If you've played Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links, or perhaps Legacy of the Duelist, you may have gotten a message like this:
It's not a bug! That's a legitimate mistake that a lot of new players make when they play Yu-Gi-Oh!, and it's called missing the activation timing. I touched on this in the intro to PSCT article, but let's go into more detail.
Mandatory vs. Optional Effects
First, let's classify the wordings where you can and cannot miss timing.
Here we distinguish between mandatory and optional effects.
What does it mean to miss timing?
Basically, there are two common cases, and both are optional scenarios:
Give me some examples!
Alright, here's an example for case 1. Let's look at Archfiend of Gilfer.
ARCHFIEND OF GILFER: WHY IT MISSES TIMING
The activation condition is met when it hits the Graveyard, and is optional.
But here's how this works. Chain links resolve backwards, from the last card activated to the first, and are started when the card has a colon in it.
Let's say you wanted to use Tribute to the Doomed (TttD) to trigger Gilfer's effect and also destroy a monster on the field while you're at it.
From the diagram above, which reads from top to bottom (start from Gilfer), you activate TttD by discarding Gilfer. It hits the Graveyard, then the monster is targeted by TttD. Gilfer can only start a Chain Link, not tack itself on (the latest erratum is smart in including the colon). So the chain resolves with the destruction of the monster despite Gilfer technically hitting the Graveyard first thing in Chain Link 1.
The LAST thing to occur in Chain Link 1 was NOT Gilfer hitting the Graveyard (it was the monster getting targeted by TttD for destruction), so Gilfer misses its timing.
ARCHFIEND OF GILFER: HOW TO USE WITHOUT MISSING TIMING!
Now, how can we use this card properly? Perhaps the best way is to use a card that discards or sends a card to the Graveyard, then says "and if you do", or just stops with a semicolon or period. That means only one event occurs at the start of the Chain Link: Gilfer is sent to the Graveyard.
One example of each that do this is Trance Archfiend (how appropriate!) and Dark Crusader.
Here's why these work:
To summarize, Gilfer, or any card with the wording "When . . . you can", misses timing when it does not get the chance to meet its activation requirement as the last event in Chain Link 1. If its discard is simultaneous with another effect ("and if you do"), that's OK, or if its discard is the only event to occur (a semicolon in the text of the card used to discard Gilfer), that's OK.
Again, cards like Skull Meister, Yubel, Jinzo - Returner, etc. can miss timing because they have "When" and "you can" in the same card text!
DEMISE OF THE LAND: WHY YOU CAN'T ACTIVATE IT DURING THE DAMAGE STEP
Here's an example of case 2, with Demise of the Land and Snake Whistle:
You cannot activate either of these cards during the Damage Step.
What does that mean? Well, it means if these activation conditions could have been satisfied after a monster is destroyed by battle, you are not allowed to activate these cards. But why?
Let's consider the interaction of Mystic Tomato with Demise of the Land (or lack thereof).
Mystic Tomato has an optional effect that allows you to Special Summon a DARK-attribute monster from your Deck with 1500 or less ATK when it gets destroyed by battle.
That may be a timing where you wish you could use Demise of the Land to respond to the opponent's Mystic Tomato, right? Well, you don't get the Field Spell activation, because this was during the Damage Step.
The events that occur are:
The text "only when" on Demise of the Land requires that the Special Summon must be the only thing that occurs due to 1 card. If Mystic Tomato is destroyed by battle and sent to the Graveyard, that's the activation condition to Special Summon, and therefore the Special Summon is not the only thing to occur, and will not allow the activation requirement to be met for Demise of the Land.
I'd argue that this is a lack of clarity in the card text, that constantly receives a judge's ruling to make up for it. It still wouldn't be obvious that this is the case.
Interesting... how can I force cards to miss timing?
Good question! That is when you really understand missing the timing. Yubel was mentioned earlier, so let's take a look. It has an optional effect as follows:
What we're focusing on are these two parts of the text:
Basically, this card evolves into something more powerful when it gets destroyed by another effect. One of the ways to force this card to miss its activation timing (not allow the summon reward to occur) is to destroy it on Chain Link 2.
YUBEL: HOW TO CAUSE IT TO MISS TIMING - METHOD 1 (CHAIN LINKS)
The easiest way to accomplish this is to respond to Yubel's effect where it could destroy itself (or have the owner tribute a monster to prevent that), say, with Treacherous Trap Hole (which targets 2 monsters to destroy, if you have no Trap Cards in your Graveyard) to destroy it then.
As seen in the diagram above, that card will become Chain Link 2, which means Yubel was destroyed first by another card effect, then it left the field due to that card before it could destroy itself (or tribute another monster) with its own effect. However, its effect still resolves (it was not negated), and is still the last thing to occur.
Since the last thing to occur must be that it gets destroyed by NOT its own effect, your opponent's Yubel misses timing and you caused it!
Alternatively, maybe you could hit your own Treacherous Trap Hole with Cosmic Cyclone (Chain Link 1), then chain Treacherous Trap Hole (Chain Link 2) to destroy Yubel. That would also cause it to miss timing.
YUBEL: HOW TO CAUSE IT TO MISS TIMING - METHOD 2 (SEQUENTIAL EVENTS)
The other way to do it is to use a card that destroys in a way that another event occurs in between, after Yubel gets destroyed but before it is allowed to come into play. This means the words "then" or "also, after that" should be in the text of the card you use to accomplish this.
Let's use Soul Taker as an example.
Similar to what we saw in Tribute to the Doomed, the monster gets destroyed, then the opponent gains 1000 LP. Afterwards, the opponent could try to resolve Yubel, but since the last thing to occur is the LP gain, Yubel will miss its timing.
Well, I hope this has helped you guys understand what it means to miss the timing. This is something that gives a lot of people trouble in the TCG, as well as Duel Links, Legacy of the Duelist, etc. Hopefully this clears something up! If you liked this, please leave a Like and/or share it!
I am often known as timaeus222, or simply Timaeus, on the internet.
Currently, I'm pursuing a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry, and frequent OverClocked ReMix, a site for video game music appreciation through remixing and re-arrangement.
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