18 December 2012

Card Rulings: Thunder King Rai-Oh!

Been a while, hasn't it? Well, I have been sick and I've been preparing a series of posts about the upcoming fire archetypes (a request). Those aren't finished yet, but another request came for a card that has been nicknamed “probably the best card in the game” in several formats. The card I'm talking about is the following:

Thunder King Rai-Oh is one of the best cards the GX manga gave us and has been a staple in many decks ever since (safe the March ’12 format, but let’s forget about that horrible period).

But the card text has caused much confusion and judge interventions in both real-life tournaments and DuelingNetwork. So here’s a post to clarify a few things about the thunder king.

Latest card text:

When understanding a card, it’s obviously you look at the LATEST card text.

"Neither player can add cards from their Deck to their hand except by drawing them. During either player's turn, when your opponent would Special Summon a monster: You can send this face-up card to the Graveyard; negate the Special Summon, and if you do, destroy it."

Adding cards to your hand

“Neither player can add cards to their hand, except by drawing them.”

As long as Rai-Oh is face-up on the field, all card effects that state “add x from the deck to your hand” are negated. So, cards like Sangan, Reinforcement of the Army and even Pot of Duality are stopped by Rai-Oh. Also, card effects like those of Atlantean Dragoons, Mermail Abysspike, Geargiarmor, Spellbook of Secrets, Madolche Magileine and Fire Formation Tenki are completely stopped.

As you might have noticed from the card names, the most recent archetypes are all about searching the deck, ensuring Rai-Oh to get a second life after he got in disuse previous format.

One thing that players tend to forget is that this effect applies to BOTH players.

Negating special summons

"During either player's turn, when your opponent would Special Summon a monster: You can send this face-up card to the Graveyard; negate the Special Summon, and if you do, destroy it."

Negating special summons? Nice, isn't it? That’s like a walking Solemn Warning!

One of the most common mistakes made with Rai-Oh is that people think it works like Solemn Warning. But it does NOT work that way. If you want to compare it to a trap, Black Horn of Heaven is the closest thing, really.

You’ll understand it better if I give a few examples:

Rai-Oh can negate the following:

  • Special summons, because the field/grave/hand is as required on the card text. I’m talking about cards like Cyber Dragon, Photon Thrasher, Dark Armed Dragon, Grandsoil, Moulinglacia, Geargiaccellerator, Judgment Dragon, E-HERO Bubbleman and Lightray Gearfried.
  • Built-in special summons, even if they have a cost. Cards like Machina Fortress, Lava Golem, The Tricky, or Grapha Dragon lord of Dark World (you still pay that cost!).
  • Synchro Summons
  • Xyz summons
  • “TAG” Fusion summons (Neos fusions, VXYZ fusions, Armityle the Chaos Phantom & Gladiator Beast fusions)

Rai-Oh can NOT negate the following:

  • Monsters special summoned by spell or trap cards (Monster Reborn, Call of the Haunted, etc.)
  • Fusion Summons (Polymerization, Miracle Fusion, etc.). It cannot even stop fusions resulting from Fusion Gate
  • Special summons that happen during the damage step (Gorz & Tragoedia, Searchers like Giant Rat, Mystic Tomato, Pyramid Turtle, etc.).
  • Special summons caused by monster effects (Rescue Rabbit, Gravekeeper's Spy, Inzektor Dragonfly, Deep Sea Diva, Tour Guide, Goblindbergh, etc.)
  • Ignition effect summons, like: Mermail Abyssmegalo, High Priestess of Prophecy, Destiny HERO – Malicious, etc.

Ignition effect summons Versus Built-in summons

The problem most players have with Rai-Oh’s negation is that they can’t differentiate between summons that use chain links and summons that do NOT use chain links (or Ignition effect summons vs built-in summons).

Konami has made it easier to differentiate between with the Problem-Solving Card Text (PSCT). I’ll give you the examples of Grapha (built-in summon) and Abyssmegalo (Ignition effect summon).

Notice the difference in the text? There’s a semicolon (a ;) in Megalo's special summon card text, while there is no such thing in Grapha's card text. Because of this, Rai-Oh can negate the summoning of Grapha, but cannot negate the summoning of Megalo. It’s actually that easy to spot!

It's harder to spot the difference on older cards, so I strongly advice using cards with PSCT, if possible


If you run into ruling issues in real life, or on DuelingNetwork, feel free to link to this page.

Always ready to help out with ruling issues.

V out.

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