and sends  it to the Graveyard, you can Special Summon 1 "Blackwing" monster  with 1500 or less ATK from your Deck. That monster's effect (s) is negated.

Shura has an Optional Trigger Effect, which you activate at the End of the Damage Step. It Special Summons a Blackwing monster from the Deck, and sets a condition on that monster that negates its effects as long as it remains face-up. Two things to notice is that Shura doesn't target anything, and since it activates during the Damage Step, Oppression cannot negate its effect. Shura must remain face-up until the End of the Damage Step in order to activate its effect, but once it is activated, it doesn't need to remain face-up anymore. Finally, if the Summoned monster is flipped face-down or Removed from the Field, its effects are no longer negated, but this condition cannot be negated by Skill Drain or similar.

As for the last monster for today, we have Blackwing - Armed Wing:

1 "Blackwing" Tuner + 1 or more Non-Tuner monsters
If this card attacks a Defense Position monster, it gains 500 ATK during the Damage Step only. During battle between this attacking card and a Defense Position monster whose DEF is lower then this ATK of this card, inflict the difference as Battle Damage to your opponent.

Armed Wing is pretty simple. Both of its effects are Continuous. The second effect is our usual trample effect, which we have reviewed numerous times. The first one is an ATK boost that you start applying at the Start of the Damage Step if the attacked monster is in Defense Position at that time.

The only other Spell Card for the theme in this set is Against the Wind:

Select 1 "Blackwing" monster in your Graveyard. Take damage equal to the ATK of the selected monster, and add it to your hand.

This Normal Spell Card targets 1 Blackwing in your Graveyard. When it resolves, if the target is still there, you will take effect damage equal to its ATK. If you succeed in taking damage, you will add the monster to your Hand. Despite this dependence on taking damage, it is considered that the damage is simultaneous with adding a Card to the Hand, so there are no timing issues. If the target is not in the Graveyard when you start resolving Against the Wind, you don't take damage (or retrieve the Card). If you do not receive the damage (such as, if you chain Barrel Behind the Door), then you do not add the Card to the Hand.

There are also two Trap Cards in this set. One being Delta Crow - Anti Reverse:

Activate  only while you control a face-up "Blackwing" monster. If you control  exactly 3 "Blackwing" monsters, this card can be activated from your hand. Destroy all face-down  Spell  and Trap Cards your opponent controls.

This Normal Trap Card's effect isn't too surprising, but it's activation requirements are. You can only activate it if you control at least one Blackwing monster. Being an activation requirement, it doesn't matter what happens with the Blackwing monster before this Card resolves. When it resolves, it destroys all or your opponent's face-down S/T Cards. If one or more are chained, those aren't destroyed, but the remaining ones are. The most impressive feature about this Card is that if you control exactly 3 Blackwing monsters, you can activate it from your Hand, and since this Card has no other activation requirements, you can activate it at any time from your Hand (except during the Damage Step), be it your Draw Phase, your opponent's End Phase, etc.

The last Card for today is also a Normal Trap Card, and it's not a very simple one. It is Fake Feather:

Send 1 "Blackwing" monster  from your hand  to the Graveyard and select 1 Normal Trap Card in your opponent's Graveyard. The effect of this card will be the same as the selected Normal Trap Card.

Sending 1 Blackwing monster to the Graveyard is a cost, and similar to Kalut, this Card can't be activated if Macro Cosmos is active. It targets a Normal Trap Card in the opponent's Graveyard, and when Fake Feather resolves, it will perform the effect of the targeted Trap Card. The important thing to note here is that the timing in which you activate Fake Feather must be EXACTLY the same timing as the Trap Card you target. For example, if you wish to target Mirror Force, then you must activate Fake Feather when the opponent declares an attack. You cannot activate Fake Feather during your End Phase just to wipe Attack Position monsters. Also remember that you cannot activate Fake Feather during the Damage Step. 

You do not need to pay any of the targeted Trap Card's costs, but if it targets, you must choose the respective targets as well. If you target a Trap Card that has the ability to remain on the Field (such as Metalmorph), then Fake Feather will not remain on the Field, as this is not part of Metalmorph's effect. Finally, note that Fake Feather's effect upon activation is to copy a Trap Card, and not the Trap Card's effect. This means that if you target a Trap Card that destroys monsters on the Field, Stardust Dragon cannot chain itself to Fake Feather.

Well, that's it for today. Stay tuned for the next part! If you have any questions, feel free to drop me an e-mail at ness00[at]gmail[dot]com.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

TSHD Sneak Preview Part 2: Oiled Pidgeons

Other than being "the Infernity set", The Shining Darkness is also popular for containing several support Cards for the Blackwing theme that began last year in Crimson Crisis. In this part, we'll be looking at the first batch of Blackwing Cards, from the first set they appeared on, which contains some of the most important monsters for the theme.

The first one in line is Blackwing - Sirocco the Dawn:

If your opponent controls a monster and you control  no monsters, you can Normal Summon or Set  this card without Tributing. Once per turn, you can select 1 face-up "Blackwing" monster you control. It gains ATK equal to the total ATK of all face-up "Blackwing" monsters  on the field except itself. Monsters other than the selected monster cannot attack the turn you activate this effect.

Sirocco's first line is a Summoning Condition, and the rest of the text is an Ignition Effect. The Summoning Condition is similar to Cyber Dragon's Inherent Special Summon, only that it's a Normal Summon or Set instead. Being a Normal Summon, there isn't much else to say, other than you can combine Cards like Ultimate Offering with this Summoning Condition to Summon a 2000 ATK monster during the opponent's Battle Phase.

The Ignition Effect is where the cake is at, and surprisingly, it's not a lie. This effect targets a Blackwing monster. After it resolves, you add up the ATK of every other Blackwing monster (even the opponent's) and increase the targeted Blackwing's ATK by that amount. After this effect resolves, no other monsters you control can declare an attack this turn. Note that if the effect's activation is negated, you can declare an attack as usual, but if only the effect is negated (Forbidden Chalice, Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror), no ATK will be gained and the other monsters still can't declare an attack. Since this effect needs to stop certain monsters from attacking, you cannot activate it during Main Phase 2. Another important ruling is that if you activate two Siroccos, and target two different monsters, no monster you control can attack during this turn, as each effect stops the other target from attacking. You can, however, target one monster with two different Siroccos and have it gain a huge ATK bonus.

A fun fact about this effect is that neither its English text nor its Japanese text explain how long it lasts. One would think that it lasts forever, creating huge beatsticks of 4000 ATK or more. However, this effect has been ruled to last until the End Phase, which makes enough sense when compared to similar effects. One still wonders why it wasn't included.

It is also important to note that once Sirocco has resolved properly, giving the ATK boost to the Blackwing monster, using a Card to negate Sirocco's effect will have no effect on the ATK boost. So if I target a Bora, and have it gain 2000 ATK, if Skill Drain is activated later, Bora will remain at 3700 ATK.

Speaking of Blackwing - Bora the Spear, it's the next Card in this review:

If you control a "Blackwing" monster other than "Blackwing - Bora the Spear", you can Special Summon this card from your hand. During battle between this attacking card and a Defense Position monster  whose DEF is lower than the ATK  of this card, inflict the difference as Battle Damage to your opponent.

If you have been reading some of the posts in this blog, then Bora shouldn't be very hard to interpretate. It has a Summoning Condition, which is an Inherent Special Summon, and it also has a trample effect, which is a Continuous Effect. Despite its simplicity, there was a very common question when it was first released: In order to Special Summon Bora, you must control at least one Blackwing monster that isn't named Bora. This means that if you control Sirocco and Bora, you CAN Special Summon a second Bora from your Hand. If you already control 1 Bora, it doesn't matter, as long as you have some other Blackwings on the Field. Of course, they must be face-up.

Moving on, we have Blackwing - Gale the Whirlwind:

If you control a "Blackwing" monster other than "Blackwing - Gale the Whirlwind", you can Special Summon this card from your hand. Once per turn, you can halve the ATK and DEF of 1 face-up monster your opponent controls.

At first sight, Gale doesn't look much more complicated than Bora. It has the same Inherent Special Summon, only that under its own name. The second sentence is an Ignition Effect that targets 1 face-up monster, whose ATK/DEF is halved permanently while it remains face-up on the Field. The complications start on explaining how this "halving" works:

-Any regular monster with no additional ATK/DEF modifiers is not an issue. For example, if you target Jinzo, its ATK will be 1200.

-All existing ATK/DEF modifiers are taken into account into the halving. However, once Gale's effect resolves, this ATK/DEF modifiers are no longer important, and even if they stop being applied (due to negation/destruction/etc.), the ATK/DEF remains the same. For example, if I equip Axe of Despair to Jinzo, its ATK, which is currently 3400 will be halved to 1700. If Axe of Despair is destroyed or negated, Jinzo will still remain at 1700 ATK. This also tells us that Gale is cumulative (the values are halved again, and end up in a quarter of what they used to be. Using our first example, Jinzo would go to 600 ATK. Using our second example, Jinzo would go to 850 ATK, ignoring once again the presence or absence of Axe or Despair). "Freezing" a monster's effects is probably the most interesting part about Gale's effect, as it disrupts monsters like Tragoedia (won't vary even if Cards in Hand increase or decrease) or Fortune Ladies (won't vary even if their Level varies).

-New ATK/DEF modifiers can add and substract from the new value set by Gale. So if I take Jinzo and halve its ATK/DEF (now 1200), I can activate Axe of Despair and it will have 2200 ATK.

Of course, there are some very specific interactions that will become confusing. An interesting exception would be that Light and Darkness, Light End, and Dark End Dragon all reduce their stats as separate decreases, so they can still decrease their starts while resolving their effects, instead of merely "freezing" (for example, if Dark End Dragon has activated once (2100/1600), and you use Gale (1050/800), Dark End can activate its effect again (550/300) instead of "freezing" at 1050/800.). I think monsters like these (Arcana Force EX - The Dark Ruler, for example) are the only ones that work like this. Another exception would be the almighty Wicked Avatar, who would simply restore its ATK/DEF to normal.

There are also some funky interactions between Gale and other similar ATK/DEF modifiers, but I'll leave that for a scary article.

The Spell and Trap support for Blackwings in this set isn't too surprising, but it's worth looking at anyway. The only Spell Card is Raptor Wing Strike:

Return 1 face-up  "Blackwing" monster you control to the Deck. Add 1 "Blackwing" monster  from your Deck to your hand.

This Normal Spell Card returns a Blackwing Monster to the Deck as a cost. You then add one Blackwing monster from the Deck. Note that there is no restriction to which monster you can add to the Deck. Raptor Wing Strike doesn't target anything, by the way. Surprisingly, one can return a Blackwing Synchro Monster to the Extra Deck and still fulfill this Card's cost, which is somewhat contradictory with some rulings we might see later. Oh well Q_Q

The only Trap Card is Ebon Arrow:

Select 1 face-up  monster you control. Until the End Phase, it loses 500 ATK and during battle between that attacking monster  and a Defense Position monster  whose DEF is lower than the selected monster's ATK, inflict the difference as Battle Damage to your opponent. When the selected monster destroys  a monster by battle and sends it to the Graveyard  this turn, inflict damage to your opponent equal to the destroyed monster's  original DEF.

It's not exactly Blackwing support, but hey, it sorta fits the context. Ebon Arrow targets one of your monsters. You can activate this Trap Card at any time, including the Damage Step, but not during Damage Calculation or onwards. The targeted monster loses some ATK, but gains a trample effect (which, as always, doesn't use the chain). When it destroys a monster in battle, it starts a chain at the End of the Damage Step to inflict effect damage equal to the monster's Original DEF. Multiple copies of Ebon Arrow are cumulative, however, trampling is never cumulative. Your monster would lose 1000 ATK, and inflict the effect damage twice.

Finally, we have a very powerful Synchro Monster: Blackwing - Armor Master:

1 "Blackwing" Tuner + 1 or more non-Tuner monsters
This card cannot be destroyed by battle, and you take no Battle Damage from battles involving this card. If this card attacks a monster, you can place 1 Wedge Counter on that monster at the end of the Damage Step (max. 1). You can remove all Wedge Counters from your opponent's monsters to reduce the ATK and DEF of each monster that had a Wedge Counter to 0, until the End Phase.

Armor Master has four effects, so let's break them down:

This card cannot be destroyed by battle
Pretty straightforward. A Continuous Effect that will also be applied if Armor Master is attacked while face-down.

you take no Battle Damage from battles involving this card.
This complements the first effect, effectively making any attacks towards Armor Master quite pointless. Also a Continuous Effect.

If this card attacks a monster, you can place 1 Wedge Counter on that monster at the end of the Damage Step (max. 1).
This is a Trigger Effect. The attacked monster must be face-up at the End of the Damage Step in order to place a Wedge Counter, so it must survive battle. The Wedge Counters are not related to Armor Master in any way, so if Armor Master has its effects negated, or is no longer face-up, they still remain on the affected monster. This effect does not target.
You can remove all Wedge Counters from your opponent's monsters to reduce the ATK and DEF of each monster that had a Wedge Counter to 0, until the End Phase.
The final punishment for trying to battle with Armor Master. Despite what is shown at the anime,  the actual Card performs this effect as an Ignition Effect, so you can only activate it during your Main Phases (NOT during the  Battle Phase). This effect doesn't target, and it removes all Wedge Counters on the opponent's monsters as a cost. Like we just saw, the Wedge Counters are not related to Armor Master. This means that if the Armor Master that placed the Counters is no longer face-up, a second Armor Master can activate its Ignition Effect and still reduce the ATK/DEF of the opponent's monsters.
And that's it for today. Stay tuned for part 3, which will have even moar Blackwings. If you have any questions, feel free to drop me an e-mail at ness00[at]gmail[dot]com.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

TSHD Sneak Preview Part 1: e^(iπ) +1=...

Oh yeah, algebra in ur ygoz.

Well, we are one week away from the first day of the Sneak Preview of The Shining Darkness, so during this time we will be reviewing some Cards related to this upcoming set. Just in case, I could start muttering walls of text about the new Cards that everyone is waiting for like Infernity Launcher or Black-Winged Dragon. The thing is, the TCG rulings will be posted later, and some rulings for TSHD Cards may end up being different for the TCG (for whichever reason). Instead, we'll be looking at some existing Cards.

So maybe you have heard of a certain Deck called Infernity, which has most of its Cards included in this new set. Seriously, this Deck has received more press than a presidential campaign. In this article, we'll be looking at the Infernitites that the TCG already has.

The first monster we have is Infernity Dwarf:

While you have no cards in your hand, during battle between an attacking monster you control and a Defense Position monster whose DEF is lower than the ATK of the attacking monster inflict the difference as Battle Damage to your opponent.

Dwarf is a pretty weak monster to trample by itself, so it causes all of your monsters to trample. Like we mentioned in a previous article, trampling is a Continuous Effect. Don't be mislead by the wording: Having zero Cards in Hand is merely a requirement for the effect to start applying, but it does not start a chain when your Hand becomes non-existent.

The next Infernity monster is Infernity Guardian:

While you have no cards in your hand, this face-up card cannot be destroyed by battle or by card effects.

Well, that's much nicer. A monster that just can't be destroyed by neither player. Once again, we are looking at a Continuous Effect. By this nature, Guardian can apply its effect between chain links, so if it's going to be destroyed by Torrential Tribute, you can chain a Card that reduces your Hand size, have Guardian's effect kick in before Torrential resolves, and Guardian won't be destroyed. Similarly, if Guardian is attacked, you can activate some Cards to reduce your Hand and prevent it from losing the battle completely. Note that you would still take Battle Damage, so make sure to place it in Defense Position.

Shortly after their release in the WC09 videogame, Infernities received some support in core sets, like Infernity Beast:

If this card attacks while you have no cards in your hand, your opponent cannot activate Spell or Trap Cards until after the Damage Step.

This effect is very similar to that of the Ancient Gear monsters. Similar to Guardian and Dwarf, this is a Continuous Effect with the additional requirement of having no Cards in your Hand. As soon as you declare an attack with Infernity Beast, the opponent cannot activate S/T Cards. But as the text mentions, only the Cards themselves cannot be activated. The opponent can still activate the effect of already active S/T Cards like Scrubbed Raid. Finally, if an effect makes you have 1 or more Cards in your Hand, this effect stops being applied. It won't be very likely since half of your opponent's choices are locked, though.

From the same set as Beast, we get Infernity Force:

Activate  only when an "Infernity" monster is selected as an attack target while you have no cards in your hand. Destroy the attacking monster and Special Summon 1 "Infernity" monster from your Graveyard.

This Normal Trap Card is extremely similar to Sakuretsu Armor, with heavier activation requirements but a much better payoff. You activate this Trap when the Infernity Monster is chosen as the attack target. Upon activation, this Card targets two monsters: The attacking monster and 1 Infernity Monster in your Graveyard. Note that you need an Infernity Monster in your Graveyard, and you must be able to Special Summon during this turn (that means Vanity Fiend prevents its activation). After that, this Card performs two actions that are not simultaneous: First, the attacking monster is destroyed. If you succeed, the targeted Infernity Monster is Special Summoned from the Graveyard (and the last thing to happen is only the Special Summon). If you fail to destroy the attacking monster (such as, if it is unaffected by Trap Cards or it is no longer on the Field), then you do not Special Summon the monster. Finally, having zero Cards in your Hand is only an activation requirement for this Trap Card, so even if your Hand size increases, it still resolves properly.

We advance one set and find Infernity Necromancer:

When this card is Normal Summoned, it is changed to Defense Position. While you have no cards in your hand, this card gains the following effect: Once per turn, you can Special Summon 1 "Infernity" monster from your Graveyard, except "Infernity Necromancer".

Finally something different! Necromancer has three effects. The first effect is a mandatory Trigger Effect that activates when Necromancer is Normal Summoned. Cards like Pulling the Rug may negate this effect. The second effect is somewhat hidden. The sentence that explains how Necromancer gains its third effect is actually an effect by itself: A Continuous one. If this effect is negated, then Necromancer cannot activate its third effect. Finally, the third effect is an Ignition Effect that targets 1 Infernity Monster. The second effect allows you to activate the third one, but once you target the monster you wish to revive, these two effects are no longer dependant from each other: If your Hand is larger than zero Cards, then the third effect will resolve properly, as you have already activated it.

At this point, it's pretty obvious that I saved Infernity Archfiend for the end. Yay for being evil!

When you have no cards in your hand and draw  this card, you can reveal it to Special Summon it. When this card is Special Summoned, if you have no cards in your hand, you can add 1 "Infernity" card from your Deck  to your hand.

As everyone in the neighborhood knows, Archfiend is one of the two main Card needed to get the Infernity Deck in motion. It also has some weird rulings, which you should definately keep in mind whether you are part of the million players that wish to play this Deck, or one of the many that will end up facing Infernity Archfiends in almost every tournament they attend to.

Archfiend has two Optional Trigger Effects. And like you may have guessed, both can miss the timing. The first effect asks you to draw into Infernity Archfiend when you have zero Cards in your Hand. You reveal Archfiend as a cost, then Special Summon it when it resolves. You can read its trigger as "moving from zero Cards in your Hand to drawing Infernity Archfiend". It doesn't matter if you draw Archfiend alone, or if you use a Card like Morphing Jar to move from zero to five Cards. This is also relevant for Cards that reduce your Hand size and immediatly increase it by a similar amount, such as Hand Destruction: If you have 2 Cards in your Hand, you would move from two, to zero (your lucky number), to two Cards. You drew into Archfiend while you had zero Cards, so you can Special Summon it. This effect can miss the timing if you draw Archfiend in the middle of a chain, or during an effect that hasn't finished resolving. The obvious example would be Allure of Darkness. Finally, this effect cannot be activated during the Damage Step, due to its nature (Trigger Effect that Special Summons the monster from the Hand without specifying that it can be activated at DS).

The second effect activates when Archfiend is Special Summoned. You must also have no Cards in your Hand during the activation AND the resolution of this effect, so if your Hand size increases, you will not add a Card to your Hand. Note that this effect can search for any Card that includes Infernity in its name, be it a Monster, Spell, or Trap Card. This effect can be activated during the Damage Step. This effect can miss the timing if Archfiend is Special Summoned as link 2 or Summoned in the middle of a chain.

As a final act, let's look at both effects at the same time. Notice how the second effect doesn't trigger the first one if you search for Infernity Archfiend: You are adding it to the Hand, not drawing it. Also, a common question has been the misinterpretation of the ruling of drawing into two or more Infernity Archfiends. If you draw both at the same time when you had zero Cards, you can Special Summon both. However, when you do, one of them will be link 2 of a chain, so that Archfiend cannot activate its effect to add a Card to the Hand. The one that is link 1 certainly can.

Well, that's all about Infernities for now. And the least we see of them, the better. Stay tuned for more themes from Shining Darkness. If you have any questions, feel free to drop me an e-mail at ness00[at]gmail[dot]com.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

DPKB Part 5: Raifupointo Sen Harai...

Despite Kaiba loving to create antics using Enemy Controller, it was not included in his Duelist Pack. Once we eliminate the Blue-Eyes support and the devastating Forbidden Cards, Kaiba's Spell and Trap Cards become somewhat odd. Of course, they are still helpful reprints for the ever-rotating player base.

The first Card in line is Polymerization:

Send Fusion Material Monsters that are listed on a Fusion Monster Card from your hand or your side of the field to the Graveyard, and Special Summon that Fusion Monster from your Extra Deck.

Polymerization offers one of the simplest ways to Fusion Summon a monster. Probably its most important ruling about it (if not the only one) is that Fusion Summons never use Fusion Materials as a cost, as we mentioned in a previous article, so if Polymerization is negated, you do not send any monsters to the Graveyard. Similarly, Polymerization doesn't target anything, so upon activation you do not need to reveal any Fusion Materials or any Fusion Monster. You do need to be able to Summon something upon activation, otherwise you cannot activate this Card. If the Fusion Monster you intended to Summon is no longer in your Extra Deck, or the materials are not sufficient, you still Summon any available Fusion Monster.

A fun fact about Polymerization is its first text: "Fuses 2 or more Fusion-Material Monsters to form a new Fusion Monster.". What do you make from this? Its text makes no sense! Some times, errata are heavily needed Q_Q

Next, we have Magic Reflector:

Select 1 Spell Card that remains face-up on your side of the field and put 1 counter on it. If the selected card is destroyed, the counter  is removed instead of the card being destroyed.

Pretty much the prototype of many other Cards with a similar effect of skipping destruction thanks to a Counter. Magic Reflector targets 1 face-up Spell Card you have. You can only target Equip, Continuous, and Field Spell Cards. Not only because of Magic Reflector's Spell Speed of 1, but also, because other Spell Cards do not remain on the Field. The Counter doesn't have a name for itself, so make sure you can tell it apart from other Counters like Spell Counters, the Counters generated by the various B.E.S. monsters, etc. The Counter itself has no effect: The protection is set by Magic Reflector's effect. Finally, this Counter does not protect Spell Cards from being destroyed by Game Mechanics, so if Swords of Revealing Light has expired, or if a Field Spell Card is replaced, the Spell Card is destroyed anyway.

Moving on, we have Cost Down:
Discard  1 card from your hand. Downgrade all Monster Cards in your hand by 2 Levels until the End Phase of the turn this card is activated.

Nowadays, there are several Cards to modify the Level of a monster thanks to Synchro Summon support, but back in the day, this was one of the few ways to do so. Discarding 1 Card is a cost, and Cost Down doesn't target anything. Instead of affecting some monsters, it creates a condition that reduces the Level of any monster that exists in your Hand by two. This affect any monster at your Hand at the time Cost Down resolves, and any monster that you add to your Hand later from any location (drawing it or recovering it through Beckoning Light). The monster's Level is still reduced if you place it on the Field, but not if it is sent to the Graveyard.

Another Card in this Duelist Pack is Ring of Defense:

You can only activate this card in response to the activation of a Trap Card effect that inflicts damage. Make the effect damage of that Trap Card 0.

This Quick-Play Spell Card is chained to a Trap Card that would inflict damage. You can't activate it during the Damage Step, so you can't reduce the damage caused by Cards like Attack and Receive. Ring can only affect a Trap Card if it is chained directly to it. Note that Ring can affect a Continuous Trap Card if it will inflict damage upon activation (like Type Zero Magic Crusher), but it will only reduce the damage once. If Magic Crusher's effect is activated again later, it will inflict damage as usual. Most importantly, note that you can only affect Trap Cards that use the chain (this means that you can't use it against Cards like Coffin Seller), and most importantly, Cards that do inflict damage. For example, Dimension Wall uses the chain, but it doesn't inflict damage by itself. Instead, it redirects the Battle Damage that a player will take. Finally, Ring only reduces damage, so it doesn't stop any other effects that the Trap Card may have. For example, Magic Cylinder will still negate an attack, and Ceasefire would still flip monsters face-up.

The last Spell Card is Fiend's Sanctuary:

Special Summon 1 "Metal Fiend Token" (Fiend-Type/DARK/Level 1/ATK 0/DEF 0). It cannot attack. When this Token battles, the opponent takes any Battle Damage its controller would have taken. Pay 1000 Life Points during each of your Standby Phases. If you do not, destroy the "Metal Fiend Token".

A very simple effect of Summoning a Token. It's worth noting that Tokens are always treated as Normal Monsters, so every ability and restriction listed in this Card is a condition set on the Token and NOT the Token's effects. Using Skill Drain on it would have no effect (mainly because it is a Normal Monster). Reflecting Battle Damage doesn't use the chain. Paying 1000 Life Points or destroying the token is a Maintenance Cost. And just as a random side note, I don't know why, but many people think that the token is not destroyed by battle, even me quite often Q_Q

Interdimensional Matter Transporter:

Select 1 face-up  monster on your side of the field  and remove it from play until the End Phase of this turn.

A really long and complicated name for a simple effect (with equally long and complicated ramifications). IMT targets one face-up monster upon activation only. Then, during the End Phase, the monster is returned to the Field without using the chain. Note that this is NOT a Summon, it merely returns the monster to the Field, so this Card works even for Nomi monsters like Elemental Hero Absolute Zero or Judgment Dragon. There are two Cards that do not mix with Transporter: The first one are Monster Tokens, which cease to exist once they are Removed from the Field. The second one are monsters that Remove themselves from Play when they are Removed from the Field, as they will not return to the Field during the End Phase. 

Other than that, IMT creates some really funky interactions with some conditions and information set "on the monster". For example, a monster affected by Gale the Whirlwind will restore its ATK/DEF to normal, and a monster Summoned by Rescue Cat will not be destroyed. On the other hand, a Spirit monster will still "remember" that it was Normal Summoned this turn, so it will still return to its owner's Hand. These interactions are heavily dependant on what each monster does, so it's hard to explain a rule to cover them all. Some are even contradictory. In this case, it's better to check its Individual Rulings and Card text.

Next, we have Cloning:

Activate only when your opponent Normal Summons or Flip Summons a monster. Special Summon 1 "Clone Token" that has the same original Level, Type, Attribute, ATK, and DEF as the Summoned monster. When that monster is destroyed and sent to the Graveyard, destroy  this token.

Another Card that creates a token. This Normal Trap Card responds to a successful Summon, targeting one face-up monster. Once again, copying the parameters and being destroyed are conditions determined by the Trap Card, and not effects from the token.

Finally, we have Return from the Different Dimension:

Pay half your Life Points. Special Summon as many of your removed from play monsters  as possible. During the End Phase, remove from play all monsters  that were Special Summoned by this effect.

Paying half of your Life Points is a cost. Payments are rounded down, so if you need to pay half of 1025, you pay 512 (and end up with 513 Life Points). Of course, if you have 1 Life Point left, you pay zero Life Points, you cheapskate. Return does not target any monster: You count your available Monster Card Zones when it resolves, and then, you choose as many monsters as possible to Special Summon at once. During the End Phase, all monsters are Removed from Play at once without using the chain. If a monster is no longer face-up, it is not Removed from Play, but the remaining ones are. Finally, if Imperial Iron Wall is active, you can activate Return, and the monsters won't be Removed from Play.

And that's it for Kaiba's S/T Cards. If you have any questions, feel free to drop me an e-mail at ness00[at]gmail[dot]com.

Friday, April 23, 2010

DPKB Part 4: Five-hundred and ninety nine US Life Points

Aside from the famous Blue-Eyes White Dragons, Kaiba has used a number of other monsters. Some of them are also Dragons, but most of them are quite miscellaneous. Even so, being used by Kaiba has turned them into memorable monsters, which this Duelist Pack brings back once again to please the fans (and provide some needed reprints).

The first monsters are the XYZ trio. They are pretty simple, actually, so we'll review them in a future article about Union Monsters. With that said, let's move into one of the oldest Monsters used by Kaiba: Enraged Battle Ox

As long as this card remains face-up on your side of the field, when Beast, Beast-Warrior  and Winged Beast-Type monsters on your side of the field attack with an ATK that is higher than the DEF of your opponent's Defense Position monster, inflict the difference as Battle Damage to your opponent's Life Points.

Of course, Enraged Battle Ox is actually filling in for the regular Battle Ox who is a Normal Monster. Probably because otherwise we wouldn't review him here. Enraged Battle Ox allows you to trample with animal-based monsters, and trampling is a Continuous Effect. The effect is generated by the Ox, so the opponent needs to negate Ox if they want to prevent Battle Damage from being inflicted. Of course, since Ox is a Beast-Warrior, it also affects itself.

Next, we have Different Dimension Dragon:

This card cannot be destroyed by the effect of a Spell or Trap Card that does not target it. This card is not destroyed  as a result of battle against a monster with an ATK of 1900 or less.

This monster is simply...weird. Both effects are Continuous. We have seen some examples of targeting and non-targeting effects for the first effect. The second effect prevents its destruction in battle if the other monster has 1900 ATK while comparing the ATK/DEF of both monsters. Of course, Damage Calculation is applied normally.

Moving on, we have Kaiser Glider:

This card is not destroyed as a result of battle when this card battles with a monster with the same ATK. When this card is destroyed and sent to the Graveyard, return 1 monster on the field to its owner's hand.

Glider has two effects. The first one is a Continuous Effect that prevents destruction in battle, similar to Different Dimension Dragon. The second one is a mandatory Trigger Effect that targets one monster. The cool thing about this Trigger Effect is that activates regardless of where Glider is destroyed, so it will activate even if Crush Card Virus destroyed it, or if it is destroyed while equipped to Relinquished. Glider has always been an odd Card, that has always been considered as a possible answer to any 2400 ATK monster, be it Jinzo or a Monarch. Unfortunately, it never saw too much play, not even by Kaiba himself.

We now have another Card rarely used by Kaiba, Vampire Lord. Seems the Duel with Noah Kaiba was just too relevant:

Each time this card inflicts Battle Damage to your opponent, declare 1 card type (Monster, Spell, or Trap). Your opponent selects 1 card of that type from his/her Deck and sends it to the Graveyard. Also, when this card is destroyed and sent to the Graveyard  by your opponent's card effect, it is Special Summoned to the field during your next Standby Phase.

Vampire Lord has two mandatory Trigger Effects. The first one is activated at the "After Damage Calculation" Sub-Step of the Damage Step. It doesn't target anything. If you declare a Card type that the opponent no longer has in his/her Deck, you get to verify. The second effect, worth of a vampire, is activated during the Standby Phase, not when Vampire Lord is destroyed. Similar to Glider, this effect will activate if Vampire Lord is destroyed outside of the Field, however, it will not activate when Vampire Lord is being treated as an Equip Spell Card. It is important that you can tell whose effect is destroying Vampire Lord. Note that once Vampire Lord is destroyed, it must remain in the Graveyard until your next Standby Phase, otherwise, it won't be Special Summoned. It sure used to be a pest back in the day, then Sacred Phoenix of Nephthys eventually replaced it.

The next Card comes from the Yu-Gi-Oh! movie, Pyramid of Light. It is no other than Peten the Dark Clown:

When this card is sent to your Graveyard, you can remove this card from the Graveyard  to Special Summon 1 "Peten the Dark Clown" from your hand or Deck.

Peten should be no news to anybody. Even if you had never seen the Card, it is heavily infamous for being the ultimate example of effects that miss the timing. Of course, Peten has an Optional Trigger Effect. It's trigger is extremely simple, but Peten just loves being unable to activate its effect. Its effect is ruined pretty much by every example that we listed in the "missing the timing" article. Despite this, Peten did have its moment of glory a few years ago, when it was used as cheap tributes for Monarchs.

Also from the same movie, we have Familiar Knight:

When this card is destroyed and sent to the Graveyard  as a result of battle, each player can Special Summon 1 Level 4 monster  from their hand.

Yet another Optional Trigger Effect. Not very complicated, really. In order to activate the effect, you must have an eligible monster to Summon. If you activate the effect, you are forced to Summon, but the opponent isn't. It's not a very popular Card, as many others have the same effect with less cons and some additional pros.

The last Card for today is Ancient Lamp:

When this face-down Defense Position card is attacked by your opponent's monster, you can make 1 opponent's monster (except the attacking monster) be attacked instead. While this card is face-up on the field, you can Special Summon 1 "La Jinn the Mystical Genie of the Lamp" from your hand.

As usual, we just can't leave without addressing a weird Card. Ancient Lamp's first effect is an Optional Trigger Effect that activates at the "Before Damage Calculation" Sub-Step of the Damage Step. At this time, the face-down Ancient Lamp has now been flipped face-up already, so this effect can be negated by Skill Drain or Forbidden Chalice (it does not activate while Lamp is face-down). This effect merely "moves the attack" to a different monster. It doesn't move the monsters anywhere, and it doesn't select attack targets. This is quite important, as most of its individual rulings address various effects that mention the opponent. For example, the trampling effect of Enraged Battle Ox that we mentioned at the beginning of this article inflicts damage to the opponent, so even if Ancient Lamp forces the opponent's monsters to battle each other, the person controlling Ancient Lamp will take the damage. Similar to Vampire Lord, this takes a little reading of each particular effect.

The second effect is an Ignition Effect with no cost or limitation. You can simply Summon La Jinns (one by one) as many times as you like during your Main Phase. La Jinn is a very popular monster because, even if it fails to meet the standards of a "good" monster today, it used to be one of the best beatsticks one could ask for. Having 3 La Jinns in your Deck separated your Deck from the mediocre ones.

Stay tuned for the last bunch of Cards from Duelist Pack Kaiba in part 5. If you have any questions, feel free to drop me an e-mail at ness00[at]gmail[dot]com.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

DPKB Part 3: Forbidden So That They Never Can Be Used Against Me

Once again, we keep reviewing the contents of this nostalgic pack full of powerful Cards. One of the main features about this Duelist Pack is the inclusion of Ultimate Rare Cards, and this high rarity is attached to currently Forbidden Cards that Kaiba has used throughout his Duels. I've been playing before any Cards were Forbidden (before the creation of the Advanced Format), so I have been both a user and a victim of almost every Card in the Forbidden List Q_Q

One fun fact about Forbidden Cards is that they are often extremely simple Cards with very few requirements for their powerful effects. Of course, that's usually the reason why they end up being Forbidden. Let's start with the simplest one of them all: Pot of Greed.

Draw 2 cards from your Deck.

Thanks, I guess? Pot of Greed is the definition of gaining advantage out of the blue. There are no costs, there are no requirements, or anything. "Just draw 2 Cards", like a Nike slogan. Just so that it doesn't look so lame, there is one minor rule attached to Pot, which is that you cannot activate it with 1 or less Cards in your Deck. Gaining advantage is so absolute, that you cannot even activate the Card if you aren't going to make up for it!

Pot of Greed has been widely used by several characters in the anime. And no wonder why, as this Card helps them draw into their precious combos that make Duels worth watching. Pot can certainly turn any Duel around, and if you weren't around when this Card, I heavily envy you. Drawing into Pot of Greed  was the ultimate salvation a player could ask for, but having it used against you was the ultimate lucksack.

Moving on, we have one of the most devastating removal Cards: Ring of Destruction.

Destroy 1 face-up  monster and inflict damage to both players equal to its ATK.

Ring targets 1 face-up monster which must remain face-up until Ring resolves, otherwise Ring resolves without effect. This Card refers to the current ATK of the monster, so you need to take into account every ATK modifier before the monster is destroyed (Equip Cards and the like). The destruction and the damage are considered to be simultaneous, so it does not cause timing issues if you need to respond to monster destruction with a Card like Soul Rope. However, the destruction is a requirement to inflict damage: If you fail to destroy the monster, no damage is inflicted.

Kaiba's favorite combo with Ring of Destruction was Ring of Defense, but sadly, this combo doesn't work with the actual TCG Cards (since Ring of Defense applies to both players instead of one). There are other Cards that can do the dirty job like Barrel Behind the Door, which is even more devastating than Ring of Defense. In real life, Ring was pretty much a game-defining Card. Activating it would usually cause one or both players to lose the Duel thanks to its ability to easily dish out damage in unpleasant doses of over 2000 points. No monster was safe from it. It's no surprise that most rulings that mention Ring of Destruction only use it as a random monster removal Card, due to it's extremely small restrictions.

This fetish for destruction that Kaiba displays will become evident as we move on. Let's take a look at Cyber Jar:

FLIP: Destroy all monsters on the field. Both players then pick up 5 cards from the top of their respective Decks  and Special Summon all Level 4 or lower Monster Cards among them on the field  in face-up  Attack Position or face-down  Defense Position. The rest of the cards picked up are added to their respective hands.

At plain sight, we see a very long FLIP Effect. Cyber Jar first destroys all monsters on the Field. Then, both players pick up 5 Cards. Note that picked-up Cards are never considered to be drawn. They are considered to be still within the Deck. Among those, you will Special Summon some monsters, and add the rest of the Cards to the Hand. Destroying the monsters is a separate event, which happens first, while Summoning the monsters and adding Cards to the Hand happens simultaneously, so you can respond with Cards like Torrential Tribute and Drastic Drop Off. All monsters are considered to be Special Summoned simultaneously, but technically, the turn player must decide the position of his/her monsters before the opponent. Any Level 4 or lower monsters that cannot be Special Summoned will be sent to the Graveyard. If Cards cannot be added to the Hand (such as if Thunder King Rai-Oh survived the destruction), these are also sent to the Graveyard.

Cyber Jar packs just too much power. By default, it has Dark Hole's effect, and Dark Hole is currently Forbidden. It also has the power to Summon anywhere from 1 to 5 monsters in the blink of an eye. Cards with less power than that had been dealt with by "The List" as well. Finally, players may end up gaining Cards in Hand for each picked up Card that wasn't an eligible monster, often matching or even beating Pot of Greed. Jar monsters in this game equal big reset buttons. Flipping it in a Duel will always be a lame move due to the instant Field wipe, but it would also bring up a major random factor of not knowing what is going to be Summoned or picked up. It brings bittersweet memories. Kaiba actually faced Cyber Jar while testing his own Deck against his simulator, costing him that the opponent would Summon 4 monsters. This eventually lead to Kaiba Summoning Obelisk the Tormentor and frying all of them.

Tribute  1 DARK monster  with 1000 or less ATK. Check all monsters  your opponent controls, your opponent's hand, and all cards they draw (until the end of your opponent's 3rd turn after this card's activation), and destroy all monsters with 1500 or more ATK.

Tributing a DARK monster is a cost. When Crush Card resolves, it will start getting rid of monsters. Face-up monsters will have their current ATK checked. Face-down monsters and Cards in the Hand will have their Original ATK checked. Monsters in the Hand and Field are only checked once. The only effect that lasts for 3 turns is checking drawn Cards. This only applies to drawn Cards, so adding them to the Hand doesn't count. The verification and destruction of drawn Cards doesn't use the chain. If you draw a Card, you reveal it, and it is immediately destroyed. If you are within an effect's resolution (such as Dark World Dealings or Allure of Darkness), you reveal the drawn Cards, resolve the effect, then destroy the remaining drawn Cards. So, for example, if you draw into a high ATK DARK monster, and a low ATK DARK monster with Allure of Darkness, you would reveal both. If you Remove from Play the high ATK monster, nothing else happens. If you Remove from Play the low ATK monster, the high ATK monster is destroyed.

Crush Card Virus was much more powerful in the earlier part of the anime series, in which it destroyed every monster in a player's Deck, and due to the rules used there, the player would instantly lose. Kaiba's monster of choice for using this Card was Saggi the Dark Clown. As mentioned before, this Card wasn't Forbidden too long ago, so more players are aware of just how devastating it was. Almost every Deck packed Cards like Sangan or D.D. Crow just to activate this Trap Card and detonate half of the opponent's Hand during turn 1.

But the true definition of devastation comes with the last Card for this article: Chaos Emperor Dragon - Envoy of the End.

This card cannot be Normal Summoned or Set. This card can only be Special Summoned by removing from play 1 LIGHT and 1 DARK monster  in your Graveyard. By paying 1000 Life Points, send  all cards in both players' hands and on the field  to the Graveyard. Inflict 300 points of damage to your opponent's Life Points for each card that is sent to the Graveyard  by this effect.

Like we said at the top, Forbidden Cards are usually simple. This Dragon has an Inherent Special Summon, and an Ignition Effect. You can't get any simpler than that. Paying 1000 Life Points is a cost. Sending every Card to the Graveyard and inflicting damage is considered to be simultaneous, but of course, you are required to send Cards to the Graveyard to actually count them while inflicting damage, so Monster Tokens or a Plaguespreader Zombie that has used its effect will not count.

Chaos Emperor Dragon is a sign that says "game over" on a very large stick. Its Summoning requirements were hilarious back on its time, and the years have only made it even easier. It's no wonder that this was one of the first Cards to ever be Forbidden and one of the bunch that has never escaped that status. Many consider it to be THE Card that originated almost every other powerful trump Card that has been designed lately, probably honoring its name as a messenger of doomsday. And this claim isn't too far fetched, as many "big" monsters follow the same template: Inherent Special Summon + devastating Ignition Effect. While it was still legal, the Emperor Dragon was everywhere. If you thought Crush Card was bad, essentially every Deck that contained at least 1 DARK and 1 LIGHT monster could drop this nuke and inflict anywhere from 2000 to around 4000 points of damage. The Duel in which Kaiba used this monster is one of the most epic Duels in the series, and you should definitely watch it if you get the chance. 

But when you are Seto Kaiba, a Forbidden Card is a mere tool. If your opponent manages to survive the doombringer dragon, you still have your three Blue-Eyes White Dragons to remind him who you are.

Stay tuned for part 4! If you have any questions, feel free to drop me an e-mail at ness00[at]gmail[dot]com.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

DPKB Part 2: Behind Blue-Eyes...

The mighty albino dragons may be the strongest Normal Monsters in the game, but let's face it: They won't get very far by being a two-tribute, 3000 ATK beatstick. That's why a number of support Cards where used to support these elusive beasts. Not all of them were used by Kaiba, but I'm sure he would have no problem affording them if he wanted them.

Let's start with a true classic, Lord of D.:

While this card remains face-up on the field, all Dragon-Type monsters  cannot be targeted  by Spell Cards, Trap Cards, or Effect Monster's effects.

This is one of the first Effect Monsters ever released. It only has one short but powerful Continuous Effect. Most of it rulings are dedicated to list a few Cards that it can and cannot negate. We already have an article about targeting effects, so we don't need that. An important note about this effect is that this effect only prevents targeting effects from targeting Dragons, but once they have already been chosen as targets, Lord of D. can't do anything about them. In other words, Lord must be face-up in order to prevent the targeting, and it won't touch already existing effects.

EDIT: Invalid: The other important note is that Lord of D.'s effect prevents Dragons from being targeted ANYWHERE. Ages ago, when it was first released, it was common to believe that it only protected face-up Dragons. Many years later, with the release of Aurkus, Lightsworn Druid, we found out that Lord, who works exactly the same as Aurkus, protects not only face-up Dragons, but also, Dragons in the Graveyard and Removed from Play Zone. Well, actually it works everywhere, but other locations can't be targeted Q_Q

One cannot discuss Lord of D. without discussing its magical instrument, The Flute of Summoning Dragon:

Activate  only while "Lord of D." is face-up on the field. Special Summon up to 2 Dragon-Type monsters  from your hand.
This Normal Spell Card seems simple enough, which usually means that there's some dirty secret about it. The first thing we notice is that Lord of D. can be on any side of the Field, and it can even be treated as an Equip Spell Card (Plasma/Relinquished/etc.). You are also forced to Special Summon at least 1 Dragon. Of course, you can't target Cards in the Hand, so you don't need to declare how many or which monsters you will Summon (and Lord of D. won't prevent its own Flute, of course).

The problem with Flute is that, like some Cards, its text is somewhat incomplete. Lord of D. must actually remain on the Field until Flute starts resolving. So, not only it must be face-up to activate Flute, but also, to resolve it properly. This is similar to what happened to Zombie Master.

Moving on, we have Kaiser Sea Horse:
This card can be treated as 2 Tributes  for the Tribute Summon of a LIGHT monster.
Obviously, it's function is to Tribute Summon Blue-Eyes White Dragon with only 1 tribute. This effect is pretty weird, but one could think of it as a Continuous Effect. You choose whether to apply it or not at the time Sea Horse is going to be tributed. This is one of the few effects that work while the monster is face-down. This effect can be negated by Cards like Skill Drain, too.

Next, we have a Ritual Monster dedicated to the theme. Paladin of White Dragon:

This monster can only be Ritual Summoned with the Ritual Spell Card "White Dragon Ritual." You must also Tribute monsters  whose total Levels  equal 4 or more from the field  or your hand. When this monster attacks a face-down  Defense Position monster, destroy  the face-down  monster with this card's effect without flipping it face-up  or damage calculation. You can Tribute  this card to Special Summon 1 "Blue-Eyes White Dragon" from your hand or your Deck. ("Blue-Eyes White Dragon" cannot attack during that turn.)

Its Summoning Condition and its Ritual Spell Card are very average, so let's focus on its two effects:

When this monster attacks a face-down  Defense Position monster, destroy  the face-down  monster with this card's effect without flipping it face-up  or damage calculation.
This first effect is a Mandatory Trigger Effect. It activates at the Start of the Damage Step. This effect is very similar to that of Mystic Swordsman LV2, or to a lesser extent, Neo-Spacian Grand Mole. As its text suggests, FLIP Effects won't activate, and neither would effects like the D.D. Warriors or Legendary Jujitsu Master. The attacked monster must be face-down at the Start of the Damage Step, so if the opponent flips it face-up with Desert Sunlight or similar, Paladin won't activate.

You can Tribute  this card to Special Summon 1 "Blue-Eyes White Dragon" from your hand or your Deck. ("Blue-Eyes White Dragon" cannot attack during that turn.)
This is an Ignition Effect. Tributing Paladin is a cost, and this effect doesn't target (so you don't have to choose a location to Summon Blue-Eyes upon activation). During this turn, no monster named "Blue-Eyes White Dragon" can declare an attack, not even other Blue-Eyes, or even a Phantom of Chaos that gained their name. A common question is whether you can "reverse engineer" restrictions like this, and the answer is no. This means that you can't declare attacks with a Blue-Eyes White Dragon, then activate this effect. If you wish to Summon the legendary dragon, you cannot declare an attack with any of them, not before, nor after this effect's activation.

Now, a brief note about Dragon Master Knight:

"Black Luster Soldier" + "Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon"
This monster cannot be Special Summoned except by Fusion Summon. This card gains 500 ATK for each Dragon-Type monster on your side of the field except this card.

One of the strongest monsters in this game, yet, its abilities are quite lacking. The first sentence tells us it is a Nomi Monster. The second one is a Continuous Effect that doesn't count Dragon Master Knight. Very lame indeed, but at least it does something more than Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon Q_Q

Our last Card is the newest support Card for the Blue-Eyes theme, The White Stone of Legend:

When this card is sent to the Graveyard, add 1 "Blue-Eyes White Dragon" from your Deck  to your hand.
A very practical Tuner Monster that searches for Blue-Eyes White Dragon. Its only effect is a Mandatory Trigger Effect. Certianly, it doesn't target. The best thing about this effect is that, unlike others with the same trigger, this one cannot miss the timing, so White Stone will activate if you discard it as a cost, if you tribute it as a cost, if it is destroyed in the middle of a chain, etc. Being mandatory also means that you will activate White Stone's effect no matter what, even if an effect prevents it (like Thunder King Rai-Oh), or if you have no more Blue-Eyes in your Deck.

And with this, we end part 2 of this pack's review. Stay tuned for part 3! If you have any questions, feel free to drop me an e-mail at ness00[at]gmail[dot]com.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

DPKB Part 1: How To Train Your Blue-Eyes

AKA, "screw 3D movies, I have YGO holograms".

Duelist Pack: Kaiba is finally out, for us nostalgic guys, and for those looking for some cool reprints. Whether you like Kaiba or not, one can't deny he is probably one of the most memorable characters in the YGO anime history. Almost every Card used by Kaiba can be reminded, even if one sets aside the mighty albino dragons. Even something as strange as Gyakutenno Megami takes up a slot in the Anniversary Pack, because Kaiba uses it to stop a gun. How cool is that?

This character's main emblem would obviously be his playset of Blue-Eyes White Dragons. While they are powerful and majestic, it doesn't make much sense to discuss rulings about a Normal Monster and a Fusion Monster without any effects. Instead, in this part we'll be looking at the new-age version of the colorless beasts. I'm talking about Malefic Blue-Eyes White Dragon, of course:

This card cannot be Normal Summoned or Set. This card can only be Special Summoned by removing from play 1 "Blue-Eyes White Dragon" from your Deck. There can only be 1 face-up "Malefic" monster on the field. Other monsters you control cannot attack. If there is no face-up Field Spell Card on the field, destroy this card.

Straight from the last Yu-Gi-Oh! movie which premiered in Japan some time ago, we have the first "Malefic" monster, strangely added to this pack. Essentially, it's an easy-to-Summon Blue-Eyes without many other benefits, but it will help explaining some mechanics attached to other monsters like Earthbound Immortals. Let's take a look:

This card cannot be Normal Summoned or Set. This card can only be Special Summoned by removing from play 1 "Blue-Eyes White Dragon" from your Deck.

This is the Summoning Condition for this version of Blue-Eyes. From this, we gather that it is a Special-Summon only monster. You can Special Summon it from the Graveyard or RFG Zone if it was properly Summoned. Of course, being an Inherent Special Summon, this Summon can be negated by Solemn Judgment/Rai-Oh, and it does not use the chain.

There can only be 1 face-up "Malefic" monster on the field.

The dreaded "highlander clause": There can only be one. This clause's classification is debatable, so reffering to it by its nickname isn't such a bad idea. You can think of it as a Continuous Effect which is applied all the time, no matter the location of the Card. Just don't call it a Continuous Effect ;)

The "highlander clause" causes some funny results in the Game State. Its first consequence is that you cannot manually Summon this monster if you would break this clause, so you cannot even target it with Call of the Haunted if you already control one Malefic BEWD. You can still place it face-down on the Field with Cards like The Shallow Grave. A second consequence would be that if a new Malefic Blue-Eyes appears on the Field while you already controlled one, the newest one to appear is destroyed by Game Mechanics. If you Summon them at the same time (Return from the Different Dimension, for example), you get to choose. If you control 2 of these monsters, one face-up and one face-down, and the face-down one is flipped by a Card Effect, it is destroyed by Game Mechanics after its resolution. If the face-down one is attacked, it will be destroyed during the "After Damage Calculation" Sub-Step if it survived battle.

The final consequence is the interaction of the "highlander clause" against Effect Negation. Most Cards that negate continuously applied effects can only do so against face-up Cards, like Skill Drain or Destiny Hero - Plasma. Effect negation does negate the effect of a face-up Malefic Blue-Eyes, but it will not negate the effects of other copies of it in your Hand, Graveyard, etc. This means that you STILL cannot manually Special Summon the other copies. You can, however,  "end up" controlling more than 1, such as if you Special Summon two copies at the same time (again, Return from the Different Dimension), or if the extra copy is face-down and something flips it face-up, be it an attack or an effect.

Other monsters you control cannot attack.

A very blunt Continuous Effect. Even so, there are some ways around it. This effect can certainly be negated with Cards like Skill Drain or Fiendish Chain, so that your other monsters can attack. This effect also relies on Blue-Eyes being face-up, so if it is flipped face-down (for example, by your opponent's Book of Moon) or Removed from the Field, your other monsters can declare attacks as usual. A final loophole is that, once you declare an attack with a different monster, Blue-Eyes can no longer stop it, so if you attack, and your opponent uses Ceasefire, flipping your Blue-Eyes face-up, the attack still proceeds as usual.

If there is no face-up Field Spell Card on the field, destroy this card.

And finally, a self-destruction effect. This is also a Continuous Effect. Simply put, Cards like Light and Darkness Dragon or Gladiator Beast War Chariot can't do anything against Malefic Blue-Eyes. Similar to the previous one, this Continuous Effect can be negated by Skill Drain, so that your monster doesn't self-destruct. There's also an important ruling regarding new Field Spell Cards being activated: If you control a Field Card, and activate a new one, it is considered that there is a time frame in which no Field Spell Card is active (because you must first destroy the old one), so the Blue-Eyes is destroyed. However, if you control a Field Spell Card, and the opponent activates a new one, this time frame never exists, as there is always one face-up Field Card (first yours, then both, then the opponent's only), so Blue-Eyes won't be destroyed.

That wraps it up for the first part. Stay tuned for part 2 where we will talk about some of the Blue-Eyes support in the pack. If you have any questions, feel free to drop me an e-mail at ness00[at]gmail[dot]com.