CE Effects

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Actions and traits on cards and in the rules, and aspects of the rules themselves, have effects on cards, areas, players and aspects of the game. This section contains rules covering the interpretation and scope of effects.

Definition of effects

An effect is anything, other than a cost, that changes the stats, traits, abilities, restrictions, or capabilities of a card, a player, a game entity (such as Provinces), or the game state.

Each individual change to a card, a player, a game entity (such as Provinces), or the game state is a separate effect.

Restrictions, targeting, and costs are not effects. Aspects of card memory (such as the fact that a card has been in a battle this turn, or has used its ability) are also not effects.

Order of effects

Effects occur in the order they are written.

EXCEPTION 1: Phrases modifying effects may come after the effect’s text, but are applied at the same time as the effect. Such phrases will directly refer to the effect, increasing or reducing its restrictions or scope. Modifying phrases refer to the immediately previous effect text, unless they explicitly refer to another effect or to multiple effects. Modifying phrases that refer to multiple effects refer to all relevant effects in that trait or ability.
Example: In an effect that creates several duels, the duel consequence “Destroy each duel's loser” is applied immediately after each duel, following the duel sequence.

EXCEPTION 2: Phrases in an ability’s effects that refer to an ability itself, such as “This ability may be used once per battle,” or “This ability will not be copied,” apply to the ability at all times, even when the ability is not being used.

EXCEPTION 3: Battles created by effects, and additional phases, segments, and actions granted by effects, are delayed until the action or triggered trait that granted them has ended, and the chance to take Reactions to the end of the action or trait has passed.
Example: Ambush reads, "Fight a battle there. After the battle ends, lose 5 Honor." The battle is delayed until the "Lose 5 Honor" effect has been activated, and the action has resolved. The Honor loss itself is a delayed effect timed to the end of the battle, and is only actually applied after the battle ends.

If multiple effects are caused by a single piece of text they occur simultaneously, unless otherwise specified by language such as “consecutively.”
Examples: “Bow all Oni”; “Dishonor two Samurai”.

When simultaneous effects caused by a single piece of text create multiple game procedures containing more than one step, each step of each procedure takes place simultaneously, in parallel.
Example: When instructed "Bring into play all face-up Personalities in your provinces," the entering-play procedure actually has five steps (see Card types, Playing Personalities). So, each Personality simultaneously enters its entering-play area (step A); then, each Personality's restrictions are checked simultaneously (step B); and so forth.

Effects from different sources may be triggered at the same point (e.g., multiple copies of the same card with delayed effects), but the effects from each source do not resolve simultaneously or in parallel. See Resolving timing conflicts.

Additional effects that are granted to an ability appear in the order of resolution after the ability's base effects. [ADDED 6 May 2011]

Duration of effects

Effects have four types that are relevant to their duration: continuous effects, instantaneous effects, ongoing effects, and procedural effects.

Continuous effects

Continuous effects are those found in non-triggered traits, as well as modifier effects that are not triggered (such as stat modifiers on Items or tokens).
Example: “Your Samurai have +1F.”

Continuous effects from cards upon other cards normally begin when both cards have entered play.

Additionally, if a continuous effect has a condition on it, the effect begins at any point when the condition is met and the relevant cards are in play.
Example: "Your Samurai have +1F while they are opposed." In this example, the effect on each Samurai begins when that Samurai becomes opposed.

Continuous effects from cards upon other cards normally end when one (or both) of the two cards leaves play or when the effect's condition is no longer met. In the example, the effect on each Samurai ends when that Samurai is no longer opposed.

If another effect reverses or modifies the continuous effect, the continuous effect does not automatically re-assert itself. Only if the continuous effect ends and begins again, or when the other effect ends, would the continuous effect begin.
Example: An effect on one of your Holdings in play states “Your Human Personalities are Samurai while they are opposed.” If another effect removes the Samurai keyword from one of these opposed Personalities, your card’s effect does not give him back Samurai immediately. However, if your Holding leaves play and re-enters play it would re-apply Samurai to all your opposed Human Personalities, including the one who had Samurai removed. Also, if your Samurai was no longer opposed, and then became opposed again, he would regain Samurai.

Instantaneous effects

Instantaneous effects involve a change in the game state that is officially recorded by changing the position, orientation, or count of a physical game element. See also Prevention (including negation).

Such effects include:

  • Attaching, transferring, or removing cards or tokens to or from Personalities, Provinces, or other things in the game;
  • Changes to Family Honor totals;
  • Possession of the Imperial Favor.

Instantaneous effects have no duration. They occur once and are not automatically reversed later.

Some instantaneous effects may be continuously applied based on a condition, often using the word “ever.”
Example: “If he is ever opposed, destroy him.”

Chi death (“If his Chi is ever zero, destroy him”) is a continuously applied instantaneous effect. See Personality stats, Chi Death Rule.

A continuously applied instantaneous effect occurs at the timing point “when” the condition becomes true (see Timing). Such effects have special prevention rules.

Ongoing effects

Ongoing effects may be thought of as “virtual” effects because they are not officially recorded with a physical game element; for example, giving stat bonuses or penalties, granting keywords, or putting a condition on a card such as “may not assign.” Unlike continuous effects, ongoing effects start and end at definite times stated by the effect itself and do not end if the card they came from leaves play.

Ongoing effects last until the end of the turn in which they were applied unless otherwise indicated.
Example: “permanent” or “while” a certain game time are phrases that override the default "end of turn" duration.

EXCEPTION 1: Changes to a card’s Focus Value during a duel end immediately before the duel ends; see Duel cleanup (step K).

EXCEPTION 2: Terrains' ongoing effects last while the Terrain remains in play; see Glossary, Terrain.

EXCEPTION 3: Ongoing effects can end prematurely if the card they are affecting becomes face down and out of play; see Tracking Rule.

An ongoing effect that is applied “while” some condition is true ends when that condition is no longer true, and takes effect again if the condition becomes true within the stated duration of the effect. Nevertheless, a conditional ongoing effect is a single effect, regardless of how many times it is reapplied. If it is negated or prevented, it remains negated or prevented if the effect is reapplied due to the condition being met anew. See Duration and scope of negation effects, below.

EXCEPTION: The condition “while X remains Y” indicates that the effect will not reapply to X if Y becomes true again.

Ongoing effects that affect all things of a certain kind (such as, “Battle: Your Samurai have +1F”) or that meet a condition (such as, "Battle: Your opposed Personalities have +1F") change the game state. They affect all things in play of that kind throughout their duration, even ones that are not in play, did not meet the condition or did not exist when the effect took place.
Example: “Until the end of the game, your Samurai have +1F” gives + 1F to your Samurai brought into play on future turns. In contrast, “Your Samurai now in play have +1F until the end of the game” affects only Samurai currently in play.

Procedural effects

For the sake of completeness, a fourth type of effect is the procedural effect: one that establishes or alters an element of the sequence of play, or of a sub-procedure within the game such as an action round, battle, or duel. Examples of procedural effects are: eliminating the next Dynasty Phase; allowing you to take an additional Battle action; creating a battle during an Attack Phase.

Procedural effects are treated as instantaneous.

EXCEPTION: If a procedural effect is written with an explicit duration, treat it as an ongoing effect.
Example: "Until your next turn begins, Dynasty Phases do not happen."

Tracking rule

“Memory” of the status of individual cards ends when the card enters a deck or a hand, or otherwise becomes both face-down and out of play (such as after a card in the deck or hand is shown). This includes dishonorable status, ongoing effects, and whether or not an ability has been used.

EXCEPTION 1: A card's role in a series of costs and effects from a single action or trait is not "forgotten" from one effect to the other -- for example, if you are asked to draw a card and then show it, you must show the same card. If a card being tracked in this way is in a deck that is then shuffled, the tracked card is set aside during the shuffling; if it then needs to return to the deck, it is shuffled in again.

EXCEPTION 2: When a card in a face-down area is shown, and something about it is then checked, the last face-up state of the card is what is actually checked, including all changes to the card once it became face-up. See Glossary, Show.

EXCEPTION 3: If an effect does not distinguish between individual copies of a card, its “memory” remains even when the card is both face-down and out of play.
Example: An effect on “All Samurai you own, in and out of play” works even on cards that are face-down in decks.

Delayed effects

Some effects state that they will occur at a given time in the future. These are delayed effects.
Example “After your next turn begins” or “After the next time this game a Samurai assigns to attack.”

Other effects may likewise postpone another effect until a time in the future, making the effect delayed.

A delayed effect is activated at one time (when it is determined that the effect is going to occur), but is actually applied at another (when the effect actually changes the game state).
Example: in “Battle: After your next Attack Phase this game begins, target a unit and bow it” the Battle action resolves fully during that battle, but the targeting and bowing occurs in the player’s next Attack Phase.

The duration of a delayed ongoing effect takes into account the turn, or other time period, in which it was applied – not the time period in which it was initially activated.
Example: in "After the start of your next turn, give him +2F," the Force bonus lasts until the end of your next turn.

If any targeting only appears as part of a delayed effect, the targeting is not mandatory. See Abilities and actions, Required targeting.

A delayed effect that has been activated, but not yet applied, can still be prevented by something that prevents effects in general, such as "effects of that action do not happen." However, something that prevents a specific type of effect, such as bowing, will only negate a delayed effect when it is actually applied.

See also: Timing.

Indefinite conditional effects

Some effects create other effects whenever a certain condition is met; these are collectively known as indefinite conditional effects. The creating effect is a “parent” effect, and the conditional effects are “child” effects. Parent effects are different from delayed effects, which create definite effect(s) at a set time in the future.

Example: In "After the next time this turn a Personality is destroyed, gain +1F" the +1F is a delayed effect; but, in "After each time this turn a Personality is destroyed, gain +1F" the +1F is not.


Sometimes a choice has to be made in the game. This includes alternate effects (“gain +2F or +1C”), optional effects (“may bow him”), variable effects (“up to three cards”), and assignment.

If an action does not explicitly state which player makes a choice between several options, the choice belongs to the player taking the action. In traits, the choice belongs to the player whose card it is (that is, the controller of the card if it is in play, or its owner if it is not).

A choice involving multiple effects following a "may" must be taken in an all-or-none fashion, unless they are phrased as alternatives to each other using "or."
Example: "He may target one of his Shugenja and discard a card." If this choice is taken, the targeting and discard are both either carried out or not carried out; there is no option to target a Shugenja and not discard. Compare with "he may target one of his Shugenja and may discard a card," in which the two choices are separate; either, none, or both options may be taken. Also, in "he may target one of his Shugenja or discard a card," one choice or the other (but not both) may be taken.

Regardless of these considerations, each of the effects following “may” is activated and applied separately, and can be negated separately.

A choice may be made even if its consequences would be negated, prevented, or otherwise fail due to lack of suitable things to affect.
Example: If a Personality is already bowed, or will not bow due to an effect, you may still make a choice to bow him. If you do not control any unbowed Personalities, you may also make a choice to “bow an unbowed Personality,” which just fails.

References to the result of a choice are phrased differently according to whether the choice was only made, or whether a choice made had any effect.
Example: “You may choose to bow the Personality. If you choose this, gain 2 Honor.” If the bowing is somehow prevented or the Personality is already bowed, you still gain 2 Honor.
Example: “You may bow the personality. If he bowed, gain 2 Honor.” If the bowing is prevented or the Personality is already bowed, you do not gain the Honor.

If the legality of an action depends on its effects, choices within the action must be made in such a way as to make the action legal.
Example: If a Battle action on a unit gives the choice of moving to the current battlefield or some other location, and the Battle action is only legal to take if it moves the unit to the current battlefield, its player must choose to move into the current battlefield when the time comes.

In the case of assignment and targeting, references to the player who assigns or targets refer to the player who made the actual choice, not necessarily the player whose choice it originally was.

Blind cards rule

When a rule or card text needs to know what an action does or will do, it only takes into account the current text of the action. It does not consider any continuous, ongoing or triggered effects that change the action's effects or cause them to fail.
Example 1: "Search your deck for a Strategy card with a challenge as one of its effects." Even if the condition "Challenges do not happen" is in effect, you may search your deck for such a card because of the blind cards rule.
Example 2: Exceptions to the Rule of Location follow the blind cards rule. Because of this, it is still legal to take a Battle action that says it can move a target unit to the current battlefield, even if that movement is prevented by an ongoing negation effect.
Example 3: Cricket Tattoo reads, "Battle: Choose your performing Tattooed Personality: Straighten his unit. If he has Water, you may move him to the current battlefield." Because the condition "If he has Water" is part of the card text, it is checked to determine if the action is legal.

This rule should not be applied to retrospective knowledge of whether an action actually did something.

Also note that under Timing rules, negation and prevention of a trigger by ongoing and continuous effects comes before other triggered traits, effects and Reactions. So, if an effect says "Units will not move from this battlefield," you still cannot take a Reaction "before moving" to an effect that normally moves a unit from the battlefield.

The blind cards principle should not be over-applied beyond the specific case of of a game element needing to check what an action does; specifically, it should not interfere with the Good Faith rule of actions, which does take into account relevant knowledge about the game state.

Source of effects

Targeting, costs, effects and actions come “from,” or are done by, the card where the thing in question is originally physically printed. If it is printed in the rulebook then the effect is not from any card.
Example: Your event card gives another player an ability. The action from that ability, and its effects, are “from” your cards even though they are “on” the other player.

EXCEPTION 1: Targeting and effects of Ranged Attacks come from the card that created the Ranged Attack, not the rulebook.

EXCEPTION 2: A Personality’s destruction for having 0 Chi (Chi death rule) comes from the cost or effect that last gave the Personality a Chi penalty, or from the rulebook if there was no such effect.

EXCEPTION 3: Effects of traits and abilities given to other cards, copied from other cards, or on created cards, come from the card they are currently on.

EXCEPTION 4: Duels come from the effect that created their associated challenge, not the rulebook.

If a card effect creates a procedure, effects written in the rulebook that are part of the procedure come from the rulebook. [Added 9 September 2009]
Example: An action on a card creates a duel. Discards from the duel are considered to be rulebook effects, rather than action or card effect, because the procedure for resolving the duel is described in the rulebook.

The possessive form (“his action,” “your actions”), when applied to a player’s actions, means “actions that player took” – not necessarily actions from the player’s cards.

Effects of tokens come from the effect that created them, or from the effect that last transferred them if they have been transferred, not from the tokens themselves.

Effects in and out of play

When an effect is activated, it will only apply to cards that at the time of activation are either in play, or in a temporary focusing, entering-play, or resolution area, unless the effect:

  • specifies an out of play area,
  • is triggered by a card entering an out of play area (such as, being destroyed or discarded from the hand),
  • uses wording such as “all Samurai in and out of play”,
  • is a continuous effect from a card out of play, in which case it affects only that card.

Examples: A trait that says "This card is a Samurai while your Family Honor is 10 or higher" affects the card itself even while out of play. A trait on a Samurai card that says "All your Samurai are Tacticians" gives Tactician to the Samurai card itself, but not any other cards, while out of play.

These exceptions only allow the relevant cards to be affected.

Ongoing effects on a card in play persist when the card leaves play, unless something else intervenes (for example, the tracking rule - see above).

Effects that were activated on a card in play, and then delayed, also apply to the card at the delayed point in time, even if it is no longer in play.

Use of the term "your" or “own” does not imply that an effect applies to cards out of play, even though those terms can refer to cards out of play in certain contexts.

Prevention (including negation)

Some effects prevent or end changes to the game state caused by other effects or costs, either by explicit wording such as “do not” and “will not”, or by negation. The term "occurrences" is used here to include effects, choices, and costs which might be prevented.

Changes to game state are prevented individually. Preventing one effect of an action does not automatically prevent the others, for instance.

The term “cannot” does not imply negation in Celestial Edition.

[Two major CHANGES to these rules, 26 Jan 2010: 1) negation no longer ends durations of ongoing effects, but now works exactly like "do not", and has a default duration until end of turn like any other effect; 2) ongoing as well as continuous negation effects will now work against Chi death.]

“Does not/Will not" versus Negation

These two phrasings are equivalent in the way their form of prevention works, and the rules on prevention below refer to both of them. The main difference between the two is that in the card set, negation effects are sometimes specifically prevented with wording such as "will not be negated," whereas there is no such wording to prevent "does not" effects as a specific category.

“Does not” effects can sometimes still be prevented by more general effects – for example, by a previous effect that states that all of a particular action’s effects do not happen.

Changes to a numerical value such as a stat can be partially prevented, when a specific type of limit has been placed on that value, but this is not considered negation.

Duration and scope of prevention effects

A prevention effect from a Reaction or triggered trait that was both triggered by, and prevents, another individual effect is instantaneous, and it prevents only that effect. [Section clarified 25 Jan 11]

An effect from an action or triggered trait that prevents a type of occurrence (such as all destruction, destruction from a particular player's cards, or destruction from any of an action's effects) is ongoing and lasts until the end of the turn by default. A continuous effect from a non-triggered trait that prevents a type of occurrence lasts while its source card is in play. Each separate application of prevention from a "parent" going or continuous effect is a “child” indefinite conditional effect. The "child" prevention effect is instantaneous if the prevented effect is instantaneous or procedural, and ongoing (with the same duration as the parent) if the prevented effect is ongoing or continuous.

Example: In Justly Earned Victory's "Battle: Negate all current Force bonuses and penalties to cards at this battlefield from actions", each current Force bonus and penalty that qualifies is prevented by a separate "child" effect until the end of the turn.

If the effect's wording prevents a specific future occurrence that triggered the effect, instead of a general type of occurrence, then the prevention is a single delayed instantaneous effect.

Example: In Duty's "Reaction: Before another player's card's effect destroys one of your Personalities, destroy your target honorable Samurai Personality at the same location: Negate the first Personality's destruction", the negation only applies to the destruction that triggers the action.

Continuous and ongoing effects that came into being before a relevant prevention effect was applied are still affected by it, by default. Continuous and ongoing effects that came into being after a relevant prevention effect was applied are also affected by it while the prevention lasts, by default.

Example: A Personality receives a Force bonus from an action that lasts until the end of the turn. He then attaches an Item with the trait “Negate all Force bonuses on this Personality.” His current bonus is prevented. If the trait read "Negate all new Force bonuses on this Personality", the bonus would not be prevented, because it is not new (it came into effect before the Item was attached).

EXCEPTION: Effect wording may restrict prevention to either “current” or “new” occurrences of continuous and ongoing effects. Current occurrences are those that began before the prevention effect, and new occurrences are those that began after it. The wording “does not/will not gain” or “does not/will not lose” implies prevention of new occurrences only.

If a continuous effect or a current ongoing effect that has been prevented is still in effect when the prevention effect ends (for example, when the duration of an ongoing prevention runs out, or a card with a continuous prevention effect leaves play), the prevented effect re-asserts itself.

Example: A Personality receives a Force bonus from being in an army with a Follower that has the trait "Personalities in this army have +1F". While in the army, he then attaches an Item with the trait “Negate all Force bonuses on this Personality.” His current bonus from the Follower is suppressed and he does not get +1F. If he loses the Item while in the army, the +1F will re-assert itself and he will get it once more.

If a prevention effect is already being applied and prevents a new ongoing effect, the new ongoing effect never happens; it does not re-assert itself when the prevention effect ends.

Example: A Personality attaches an Item with the trait “This Personality does not receive Force bonuses.” He then gets +1F from an action. Even if the Item moves to another person that turn, the +1F will not reappear.

Example: A Personality receives a Force bonus from being in an army with a Follower that has the trait "Personalities in this army have +1F". While in the army, he then attaches an Item with the trait “This Personality does not receive Force bonuses.” His current bonus from the Follower is suppressed and he does not get +1F. If he loses the Item while in the army, the +1F will re-assert itself and he will get it once more.

Prevention of instantaneous occurrences is never retroactive. Specifically, if “all effects” of an action or trait are prevented partway through the action or trait’s resolution, instantaneous effects that have already resolved are not undone.

EXCEPTION [Clarified 25 Jan 11]: Special rules apply to the prevention of Personality destruction from zero Chi (see Chi death rule) and other continuously applied destruction effects. Instantaneous effects that are triggered by a single instance of destruction, such as the trait "Before this card is destroyed: Negate the destruction," will not prevent destruction from such an effect. Only an effect that is continuous or ongoing - that is, triggered by something else than the destruction itself - can overcome the Personality's destruction (examples: "This Personality will not be destroyed"; "Until the turn ends, negate his destruction from other players' cards' effects"; "After this Personality is targeted by an action: Negate his destruction from the action's effects"). If this happens, the destruction merely fails to happen while the prevention is in effect; there is no continuous "loop" of destruction and prevention that can trigger other effects. Once the prevention is no longer in effect, destruction happens as normal.

This rule also applies to the interaction between Chi death or any other continuously applied destruction and effects that substitute some other effect, such as dishonoring, for destruction.

“Effects do not happen”

If a prevention effect makes all effects of an action “not happen,” this also means that any of that action’s non-required targeting or cost payments that happen in the action’s resolution step, or are delayed to a later point, do not happen.

“May not”

"May not" is a wording that prevents a choice, rather than a cost or effect - for example, taking an action, assigning a unit, declaring an attack, bringing a Personality into play, or targeting a certain card. “May not” works to prevent a choice, even if the choice is part of a required procedure.
Example: An effect says "The Personality may not assign this turn." If a card effect requires the player to assign the Personality, the assignment still fails and does not happen.

However, if something is required to be chosen, a player is not allowed to choose an option that is currently prevented by "may not” if there is another legal option to choose.
Example: If the player in the above example controls another Personality not covered by the "may not assign" effect, and a card effect requires him or her to "assign a Personality," the Personality not covered by the effect must be chosen.

Targeting, however, is independent from any other choices that follow it.
Example: If an action reads "Target a Personality. He may not assign this turn," you may choose a target who is covered by "may not assign," and then the assignment fails, because the only Personality who could legally assign was the one you targeted.

Wording such as "may legally [do X]" asks for something that is not restricted by "may not" effects preventing it from doing X, and that otherwise meets all requirements for doing X.


“X instead (of Y)” refers to the substitution of an old targeting, effect, choice, cost, or other game element (Y) with a new one (X). The following rules refer to any use of "instead" or "instead of."

EXCEPTION: Effects “instead of focusing” in a duel follow special rules, not the rules in this section. See Challenges and Duels.

If the old Y is prevented or fails before the substitution is applied, the new X doesn't happen.
Example: In “you may bow a Personality instead of losing Honor,” you cannot use this to bow a Personality if an existing trait says that you do not gain or lose Honor.

If the new X is prevented or fails, the old Y doesn’t happen.
Example: In “a target enemy unit adds Force to your army instead of the enemy army,” if you have no army (i.e. no units) then the new adding Force fails, and your unit does not add Force to the enemy army.

EXCEPTION: In effects that substitute targeting, if the new target has to be a "legal" target, then failure to find a new legal target means the original targeting happens normally.
Example: In "The action instead targets another of your legal Personalities with the same Clan alignment," if you control no Personality with the same Clan alignment who also satisfies the targeting requirements of the original action, the original targeting happens normally.

The rules on duration and scope of prevention effects should be followed to determine the scope and duration of substitution effects. However, substitution is not itself prevention or negation.

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