Chains, SEGOC, RTFC and PSCT Part 1: Chains and effects

This is a series coming to you in four parts explaining, in detail, gameplay that I often see done incorrectly. So I’m here to explain how Chains and effects work.

Iron Chain Snake effects

Part 1 – Chains and Spell Speeds
Part 2 – SEGOC and Priority
Part 3 – Missing the Timing
Part 4 – RTFC and Summons
Part 5 – PSCT and that target vs it

I, just being the large optical sensory organ I am, see a lot of Yugioh players not understanding and using incorrect terms in reference to their cards, summons, responding to cards and just, in general, incorrect terminology for gameplay. In this short series, I will explain what chains are and how to build and resolve a chain. In the next part (to be added in the near future) I will explain what SEGOC is and how it helps you.

As far as chains go, once you understand how to build and resolve them, they’re fairly simple. Each card and effect has a Spell Speed and you are “chaining” one effect to another of equal or less speed to make a sort of Chain of effects. Then they all resolve in reverse sequence.

“They [Chains] are used when the effects of more than 1 card are activated at once, or when a player wants to use an effect after a card has been played, but BEFORE that card has an effect on the game.

If a card’s effect is activated, the opponent is always given a chance to respond with a card effect of their own, creating a Chain. If your opponent responds with an effect, then you can choose to respond and add another effect to the Chain. If your opponent does not respond, you may activate a second effect and create a Chain to your own card’s activation. Both players continue to add effects to the Chain until they both wish to add nothing else, then you resolve the outcome in reverse order – starting with the last card that was activated.”
-The Rulebook

You build a chain by activating an effect or a Spell or Trap. Every Spell and Trap starts a Chain when they are activated, as well as many monster effects and some Spell/Trap Cards that remain face-up. When nothing is happening and a player activates a Spell/Trap Card or Card Effect, that starts a Chain and is Chain Link 1. Even if nothing else is chained, it’s a Chain with 1 Link. You can add to the Chain by “chaining” to Chain Link 1 with another card or effect, which becomes Chain Link 2. Both players take turns adding to the Chain until they decide not to add any more effects. At this point, you resolve the chain in reverse order. So with the highest Chain Link. If the chain has 1, 2, 10, or 200 links, you start at the highest, resolve that effect, and proceed down the Chain until every effect has resolved.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The player who did NOT add the most recent Chain Link has a chance to activate something. If I start a Chain, and you choose not to add Chain Link 2, I have the option to add Chain Link 2. If at that point I decide not to add any more Chain Links, the Chain resolves.

The biggest Chain I’ve seen was crazy at around 24 in a Herald of Perfection/Dark Worlds vs Sylvans/Chain Burn tag duel. The biggest Chain I’ve built in a tournament was 12 with Herald of Perfection vs Chain Burn.

“But, Big Eye, why can’t I chain Super Polymerization to Divine Wrath? Isn’t Super Poly Spell Speed 4?”

Every effect has a Spell Speed. There are three Spell Speeds. Spell Speed 1, 2, and 3. If anyone is using terms like “Instant Speed” tell them you’re not playing Magic the Gathering right now. There is no Spell Speed 4 either. There are three Spell Speeds. In a Chain, only Spell Speeds 2 and 3 can be chained to another card or effect. And when building the Chain, you can only activate a card or effect that has a Spell Speed equal or greater to the previous Chain Link.

Spell Speed 1:

Spells (Normal, Equip, Continuous, Field, Ritual, Pendulum)
Effect Monster’s effects (Ignition, Trigger and Flip)
This is the slowest of all Spell Speeds. These cards cannot be activated in response to any other effects. Unless multiple Spell Speed 1 effects are triggered at the same time, Spell Speed 1 effects are never Chain Link 2 or higher. This is what SEGOC really means. If two or more cards (usually Trigger monster effects) meet the conditions to activate at the same time, they form a chain. Mandatory effects first, then optional. I’ll go into more detail when I explain the flow chart in Part II.

Spell Speed 2:

Traps (Normal, Continuous)
Quick-Play Spells
Effect Monster’s Quick Effects
These cards can be used to respond to a Spell Speed 1 or 2 effect, and can typically be used during any phase. The effects of many traps, like Breakthrough Skill, are also Spell Speed 2 effects.

Spell Speed 3:

Counter Trap
This is the fastest of all Spell Speeds and can be used to respond to a card of any Spell Speed. There is no Spell Speed 4. If someone says something is Spell Speed 4, remind them that it’s probably actually a Spell Speed 2 effect that can’t be responded to.

So if I activate a Spell Speed 1 effect as Chain Link 1, then you can chain a Spell Speed 2 or 3 card as Chain Link 2. After that, I can chain another effect with equal or greater Spell Speed as Chain Link 3.

That concludes the basic rules of the Chain. Build the Chain, only chaining Cards/effects of equal or greater Spell Speed, then resolve the Chain backwards.


Many monster effects use Chains, many start Chains, and some of these effects Summon monsters. With monster effects there are three parts. Conditions, activation text, and the actual effect. Conditions are before the colon. Activation text is between the colon and semicolon. The effect is everything after the semicolon.

Sangan’s PSCT says “When this card is sent from the field to the Graveyard: Add 1 monster with 1500 or less ATK from your Deck to your hand.”

When can we activate this effect? Everything before the colon tells us that, so in this case when Sangan is sent from the field to the Graveyard. There are no unnecessary words. And because Sangan’s effect has a colon, we know when it is sent to the Graveyard, it starts a chain. Then when you resolve the chain, start at the highest link, and resolve them in reverse order. So when resolving the chain, look at everything after the semicolon, and if there isn’t one, the colon. In the case of Sangan, add 1 monster with 1500 or less ATK from your Deck to your hand.

Let’s take the example of a 3-card Chain from Konami:

I Summon Trident Warrior and choose to activate its effect. This starts a chain: “When this card is Normal Summoned: You can Special Summon 1 Level 3 monster from your hand.”

You chain Raigeki Break, targeting my monster: “Discard 1 card to target 1 card on the field; destroy it.”

But the card you targeted was a Gemini monster, so I chain Gemini Spark: “Tribute 1 face-up Level 4 Gemini monster you control to target 1 card on the field; destroy it and draw 1 card.”

Using the colons and semicolons, you can build the chain like this:

  1. My Trident Warrior: (it has no costs or targets, but it still goes on the Chain as Chain Link 1 even though nothing happens yet because it started the Chain by activating.)
  2. Your Raigeki Break: “Discard 1 card to target 1 card on the field;” (at this point, you discard 1 card, and target my monster)
  3. My Gemini Spark: “Tribute 1 face-up Level 4 Gemini monster you control to target 1 card on the field;” (at this point, I Tribute my monster and target one of your cards)
  4. At this point, nothing else is chained and we have this Chain:
    Chain Link 1: Trident Warrior
    Chain Link 2: Raigeki Break
    Chain Link 3: Gemini Spark
  5. We start at the largest Chain Link when resolving, which means my Gemini Spark resolves: “destroy it and draw 1 card.” (I do these things)
  6. Your Raigeki Break resolves: “destroy it.” (The monster isn’t on the field anymore so nothing happens. It doesn’t fizzle. Fizzle isn’t a thing in Yugioh.)
  7. My Trident Warrior resolves: “Special Summon 1 Level 3 monster from your hand.” (I do this)

-Everything before the semicolons happens first (all piled together in order), then everything after the semicolons (again, all piled up in order).
-If there’s a colon or semicolon in the text, that always means that it is an effect that starts a Chain.
-If there is no colon or semicolon, the effect does NOT start a Chain and cannot be chained to, because there is no Chain to add links to. You CAN start a Chain, though.

Sangan starts a chain because it uses a colon.
Goblin Attack Force does not start a chain. There is no colon.

Imagine you have real chain links. Imagine a chain is started with Chain Link 1, you can chain to it with Chain Link 2, then 3 and so on. Summons do not start chains. You can respond to a summon by starting a Chain, but if there is not an existing link, you cannot chain to it. I hear people say they are going to chain to a summon, but that isn’t a thing that can be done.


Spells and Traps ALWAYS start a Chain at some point. Activating a Spell or Trap starts a Chain, even if that Spell/Trap doesn’t have an effect right then.

Creature Swap has no colons or semicolons because there isn’t a need for them. Since Creature Swap is a Spell card with no icon, it is a Normal Spell. Normal Spells are Spell Speed 1 and are activated by placing them in a Spell/Trap Zone face-up. This starts the chain, and when it resolves, resolve the effect.

Spells and Traps that have conditions have colons and semicolons. Seven Tools is the example from Konami.

When a Trap Card is activated: Pay 1000 LP; negate the activation and destroy it.”

So everything before the colon tells you when you can activate it. “When a Trap card is activated.” What is between the Colon and Semicolon tells you what you need to do to activate the card. “Pay 1000 LP.” Everything after the semicolon is the effect, which is done when that Chain Link resolves. “Negate the activation and destroy it.”


There are a few things to remember with Chains:

-Costs are always paid at activation. Paying LP, Tributing, discarding, etc. This is all before the semicolon. When you activate an effect, do everything before the semicolon BEFORE the next Chain Link is added. I’ve seen so many players discarding or paying LP at resolution.
-Activation conditions no longer have to be met. Such as Wisdom-Eye Magician, it doesn’t need another Magician in the other Pendulum Zone when it resolves, only to activate it. Cards that need conditions to still be true at resolution will say so, like Zombie Master.
-ANY colon or semicolon means it starts a Chain or adds a Chain Link.

Blade Knight:
“While you have 1 or fewer cards in your hand, this card gains 400 ATK. If this is the only monster you control, negate the effects of Flip Effect Monsters it destroys by battle.”
No colon, no semicolon = no chain.
Both of these effects are Continuous, so Blade Knight never starts a Chain. Which means that you cannot use something like Divine Wrath on him.

Kinetic Soldier:
“During damage calculation, if this card battles a Warrior-Type monster: This card gains 2000 ATK and DEF during damage calculation only.”
There is a colon. This effect starts a chain. Dolkka standing by.


Check back with the Big Eye next Thursday for Part 2: SEGOC and the Flow Chart explained.
Until then, click an add, bookmark my Amazon affiliate link, share this with your friends. Every little bit helps feed my daughter.

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