Ruling Demystified: Blocker Timing

IMPORTANT!
This ruling is now defunct based on Bandai’s rule update on April 23, 2021.
Please read the updated Detailed Rule Explanation Ver1.0

A recent ruling confusion has caused a heated debate on the Facebook Digimon Card Game TCG community. 

The post on April 10 started with a ruling clarification that if you de-digivolve a <Blocker> Digimon on attack declaration and that blocker no longer has the keyword <Blocker>, is still able to block the attack because it was a blocker on declaration. This statement then went to pull more than 200 comments, with a variety of scenarios raised.

Today we will try to debunk this confusing mechanic by using a more visual method.

Game attack mechanics

The official rulebook states the sequence of an attack, starting with [1] a declaration by suspending your Digimon, [2] choosing a target, and finally [3] activating any [When Attacking] effects.

Extract of Main Phase E, Official Rulebook (v1.3), Page 10

We also know that blocker Digimons will activate <Blocker> in the same timing window [3], which is remarked in Bandai’s reply for this related mechanic (see later in this post). 

The blocker effect triggers at the same time as [When Attacking] effects.

Here, the term activated does not mean resolved. Generally, effect timing can be split into 2: activate and resolve

Activation of an effect simply lights it up! Nothing actually happens but you can imagine that the effect is being queued up in some effect queue. 

Resolution of effects meanwhile, resolves effects in the order that they were queued. Things happen when effects are resolved (cards are drawn, or Digimons are deleted etc.) and may impact subsequent effects downstream in the queue.

While not officially described in the rulebook, Bandai has been very consistent with the terms activate and resolve (see some sample replied from Bandai in the later parts of this post).

Activate and Resolve are treated as 2 different phases of an effect.

Due to this activate/resolve phases, the <Blocker> effect will always activate behind-the-scenes (the player does not need to explicitly say to block). This is because nothing actually happens when you trigger or activate the <Blocker> effect, and the actual blocking (or even decision whether or not to block) happens during resolution.  

<Blocker> (When an opponent’s Digimon attacks, you may suspend this Digimon to force the opponent to attack it instead)

Note that when [5] resolving the effects of a blocker, the player MAY SUSPEND his Digimon in order to block. Therefore, decision to block is made during timing window [5] and not in [3]. This is also consistent with page 6 of Bandai’s Q&A General Rules

Q&A General Rules, Page 6
Visualizing effect resolution as a queue.

To make this more intuitive, we can visualize this entire mechanism as a effect queue. 

When effects are activated, they are queued into an imaginary effect queue. Although both [When Attacking] effects and <Blocker> effects have the same activation timing, the queued effects are resolved based on turn-player priority.

Effects are resolved based on turn-player priority.

After all the [3] activations, the [4] resolution phase will simply resolve effects from the queue in order of turn-player priority.

Scenario 1: blocking Crusadermon

Q: You attack your opponent with [BT5-045] Crusadermon and using his [When Attacking] effect, you play a [BT5-042] Knightmon from your hand. Can you destroy your opponent’s blocker using Knightmon’s [When Played] effect, rendering that blocker unable to block Crusadermon’s attack?

A: No. Your opponent can resolve the blocker’s effect before your Knightmon’s [When Played] effect. Therefore, your opponent’s blocker will be able to block your Crusadermon. 

This question has been officially confirmed by Bandai/Cardass. The blocker Digimon has a queue priority before Knightmon’s [When Played] effect hence is able to block Crusadermon. 

Bandai/Cardass reply regarding blocking of Crusadermon/LordKnightmon.

Crusadermon must resolve all [When Attacking] effects first before the blocker, and the blocker Digimon can decide whether on not to block the attack depending on how the situation plays out. 

Also note that since Knightmon’s [When Played] effect resolve after the blocker, therefore he can choose his target after observing whether the blocker Digimon decides to block or not. 

Scenario 2: blocking De-Digivolution

Q: You attack your opponent with a Digimon that has the effect [When Attacking] Trigger <De-Digivolve 1> on 1 of your opponent’s Digimon. You target that <De-Digivolve 1> effect on 1 of your opponent’s blocker Digimon, causing it to de-digivolve into a Digimon that no longer has the keyword <Blocker>. Can that de-digivolved Digimon block the attack?

A: Yes, because the <Blocker> effect is activated before the <De-Digivolution 1> effect is resolved. By the description of <Blocker> (When an opponent’s Digimon attacks, you may suspend this Digimon to force the opponent to attack it instead), your de-digivolved Digimon will be able to block the attack as long as it is able to suspend itself.

This was also debated on Facebook back in April 4, and has been confirmed with Bandai/Cardass. 

Bandai/Cardass reply regarding blocking priority in De-Digivolution.

The sequence of events in this scenario conforms to the same activate/resolve mechanic: the effect has been activated and queued prior to resolving the effect. Therefore, the effect will still resolve as per its description: when an opponent’s Digimon attacks, you may suspend this Digimon to force the opponent to attack it instead.

Summary

Card game mechanics can be rather confusing when not properly documented, but it is important to play by the official rules to avoid disputes in the middle of a game. Do let us know if there are certain rulings you wish clarified and we shall do our best to help!

Many thanks to our dear friend Samuel (Deuk-Boo Jang) for helping to review the rulings mentioned in this post.

This site uses english-translated cards from digimoncard.dev.

4 thoughts on “Ruling Demystified: Blocker Timing”

  1. If blocker automatically activates before you choose to use it, then Bandai need to update the rulebook!
    That is very unintuitive game design to have it automatically activating before choice, leading to confusing situations.
    Also confusing when Bandai Cardass replies are from customer support agents, but not the actual game designer? What if customer support makes a mistake?

    Has anyone reached out to Bandai when they will update the rulebook?

    1. Hi Welgudtor,

      Yes I have to agree that it is a very unintuitive game design. It almost seem that the game complexity has grown beyond them (and their initial rulebook)

      We do not know if Bandai/CARDASS will eventually make activate/resolve clear as day in their rule book, but as of now there is no evidence that that’s going to happen (and even so it will start with Japan). All the information that we have here are pieced up together from fragments of rulings and Q&A that’s been asked and circulated around (and of course we check that for consistency to avoid reporting false information).

      We do believe that Bandai/CARDASS replies from customer support agents actually do comply with their game designer’s (I think it’s a very Japanese attitude) so there is little to doubt there. But yes it can be a lot less messier if they update their rulebooks accordingly. 🙂

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