Effect Resolution and Trigger Timings Guide

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Part 1: The difference between Trigger and Activate

From the detailed rulebook found on the official website, Bandai present us with the following information:


Some Digimon and Tamer effects are only activated at specific timings or when certain conditions are met, such as [On Play], [When Digivolving], [On Deletion], [When Attacking], and effects with conditions that include the word ”when”. Meeting the conditions for effects like these such that the effect becomes ready to activate is called “triggering” an effect, and actually applying the effect is “activating” it.

Triggered effects generally activate immediately, but when multiple effects are triggered at the same time, there may be a gap between trigger and activation depending on the order in which the effects are activated. Gaps like these are referred to as “pending activations”.


A bit large isn't it? So let's break it down. The important sentence we want to focus on has two parts to it:


Meeting the conditions for effects like these such that the effect becomes ready to activate is called “triggering” an effect,


From the above part, we can recognise that "triggering" an effect is equivalent to when an effect is put on the "stack" or "put on standby" (using other TCG terminology). When an event happens, the effect waits to activate and this is called "pending".


actually applying the effect is “activating” it.


From this part, we recognise that when you would start performing the actions directed within the card text it is considered "activating" that effect. When an effect is activated you must follow the directions on the card as much as you can. This is called "resolving" the effect.

 

Part 2: Trigger Conditions vs Activation Conditions

Trigger Conditions are very different to Activation Conditions. First, we will cover what a Trigger Condition looks like and how this differs from an Activation Condition.

From the detailed rulebook 2 sections are relevant to define what a Trigger Condition is:


Some Digimon and Tamer effects are only activated at specific timings or when certain conditions are met, such as [On Play], [When Digivolving], [On Deletion], [When Attacking], and effects with conditions that include the word ”when”. 


Some effect text refers to “when” something happens to determine effect triggers, while others refer to “when X would” happen. These conditionals are similar, but not identical. “When” effects trigger after the condition is actually met. (Example: “When one of your Digimon is deleted” triggers when one of your Digimon is deleted.) 


We can determine from both of these statements that "When", "On", and "At" are the defining word for determining what is a trigger condition. Essentially, a trigger condition is looking for an event to occur, and after this event or the effect which contains the event has finished, the effect becomes "pending".

For example, [Dynasmon (BT6-044)]'s [All Turns] effect has "When a card is removed from your security" - this is the trigger condition for Dynasmon. So when a card leaves your security stack in any way, you would put this effect into a "pending" state after that event or after the effect that caused that event has finished resolving.

An Activation Condition on the other hand is a little different. While activation conditions are not covered in the detailed rulebook, nor in the core rulebook, several Q&A Entries as well as emails to Cardass have confirmed how they work and how they differ from Trigger conditions.

From the official Q&A for Dynasmon:


Q: I have 2 or more copies of this Digimon in play. My opponent attacks with a Digimon, removing a card from my security stack. Do all of the effects on copies of this Digimon activate simultaneously, activating for each one?
 
A: Fundamentally, this is possible. However, the effects don’t activate simultaneously, but one at a time in any order. Once one results in you having 4 cards in your security stack, any remaining copies of the effect don’t activate. Any [Dynasmon (BT6-044)] whose effects failed to activate can still be activated later in the turn. (They don’t count toward the [Once Per Turn] limit.)
Lets break down this interaction to make it more simple to follow:
  • Both effects of Dynasmon triggered at the same time.
  • The Q&A says they didn't activate simultaneously.
  • Once the first Dynasmon had finished activating, the security stack had 4 cards in it.
  • Once the security stack had 4 cards in it, the second effect could no longer activate.
  • If it fails to meet its 3 security condition, it doesn't use up [Once Per Turn] limit.
  • It is possible for Dynasmon's effect to trigger but fail to activate even if keeps the effect and remains on the field.

What this tells us is that the Activation Condition for Dynasmon is "If you have 3 or fewer security cards" and that this condition must be met at the time of Activation (not Trigger) in order to activate. If that condition is no longer met at the time of activation, it fails to activate and does not use up the Once Per Turn on the effect despite it Triggering.

As another example, lets use an email response directly from Cardass themselves:


Q: As a follow-up question. Since [Sora Takenouchi & Joe Kido (BT5-088)] and [Majiramon (BT6-027)] are triggered at the same time. Can I attempt to resolve [Majiramon (BT6-027)] before [Sora Takenouchi & Joe Kido (BT5-088)] even if there is a digimon with evolution sources on the opponent's board?
 
A: Yes. It is possible.
In that case, {Majiramon}'s effect will fail to activating.
In other words, it will triggering again when you attack again.

From the above ruling we can determine:

So how can we tell the difference between an Activation Condition and a Trigger Condition? Well as mentioned earlier, a Trigger Condition is looking for an when an event happens. Activation Conditions on the other hand are looking for you to fulfil a true/false statement about the gamestate. "When X happens", "At X", "On X" are all Trigger Conditions because they are looking for that event to happen. "If X" is asking "is X true?" and if the answer is yes, it can activate, if the answer is no, it cannot activate. So Actiavation Conditions use the word "If" to ask if the condition is met.

 

Part 3: Mistranslations

Through back and forth emails to Cardass, and translation of the Japanese card text we have found the following cards to be mistranslated into English:

BanchoStingmon, Minomon and Guilmon both use "If" language but these effects are in fact confirmed to be Trigger Conditions which should use "When" instead". Angewomon uses "When" language but its effect is confirmed to be an Activation Condition which should use "If" instead.

Part 4: Doubled Trigger Conditions

Some effects, like BanchoStingmon and Minomon have 2 Trigger Conditions as part of the same effect - one in the timing [When Attacking] and another in the effect text of the card "When this Digimon attacks a Digimon...". These conditions must both be met in order to trigger the effect. 

The following effects are structured in this way:

There are also cards with 2 trigger conditions, where both trigger conditions are part of different effect timings, such as [MagnaGarurumon (BT7-029)] which has both [When Attacking] and [When Digivolving] timings attached to the same card effect. In this case, only one of these conditions must be met to trigger the effect.

 

Interuptive Triggers

Now I'm going to touch on a more complex trigger type - Interuptive Triggers. Interuptive Triggers use the language "would" after the usual trigger condition. As an example, [Omnimon (BT5-086)] has the effect "When an opponent's effect would delete this Digimon or return it to its owner's hand or deck...". 

The relevant exerpt from the Detailed Rulebook covers this:


Some effect text refers to “when” something happens to determine effect triggers, while others refer to “when would” happen. These conditionals are similar, but not identical.

“When” effects trigger after the condition is actually met. (Example: “When one of your Digimon is deleted” triggers when one of your Digimon is deleted.)

“When would” effects trigger immediately before the condition is met. (Example: “When one of your Digimon would be deleted” triggers when one of your Digimon is about to be deleted, but before it actually happens.)

“When would” effects interrupt the actions that serves as their trigger conditions. This can sometimes result in the action that meets the trigger condition being cancelled. (Example: “When one of your Digimon would be deleted, return that Digimon to its owner’s hand” returns one of your Digimon to its owner’s hand before it can be deleted.) 


Effects with this language Trigger immedietly and do not wait for the current action or effect to finish. They also begin activating immediatly too - even in the middle of an effect or ongoing action - interupting just before the event which serves as their Trigger Condition happens. Some of these effect simply allow you to perform an effect before the trigger condition would happen to gain some form of advantage, whereas others prevent the trigger condition from happening entirely or replace it with another effect either partially or entirely.

 

Conclusion

Trigger Conditions

  • Trigger Conditions are typically denoted by a "when" condition in English.
    • Trigger Conditions always look for whether or not an event has happened.
  • Trigger Conditions can also be denoted by Effect Timings.
  • Trigger Conditions are only checked when you would be able to have an effect become Pending (when there are no ongoing effects or actions resolving). Interuptive Trigger Conditions are the exception and do not wait to Trigger or Activate.
  • Trigger Conditions are not checked when the effect is activated.

Activation Conditions

  • Activation Conditions are typically denoted by an "if" condition in English.
    • Activation Conditions check whether a statment about the game is true, and if it is, allows the activation of the effect. If it isn't true, the effect cannot activate and will be cancelled if it would be activated.
  • Activation Conditions are not checked when triggering the effect.
  • Activation Conditions are only checked when you would activate the effect.
  • Effects can activate even if their trigger conditions are no longer met.
  • It is possible for an effect to trigger but fail to activate when checking its activation conditions.
  • Failed Activation Conditions do not count towards the [Once Per Turn] part of an effect.

Trigger vs Activation

  • Effects which trigger at the same time will not activate at the same time.
    • They will not check their activation conditions at the same time either.

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