Demystifying Rulings, Part 7: Fast Effect Timing

Though it may not always seem like it, only one player has the right to act at any given time in the game. In this article, we study the passing back and forth of this ‘right to act’. Also, if you missed it due to the new F/L List, check out the last article on Summons:

In a Chain, the opponent of the player with the last effect on the Chain gets the right to act first. If they do not wish to activate anything, they pass to the other player. After both players pass (once), the Chain begins to resolve.

For example, suppose I want to use Dark Hole and then Chain with Starlight Road to negate it and Special Summon a Stardust Dragon:

When a card or effect is activated that would destroy 2 or more cards you control: Negate the effect, and if you do, destroy that card, then you can Special Summon 1 “Stardust Dragon” from your Extra Deck.

Chain Link 1: Dark Hole

Currently my card is last on the Chain, so my opponent now has the right to activate something before I can use Starlight (if he does, I’d be in trouble, because you have to Chain Starlight directly to the effect you’re trying to negate).

For the next rule, you’ll need to cast your mind back to one of the rules of SEGOC: If any Trigger Effects want to activate, they are all put on the Chain according to the rules of SEGOC, and only after that can fast effects be Chained. After all of the Trigger Effects go on the Chain, the opponent of whichever player’s effect is last on the Chain gets the right to act or pass, just as we saw above.

The Chart
There are a lot more cases where we could ask which player has the right to activate a fast effect, and that’s not even thinking about non-fast effects. Fortunately, Konami has created an excellent flow chart which tells us exactly which player has the right to act at any given time!

Without further ado, the Fast Effect Timing chart:


Isn’t it elegant? This chart reduces questions about timing to a simple matter of following the arrows.

Firstly, some terminology. To clarify, a fast effect is just any effect that’s Spell Speed 2 or higher. This includes the effect in the Graveyard of Trap Cards like Breakthrough Skill, or the effects on the field of Continuous Trap Cards like Dark Smog.

We say the Game State is open when we’re in box A. During an Open Game State, the turn player can perform any (legal) action they like. Open Game States are important because those are the only time non-fast effects and actions can be made.

If the Game State is not open, we say it’s a Closed Game State.

Let’s see some applications:

I enter my Main Phase 1. Can I Normal Summon a monster before my opponent activates a fast effect?

We refer to the chart, and notice that every Phase and Step begins in Box A. In other words, it’s an Open Game State. This means the turn player has the right to act, which in this case is Normal Summon, before the opponent may act.

After a Chain resolves, can I activate an Ignition Effect before my opponent activates a fast effect?

The big box in the middle is for Chain-building. After a Chain resolves, an arrow takes us to the ‘Does this activate a triggered effect?’ box on the left. Assuming there are none, the arrows then indicate that the turn player, and then the non-turn player, have the right to activate fast effects, before the game state becomes open again (ie. before we return to box A).

The Open Game State is the only place in which Ignition Effects can be activated, so from this, we see that my opponent can use a fast effect before my Ignition Effect.

Can I change Phase before my opponent activates a fast effect?

Declaring my intent to end the Phase puts us on the right hand side of the chart. We see that I can’t end the Phase until my opponent also passes, meaning they can activate something before the phase ends.

When multiple effects want to activate or end during a Phase, they do not form a Chain, they follow this chart. At time of writing, these situations are niche enough that I won’t go into detail in this series. However, you can read more here:


Quiz time!
Use the Fast Effect Timing Chart to answer the following questions:

(1) Can my opponent use Effect Veiler before I change to the Battle Phase?
During your opponent’s Main Phase: You can send this card from your hand to the Graveyard, then target 1 face-up Effect Monster your opponent controls; negate that opponent’s face-up monster’s effects until the end of this turn (this is a Quick Effect).

(2) If they do so, can I continue my Main Phase 1 afterwards?

(3) My opponent and I both control a Set Torrential Tribute. I Normal Summon Tour Guide From the Underworld. Which is the first effect that can be activated?

-The effect of Tour Guide
-My Torrential Tribute
-My opponent’s Torrential Tribute

(4) If I activate the effect of Tour Guide in the above scenario, which of us can Chain Torrential Tribute first?


Toggle All Spoilers

Finally, you can read the Konami article on this topic here:

The next article is on the Battle Phase:
As usual, feedback and suggestions are appreciated.

See you next time!

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