Hello everyone, this is Jared Scott with the first in a series of articles called "The More You Know". The purpose of these articles will be to help identify and explain certain mechanics in the game that can be a mystery both to veteran players as well as those just starting the game, as well as bringing attention to certain rules or gameplay mechanics that aren't obvious and tend to go missed by the general community.
For the first article in this series, we're going to be discussing the bread and butter of FFTCG --- Abilities! Those things that elevate a character from being just an element, CP cost and power level (I'm sorry Earth Monk....I still love you.)
Our decks run on engines of abilities that connect and synergize to (hopefully) translate into achieving an overall advantage on the field. With the release of Opus V we are also seeing more cards that reference canceling specific types of abilities, such as Legendary Porom who can cancel an 'action ability'.
This leads us to the inevitable question when looking at any card's ability - what type of ability is this? First, let's identify the 4 categories of abilities. They are:
These abilities are identified by having a colon (:) in their description and appear in the format 'cost: effect'. These abilities are activated by first paying the listed cost, and then placing the ability on the stack. They have no effect outside of when they are activated by the player's controller and can only be activated when that player has priority.
These abilities are identifiable with italicized orange text that gives the name of the ability, and are identical in function to action abilities with one distinct difference. In order to activate a Special ability, the cost includes discarding a card with the same name in your hand (signified by the 'S' icon in the cost). Although they act similarly to action abilities, they are NOT considered action abilities.
These abilities cannot be activated at will and instead are triggered by the conditions listed on the ability. Usually once they are triggered they are immediately placed on the stack just like action and special abilities. You do not need to have priority for auto abilities to trigger. You can identify auto abilities by the first words in their text, they will either say 'When', 'Whenever', 'At the beginning....', or 'At the end.....'. Some auto abilities can be created by the effect of other abilities, such as Opus 1 Kefka's action ability - '[...]At the end of the turn, break it.'
These abilities are always in effect from the moment they enter the field, and cannot be turned off unless another effect removes that character's ability. Field abilities do not use the stack. Some field abilities have conditions but are still considered field abilities, a change in the status of that condition doesn't use the stack either. For example, Opus 1 Zack - 'If you control [Card Name (Aerith)], Zack gains +2000 power.' Although the +2000 is conditional and constantly being checked by the rules, it does not use the stack. Additionally, Keywords such as Brave, Haste, First Strike, and Back Attack are all considered field abilities.
How Do I Know Which One Is Which?
When looking at any card or ability, you may be wondering whether it is considered an action, special, auto or field ability. When in doubt, I have made a handy flow-chart you can follow to successfully identify the type of any ability!
As with many rules in life there are exceptions and we would be remiss if we didn't mention them. Both Yuna 1-176H and Enuo 3-101R have abilities that are worded: 'When a Character is put from the field into the Break Zone, you may remove it from the game instead'. Using the explanations and flow chart above would lead us to the conclusion that they are auto abilities. However, Kageyama himself has addressed this and stated that they are Field Abilities that create a replacement effect.
Are there any abilities that still confuse you? Any suggestions for future articles in this series or content you'd like to see The Break Zone tackle? We'd love to hear from you! You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org, find us on facebook at facebook.com/TheBreakZone, or on Twitter we are @TheBreakZone