Problem-Solving Card Text, Part 5: Special Summons
(Important! This article is part of a series. You can find the other articles in the series by clicking here.)
Special Summons are one of the most important and exciting parts of the Yu-Gi-Oh! TRADING CARD GAME. But sometimes the sheer number of ways to Summon can get a little confusing.
The good news is that the new Problem-Solving Card Text makes Special Summons a lot easier to understand.
Special Summons fall into 2 groups:
- Effects that Summon. This includes monsters that Special Summon using a Flip, Ignition, Quick, or Trigger Effect (like Mystic Tomato). It also includes Spells and Traps that Summon a monster (like Monster Reborn). All of these effects and cards start a Chain.
- Built-In Summons. These are monsters that can Special Summon themselves in a special way that doesn’t start a Chain. This includes cards like Cyber Dragon. Xyz Summons, Synchro Summons, and Contact Fusions are also part of this group.
The key difference between the two groups is whether the Summon starts a Chain or not. The new text on your cards makes it easy to tell. Just look for a colon (:) or semicolon (;) in the Summoning text. If you see either of these, then the effect starts a Chain, and goes in the first group. All Spells and Traps start a Chain when activated, so they all go in the first group, too.
Group 1 Examples
Here are some examples of effects that Special Summon. All of these go in the first group because a Chain is involved.
When this card is Special Summoned: You can Special Summon any number of “Hero Kid”(s) from your Deck.
(This is a Trigger Effect that activates when this card is Special Summoned. It starts a Chain when it’s activated.)
Destiny HERO – Malicious:
You can banish this card from your Graveyard; Special Summon 1 “Destiny HERO – Malicious” from your Deck.
(This is an Ignition Effect you can use during your Main Phase. It starts a Chain when you activate it.)
Special Summon 1 “Elemental HERO” monster from your hand. This turn, that monster cannot attack, and returns to the hand during the End Phase.
(This is a Spell Card. Even though you don’t see a colon or semicolon in the text, activating a Spell Card always starts a Chain. So this effect goes in the first group.)
Special Summon 1 Level 2 or lower Warrior-Type monster from your Deck. You cannot conduct your Battle Phase the turn you activate this card.
(Just like with Fake Hero, this Trap Card starts a Chain, because activating a Trap Card always starts a Chain.)
Group 2 Examples
Group 2 examples have a lot of variations for how to Summon them. But your newer cards will have very clear details on how these work.
TIP: All Group 2 cards – except Synchro & Xyz Monsters – will use (parentheses) to explain where the card is Summoned from. This is another way to spot these cards.
Here are some examples:
If your opponent controls a monster and you control no monsters, you can Special Summon this card (from your hand).
(This is a basic example of a built-in Special Summon ability. You know it doesn’t start a Chain, because there is no colon or semicolon. You can also Normal Summon this monster, since it doesn’t say that you can’t.)
Ghost Ship (from Generation Force):
Cannot be Normal Summoned or Set. Must first be Special Summoned (from your hand) by banishing 1 LIGHT monster from your Graveyard.
(Like the card says, you can’t Normal Summon this card. The method written on this card is the first way to Summon it. After that, if it goes to the Graveyard, you can Special Summon it again with anything, like Monster Reborn, etc.)
Elemental HERO Marine Neos:
“Elemental HERO Neos” + “Neo-Spacian Marine Dolphin”
Must first be Special Summoned (from your Extra Deck) by returning the above cards you control to the Deck. (You do not use “Polymerization”.) Once per turn: You can destroy 1 random card in your opponent’s hand.
(This is an example of a Contact Fusion. You have to Summon it using the method written on the card first. But after that you can re-Summon it from the Graveyard, since it doesn’t say you can’t.)
Destiny HERO – Dogma:
Cannot be Normal Summoned or Set. Must be Special Summoned (from your hand) by Tributing 3 monsters, including at least 1 “Destiny HERO” monster, and cannot be Special Summoned by other ways. If you still control this face-up card during your opponent’s next Standby Phase after you Special Summoned it: Halve your opponent’s Life Points.
(This is a very powerful monster with very specific requirements to Summon it. The only way to play this monster is by using the written method to Summon it from your hand. Even if you do this, it cannot be Special Summoned by other ways like Monster Reborn.)
Vennominaga the Deity of Poisonous Snakes:
Cannot be Normal Summoned or Set. Must first be Special Summoned with “Rise of the Snake Deity” and cannot be Special Summoned by other ways except by its own effect. This card gains 500 ATK for each Reptile-Type monster in your Graveyard. This card cannot be targeted by, and is unaffected by, Spell/Trap effects and other Effect Monsters’ effects. When this card is destroyed by battle and sent to the Graveyard: You can banish 1 other Reptile-Type monster from your Graveyard; Special Summon this card. When this card inflicts Battle Damage to your opponent: Place 1 Hyper-Venom Counter on it. When 3 Hyper-Venom Counters are on this card, you win the Duel.
(Here’s an example of a much more complicated card. Just read the card carefully and you’ll see the most important parts:
- You can’t Normal Summon this card.
- The first way to Summon it is with the Rise of the Snake Deity card.
- After that, it can’t be Summoned by other ways, except by its own effect.
- Its own effect is explained later in the text. It has a Trigger Effect that it can use to Summon itself from the Graveyard. This is allowed because the text specifically says it can be Summoned “by its own effect” after first being Summoned with Rise of the Snake Deity.
- Since the text also says you can’t use any other methods to Summon it, you can’t use Monster Reborn, etc.
Note that even though the built-in Summon doesn’t start a Chain, the Trigger Effect does.)
Dragon Queen of Tragic Endings:
Cannot be Normal Summoned or Set. Must first be Special Summoned (from your hand) while you control 3 or more face-up Continuous Spell Cards. When this attacking card inflicts Battle Damage to your opponent: Your opponent sends 1 card from their hand to the Graveyard, then you draw 1 card. During your Standby Phase, if this card is in your Graveyard and was sent there from the field: You can send 1 face-up Continuous Spell Card you control to the Graveyard; Special Summon this card from the Graveyard.
(In this case, the first way to Summon this card is from your hand, by controlling 3 Continuous Spell Cards. After that, you can use Monster Reborn on it, since it doesn’t say you can’t. Also, it has a Trigger Effect that can also be used to Summon it.
Just like Vennominaga, the built-in Summon doesn’t start a Chain. But the Trigger Effect does.)
Negating a Summon
So you’re probably thinking this is all very interesting, but does it really matter?
Some cards, like Thunder King Rai-Oh and Steelswarm Roach, can negate the Summon of a monster. But there’s one VERY IMPORTANT THING you need to know: These effects can ONLY negate the actual Summon – they can’t negate an effect that Summons, or a Spell/Trap that Summons.
In other words, they can ONLY negate a “built-in” Summon. Meaning Summons from Group 2.
This is easy to remember. Just look for the parentheses () showing (from where) the monster is Summoned. If it has parentheses, then its Summon can be negated. Otherwise, it can’t.
Let’s use Cyber Dragon as an example. Just pretend it’s written like this:
If your opponent controls a monster and you control no monsters, you can Special Summon this card (from your hand… oh no, I got Rai-Oh’d!).
Remember that even though you can’t negate the Summon from Monster Reborn, Call of the Haunted, or Mystic Tomato, you can still negate those cards/effects themselves, like with Magic Jammer, Seven Tools of the Bandit, or Divine Wrath. You just can’t use cards whose sole purpose is to negate a Summon.
IMPORTANT: For any monster that “must first” be Special Summoned in a certain way, you have to do that successfully if you ever want to revive the monster afterwards. If the Summon of your Ghost Ship, or Marine Neos, or Dragon Queen, or any similar monster gets negated, the monster is placed in the Graveyard. Since you didn’t successfully perform the Summon, you CANNOT revive them using Monster Reborn, etc. Since you did not “first” Summon it properly. This also applies to Xyz Summons, Synchro Summons, and Contact Fusions.
For monsters like Cyber Dragon, this doesn’t apply. Since Cyber Dragon doesn’t have a “must first…” restriction on its Summoning.
Things to Remember
- Read your cards carefully and follow what they say.
- Anything that says (where it’s Summoned from) in parentheses can be negated by cards that “negate the Summon”, like Thunder King Rai-Oh and Horn of Heaven.
- Xyz, Synchro, and Contact Fusion Summons can also be negated.
- Spell & Trap Cards that Summon, as well as Trigger/Flip/Ignition/Quick Effects that Summon, cannot be negated by cards that “negate the Summon”. Because they aren’t Summons – they’re effects.