Putting counters on cardsJanuary 13, 2012
Putting counters on cards is common in most competitive trading card games, e.g. YuGiOh and Magic: The Gathering. Placing counters on cards has long been adopted by YuGiOh players at various levels and in almost every metagame.
This post highlights some issues which are being overlooked regarding placing counters on cards in YuGiOh.
To begin with, a common misconception has to be addressed. It is the difference between counters and tokens. Players use these terms interchangeably which sometimes lead to unnecessary misunderstanding in the game.
(Source: Official Rule Book)
– Markers that are required to place on some cards to keep track of things like the number of turns, or a card’s power level. Small objects like glass beads can be put on these face up cards as counters.
– Tokens are used to represent monsters that are created by card effects. Any object used for a token needs to have two distinct ways to place it that can clearly indicate the monster’s battle position.
After understanding what counters are in YuGiOh’s context, let’s move on to the basic ruling for counters.
(Source: Official Rule Book)
You may need to place these [counters] on cards for some card effects. You cannot place counters unless a card effect allows it.
This post revolves around the second sentence, “You cannot place counters unless a card effect allows it”.
This leads to the next question, how do we know if a card allows you to place counter(s) on it? It is usually clearly stated on the card, and often include the type of counters. E.g. Spell Counter or Clock Counter.
For example, Breaker the Magical Warrior‘s effect allows Spell Counter to be put on it, and the maximum of counters can be placed on it is stated as well (Max. 1). At the same time, the type of the counters is specific, and for this case – Spell Counters. One can use Apprentice Magician to place a Spell Counter on it, but not on a monster card which does not state that it can carry a counter, for e.g. D.D. Warrior Lady.
If a card does not state anything about placing counters on it, then no counters should be allowed to be placed on it. The above points are simple and easy to understand. There is a clear right or wrong.
After much reference to the rules on counters, the core of this post is about placing counters on cards for the purpose of marking a gamestate. In this case, “marking a gamestate” is not because the effect of a card requires counters to be placed on it. For e.g., Gladiator Beast Laquari has been tagged out, and hence it gains its effect of having 2100 attack. It is a common act for players to put a counter on it to indicate that. So is it right or wrong to place counter on it?
My interpretation on the ruling regarding “not being able to place counters unless the card’s effect allows it” is that it is referring to the example I used above involving placing a counter on D.D. Warrior Lady through Apprentice Magician’s effect. Therefore, by placing a “counter” on a tagged Gladiator Beast Laquari is a form of a “marker”.
According to the above definition, these “counters” are not exactly counters in the context of YuGiOh. It is hard to judge if it is right or wrong. There is no proper documentation on this topic. (In fact, YuGiOh does not have a comprehensive documentation on many important game mechanics, e.g. implementation of different effects.)
So you may ask, what is the problem with this then?
The problem is the inconsistency on the usage of such “counters” which confuses opponent. For instance, I had come across a player who placed a counter on Legendary Six Samurai – Shi En to indicate that its negation effect has not been activated on that turn. On another day, the same player, placed a counter on Legendary Six Samurai – Shi En to indicate that it has used its effect. There is no official way to indicate and mark that effect, which makes it hard to judge the above example. However, the bottom line is that it is down to the individual to remember and understand the current gamestate. Then is it alright to confuse the opponent with such gamestate mechanics?
I had lost a match because of such inconsistency issue years ago. In the third duel, I declared attack with my Caius the Shadow Monarch on a Gladiator Beast Hoplomus which has been tagged out before. This move costed me the match because I allowed my opponent to tag for free and made a come back. For all three duels, we had a common understanding that placing a “counter” on a Gladiator Beast indicated that it had gained its respective Gladiator Beast effect. However, in that specific scenario there was no “counter” on it. Although understanding the gamestate is down to the individual, is it alright to knowingly or unknowingly use such gamestate mechanics to trick opponent?
It makes me wonder if there is a solution to prevent such inappropriate trick. Is it possible for one player to disallow the other player to place any form of counters on a card unless it is necessary for effects which involves counters? This argument is based on the above ruling regarding placing counters on cards only if its effect allows. However, one may also argue that those are not “counters” by definition anyway, it is just a form of “markers”. Of course, if both players have a common understanding on a specific use of “markers” for certain effects, then there should not be any issue with it. Again, it is hard to have any official reference to conclude this topic.
Share your view.