Yu-Gi-Oh! Rules Update 2021

It finally happened—after more than eighteen months of uncertainty. Konami implemented new rules for the TCG, which had already been part of the OCG since April 2020. The new rules are in effect immediately. This article discusses all changes and provides some examples of their impact on gameplay and strategies.

ancient rules

Konami officially adopted the OCG April 2020 Master Rules revision for the TCG. The changes are summarized in their article, which lists a total of five points—some new and some merely clarifications on existing rules. We will go through each point one by one. This article aims to provide examples to aid your understanding of the changes, as they are in effect immediately and will be used at all in-person and remote duel events. Let's get ready for the current regional season!

Extra Deck Monsters and Their Zones

The first point on Konami's list is not a change but a a clarification. Fusion, synchro, and xyz monsters need not be summoned to an extra monster zone or a zone a link monster points to anymore. Link and Pendulum monsters, on the other hand, do still need to be summoned to an extra monster zone or a zone a link monster points to. This has already been in effect since April 2020. I do not know why Konami would bring this point up again because every player should have heard of this rule change at some point within the more than one-and-a-half years since it came into effect. They probably put it here for completeness' sake as this change came at the same time with the actual rule changes in the OCG, which we will discuss next.

abc-dragon buster toadally awesome
Do you recall the precautions they took when the change came into effect, limiting both ABC and Toad?

Trigger Effects and Change of Location

Now it starts to get interesting. We finally receive the update on a monster's trigger effect when the monster changes location before being able to activate its effect. This has already been in effect in the KDE North America part of the TCG but not in Europe. Let me outline what's new. When a monster meets its trigger condition during a chain but changes its location before it can activate its effect, it will not be able to activate its effect anymore in the next chain.

The most prominent example of this interaction is D.D. Crow versus Cyber Angel Benten. If Benten is tributed to activate the effect of a card like Drytron Alpha Thuban and D.D. Crow is chained to banish Benten from the graveyard, Benten will not be able to activate its effect in the next new chain after Alpha has resolved because Benten will no longer be in the original location where it had met its trigger condition. Before the rule change you were able to activate Benten's effect nevertheless. Please be aware that D.D. Crow does not negate Benten, which some players claim. It merely prevents Benten from activating in this specific scenario.

d.d. crow cyber angel benten Cherubini, Ebon Angel of the Burning Abyss

Let me give you another example. Assume a Phantom Knights player activates Cherubini, Ebon Angel of the Burning Abyss's effect and sends Graff, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss as a cost to the graveyard. When the opponent chains D.D. Crow to banish Graff from the graveyard, Graff will no longer be able to activate its effect in the next new chain after Cherubini has resolved.

Some players might be angry about this change because it weakens interactions within their favorite strategy. Personally, I think this change is for the better. Let me explain why it makes sense. Let us assume player A normal summons any monster, say Rescue Cat. Player B activates a copy of Torrential Tribute in response to the summon. Player A then chains their set copy of Tri-Brigade Revolt. The chain resolves backwards and player A summons back some monsters and links them off into Tri-Brigade Shuraig the Ominous Omen. Then Torrential Tribute resolves and clears the field.

Tri-Brigade Shuraig the Ominous Omen torrential tribute

Under the new rules, Shuraig will only be able to activate its graveyard trigger effect to add a monster from deck to hand. It will not be able to activate its effect to banish a card on the field because it is no longer in the location where the effect's trigger was met—that is, the field. Before the rule change, however, Shuraig would have been able to activate both of its effects in the same new chain. Hence, Shuraig would have been able to activate an on-field and a graveyard effect in the same chain. I do not think that this has made a lot of sense. Why would a card be able to activate several effects that actually require it to be in different locations for each?

Negated Summons and Summoning Restrictions

Some monsters come with the restriction that they can only be summoned once per turn. Prominent examples of such monsters are all of the Sky Striker link monsters including Sky Striker Ace - Kagari or Dingirsu, the Orcust of the Evening Star. Previously, if you tried to summon such a monster, but a card like Solemn Judgment or Solemn Strike negated its summon, you were not able to try to summon the same monster again.

Dingirsu, the Orcust of the Evening Star sky striker ace - kagari

The new rules only take into account successful summons. Hence, if such a monster's summon is negated, you are free to try to summon it again. This also makes a lot of sense. After all, since you didn't succeed in summoning the first copy, the monster has obviously never been summoned. So why should the summon-once restriction apply? This is definitely a change for the better!

This change also affects cards with restrictions such as, "You cannot Normal or Special Summon the turn you activate this card." Take for example Rage with Eyes of Blue, which precludes normal or special summoning monsters the turn you activate it, except for Blue-Eyes White Dragon. If you tried to normal summon any monster whose normal summon was negated by Solemn Judgment, you were not able to activate Rage with Eyes of Blue during the same turn before the rule change. With the new change you can still activate Rage with Eyes of Blue since the summon has never happened.

rage with eyes of blue Blue-Eyes White Dragon

Trap Monsters in Spell and Trap Zones

The next change brings a huge boost for Eldlich decks. Previously, trap cards that special summon themselves to a monster zone but are still treated as trap cards there still occupied a spell/trap zone. With the rule change they no longer occupy a spell/trap zone after they have been summoned to the monster zone.

For example, if you summon a Huaquero of the Golden Land, it will no longer occupy the spell/trap zone it was activated in after it has been summoned. Before the rule change you were not able to use the spell/trap zone despite Huaquero being in the monster zone. If you had set five cards and activated a Huaquero, you could not use that new free zone because the Huaquero was still occupying it, even though it was also in the monster zone. Now you can use the free zone the trap monster was special summoned from, which makes a lot more sense. Personally, I always found it weird that a card was able to occupy two zones at once.

huaquero of the Golden Land conquistador of the Golden Land

Leaving the Field to the Extra Deck

The final change affects monsters with effects that trigger when they leave the field. Before the change, the rule book explicitly stated that a monster being shuffled into the main deck could not activate the effect that would ordinarily trigger upon it leaving the field. Moving forward, main deck will be replaced by deck in this regard. This means that extra deck monsters also cannot activate their leave-the-field effects when shuffled back anymore. When they return to the deck, neither main deck nor extra deck monsters will be able to activate their leave-the-field effects.

Under the old rules face-up extra deck monsters such as Elemental HERO Absolute Zero or Curious, the Lightsworn Dominion could still activate their effect when they were shuffled back by Knightmare Unicorn but main deck monsters such as Flame Bufferlo could not. Now neither type of monsters can activate this kind of effect. Hooray for consistency!

elemental hero absolute zero flame bufferlo

This sums up all the changes implemented by Konami. To be honest, it was about time that we finally got these. Konami's official simulator Master Duel is scheduled for release this year and it would have created nothing but chaos if people on Master Duel had to play with three different sets of rules depending on where they were playing from. Unifying the rules in the OCG and both branches of the TCG is a very welcome step into the right direction! I hope the examples I have provided help you to understand the updates!

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.


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BakaBaizuo(08.12.2021 11:58)

Good article with a couple of great examples. Good stuff Robin!

Yukimura(08.12.2021 13:07)

BakaBaizuo Thank you very much for the feedback! :)

Soulent(02.12.2021 15:53)

So if i use he Phantom Knights of Shade Brigandine will go to a monster zone or keep in the magic/trap zone?

Yukimura(08.12.2021 13:06)

Soulent It will special summon to a monster zone

Kathy98(01.12.2021 12:47)

So with the trap-monster change: I remember back in the day when I played old games on gameboy there was an interaction that if a Trap-monster was set face-down by something like Book of Moon, it would instead be set in the s/T zone it originally occupied. With that no longer the case, how does it resolve now (and in case it still goes back to s/t, how does it resolve if your backrow is now occupied with 5 cards again)?

Yukimura(01.12.2021 13:18)

Kathy98 This depends on the trap monster. If it is still being treated as a trap in the monster zone (like the Eldlich traps), then Book of Moon will cause the trap to return face/down to the spell/trap zone. If there is no free spell/trap zone available, the trap monster will be sent to the graveyard by game mechanics.

If the trap monster is not treated as a trap anymore while in the main monster zone (such as the Paleo traps), then it will simply be flipped face-down in the monster zone.

Franzsim(30.11.2021 17:42)

Is the flunder monster vs evenly matched/unicorn case the same of absolute zero when it leaves the field?

Yukimura(30.11.2021 17:51)

Franzsim No, the "leaving the field" change only refers to one small section of the rulebook about monsters being returned to the deck

Franzsim(30.11.2021 18:19)

Ok so If i use evenly matched or unicorn against robina (ex). Robina is going banish face up when it leaves the field. Is it right?

Bitmail(30.11.2021 11:13)

I feel like the interaction is still not complete. Your point with Shuraig vs. An already active chain link is really good i must say. But the thing is, the card itself says that it has to be SS to be able to activate its effect "Special Summoned to your field:" as stated on the card. But as you say, it changed location so it cannot really activate its effect, since its not on the field anymore. So even if the card doesn't say "When" it will still miss its chance to activate.
Benten on the other hand doesn't specify any location. All it does is say: "If this card is Tributed:" so there should be no actual point to fully limit this card with location changes, as it doesn't matter where it was, when you tribute the card. All you do is tribute the card to activate its effect.

Yukimura(30.11.2021 11:27)

Bitmail I really had to think for a while to come up with a somewhat meta-relevant example as the one with Shuraig. :D

The thing about Benten is the following: the Benten that was tributed (and sent to the graveyard) and the Benten in banish zone (due to D. D. Crow) are not the same card anymore. The game has always recognized cards moving locations as a different card. This is why the tributed Benten cannot activate its effect anymore. The originally tributed Benten simply does not exist anymore. There is merely a new copy of Benten in the banished zone that was moved from the graveyard to the banish zone.

Bitmail(30.11.2021 11:34)

Yukimura: yes, i was thinking about that rule too. Kinda weird i have to say, but it is after all Konami's game. For newer players its kinda hard to get in to because of all the interactions. So just going by reading the actual card sometimes helps (i think you know it better when some people just can't/won't read the cards LOL). Confusing game mechanic, but it does clarify stuff. :)

Karl3(30.11.2021 10:46)

But with monster traps, now if only is a monster in the field, you can destroy the monster with mst or cosmic cyclone ?

Yukimura(30.11.2021 10:53)

Karl3 This depends on the card. Some cards explicitely state that they are also still trap cards in the monster zone (for example the Eldlich traps like Huaquero or Conquistador). These can be targeted by MST or Cosmic Cyclone.

Others are only treated as monsters (such as Paleozoic Canadia). Since Canadia is only a monster in the monster zone, MST could not be used.

Michak637(30.11.2021 10:26)

Thank you for your well written article :)

Yukimura(30.11.2021 10:27)

Michak637 You are very welcome! I really appreciate the feedback! :)

mrtkrgs(30.11.2021 09:02)


Closed-Cardmarket-Account-991230433(30.11.2021 07:27)

With this rule change, if Aleister the Invoker is Torrential Tributed, does that mean Aleister's owner can't search Invocation anymore?

Yukimura(30.11.2021 07:32)

SJK123 They still can. Aleister's effect would activate before the opponent can chain Torrential Tribute.

Closed-Cardmarket-Account-991230433(30.11.2021 07:37)

Yukimura how is it different from the same situation with Shuraig?

Yukimura(30.11.2021 08:13)

SJK123 In the example above Shuraig was summoned after TT was already activated. Then TT would destroy Shuraig before Shuraig even gets a chance to activate its effect. If Aleister is normal summoned, Aleister can activate his effect before TT even can activate.

(If TT was activated before Aleister is summoned and Aleister is special summoned during a chain, Aleister could not activate its effect anyways because Aleister only triggers on normal summons)

Closed-Cardmarket-Account-991230433(30.11.2021 09:07)

Yukimura ohh i see, gotcha

dimitrisar4(30.11.2021 04:47)

Im getting back to the game after years and most of the times i have a big problem understanding rules, yet this was so well written and explained, with examples for an ignorant person like me. Nice work.

Yukimura(30.11.2021 06:15)

Dimitrisar4 Thank you for the feedback, I really appreciate it! :)

Mr-Volcano(30.11.2021 04:03)

So, close. Imagine if the second Point of this update meant not for monsters, but for every cardtype. MST would have had finally the potential to negate effects.

RyanAtlus(30.11.2021 09:14)

Mr-Volcano: No, because the rule change is about moving cards to a different place before they've had their chance to activate their effects.
CL1 activate a spell, CL2 activate MST; the spell was already activated.

katerinaaqu(30.11.2021 00:24)

Me: Cries in traditional dueling styles (while seeing on zones and changing positions etc)