Allowing Take Backs

patrickhobanMistakes happen in just about every game of Yu-Gi-Oh you play. Often times, these mistakes will go unnoticed unless someone not playing the match points it out. The reason they tend to go unnoticed is because if you realized you were making a mistake, you wouldn’t have done it in the first place. From time to time, however, you catch yourself mid-act or right after you finish making a play. Have you ever had your opponent catch himself making a play he shouldn’t have made and then he asked to take it back? This can create an awkward situation for you. Do you allow the take back? You might be inclined to say “no,” but want to avoid coming off as “that guy.” Today I’m going to talk about my policy on letting people take moves back.

In the most technical sense, you could always deny a player’s request to change a play they made, but I know when I play, it’s the competition in the game that drives me. Of course I want to win, but I want to do so because I played well and I did the right thing, not because I played a watered down opponent. Misplays are certainly part of the game, but there are different types. Consider the difference between these two scenarios:

Super PolymerizationThe opponent has a Construct and Squamata on the field. He uses Super Polymerization to send Construct and Squamata to the graveyard and summon a second Construct. He uses the Construct and Squamata to send Beast and Falco to the graveyard. He special summons Falco and draws for Beast, at which point he realizes he forgot to add Fusion back from the Construct that was sent to the grave by Super Polymerization and asks if he can still add it to his hand. Do you let him?

I have a Construct on the field and tribute it to set Beast. Then I activate Soul Charge returning Construct and however many other monsters, before ending my turn with no further plays. My opponent is also playing Shaddolls and activates Shaddoll Fusion. They pick up their deck to send Fusion materials and you remind them that the Construct was special summoned from the graveyard and not the extra deck. Fusion is a legal activation, but they realize that it’s a suboptimal play and ask to take it back. Do you let him?

On the surface they both did something wrong and are asking you if they can correct it, but can you tell an inherent difference in the two types of misplays I just described? The first scenario is the type of misplay that doesn’t matter. When I say it doesn’t matter what I mean is I don’t get upset if I do something like this because there is nothing to learn from it. I clearly know that Construct adds Fusion back whenever it is sent to the grave and I’ve done it 1000 times. There isn’t any decision making process on whether or not you should use Construct’s effect to add it back, it’s almost automatic in that there’s no logical reason to not do it. To me, not allowing someone to take back a misplay like this is just petty and bad sportsmanship.

The second scenario is different. Using Soul Charge to bring back a monster that was originally summoned from the extra deck is something I would intentionally do in hopes of tricking my opponent into making a suboptimal play. It’s as if I bluffed my set to be nothing, they attacked into Mirror Force, and then asked if they could go back and not attack. This type of scenario is something I wouldn’t let my opponent take back.

Thunder King Rai-OhI once played a game where my opponent had Thunder King Rai-Oh on the field and I attempted to summon Aqua Spirit. If everything goes according to plan, I could switch Thunder King to defense mode and then attack over it the following turn. On Aqua Spirit’s summon, my opponent says “okay.” After a couple seconds they say “Actually wait, I’d like to use Thunder King if that’s okay?” This is the same as adding Fusion back off of Construct. Nothing’s changed. They didn’t have any new information from the time they said it was fine to the time they asked if they could take it back. In this case, I’d let them tribute Thunder King.

Let’s take that same scenario where my opponent says “okay” to Aqua Spirit’s summoning, but they wait a couple of seconds, in which time I set two S/Ts, and just as quickly as in the first scenario they say “Wait, I’d like to negate it if that’s alright?” Here, I’d have to tell them no. Why? The information they had about the situation changed. The first time they allowed Aqua Spirit to go through probably because they could stop it from attacking over Thunder King with a different card and leave Thunder King on the field to stop me from searching my deck. That’s fine, but the second I set a S/T card, it’s a game changer. Now they can see that I have a potential second out to Thunder King in the form of a trap and they think he will die anyway, so they might as well take Aqua Spirit out with him, right? Is that what they’re thinking? There’s no way to know, but I’m not in the business of giving my opponent free information. If I’m doing them the courtesy of allowing them to take back a move when I’m under no obligation to do so, then I’m not going to put myself at a disadvantage by letting them have more information to make a better decision.

In rare instances I’ve seen people try to do something to gain an advantage. Even if you stop them from gaining free information, I wouldn’t allow them to take back the play if I thought that is what they were trying to do. This is cheating.

Going with the notion of not putting myself at a disadvantage by allowing this, I’m never going to offer it if they don’t ask. Letting them fix what they realize they did wrong is something I’d consider good sportsmanship, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to play the game for them. Misplays are certainly part of the game and I wouldn’t win nearly as often as I do if people didn’t make them. If they don’t realize their misplay, I’m not going to point it out to them and offer for them to make a better play.

300px-Honest-PGLD-EN-GUR-1EThe last scenario I want to give deals with rulings. Let’s say my light monster attacks his light monster and I activate Honest. He activates his Honest. Since they chain to each other, it resolves backwards with his Honest giving his monster my monster’s attack first. Then my Honest resolves and gives my monster his boosted monster’s attack and my monster wins out. After the ruling is clarified, he asks to take his Honest back. Here, none of additional cards got revealed, but I wouldn’t let them take this back. Knowing rulings is part of the game. If you know more, you’ll be at an advantage over someone who knows less. If I took the time to learn them and my opponent didn’t, I feel no obligation to let them take back the misplay.


-          No information changes, I’d allow a take back. It’s almost like thinking aloud.
Example:  Switching a monster to ATK and then back to DEF a few seconds later.

-          The opponent gains additional information, I wouldn’t allow a take back.
Example: They summon a monster while I have 2 sets. I say “okay” and they ask to summon a different monster. They now know my sets wouldn’t stop that monster. No take back allowed.

-          I know more about a ruling or matchup to where I make a play that results in them misplaying, no take backs allowed.
Example: Stardust attacks Ryko. They target Stardust. I negate. They try to mill and I tell them they can’t since Stardust negated, but if they had chosen not to destroy, they could have milled. They ask to not destroy, I say no because I had more ruling knowledge than them.

-          They try to gain free information purposefully, I wouldn’t allow a take back.
Example: They use Charge of the Light Brigade and see they have bad mills. “Oh wait; I should use Reinforcement of the Army first.” If you let them take it back, they have a second chance of getting a good mill and wanted to see how good the first mill was. If it had been good, they wouldn’t have wanted to use Reinforcement first.

That concludes this week’s article. I think this is a very fair policy on take backs and think the game would be a better place if everyone abided by this same policy. I hope to see you all in Indianapolis this weekend. Until next time, play hard or go home!

Patrick Hoban

Patrick Hoban

Patrick Hoban

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