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 To Trigger or Not to Trigger? - Understanding Trigger Effect

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Squad 2
Squad 2

Number of posts : 41
Age : 36
Location : In the Shadow Realm, tending to the damned.
Registration date : 2007-10-08

To Trigger or Not to Trigger? - Understanding Trigger Effect Empty
PostSubject: To Trigger or Not to Trigger? - Understanding Trigger Effect   To Trigger or Not to Trigger? - Understanding Trigger Effect Icon_minitimeMon Oct 15, 2007 4:34 pm

To Trigger or Not to Trigger? - Understanding Trigger Effects by Mark "The Jedi" Daniel Martinez

"When you can"

Three of the most misunderstood words in Yu-Gi-Oh! are the words "When you can". Why would three such seemingly innocuous words be the cause for so much confusion? Because they distinguish a type of Trigger Effect that Yu-Gi-Oh! players the world over often have trouble understanding. The Optional Trigger Effect. These three words also share space with another often misapplied and misunderstood phrase. "Missing the timing."

It's not a wonder that they get confused. Many of our rulings covering such effects are rather wordy, sometimes being overly precise so as to avoid loopholes. But the principles demarcating Optional Trigger Effects from Mandatory Trigger Effects is quite simple once laid out for a player to see.

Mandatory Trigger Effects

First things first. Let's define what a Mandatory Trigger Effect looks like before we go into optional ones.
When this card is sent from the field to the Graveyard, select 1 monster with an ATK of 1500 or less from your Deck, show it to your opponent, and add it to your hand. Then shuffle your Deck.
You'll notice you're not being given a choice here. You're not being asked to search your deck for a card, nor are you being given the opportunity to opt out of searching your deck. "When this card goes from here to here, you do this, because I said so." It's the nature of a Mandatory Effect. It's a statement of fact, rather then a polite request or set of options and the effect begins a chain and cannot be stopped. Rather self explanatory, I know, but it needs to be demarcated nonetheless.

Optional Trigger Effects

Optional Trigger Effects, on the other hand, provide that small way out of the effect with the innocent little phrase "When you can". But there's an additional condition to the "When you can" Optional Effect that many fail to fully grasp. And we'll get into that in just a second.
Pinch Hopper
When this card on your side of the field is sent to your Graveyard, you can Special Summon 1 Insect-Type Monster from your hand.
On the surface, it doesn't look all that much different from Sangan. But the pesky little phrase of "When you can" gives you the option of using the effect or ignoring it in favor of something else. But as I said before, the optional nature of the effect has an additional condition to it, that greatly affects the function of the card.

As with all trigger effects, something has to happen to create the event trigger. A card has to go to the Graveyard, a monster has to attack, an amount of damage has to be inflicted or any number of events that relate to the game can be the trigger point for such effects. But with Optional Effects, the effect will not trigger, if the event trigger is interrupted by some other event.

Now, the rulings and most judges will often state that in order for you to be able to use an Optional Trigger Effect, the event trigger has to be "the very last thing to happen". I've always felt that this statement is a little incomplete and just a tad vague. To expand on that a bit, I prefer to add that the event trigger must not have anything happen after it, in order for the effect to trigger. It's a subtle addition to the terminology, but one I think is a bit clearer. For example, if the event trigger takes place in the middle of a resolving chain, then the Optional Trigger Effect will not trigger, because there are all these other resolving effects in the way. Pinch Hopper may go to the Graveyard in the middle of a chain, but because there are still resolving effects on the chain, then "the last thing to happen" will be the last link of that chain and not Pinch Hopper going to the Graveyard, his effect's timing will be interrupted.

If the event trigger occurs just prior to a summon, then the summon interrupts the timing for the Optional Trigger Effect. It was not the last thing to happen, the summon was. The summon ends up getting in the Trigger Effect's way.

Both of these are examples of an Optional Trigger "missing its timing."

S.E.G.O.C., or Simultaneous Effects Go On a Chain, is an acronym that Game Developer Kevin Tewart created to better define what happens when multiple effects activate at the exact same moment. Trigger Effects, both Mandatory and Optional, can be activated at the same time. Imagine two Sangans or two Pinch Hoppers going to the Graveyard at the same time by the effect of Dark Hole. What do you do and how do you resolve the situation?

As the phrase implies, if two or more effects trigger at the same time, then you place each effect on a chain. You see, while the effects can activate simultaneously, there is no provision in Yu-Gi-Oh! for effects to resolve simultaneously. The game rules require that each effect resolve by itself in some kind of sequential order. The SEGOC rules will help you determine how to do this.

Now, your probably wondering how Optional Triggers fit into all this. Wouldn't they miss their timing if two of them try to activate off the same event trigger? Quite simply, no. In this event, as long as the last thing to happen was the event trigger, then two Optional Effect will activate successfully. But the way they resolve will depend on the rules of the SEGOC.

And what are those rules? In the event you have multiple trigger effects activating at the same time, you would place them on a chain in the following order.
1. Turn Player's Mandatory Effects (in order of his/her choosing)
2. Opponent's Mandatory Effects (in order of his/her choosing)
3. Turn Player's Optional Effects (in order of his/her choosing)
4. Opponent's Optional Effects (in order of his/her choosing)
As you can see, Mandatory Effects are always placed on the chain first, regardless of who controls it. Also, the "(in order of his/her choosing)" means that, say, the Turn Player has more the one Optional Effect triggering at once, since he controls them, he can choose what order to place them on the chain. He still has to follow the rules of the SEGOC and place them after his (1) own Mandatory Effects and then his (2) opponent's Mandatory Effects, if there are any. But once he gets to that point in the chain build (3), he can "stack" them in any order he wishes, which can have a strategical value depending on the circumstances.

An example of multiple effects activating at once: Turn Player controls a Pinch Hopper and a Sangan equipped with a Malevolent Nuzzler* (an Optional Effect).

The opponent also controls a Sangan and Pinch Hopper.

The Turn Player plays Dark Hole, obliterating the field. Five effects are activated at once when Dark Hole resolves, resulting in the four effects being place in a chain according to a SEGOC as so:
Chain Link 1: Turn Player’s Sangan (Turn Player’s Mandatory Effects)
Chain Link 2: Opponent’s Sangan (Opponent’s Mandatory Effects)
Chain Link 3: Turn Player’s Malevolent Nuzzler (Turn Player’s Optional Effects)
Chain Link 4: Turn Player’s Pinch Hopper (Turn Player’s Optional Effects)
(Note: This is an example of where the Turn Player could choose which order to put Malevolent Nuzzler and Pinch Hopper. Their going to be link 3 and 4 regardless, but he can choose which is link 3 and which is link 4)
Chain Link 5: Opponent's Pinch Hopper (Opponent's Optional Effects)
Now the chain is ready to resolve, starting with the last link in the chain. In this case, Link 5.

Defining "Missing the Timing"

"Missing the Timing" is a phrase you hear get thrown around a lot. Often inappropriately. The important thing to remember about missing the timing, is that it can only be missed when the effect is activating, not after the fact, once the effect is already resolving.
Heart of the Underdog:
During your Draw Phase, when you draw a Normal Monster Card(s), you can draw 1 more card by showing it to your opponent.
Heart of the Underdog is an example of an Optional Trigger that can miss its timing. But the rulings show that its only the activation of the card that can miss it, not the resolution of the effect.
Missing the Timing: Suppose you have 3 copies of "Heart of the Underdog" on the field, and draw a Normal Monster Card during your Draw Phase. All 3 copies of "Heart of the Underdog" immediately activate their effects, and because they activate simultaneously, they form a chain with Chain Links 1, 2, and 3. If you draw a Normal Monster card for Chain Link 3 or Chain Link 2, your copies of "Heart of the Underdog" do not activate again. This is because they are "when... you can" optional Trigger Effects, and you "miss the timing" because you drew the Normal Monster Card during a chain and not as Chain Link 1. However, if you draw a Normal Monster Card for Chain Link 1, all 3 copies of "Heart of the Underdog" will activate their effects again.
This ruling is also a good way to put what you've learned above all together. It's an example of a SEGOC and shows how Optional Effects resolve just like any other effect.

In the above ruling, 3 copies of Heart of the Underdog are triggered all at the same time. They form a chain according to the SEGOC rules and they resolve starting with the last link first. But in the middle of the resolving chain, you again meet Heart of the Underdog's event trigger in that you draw another Normal Monster Card. Since your going to have other chain links happening after the event trigger, it won't be the last thing to occur, so the three Underdogs will not trigger again. But in the event the last link in the chain creates the event trigger, then the timing for all 3 Heart of the Underdogs is correct and they can activate again, starting the whole process over. Depending on how many Normal Monsters you have in your deck, and your luck, you could be drawing for a long time.

It's All in the Text
The majority of Optional Effects are quite clear, in that most use the "when you can" terminology. If the effect is giving you the option to do it or not do it, then it's a good bet that your looking at an Optional Trigger. Keeping an eye out for the difference in these effects can greatly impact the manner in which you play and your choice of cards and strategy. Remember that knowledge is far more powerful then luck or the "heart of the cards", and is the single most effective tool in sharpening that one element we all strive for. Skill.

Good luck and hope this helps.

- The Jedi

*Malevolent Nuzzler: Increase the ATK of a monster equipped with this card by 700 points. When this card is sent from the field to the Graveyard, if you pay 500 Life Points, this card returns to the top of your Deck.

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