Chaining vs. Responding
A response is when you use any effect after an action which does not start a chain, or the last resolved effect of a chain. The most common is a summon of a monster or the declaration of attack. Since these do not have spell speeds, they do not start a chain, and therefore create response windows, not chain links. Cards that need to be used in responses include, but are not limited to, Bottomless Trap Hole, Torrential Tribute, Dimensional Prison, and Mirror Force. Cards that need to be in a chain usually negate, such as Solemn Judgment, Solemn Warning, Dark Bribe, Starlight Road, etc.
Here I will teach you a bit about responding to actions, using the cards described above. For anyone who doesn’t know the cards I am using, here they are:
The first two traps here, Bottomless and Torrential, see responding later in a chain more than the second two. If everything had to be in direct chain, such as bottomless had to be chained to a monster’s summon, the first two cards would be just about useless. Why is this? Priority. For the first example I will choose a random vanilla monster, Ground Attacker Bugroth, whom cannot have priority to use an effect. Of course the opponent still has the priority to respond with a spell or trap.
Lets say your opponent summons Ground Attacker Bugroth and you respond with Bottomless Trap Hole. To save his monster, your opponent chains Book of Moon. At this point, the last piece of the chain is Book of Moon, but the last action, that the whole chain is in response to, is the summoning of Ground Attacker Bugroth. Therefore, since it would now dodge Bottomless, you can chain Torrential Tribute since this is still in response to the summon.
For our next example we will use a monster which has an ignition effect which the turn player can use with their priority. For this example, you have Bottomless Trap Hole face down and your opponent summons Lyla, Lightsworn Sorceress. They declare they are using priority to use Lyla’s effect. This will make Lyla’s effect chainlink 1, immediately responding to the summon. If cards like Bottomless had to be chained immediately to the summon, it would be completely useless because now there is a chain-link already. However since it only looks for the last successful action, you can chain Bottomless Trap Hole, making it chain-link 2.
In this next example you have a facedown Torrential Tribute. Your opponent summons Breaker the Magical Warrior, which has a trigger effect which triggers immediately. This is chain-link 1, Breaker’s effect. Now you can chain Torrential Tribute since the last action was still the summoning, despite the immediate triggering of Breaker’s effect, thus allowing you to respond to the summon with Torrential.
For this next example you have a facedown Torrential Tribute and a face-up Black Garden. Your opponent summons Thunder King Rai-Oh. Now Black Garden’s effect triggers when a monster is summoned, making the effect of Black Garden chain-link 1. You can still chain Torrential because, once again the last action was the summoning of Thunder King Rai-Oh.
For the last example I’m going to throw something complicated at you. You have Torrential Tribute and Bottomless Trap Hole facedown. Your opponent has Black Garden face-up on the field, along with Thunder King Rai-Oh and a facedown trap. Your opponent normal summons Breaker the Magical Warrior, whom has a trigger effect which activates. Black Garden also activates, making the chain Breaker as chain-link 1, Black Garden as chain-link 2. The last action, as discussed earlier, is still the summoning of Breaker, so you can chain Torrential Tribute at this point. Your opponent chains their facedown Starlight Road, negating your Torrential Tribute. You chain Bottomless Trap Hole because, at this point, the last thing to have successfully happened was the summoning of Breaker the Magical Warrior.
Attacking has similar situations, so instead of giving a million examples, I'll give 2 and let you guys figure it out. The first is that I declare an attack with my Legendary Six Samurai - Shi En and you respond with Mirror Force. I chain my quick effect to negate Mirror Force, you can chain Dimensional Prison to my effect because it is still, once again, the same response window.
Finally I attack with my Thunder King Rai-Oh, you respond with Mirror Force. I chain Book of Moon to save my Rai-Oh, which afterwards you can chain Dimensional Prison to banish the Rai-Oh before its booked because it is, once again, the same response window.
Chaining is much easier to understand than responding is. Chaining is important, as far as “chaining to x card” when trying to negate something. A few examples of cards that must be chained in the correct order to be used and cannot be used like cards that respond are:
The common factor here is that each of these traps say when a card is activated, negate the activation/effect (depending on the card). Cards that negate another card need to be chained directly to the card they are negating, with few exceptions that negate multiple cards in the same chain, such as Vanity’s Call. I will only give a few examples here.
The first example is I summoned Thunder King Rai-Oh and you chain Solemn Warning, attempting to negate my Rai-Oh. I chain Seven Tools of the Bandit, negating your Solemn Warning. You cannot respond with a second Solemn Warning because it would try to negate the last card in the chain, which is Seven Tools of the Bandit, which Warning cannot negate.
For this last example, I have Thunder King Rai-Oh on the field and I summon Breaker the Magical Warrior. You respond with Torrential Tribute, I chain Starlight Road. You decide to respond with Bottomless Trap Hole to destroy Breaker, but then decide you also want to negate Starlight Road (this is example purposes only, no player would use Bottomless when they are negating Starlight Road’s negation of their Torrential), so you also try to chain Seven Tools of the Bandit. Thing is, at this point the last card to activate was Bottomless Trap Hole, not Starlight Road, and therefore you cannot chain Seven Tools of the Bandit to it since you already chained Bottomless.