Substitution Effect
置換効果 / 置き換え効果 (Chikan Kōka)
Japanese Wiki: 3258

Substitution Effect is an effect that replaces an event from occurring with another event.


It is a kind of Continuous Effect, and is sometimes also referred to as a "replacement effect".

Aqua Soldier
Water / Creature / Liquid People / 3 / 1000
■ When this creature would be destroyed, return it to your hand instead.

Perfect Galaxy, Spirit of Immortality
Light / Creature / Angel Command / 7 / 9000
■ Double breaker

■ Shield Force (When you put this creature into the battle zone, you may choose one of your shields. While the chosen shield remains in the shield zone, this creature gets the following Shieldforce abilities.)

Shieldforce This creature gets "blocker".
Shieldforce When this creature would leave the battle zone, it stays in the battle zone without leaving.

Time Tripper, Shadow of Stagnation
Darkness / Creature / Ghost / 3 / 1000
■ Your opponent's cards are put into his mana zone tapped.

Several cards are considered to be substitution effects.

For example, the Aqua Soldier above replaces the event of being "Destroyed" with "return it to your hand instead".

Similarly, Time Tripper puts the cards that are put into your opponents mana zone in a tapped state, rather than the regular untapped state.

Types of Substitution effects

Most substitution effects have "instead" in their text, but not all of them. There are 3 main kind of substitution effects.

  • 1) When you do A, do B instead

This is the most common of the substitution effects. It is represented by abilities such as Madness, Sprout, Saver, etc.

  • 2) When you do A, do B than A

This form can be confused with a trigger ability, but is a substitution effect if the "B" event occurs after the "A".

For example, the Perfect Galaxy ability is a substitution effect because it is a continuous ability that works before it would leave the battle zone. Conversely, Aqua Hulcus is a trigger ability, because it triggers after it is put into the battle zone.

  • 3) When A goes into a zone

This substitution effect replaces how cards enter different zones. Ex: God Link, Shield Force, Time Tripper, Shadow of Stagnation, and Ryusei Kaiser, the Eternal

Rules of Substitution effects

  • 1) [Since "When you do A, do B instead" occurs, the "A" event doesn't occur.]

In this case, if an ability would trigger on an "A" event, it doesn't trigger.

Example: If you cast Deadly Love on Aqua Soldier while Super Trash Train, Fuuma Devil is in the battle zone. In this case, Aqua Soldier will return to your hand instead of being destroyed. Therefore, it is considered to be destroyed and isn't put in your graveyard. For that reason, the ability of Super Trash Train doesn't trigger and you can't draw a card.

  • 2) [Applying a substitution effect" is different than "Resolution".]

So they can be applied in the middle of resolving spells and abilities.

Example: Casting Ganveet Blaster on Aqua Soldier.

In this case, Aqua Soldier returns to your opponents hand during the resolution of Ganveet Blaster. Therefore, it can be discarded from his hand with the second ability of Ganveet Blaster.

  • 3) [Even if you replace the cost and take another action, you can use "If you do" effects.]

Even if the result is substitution, you may still use the "If you do" abilities if the trigger condition was attempted.

Example: If you use Dark Soul Creation on Perfect Madonna, Light Weapon, you may still draw 3 cards (while Perfect Madonna stays in the battle zone).

  • 4) [For the same event, only one substitution effect can be applied.]

2 effects that replace an "A" event with a "B" event cant occur at the same time, and only one can be used.

Example 1: If your Forever Princess, Eternal Ruler is destroyed while you have Rinne Lupia in the battle zone, only one of the substitution effects can be applied, with the other having no effect. In this case, the conditions of the substitution are not the same, but both involve "being put into the graveyard from the battle zone",

Example 2:
If you have 2 Gachapinchi, Invasion Guardian in the battle zone and a Guardian leaves the battle zone, you can only use one Ultra Saver ability.

  • 5) [If the action for the substitution can't be done, you can't use it]

Example: The effect of Utsusemihenge, Blame Demon Dragon reads "When this creature would be destroyed, you may put 4 cards in your graveyard on the bottom of your deck instead.". If you have less than 4 cards in your graveyard, the creature will be destroyed without any being returned to your deck.

As an exception, creatures that have a "can't be destroyed" or "don't leave" effects such as Boost, Crimson Lord can ignore this, so the abilities of Ultra Saver or Skull Moon, the Enlightened can be used.

Other Rules

There are trigger abilities that can generate a substitution effect such as Kiryu Jilves, Gaia's Roar, but the substitution effect itself is not a trigger ability. The substitution effect is an effect that places an effect on the creature that later occurs during resolution.

The ability of Perfect Galaxy, Spirit of Immortality seems to be a trigger ability at first glance because of Shield Force being an ETB trigger, but it is a permanent ability of a substitution effect whose notation of the duration of the ability isn't written.

The action of performing "do B after you A" is a trigger ability, if it occurs after you do another action (such as "When you put this creature into the battle zone, ___" on Aqua Hulcus). However, if it replaces A with the B event, it is a substitution effect (If you do A, do B instead.)

No other effect can interrupt a substitution effect, so they can't be chained together.

Example) When you destroy Perfect Galaxy, Spirit of Immortality with an active Shield Force ability with the substitution effect of Jinnai, Darkfang Ninja, the effect that lets it "Stay in the battle zone instead of leaving" can't be applied, so Perfect Galaxy will be put into the graveyard.

  • As described above, when a substitution effect s applied, another can't be applied with it. Note that this rule only applies to sentences that contain the word "instead".

When examining whether the ability is linked, it is easy to see the two effects in one sentence.

  • In the previous example, Jinnai has "Whenever your other Shinobi would leave the battle zone, you may destroy one of your creatures instead. " and Perfect Galaxy has "When this creature would leave the battle zone, it stays in the battle zone instead". As there are 2 instances of "Instead", it means that the replacement effect is linked, and the second effect can't be done.

When a replacement effect occurs from both players, the active players effect takes precedence.

  • Example) If both players control a Rumble Lecter, Terror Awakened that battles itself, the active players creature survives.
  • If more than one substitution effect simultaneous occurs for the same event, that player must choose one to apply, without chaining any others.

You can put multiple creatures into the battle zone that are discarded at the same time (such as from Lost Soul) into the battle zone. This is because separate events that can apply to each of the cards occur simultaneously due to the one-shot effect, so no chain of substitution effects occur. It is treated if they were each discarded one at a time (as if individually discarded by Ghost Touch).

After November 24th, 2011 it became possible to destroy Perfect Galaxy, Spirit of Immortality with Bolmeteus Musha Dragon who has the improved effect from Bolshack Yamato Dragon. Likewise, the ability to replace your own ability with Helios Tiga Dragon is treated as a substitution effect.

In the above ruling, the phrase "When you would do A, do B instead" occurs. If this is included, you can't use any other substitutions, however, other abilities after the effect sentence that applied the substitution effect can still be interacted with.

  • For example, Baiken, Blue Dragon of the Hidden Blade reads "When this card would be discarded from your hand during your opponent's turn, you may put it into the battle zone instead. If you do, you may choose a creature in the battle zone and return it to its owner's hand.". In this case, the "do B instead" text occurs and you may put it into the battle zone when it is discarded from your hand during your opponents turn. This part is a substitution effect and no other effects can be chained to this.
  • Then, the ability that reads "If you do, you may choose a creature in the battle zone and return it to its owner's hand." is not a substitution effect. Therefore, an ability such as Severance, the Awakened Giant can be used against it.

In order for a destruction substitution effect to not apply, another substitution effect must be applied to both cards, causing the destruction ability to not be interrupted.

Metamorph is usually a continuous effect, but the ability on spells is a self-replacement effect that works when the spell resolves.

  • Example) While Kareiko, Karma's Banned Technique is the battle zone, the effect of Faerie Life, Jasmine, Mist Faerie or the regular effect of Seventh Tower won't work to put the top card of your deck into your mana zone. However, if you fulfill the Metamorph conditions of having the 7 cards in your mana zone already, the substitution effect of Kareiko can't be used against Seventh Tower as it puts 3 cards into your mana zone as an "instead" self replacement ability.

Substitution Effect keywords


Other Abilities

Cards such as Bolshack Yamato Dragon have a generic replacement effect on their own abilities

Other Effects and Abilities

Other Effects

Other Abilities