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The Ultimate

Originally based on Konami's "Perfect Rulebook", this book will provide a more complete, more extensive, and easier access of advanced rulings, making it the Ultimate version it'll ever have. This section contains the most encountered technical rulings in both OCG and TCG. It is sub-divided into different categories. Click the boxes that corresponds to your main search.

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Card Legality

As a general rule, a card is legal for tournament play as soon as it is officially released in a Yu‑Gi‑Oh! TRADING CARD GAME (TCG)/OFFICIAL CARD GAME (OCG) product.

To find out when a card is legal, you can look up its corresponding product release date on the Products page, or search for the card individually via the Yu‑Gi‑Oh! Card Database. Certain products may be released at different dates in different regions. TCG cards are known to have a GOLD seal with holographic eye on bottom right corner of the card and OCG, known to have a SILVER seal with holographic eye on bottom right corner of the card, with Japanese version of Yu-Gi-Oh! Logo at the back.
Cards that are reprinted in an upcoming product but were already made legal in a previously released product remain tournament legal regardless of the new product’s release date.


Yu‑Gi‑Oh! TCG cards that are printed in English, French, Italian, German, Spanish and Portuguese can be played in any TCG territory, and are not legal for use in Yu‑Gi‑Oh! OCG events.

Cards printed in Japanese, Korean, Chinese or “Asian English” (ie: Yu‑Gi‑Oh! OCG cards) can only be played in Asian territories and are not legal for use in Yu‑Gi‑Oh! TCG events.

Forbidden and
Limited Cards

In addition to the legality rules outlined on this page, certain cards are restricted to less than the usual 3 copies per Deck. For a full list of these cards please check the Forbidden and Limited Cards List.

Forbidden and Limited Cards List - OCG

Forbidden and Limited Cards List - TCG

OCG Notes

*AE, or Asian English cards can be used at ANY OCG sanctioned event, regardless of any Asian OCG territory or event tier level.

*JP Cards, or Japanese Text Cards (inlcuding chinese, korean, etc) can ONLY be used at OCG JP sanctioned event, and cannot be used in AE-Exclusive events, regardless of event tier level.

*Mixing AE and JP (and other OCG language cards) is 100% ALLOWED. However, since AE-exclusive events does not permit the use of JP and other language cards, you cannot use mixed languaged deck in any AE-Exclusive events.

Game State and
Fast Effects

Open Gamestate

Some actions can ONLY be performed when the game state is open.

-Normal Summon (including Tribute Summon)
-Set a card
-Perform a Special Summon that does not start a Chain (including Xyz Summon, Synchro Summon)
-Change a monster’s Battle Position
-Attempt to move to the next Phase/Step
-Draw a card for your normal draw during the Draw Phase
-Declare an attack
-Activate an Ignition Effect
-Activate a Spell Speed 1 Spell Card

If the game state is “open”, the turn player may perform any of the above actions that is appropriate. They can also choose to activate a fast effect, if they wish.

When Is the Game State No Longer “Open”?

Whenever either player performs an action, the game state is no longer open.

How Do I Make the Game State “Open” Again?

Basically, when nothing is going on, and neither player wishes to do anything, the game state goes back to being “open”.

Technically, this means:

IF the Turn Player has the chance to activate the next fast effect

AND the turn player passes to the opponent
AND the opponent then passes back
AND no Chain is currently being formed
…then the game state is open again.

How Does the Turn Move to the Next Phase or Step?

If the game state is open, and the turn player chooses not to do anything, and the opponent waives the chance to activate a fast effect, and both players agree to have the turn proceed, then you move to the next Phase or Step.

Fast Effects

Fast effects are card activations and effects with a Spell Speed of 2 or higher, including monster Quick Effects, Quick-Play Spell Cards, and Trap Cards (which includes both activating Trap Cards, and activating the effects of things like Continuous Trap Cards).

Fast effects can be activated by either player – even during their opponent’s turn, as long as the conditions are appropriate. When both players want to activate fast effects at the same time, they are placed on a Chain.

Sometimes, it can make a big difference WHO places their fast effect on the Chain first. This guide will help you figure out who, at any point in time, has the chance to activate the next fast effect (in other words, who gets to “go next”).

Usually, the turn player has the chance to “go next” and activate the next fast effect.

However, during a Chain, the chance to go next passes back and forth between players.

Also, if the turn player doesn’t wish to take any actions, and instead wants to move along in the turn (for example, to the next Step or Phase), the opponent has an opportunity to go next, and activate a fast effect, before the turn proceeds.

Follow the chart at the bottom to see which player can “go next” regarding fast effects.

Turn Player Actions

Each Phase and Step starts with the turn player in box A of the chart listed below. This is when the game state is “open”, meaning the turn player has complete freedom of action.

Card Text

As far as rules go, the most important info on a card are its Timing, Targeting, and Conditions. These are also the things that cause the most questions. For example:

Timing – If we make a chain, do I do things when I activate my card or when the card resolves?
Targeting – Does this card target something? If it has more than 1 target, what happens if one target goes away?
Conditions – What if something changes between the moment I play the card and the moment it finishes up and goes to the Graveyard?
The problem-solving card text (PSCT) fixes all of these problems, completely and forever, by reconstructiong the way card texts are written.


(Problem Solving Card Text)

Anything that explains CONDITIONS to activate a card, or limits WHEN or HOW OFTEN you can activate a card, from the word itself, are the Card Conditions.

Anything that happens WHEN YOU ACTIVATE a card or effect are called activation Requirements. This includes things like costs and targeting.

Anything that happens when you resolve a card are the card Effects. This is what happens when the card effect actually happens.

On PSCT, Conditions are now always followed by a colon (:).

Activation is separated from the card effects by a semicolon (;).


Example: Sangan
When this card is sent from the field to the Graveyard: Add 1 monster with 1500 or less ATK from your Deck to your hand

Everything in green (before the colon) describes WHEN and under what conditions the effect happens. Everything in blue (after the colon) describes WHAT happens when the effect resolves.

If there’s a semicolon, then everything AFTER the conditions is divided between what happens when you activate the card and what happens when the card resolves (in red text).


When this card is destroyed by battle and sent to the Graveyard: You can target 2 Level 2 monsters in your Graveyard; Special Summon them, but their effects are negated.

Make sure the green part (before the colon) is being followed. Do the part in red (before the semicolon) if there is any. After that, other cards and effects can be chained in response. If there’s a chain, you don’t do your card’s effects until the chain resolves, in backwards order.


Conjunction – What’s Your Function?

Four key conjunctive words and phrases are used on card text, each with a specific meaning:



*And if you do


The key differences between them are about Timing and Causation.

Why Timing Is Important: Certain Trigger Effects and fast effects have to be used in response to atriggering event (like a monster being destroyed, or a Summon happening). Depending on how your card is written, it might only be usable in response to a triggering event that was ‘the last thing that happened’. (This is usually the case for cards that “CAN” be used “WHEN” something happens.Keep in mind that timing can be important, along with what was ‘the last thing that happened’.)

Why Causation is Important: Naturally, when you activate a card, you expect things to work perfectly. But sometimes your opponent chains a card of their own that changes things. Suddenly, you can’t do everything your card says. How much do you do? How much CAN you do? The conjunctive words are a key part of answering these questions.

Here’s how the Four Conjunctives work:

THEN: (Do A, then do B)
Timeline: B happens after A, even though they’re part of one card effect. These things happen in sequence, not simultaneously.
Causation: A is required for B, but NOT vice-versa. If A does not happen, then stop. If B cannot happen, you still do A.

Example: Heraldry Change (from Cosmo Blazer)
When an opponent’s monster declares an attack: Special Summon 1 “Heraldic Beast” monster from your hand, then end the Battle Phase.
Timing: After this card resolves, the last thing that happened was that you ended the Battle Phase. The last thing was NOT a monster being Summoned. Which means neither player can activate cards like Torrential Tribute that activate “WHEN” a monster is Summoned.
Causation: Summoning a “Heraldic Beast” is required in order to end the Battle Phase. If you can’t Summon for some reason, then you don’t end the Battle Phase. Suppose you activate this card, but then your opponent chains with something that causes you to discard the only “Heraldic Beast” you had in your hand. You can’t Summon anymore, so you stop resolving this card’s effect once you reach the “I can’t do that” part.

ALSO: (Do A, also do B)
Timeline: Considered simultaneous. Both happen at the same time.
Causation: Neither is required for the other. Just do as much as you can!

Example: Masked Ninja Ebisu (from Order of Chaos)
Once per turn, if you control a face-up “Ninja” monster other than “Masked Ninja Ebisu”, you can activate this effect: Return a number of your opponent’s Spell/Trap Cards to the hand, equal to the number of “Ninja” monsters you control, also every face-up “Goe Goe the Gallant Ninja” you control can attack your opponent directly this turn.
Timing: Everything after the colon (everything in blue) happens at the same time. If either player has an effect that can be activated WHEN cards are returned to the hand, they can use it immediately after this effect resolves. Even though the text regarding Goe Goe is mentioned after the text that returns cards, it all happens simultaneously.
Causation: Neither of these effects is required for the other. If, for whatever reason, you wind up NOT returning any Spells/Traps to the hand, your Goe Goes still can attack directly. Also, if you don’t have any Goe Goes when the effect resolves, you can still return Spells/Traps to your opponent’s hand. Just apply as much of the effect as you can.

AND IF YOU DO: (Do A, and if you do, do B)
Timeline: Considered simultaneous. Both happen at the same time.
Causation: A is required for B, but NOT vice-versa. If A does not happen, then stop. If B cannot happen, you still do A.

Basically, this phrase acts like “also” and “and” for Timeline purposes, but acts like “then” for Causation purposes.

Example: Memory of an Adversary (from Abyss Rising) says, in part:
When an opponent’s monster declares an attack: You take damage equal to the attacking monster’s ATK, and if you do, banish that monster.
Timing: When this effect resolves, taking damage and banishing the monster happen at the same time. Effects can be activated that happen “WHEN” you take damage, and effects can be activated that happen “WHEN” a monster is banished/leaves the field.
Causation: You have to take damage in order to banish the monster. If you can’t take damage because another effect prevents it, then you don’t banish the monster.

AND: (Do A and B)
Timeline: Considered simultaneous. Both happen at the same time.
Causation: BOTH are required. If you cannot do both, then you do nothing.

NOTE: There used to be a lot more cards written with just “and” than there are now, but a lot of the older “and” phrasing is now being written as “and if you do” (which is much more accurate). “And” (by itself) conjunctives are pretty rare now, and used only for highly restricted, joined-at-the-hip, all-or-nothing effects where everything is required.

Multiple Conjunctives

Some really complex effects will use more than one conjunction to form a stream of events. Ignition Beast Volcannon (from Cosmo Blazer) is a good example.

When this card is Fusion Summoned: You can target 1 monster your opponent controls; destroy that target, also destroy this card, then if both monsters were destroyed, inflict damage to your opponent equal to the ATK of the monster in the Graveyard that was targeted by this effect.

The key parts of this effect are {destroy target}, {destroy Volcannon}, and {inflict damage}.

*You need to destroy the target if possible (even if you don’t destroy Volcannon).
*You need to destroy Volcannon if possible (even if you don’t destroy the target).
*After you’ve destroyed any monsters, check if both were destroyed. If both were destroyed, the next thing that happens is that you inflict damage.

Remember Different conjunctives serve different purposes, depending on whether you’re checking to see what the ‘last thing that happened’ was (to check whether a new effect can be activated), or if you’re trying to see how much of the effect you should do.

If you’re checking activation eligibility, you need to focus on timing. Look for THEN vs. AND/ALSO/AND IF YOU DO.

If you’re checking to see how much of the effect you do, look for ALSO vs. THEN/AND IF YOU DO vs. just AND.

Once Per Turn

"Once per turn" effects can be identified by the text "once per turn" in their activation conditions. These kinds of effects can only be used once per turn per card, while that card is face-up in its current location.

(Even if that effect's activation is negated, it cannot be activated again that turn.)

This restriction only applies to that copy of the card; if a player is in possession of multiple cards with the same name that have the same "Once per turn" effect, they can activate each one during that turn.

Additionally, if a card that activated its "Once per turn" effect leaves its current location (the entire field is considered the same location) or is flipped face-down, its effect can be activated again during that same turn.


*If there’s a colon or semicolon in the text, that always means an effect that starts a chain. If there is no colon or semicolon, the effect does NOT start a chain and cannot be chained to.

*Spells and Traps always start a chain at some point, because activating the Spell/Trap starts a chain all by itself.

*Some Spells & Traps won’t have a colon or a semicolon. But they still start a chain when you activate the Spell or Trap. (Summoning a monster doesn’t start a chain, so that’s why they’re different).

*Many Trap Cards have Conditions, so they will have a colon in the text. This doesn’t make them play any differently from a Spell/Trap without a colon, though.


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