PSCT (Problem-Solving Card Text) is the term used for the way Konami has written card texts since 2011. It encodes key information about card effects, meaning that they can now be deduced from the card text itself with a little knowledge.
Effects start a Chain if, and only if, the effect has a colon or semi-colon. Such effects are structured like this:
Condition(s) to activate the effect: Actions (costs and targeting) performed to activate the effect; The effect itself.
It follows that in general, an action is a cost if, and only if, it is written before the semi-colon (excluding targeting, which is not a cost). Also, conditions to activate effects need only be true at activation, unless the card says otherwise.
For example, take Gagagabolt:
If you control a “Gagaga” monster: Target 1 card on the field; destroy that target.
A Gagaga monster is needed to activate the effect, but if there is no Gagaga monster face-up at resolution, it will still attempt to destroy its target.
An effect targets if, and only if, it uses the word target. Since targeting is done at activation, this will be before a semi-colon (see above).
The use of the word ‘target’ after the semi-colon implies that any targeting conditions still need to be true upon resolution of the effect for the effect to resolve properly. Otherwise, the card text dictates which targeting conditions (if any) still need to be true for the effect to resolve properly.
For example, compare Dark World Lightning to Galaxy Cyclone:
Target 1 Set card on the field; destroy that target, then discard 1 card.
Target 1 Set Spell/Trap Card on the field; destroy it.
If the targeted Set Spell/Trap is Chained to Dark World Lightning, it WILL NOT be destroyed, whereas if the targeted Set Spell/Trap is Chained to Galaxy Cyclone, it WILL be destroyed.
Note that if the target changes location (is sent from the field to the Graveyard, is banished from the Graveyard, etc.) then the effect cannot resolve properly, by game mechanics.
In addition, if an effect targets multiple cards:
-‘both/all those targets’ implies that all the targeting conditions must be true at resolution, otherwise the effect does nothing.
-‘those targets’ alone implies it checks each target’s targeting conditions individually.
-‘them’ implies it does not check the targeting conditions.
For example, if Book of Moon is Chained to the flip the Reptile-Type target of Offering to the Snake Diety face-down, Offering will not destroy anything at all:
Target 1 face-up Reptile-Type monster you control and 2 cards your opponent controls; destroy all three targets.
If one of the targets of Greenkappa is chained, then that target will not be destroyed, but the other will still be checked separately (and if it is still face-down, it will be destroyed as normal):
FLIP: Target 2 Set Spell/Trap Cards on the field; destroy those targets.
Whereas if either of the targets of Wind-Up Arsenal Zenmaioh is Chained, that target (as well as the other) would still be destroyed by Zenmaioh:
Once per turn: You can detach 1 Xyz Material from this card to target 2 Set cards on the field; destroy them.
A conjunction, in PSCT, is a word/phrase that join two parts of an effect (A and B, say), after the colon/ semi-colon. The commonly used conjunctions are and if you do, also, then, and also, after that.
The first thing that conjunctions convey is simultaneity in terms of timing. This is relevant to ‘when’ optional effects, as they cannot be activated unless their activation condition was one of the last things to happen (see articles on ‘when’ optional effects for more on this).
These conjunctions imply that A and B are simultaneous in terms of timing (so both would be the last things to happen, if the effect resolves at Chain Link 1):
and if you do
Whereas these imply that A and B are not sequential in terms of timing:
also, after that
For example, if Soul Taker is used on Lightpulsar Dragon, its ‘when’ optional effect could not be activated:
Target 1 face-up monster your opponent controls; destroy that target, then your opponent gains 1000 Life Points.
When this card is sent from the field to the Graveyard: You can target 1 Level 5 or higher DARK Dragon-Type monster in your Graveyard; Special Summon that target.
Whereas if Gemini Spark is used on Lightpulsar Dragon, then the effect of the Lightpulsar Dragon could be activated:
Tribute 1 face-up Level 4 Gemini monster, then target 1 card on the field; destroy it, and if you do, draw 1 card.
The second thing that conjunctions convey is causation, ie. what parts of the effect you still do if you cannot do one part of the effect (eg. because something was chained).
These conjunctions imply that if A is not done, then B is not done:
and if you do
Whereas these imply that even if A is not done, B is still done:
also, after that
For example, if Vanity’s Emptiness is Chained to Book of Life, so that the first target cannot be Special Summoned, the second will still be banished:
Target 1 Zombie-Type monster in your Graveyard and 1 monster in your opponent’s Graveyard; Special Summon the first target, also banish the second target.
Whereas if Emptiness is Chained to the effect of Gogogo Giant, it will not be turned to Defense Position:
When this card is Normal Summoned: You can target 1 “Gogogo” monster in your Graveyard; Special Summon that target in face-up Defense Position, then change this card to Defense Position.
For all of these conjunctions, if B cannot be done, A is always still done.
There is one more conjunction in addition to these 4: and (on its own). It implies that A and B are simultaneous. However, unlike the rest of the conjunctions, and implies that if either A or B cannot be done, the effect does nothing.
However, note that conjunctions say nothing about activation legality – they only explain how to resolve effects.
For more detailed reading, the Konami articles on PSCT can be found here: https://yugiohblog.konami.com/articles/?tag=problem-solving-card-text
PSCT, as well as many other important game mechanics, are covered in the Demystifying Rulings Series.
Until next time!