I had to actually go look back how much I’ve said about EX Bursts before I started writing this. Turns out the answer was pretty much nothing, and most of that was me saying I’d write an article about it, so look at me actually keeping my word like the great person I am.
This game has a lot of things that catch people out but EX Bursts is definitely up there as one of the biggies. With the introduction of Akstar, allowing you to put an EX Burst effect on the stack, naturally this opened the floodgates to more questions and,of course, more confusion. To alleviate this, SE put out an article all about it. It was really good and explained everything. Is what I’d love to say. In truth, all I’ve seen is it making people more confused than before. So, since I always planned to do an EX Burst article, what better time than over a month after the article came out? EXactly.
What is an EX Burst?
Hopefully, anyone reading this knows what an EX Burst is, but if not, let’s quickly just go over it. To start, here’s an EXample of a card with an EX Burst:
Note: I totally did not just want to include a picture of my favourite card and did not only come up with the need to explain what EX Burst was to justify it. Confirmed.
The EX symbol in the top-right of a card indicates a card has an EX Burst effect. The EX Burst effect will be noted on the card by the big blue “EX BURST” wording. In the case of a Character, it’ll have this next to one of the card’s auto-ability (or its only one if it only has one!). In the case of Summons, it’ll always be before the start of the Summons effects (this means things like field abilities that reduces the cards cost, or restrict how it can be cast/played will always be before the EX Burst effect, as that has nothing to do with the effects of the Summon). Once you understand how an EX Burst works, the placement of the “EX BURST” will make more sense. As a note, as of the current set at time of writing (Opus XIII) there is no Character with an EX Burst that also has the multi-card symbol (i.e. that you can play multiple of onto the field).
How EX Bursts Work
In order to really understand how EX Bursts work, we need to break it down a bit, into the following areas:
- When an EX Burst can be used.
- Which part of a Character’s text is the EX Burst?
- Which part of a Summons’s text is the EX Burst?
- Applying an EX Bursts effects/resolving an EX Burst.
When an EX Burst Can Be Used
EX Bursts are used only when a player takes damage, and the card that goes into the Damage Zone bears the EX Burst icon. Short of something preventing it from working, the player who took the EX Burst damage now decides if they want to apply the effects or not. That’s it. Easy right? Good. Shame it’s only going to get murkier. Couple of notes:
- If you’re wondering what happens when you take multiple damage, I’ll cover that further in the article, don’t you worry.
- While I said “only” earlier, that is at the time of writing, as of Opus XIII, so this may not be true eventually, so if you’re from the future of FFTCG, take that with a pinch of salt and maybe check if I’ve maybe put out some new article about some freaky EX Burst types (cos I’m not going to bother coming back to correct my articles if rules changed. NEW ARTICLES ONLY. MUST QUELL THE HORDES HUNGER FOR CONTENT!). Also, regarding Akstar, that is using an EX Burst’s effects, but it’s not the same because you can’t choose not to apply the EX Burst effect and frankly it would muddy the water too much to try and throw that at you now, we’ll get to him. Hold your horses, or scroll down and find it. You already have, haven’t you? YOU, that came here just to read about him. These words are just lost to you, never to be read. Well, fine, I appreciate the view anyway, but you’ll never see this, so my appreciation is LOST ON YOU.
Which Part of a Character’s Text is the EX Burst?
As I wrote earlier, the EX Burst text will be next to a single auto-ability on a Character only. This is because an EX Burst only ever comes from an auto-ability when on a Character, and only ever applies the auto-ability the EX Burst text is on. A character can have as many auto-abilities as they can fit in the box but EX Burst will only ever be written next to one of them (as of Opus XIII) and thus is the only one that is applied for effects.
As far as what part of the auto-ability it is on applies? Everything with the exception of the trigger condition. So, to go back to Queen, the trigger condition here is “when Queen enters the field.” This is entirely ignored, and is only relevant for using the auto-ability normally (as in by playing Queen to the field in some manner to trigger the auto-ability). Do note that when I say everything applies, this includes any conditions that prevent the effect from being applied, so if the auto-ability has an “if” condition, or a requirement that must be met to be applied, it still has to be met. It is only the trigger condition that is ignored.
Some of you may be sitting there going “okay, okay, I get that only the marked auto-ability is the EX Burst effect applied…but uh…how do I tell that from looking at the card?” Well, let’s take a look at that. Here’s the example card I’ll use as reference:
Noctis came up A LOT when it was released, in terms of people asking if you get both auto-abilities, and if it’s one or two abilities (ignoring the clear action ability at the bottom). If you look at Noctis, on the second line of the text, after where it says “break it.” is a line break. This is the indication that the first auto-ability’s text is over. There may be some cases of cards that have EX Burst auto-abilities with exactly the amount of text you can fit on a line to end with a full stop. At that point, hopefully it’s clear the EX Burst is over (or is still going) from the wording it uses in combination with the wording used on the next line of text, so that there’s no confusion about if it’s a new ability or part of the EX Burst.
As a final note, as it can sometimes confuse players, trigger/resolving an auto-ability normally does not count as using the EX Burst. Conversely, applying a Character’s EX Burst does count as triggering an auto-ability (such as for Suzuhisa [10-074C]).
Which Part of a Summons’s Text is the EX Burst?
The only parts of a Summon’s text that does not count is the text related to the normal casting of the card (but the effect you actually get from casting the card), for example, reducing the cost, restricting the cast, etc. Anything that doesn’t count will actually be above the EX Burst text (at least as far as any examples I can think of), so this should tell you at a glance what counts as part of the EX Burst. Here’s an example card:
Shiva here has a field ability to reduce the cost to cast itself, which has nothing to do with the effect that’ll go on the stack when you cast her. Everything relevant to the EX Burst comes after it, as I mentioned before. In Shiva’s case that’s choosing up to 2 Forwards the opponent controls and then dulling and freezing them. This is what you get when you apply the EX Burst effects. Note that if there is any restriction in the effect regarding how it is applied, then it must be met in order to be able to resolve the EX Burst, unless it specifically only applies to the casting of the card (although these would normally not be part of the EX Burst part of the card anyway).
Lastly, note that applying a Summon’s effects via EX Burst does not count as casting the Summon. Likewise, casting the Summon does not count as applying an EX Burst.
Applying an EX Bursts Effects/Resolving an EX Burst
Okay. You’ve taken a point of damage. It’s an EX Burst. You understand what an EX Burst is, you understand what parts of a Character or Summon EX Burst you apply, but now, you need to actually know how to apply/resolve that EX Burst!
Well, the important thing regarding resolving an EX Burst is that it does not use the stack and resolves all effects at once. It’s important to understand this because this means that when you take damage, and it’s an EX Burst, if you choose to apply the effects, it resolves immediately, and no player can respond to it while it resolves. (Again, I’ll get into multiple EX Bursts going into damage, and things that can trigger/stop EX Bursts in their own sections.)
Going back to Shiva, this means you choose your targets (up to 2 Forwards opponent controls) and then dull and freeze them all in one go. No priority, no stack. Just immediately happens. Your opponent can’t cast a Summon in response to stop Shiva, they may only sit and suffer.
As a final note, before an EX Burst resolves, there is a rules processes check. This is, so far, only really relevant when dealing with multiple EX Bursts, as you’ll see further down.
Okay. Now let’s put it altogether into an easy reference:
- When a player takes damage, and the card that goes into damage has an EX Burst, the player may choose to apply the effects (unless prevented for some reason).
- Before applying the EX Burst effects, first a Rules Processes check is performed. Then, effects of the EX Burst are resolved immediately, without using the stack. No player has priority until the EX Burst has resolved.
- In the case of an auto-ability, the trigger condition is ignored but everything else is applied, including restrictions that must be met in order to apply the EX Burst.
- In the case of a Summon, all text after the EX Burst is applied. Any restrictions included in this effect text must be met, unless it only applies to when the Summon is cast (this will be specified).
What About Multiple EX Burst Going in Damage at Once?
Finally, you understand how EX Bursts work! (I hope.) Isn’t it great? Now time to get a little down and dirty, and muddy those knowledge waters a bit, as we dig into some of the nuances around EX Bursts. First up, as you can tell by the title you already read, taking multiple damage at once which has 2 or more EX Bursts in them. So, this might be something like Ark Angel HM [8-001R] successfully hitting you, or perhaps you break a bunch of Forwards with Zodiark, Keeper of Precepts [3-147L]. Regardless, you’ve got a load of EX Bursts going into your Damage Zone at once.
Well, thankfully this is fairly easy. First, take all the required damage and then you can choose to resolve each EX Burst or not, in the same order they entered your Damage Zone. So, let’s say you end up with Queen and Shiva going in as damage from Ark Angel HM. Queen goes in first, then Shiva. This means first you need to decide if you want to apply Queen’s EX Burst, and then after you do (or don’t), you choose to resolve Shiva’s EX Burst.
In between each EX Burst, it’s important to note there is no priority given, each EX Burst is simply resolved immediately, without the stack, back-to-back, with the only thing breaking it up being the rules processes check that happens before the EX Burst is applied. This effectively exists to clean up the board, so you aren’t able to (for good or bad) choose targets that have met the conditions to be yeeted from existence (like having damage on them equal to or more than their power).
A fun note about this area I want to make before I move on. If you happen to, for some reason, want to check out the starter guide on the official website, well, it actually still has the wrong information about this. Not sure if this is a case of them changing their mind or not at some point early in the game’s life, or simply just printing the wrong information and not correcting it, but either way, it’s still on the site…but what’s new?! However, I can confirm the recent Boss deck (and I, hopefully, assume the most recent starter) has a corrected version that will tell you the same as I have here. So, that’s good.
How Field Abilities Work With EX Bursts
One day I’ll do an article on abilities (but I’ll skim over conditional auto-abilities because Esufer did a great article you can read here. He’ll even be updating this soon because of Physalis, and thank fuck he already had this article because while I can explain why Physalis is not a conditional auto (and even suspected this before the official ruling), and understand why it works that way, it’s a complete clusterfuck because it’s literally worded the same as a conditional auto-ability, and I’m pretty sure my version would have just been me ranting again. Anyway, have fun with that Esufer.) but until then, just understand that field abilities continuously apply and, like EX Bursts, need no stack to hold them back! Because they continuously apply without the stack, this means that they apply to EX Bursts when it’s relevant. So, if a field ability says a Forward can’t be targeted by auto-abilities, if the EX Burst you hit is a Character EX Burst, you can’t target that Forward, and you’re shit out of luck if it’s your only target because you have no legal targets and thus can’t resolve the EX Burst effects. An example of this is Zidane [6-044L], who is immune to opponent’s abilities. So, you can use your own Character’s EX Bursts on them, but your opponent sure can’t.
Besides restrictions, there can also be beneficial field abilities. For example, Vermilion Bird l’Cie Caetuna [6-010H]. They have a field ability that increases the damage a Forward takes by 1000 when dealt damage by a Fire Summon. That applies to EX Burst Summons too! Take note however, if the effect specified “cast” then it wouldn’t apply because you don’t cast Summons when you apply the effects by EX Bursts. Likewise, with a Character, if an ability specified “control” or something, then you do not control the Character when applying the EX Burst auto-ability effect (“control” in text only applies to them being on the field pretty much universally). So, the wording matters, but the takeaway is that field abilities can apply to EX Bursts, for good or bad.
How Auto-Abilities Work With EX Bursts
No. Be gone auto-abilities, you have no power here! Well, you have some power but not until the EX Burst is gone. You see, an auto-ability that would trigger from an EX Burst still triggers. The reason this causes confusion however is when that auto-ability becomes relevant. The fact is, when it comes to EX Bursts, it’s not relevant until after. Because EX Bursts don’t use the stack and priority isn’t given until after, the triggered ability just sits in limbo, waiting. If you’ve got a train of EX Bursts because you took a bunch at once as damage, well it’s got even longer to potentially wait. Once the EX Bursts are done however, it can finally go on the stack. Probably the most asked about card regarding this is Illua [5-099H]. Illua has what many refer to as a “bubble.” Effectively, an auto-ability that lets her dodge being targeted once a turn. With an EX Burst, that bubble is essentially ignored because it’s not relevant until after the EX Burst has resolved. So, if you have an EX Burst that chooses a Forward and breaks it, well Illua is broken and her auto-ability can’t stop it. It will still trigger, and wait, but by the time it can go on the stack (and eventually resolve), it’s too late, Illua is gone-zo.
Let’s look at another example, in Braska’s Final Aeon [11-015L]. Like Illua, BFA doesn’t like you targeting them much. They won’t cancel your effect though, they’ll just slap one of your Forwards for 10k damage. This is relevant because unlike Illua, whose auto-ability only really matters if she’s around for it to resolve, BFA’s auto-ability doesn’t care if they are around or not. If you resolve an EX Burst and get rid of him, their auto-ability will still go on the stack after, choosing 1 of your delicious Forwards to smosh at resolution of the ability.
Be honest. How many of you just skipped right here? I see all of you, and it’s okay, I understand.
Here’s what you have to understand about Akstar [13-002L], or rather, the rules around him. Hobby Japan literally had to change the rules (or “revise” them), as per what was said in the article linked right at the start. What hope can you have to know how this works when the rules change, and even HJ were answering wrong regarding the card? To be honest, I actually think the rules around Akstar make sense, if nothing else, so that’s a positive. However, what you have to understand about Akstar is he inherently changes one of the fundamentals about EX Burst effects. That fundamental being it puts it on the stack. This means Illua’s bubble actually stops it, and any other auto-abilities that trigger from it choosing get the chance to go before the EX Burst. Anyway, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Or, I’m getting ahead of myself given I’m writing the article and you all have nothing to do with it. Actually, no, you’re all as much to blame for it as me. Heh. My article, my rules.
Okay, so let’s first examine what Akstar does:
“When Akstar enters the field, choose 1 card with EX Burst in your Damage Zone. You may trigger its EX Burst effect. (This effect is put on the stack.)”
So, Akstar’s auto-ability triggers and chooses the EX Burst effect when it enters the field, and goes on the stack. Then, when it resolves, the EX Burst effect is triggered. Let’s get something out the way immediately, at this point, the EX Burst is its own thing. It has no association with Akstar. If you didn’t cancel the auto-ability of Akstar, well, now it has nothing to do with him. He wipes his hands clean and walks away (or just sits there on your field, maybe he also wants to get you an FFBE Character with his other auto, who knows). The idea that Akstar has something to do with the EX Burst once it’s on the stack is a misconception I’ve seen a fair amount, and the fact is all Akstar does is trigger it (and force it on the stack), no more, no less.
The main crux of misunderstanding is essentially around what the EX Burst effect actually is (and isn’t). You see, when neither player could respond to it, and nothing could be stacked on top, the question of cancelling the EX Burst wasn’t relevant, because you couldn’t. You could stop it with a field ability, but that’s not the same thing as cancelling it. Introducing this wrinkle gives rise to the confusion because an EX Burst effect on the stack is…wait for it… an EX Burst effect. It’s not a Summon, and it’s not an auto-ability. It’s an effect. This is important to understand because this means you can’t cancel it with something like Amaterasu [12-002H]. If a Summon or ability says “choose 1 Summon” or “choose 1 auto-ability” and then you cancel it, well, too bad, you can’t touch the EX Burst effect, because it doesn’t identify that way. Please respect and understand its identity. Now, that alone isn’t what causes the problems with understanding. You see it’s a combination. A combination of what it is on the stack and how the source affects things that together make a bit of a confusing soup. You see, while it’s an EX Burst effect, it still has a source. In the case of the EX Burst being from a Summon, the source is, you guessed it, a Summon. I’ll leave you to work out what the source of an auto-ability EX Burst is. (Okay I lied, spoilers, it’s an auto-ability.) Now, this is relevant for two things. Most importantly, it’s relevant for targeting. Not only must the targets be legal to what the effect says (for example if it must be an “opponent’s Forward”) but it is also restricted by any field abilities as well. So, if we go back to Zidane from earlier, if you trigger an auto-ability EX Burst with Akstar’s auto-ability, well, you can’t choose Zidane, because the source of the EX Burst is an ability. Essentially, all the restrictions (and benefits) I talked about earlier with field abilities still apply. The source remains the card type the EX Burst comes from. BUT when it’s on the stack, it is not a Summon, it is not an auto-ability, it’s an EX Burst effect. Again, the source is still relevant when applicable, but it’s entirely its own entity otherwise on the stack, separate from the source.
To look at Illua again, Illua specifically says:
“During each turn, when Illua is chosen by your opponent’s Summon or ability for the first time in that turn, cancel its effect.”
The part “chosen by your opponent’s Summon or ability” is relevant here, because the source of the effect is going to be either a Summon or an auto-ability, and because the source is relevant when it comes to any aspect of choosing, including if other cards will trigger because it meets certain requirements. In Illua’s case, any type of EX Burst will trigger them, but if a card triggered when chosen by a Summon, then Character (auto-ability) EX Bursts would not trigger it.
To try and sum this up as succinctly as possible:
- Akstar’s auto-ability triggers the EX Burst’s effect(s) at resolution, and is in no way associated with the EX Burst effect beyond this.
- When choosing targets or resolving, the source of the EX Burst effect is always relevant for field abilities, or when auto-abilities trigger, in the same way as if applying the EX Burst from taking damage.
- While the EX Burst is on the stack, it is an EX Burst effect, not an auto-ability or Summon, and cannot be targeted by cards that target auto-abilities or Summons.
EXit Stage Left
Hopefully that all made some amount of sense. Despite what I said earlier, I will revisit/add/rewrite this article if I feel there is a need to do so (within a reasonable period of time after release of the article).
This article I actually wanted to get out before Opus XIII came out but oh well, here it is now. I was actually motivated to finally sit down and write this after answering a question on Discord. Just some fun info for you there. Which reminds me, I should probably plug the unofficial global Discord, where you can get answers to your burning rules questions, enjoy me shitposting non-stop, and IDK, other people are there or something. It wasn’t the Discord I answered the question on to inspire this article though so, don’t join if you want to inspire articles. I’ll link it in my article material stuff, if you want in, if you haven’t already joined (and possibly got the fuck out).
I have a bunch of article ideas, including a (maybe) big one that I’ve wanted to write for years, but I actually have to sit down and write more than the introduction at some point. Hopefully soon, probably not. Catch ya later.
Article & Rules Processing Material
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