[Ruling] Effects for Dummies (Judge: Samuel)

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We’ve been talking about the latest ruling updates in the past 3 weeks. Since we’ve gotten the major updates out of the way, I guess it’s time to take a step back and solidify our foundation by going back to the basics. Of course, it’s not going to be just a copy of the official game manual. You can download and study it yourself. In today’s article, we’ll be discussing one of the major aspects of the game – effects. I kid you not. Chapter 14 and 15 of the Japanese Comprehensive Rules Manual talk about effects rulings (7 pages) and keyword effects (6 pages), and that’s almost half of the whole rulebook, which is only 30 pages long (if we exclude the update logs). So today, I'll do my bestI’ll my best to weed out all the important information so this article won’t be too long.

Introduction to Effects

Effects are actions caused by a card that affects the game or the card itself. They are processed in the order described in the card text. The official rule manual shows you where you can find effects on a card in the “Card Information” section at page 2 and 3.

State of Effects

In this game we know that cards have states (suspended, unsuspended). But did you know effects have states as well? Well actually you do, although it probably never occurred to you that it is a state. They are “Trigger”, “Activate”, “Simultaneous Triggering”, “Pending Activation”, and “Derivative Triggers”. We’ve discussed simultaneousdiscussed about simultaneous triggering and pending activation in one of our previous articles, so we’ll only be touching on the other three.

A lot of players tend to mix up trigger with activate. Or rather, they think that trigger and activate are two of the same thing, and lump them together with a few other terms from other games to describe performing an effect. However, in this game, the two have totally different meanings.

Triggering an effect means you fulfill the trigger conditions of the effect, or in layman terms, you have reached the effect timing. Even if an effect is triggered, you don’t necessarily perform it right away, because there might be other effects which are triggered at the same time, so you will have to decide which effect to perform first. The act of performing these effects is known as activating an effect.

So to make things simple, let’s take a look at the first effect of Rapidmon (X-Antibody):

The first part, underlined in red, is the trigger condition. It triggers when you digivolve into it. Then when you activate the effect, you perform the part that is underlined in green. Easy huh?

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, we shall look at the last state of effects: “Derivative Triggers”. Well derivative triggers is not the official name, it’s just the translation of 派生誘発. This state is used to describe effects that are triggered before all simultaneous triggers have been resolved. For example, you have a Wargreymon in your battle area with the X-Antibody option in its digivolution cards. You digivolve it into BT5 Omegamon and cause the memory to cross over to your opponent’s side. The digivolution triggers both the [When Digivolving] effects of BT5 Omegamon. Since they are simultaneous triggers, you decide to activatedecide activate the first effect and attack with <Blitz>. This action further triggers the inherited effect of the X-Antibody option because it has the trigger timing of [When Attacking]. This situation would be described as a derivative trigger. As mentioned in the last article, since the derivative trigger is the latest effect to be triggered, then you will have to activate it first before other effects that are triggeredthat triggered earlier (like the other [When Digivolving] effect of BT5 Omegamon). In a way, derivative triggers are like chainschain of effects.

Processing Conditions

Other than trigger conditions, some effects might also have another condition which you have to fulfill in order to activate them. These conditions are called processing conditions. Here is an example of a processing condition:

As you can see in the photo above, the effect can be split into 3 parts:

Trigger Condition: [When Digivolving]

Processing Condition: If you don’t have [Marcus Damon] in play

Effect: you may play 1 [Marcus Damon] from your hand without paying the cost.

So even if you fulfill the trigger condition (digivolve into GeoGreymon), if you have a [Marcus Damon] in your battle area, you failed to fulfill the processing condition. Hence you won’t be able to activate the effect that allows you to play a [Marcus Damon] for free.

Another type of processing condition is one which allows you to perform a certain action. These are called optional processing conditions, and are effects that say “By doing X, do Y” (Japanese: look for “ことで”). For example, the first effect of EX5 Fanglongmon:

A lot of people tend to call it an “optional effect”, but actually it is a mandatory effect with an optional processing condition. The part underlined in red is the optional processing condition, as you can choose whether or not to return cards from your trash to the bottom of your deck after you fulfill the trigger conditions. However, if you choose to return at least 1 card, it is mandatory to apply the DP reduction on all your opponent’s Digimon.

In English, there is also another way to write optional processing effects. It can be seen in cards from the older version, like Takuya here:

Placing 5 Hybrid traited cards under Takuya is also an optional processing effect. While the description differs from the Fanglongmon card above, the Japanese text of this card is actually similar to Fanglongmon’s card text. I’m not sure why the localization team of older sets decided to change the sentence structure, but thank goodness they changed it back to reflect the Japanese text, because Takuya’s translation is actually inaccurate. Digivolving into EmperorGreymon is actually optional. However, the “You may do X to do Y” format does not allow you to make the digivolution optional. Hence, it got lost in translation.

Anyway, I mentioned earlier that effects with optional processing conditions are not optional effects. What actually is the difference between them? While I highlighted one of the differences using Fanglongmon’s effect (on how it is a mandatory effect with an optional processing condition instead of an optional effect), there is another situation where you need to clearly differentiate the two of them. This situation involved Imperialdramon: Paladin Mode.

A lot of players are familiar with the ruling of BT8 Imperialdramon: Paladin mode – if you don’t return a 2-colour card from this card's digivolution cards to the bottom of your deck, you cannot perform the second part of the effect (separated by “. Then,”). However, when it comes to effects like ST17 Cherubimon, if you choose not to perform the first part of the effect, you can still perform the second part. So the difference? The “Return 1 2-color card from this Digimon’s digivolution cards to the bottom of its owner’s deck” is actually an optional processing condition. It is not an optional effect. Hence if you choose not to fulfill the processing condition, you cannot perform the whole effect. In contrast, the first part of ST17 Cherubimon is an optional effect (because it contains the word “you may” or “できる”). Going by the rules for “. Then,” effects, you can still perform the second part of the effect, because it is independent from the first part.

Types of Effects

Since we have more or less covered most of the important rulings related to effects, we shall look at the 4 types of effects in this game.

Persistent-Type Effects are effects that are continuously active during its specified timing and do not require triggering. Players commonly call them “Passive Effects”. Here is an example::

This is a persistent-type effect with a processing condition. So as long as you fulfill the processing condition (has Rapidmon or X-Antibody in its digivolution cards), your opponent’s suspended Digimon will have their DP reduced by 4000. However, if the Rapidmon or X-Antibody in its digivolution cards gets trashed, or if it gets deleted, or if the opponent’s Digimon unsuspends, the DP reduction will immediately disappear. Since it does not trigger, the application/disappearance of the -4000DP would occur immediately without having to queue alongside other triggered effects.


Trigger-Type Effects are pretty common. Basically they are the effects that trigger from a trigger timing, then go into the state of pending activation if you choose to activate other same timing effects instead.

These two are examples of trigger-type effects. The first one has a [When Digivolving] timing box, so it's pretty obvious that it is a trigger-type effect. However, the bottom one has a timing of [All Turns] instead. In this case, its trigger timing would be “When an opponent’s Digimon is deleted in battle or by having 0DP”. So one effect triggers when you Digivolve into Rapidmon (X-Antibody), while the other triggers when your opponent’s Digimon gets deled.


Activation-Type Effects are like on-demand buttons. You press the button, it activates. Similarly to persistent-type effects, they do not trigger. They have the timing of [Main], so you can only use them during your main phase. Here is an example of an activation-type effect:

Immediate-Type Effects are probably the most unique effects in this game. Usually when an effect is triggered by the activation of another effect, you would have to wait for the ongoing effect to finish resolving before you can activate it. However, immediate-type effects allow you to bypass that rule, and activate right in the middle of an ongoing effect. Pretty cool huh? That’s why they are commonly known as “interruptive effects” among players. So how do you tell apart these effects from the normal effects? Basically immediate-type effects say “when…would” (Japanese: look for “するとき”). For example

So Hi-Commandramon’s inherited effect is actually an immediate-type effect, and would be able to activate right in the middle of an ongoing effect. However, if another effect is triggered as a result of the activation of this effect, you will have to wait for the ongoing effect to finish resolving before activating the newly triggered effect, unless it is another immediate-type effect.

Well, it really has been a long article. There are still things more effect related rulings to touch on, however it might have to wait for another day. If you prefer to watch instead of read, check out the video I made below:

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