Demystifying Rulings, Part 2: Targeting

Here we’ll learn even more about PSCT and what it has to say about targeting.

Be sure to check out the first article in the series, introducing PSCT:

Targeting Basics
Through PSCT, it’s clear to see when an effect targets or not.

An effect targets if, and only if, the card text uses the word ‘target’.

Pretty simple, though remember again that this only applies to cards with PSCT. Simple examples are Phoenix Wing Wind Blast and Mirror Force:
Discard 1 card, then target 1 card your opponent controls; place that target on the top of the Deck.
This clearly targets.

When an opponent’s monster declares an attack: Destroy all Attack Position monsters your opponent controls.
This does not.

Targets and Resolution
Things get more interesting when we look after the semi-colon.

If an effect also uses the word ‘target’ after the semi-colon, then the targeting conditions must all be correct when the effect resolves, or it resolves without effect.

That’s a little wordy, but bear with me – it’s clear with some examples. Let’s start with this effect of Atlantean Marksman:
When this card is sent to the Graveyard to activate a WATER monster’s effect: Target 1 Set card your opponent controls; destroy that target.

The effect uses the word ‘target’ after the semi-colon. Marksman targets 1 Set card, so this rule of PSCT is telling us that Marksman checks its target is still Set at resolution before it will destroy it. So if the targeted card is Chained, then Marksman will not destroy it.

Compare this with the first effect of Galaxy Cyclone:
Target 1 Set Spell/Trap Card on the field; destroy it.

Because it doesn’t use the word ‘target’ after the semi-colon, it doesn’t care whether the target is still face-down at resolution. Galaxy Cyclone will destroy it either way.

Another example is Trap Hole:
When your opponent Normal or Flip Summons 1 monster with 1000 or more ATK: Target that monster; destroy that target.

Since it says ‘target’ after the semi-colon, it will only destroy the targeted monster if it still has 1000 or more ATK at resolution. If the opponent Chains something like Shrink (or Book of Moon) so that the monster has less than 1000 ATK (or is face-down, so its ATK cannot be determined) then Trap Hole will not destroy it.

If an effect doesn’t use the word ‘target’ after the semi-colon, read the card carefully to find out what still needs to be correct when it resolves.

For example, let’s look at Bottomless Trap Hole:
When your opponent Summons a monster(s) with 1500 or more ATK: Destroy that monster(s) with 1500 or more ATK, and if you do, banish it.

Even though it doesn’t target, the text tells us that the monsters still need to have 1500 or more ATK at resolution. If something is Chained, reducing their ATK to below 1500, then Bottomless Trap Hole will not destroy or banish that monster.

There’s an entire article dedicated to this little rule and its application to Effect Veiler and the like, if you’re interested:

Note that effects do not track cards when they change locations (field, Graveyard, etc). For simplicity, I’ll use Monster Reborn to illustrate this:
Target 1 monster in either player’s Graveyard; Special Summon it.

If D.D. Crow is Chained to the card that Reborn is targeting, Reborn will not Special Summon it, because the monster is no longer in the same location, even though it doesn’t say ‘Special Summon that target’.

Multiple Targets
When an effect targets multiple cards, there are several amounts to which it can ‘care’ about the targeting conditions being correct at resolution.

If it doesn’t use ‘those targets’ after the semi-colon, it doesn’t need the targeting conditions to be correct at resolution.

This is the ‘not picky’ case. For example, Wind-Up Arsenal Zenmaioh:
Once per turn: You can detach 1 Xyz Material from this card to target 2 Set cards on the field; destroy them.

It doesn’t use the word ‘targets’ after the semi-colon so, just like in the single-target case, it doesn’t care whether any of the targets are not Set when the effect resolves. It also doesn’t care if it can’t destroy one of the targets – it will still try to destroy the other target. Not picky at all.

If it uses ‘those targets’ after the semi-colon, it checks the targeting conditions for each target individually at resolution.

This is the case where the effect looks at each card individually. For example, Tiger Dragon:
When this card is Tribute Summoned by Tributing a Dragon-Type monster: You can target up to 2 face-down Spell/Trap Cards your opponent controls; destroy those targets.

If one target is flipped face-up, Tiger Dragon will not destroy it, but it will still check the other target and destroy that one if it’s still face-down.

If it uses ‘both’ or ‘all’ (as appropriate), then it checks the targeting conditions collectively, and if they are not fully correct, it does nothing.

Pot of Avarice is banned now, so I’ll use Jar of Avarice as an example instead:
Target 5 cards in your Graveyard, except “Jar of Avarice”; shuffle all 5 into the Deck, then draw 1 card. You can only activate 1 “Jar of Avarice” per turn.

Since it specifically refers to ‘all 5′, if D.D. Crow is Chained to banish one of the 5, Jar of Avarice will do nothing. All’ (or ‘both’) means ‘all or nothing’.

Quiz time!

(1) Which of these effects target?

-This effect of Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon:
Once per turn: You can Special Summon 1 Dragon-Type monster from your hand or Graveyard, except “Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon”.

-Deep Dark Trap Hole:
When a Level 5 or higher Effect Monster(s) is Special Summoned: Banish that Level 5 or higher Effect Monster(s).

-Creature Swap:
Each player chooses 1 monster they control and switches control of those monsters with each other. Those monsters cannot change their battle positions for the rest of this turn.

(2) True or False: If the effect of Calcab, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss targets a Set Call of the Haunted, and CotH is Chained to the effect of Calcab, CotH is still returned to the hand when Calcab’s effect resolves.
If this card is sent to the Graveyard: You can target 1 Set Spell/Trap Card on the field; return that target to the hand.

(3) True or False: If Book of Moon is Chained to flip the target of (the second effect of) Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer face-down, the target is still returned to the Deck.
You can detach 2 Xyz Materials from this card, then target 1 other face-up card on the field; shuffle it into the Deck. 

(4) Player A activates the effect of Infernity General, and Player B Chains by discarding D.D. Crow for its effect, to banish one of the targets. What happens?
If you have no cards in your hand: You can banish this card from your Graveyard to target 2 Level 3 or lower “Infernity” monsters in your Graveyard; Special Summon them from the Graveyard, but their effects are negated.

-Both targets are still Special Summoned
-Only the non-banished target is still Special Summoned
-Neither are Special Summoned

(5) Greenkappa’s effect targets 2 Set Trap Cards. One of them is Chained. What happens?
FLIP: Target 2 Set Spell/Trap Cards on the field; destroy those targets.

-Both targets are still destroyed
-Only the non-Chained target is destroyed
-Neither are destroyed



(1) None of them!
None of the cards use the word ‘target’. We should check, though, that Creature Swap does have PSCT, because it’s not immediately obvious, but it does, so we’re clear.

(2) False
Calcab targets a Set card, and returns ‘that target’ to the hand, so the card needs to still be Set at resolution for Calcab to return it.

(3) True
Castel returns ‘it’ to the Deck, so it doesn’t care whether its target is still face-up when its effect resolves. 

(4) Only the non-banished target is still Special Summoned
The banished target definitely cannot be Special Summoned, because it’s moved from its original location. But Infernity General Special Summons ‘them’ so it’s not picky, and will Special Summon the other.

(5) Only the non-Chained target is destroyed
Greenkappa targets Set cards, and destroys ‘those targets’, so it checks each target separately to make sure they’re still Set at resolution. 

Once again, if you want to read more about PSCT, you can check out Konami’s official articles on it:
And you can also check out my complete article here (coming soon): of PSCT

The next article is on Trigger Effects:
General comments and suggestions are always appreciated.

See you next time!

Like us? Support YGOrganization on our Patreon to remove ads!
Become a patron at Patreon!

Comments are closed.