In the run up to nats I felt I wanted to get this one down on paper as I’ve seen a tonne of people asking the same questions in a lot of different channels repeatedly, and I have a sneaking suspicion that not a lot of people know about Conditional Autos (and who can blame them? It’s buried away in the advanced rules and not mentioned anywhere in any of the stuff you get with a starter deck).
To make sure that people understand how popular cards like Locke from Opus IV work with newer cards like Ghost from Opus IX, figured I’d put this article together explaining Conditional Autos in a way that’s hopefully a bit more accessible and readily available than the advanced rules.
What is a Conditional Auto?
11.8.13 of the Advanced Rules defines Conditional Auto Abilities as:
“Some auto-abilities are written in the format “(trigger event), if (condition), (effect)”,
indicating that their triggering has certain conditions that need to be met. These are called “conditional auto-abilities”
Some examples of cards with conditional autos can be found below:
As we can see, these cards all meet the “(trigger event), if (condition), (effect)” format, meaning that if they don’t meet those conditions the moment they enter the field, they will not even attempt to stack. If they don’t meet the condition when they enter the field (their trigger), then they cannot enter the stack even if an action is taken immediately that would cause the effect to be valid upon resolution.
How do Conditional Autos work?
Let’s look at some examples of how Conditional Autos work (and don’t work).
For example, even if you use Tama to play A-Ruhn-Senna onto the field when Kan-E-Senna enters the field, because her ability is a conditional auto, and did not enter the stack because the condition is not met at time of trigger, backups will not re-activate.
Likewise with Paine, if we somehow managed to stack playing Yuna on top of Paine with an ability that would allow us to do so (I’ll say Tama again for simplicity’s sake), we would not get those triggers because they have already been missed as they were not met when Paine entered play. Worth noting, the Rikku-based ability is not a conditional auto, so this card demonstrates the differences between autos and Conditional Autos nicely.
This extends to Locke, also. If you have Gestahlian Empire Cid, and no other VI cards in play, and you play Locke onto the field discarding Ghost, Ghost WILL trigger, allowing you to revive Ghost and bring him onto the field, but because Locke’s condition was not met at time of trigger, your opponent will not discard a card even though there will be 3 category VI characters in play by the time everything is resolved.
To apply the logic to a more understandable situation – we all know you cannot use Al-Cid’s effect if your opponent does not control any active forwards. If you play Al-Cid onto a field, and then attempt to activate a forward (in that order), you do not get to use Al-Cid’s effect, because he was not able to meet his requirements to actually stack his effect when he entered the field. The same logic applies here.
Locke, the instant he enters the field, looks to see if there are two other Category VI characters in play – he will look again at resolution to see if he can actually cause the opponent to discard, but to even reach that stage, you need two in play to get him to enter the stack. Because the Ghost we are playing in the earlier example is entering the field after Locke has checked to see if there are two other Category VI characters to stack his ability, he unfortunately does not count towards the total amount of characters Locke needs to enter the stack.
But why are there abilities I can make valid on resolution?
As I’ve seen people rightfully state, there are quite a few abilities that can be made more potent, or made valid purely by some stack shenanigans before resolution. Let’s look at a few cards this works with, and why they’re different to Conditional Auto abilities.
In this example, we play Squall from Opus 1 onto the field, and while his discard auto effect is stacked, we use Devout to play Laguna from our break zone onto the field. Both cards get their full effects, with Squall causing 2 discards, and Laguna dulling and freezing something.
In this example, our opponent has 1 card in hand, and we decide to capitalise on it by playing Cid Aulstyne, targeting their forward, and then using Flan on the stack to discard their last card. The stack of course resolves backwards, so we get to break their forward.
Why do these work?
Now these examples work because they’re not conditional autos. Laguna’s requirement is simply “choose one forward.” with no condition attached. Likewise with Cid Aulstyne, there is no condition between his trigger (“When Cid Aulstyne enters the field,”) and his effect, outside of simply being able to choose one forward. As long as we meet the ‘condition’ in these examples of being able to target a forward, we are good to go.
However, if Cid Aulstyne was phrased “When Cid Aulstyne enters the field, if your opponent has no cards in his/her hand, Choose 1 forward, break it.” it would fall into the category of a conditional auto, and the above stack we did with Flan would not result in a break, because the ability could not stack in the first place.
Hopefully this has helped clear up a couple of things, and will help you guys play cleaner, and will help to clear up any disputes you might have at your locals and such – just remember if there’s ever a dispute at a major event over rulings, never feel afraid to call a judge. They’re there to make sure everyone has the best games possible.
Thanks for reading,
Conditional Autos: 11.8.13 of Advanced Rules
Locke Ruling: FFTCG_SQEX Twitter