Japanese (romanized)




A cost (Japanese: コスト Kosuto) is an action that must be performed in order to activate a card or effect, to perform another action, or to keep a card on the field. This is distinct from activation requirements, which are requirements that must be met in order to activate a card or effect.

As the name suggests, costs usually involve the player making a sacrifice of some type, such as paying Life Points (e.g. "Seven Tools of the Bandit" requires the player to pay 1000 Life Points); discarding, Tributing, banishing, or detaching a card(s) (e.g. "Cannon Soldier" requires 1 monster to be Tributed); or sending a card(s) to the Graveyard (e.g. "Hidden Armory" requires the top card of the Deck to be sent the Graveyard).

If a cost cannot be fully paid (such as if an active effect prevents the cost from being paid, or the player cannot fulfill the requirements for the cost), none of the cost can be paid and the effect cannot be activated. For example, if cost specifies that a card must be sent to the Graveyard while "Macro Cosmos" is on the field, the effect cannot be activated.

Because costs are distinct from effects, if a card is moved to a different location due to a cost, cards and effects that can only be activated when the card is moved by a card effect cannot be activated. For example, the effect of "Shaddoll Dragon" cannot be activated if it is sent to the Graveyard as a cost to activate "Phoenix Wing Wind Blast". Likewise, even if a card's effect is being negated (such as by "Skill Drain"), it is still possible to activate its effects (which would require paying the cost).

Activation cost

An activation cost is a mandatory action that must be done to activate a card or effect, separated from the rest of the effect by a semicolon (or the word "to," / a comma / the word "then", in most cases without PSCT), which must be paid at the beginning of the effect's activation. The cost itself is not activated, cannot be negated, and occurs at activation time not resolution time.

When an effect features a cost, if the timing is correct (up to the colon), the cost is paid and any targeting is done (up to the semicolon for cards with PSCT, and normally up to the word "to" / comma / "then" for cards without PSCT), then the activation is placed on the Chain (or starts a Chain if there is not a current Chain). After either the rest of the Chain resolves or both players decide not to Chain to the activation, the card or effect resolves.

If a cost starts with "You can...", the effect is optional and the cost is only paid if the player chooses to activate the effect. Even if the effect is mandatory, the effect cannot be activated if the cost cannot be paid, and no cost is paid if all of it cannot be.

A cost is not an effect. As such, the cost is paid before the effect takes place, regardless of whether or not the effect is negated. If a monster's effect is negated as long as it's on the field, and its cost requires it leaves the field, the monster can activate its effect. For example, if "Stardust Dragon" or "Stardust Warrior" activates its effect while affected by "Skill Drain" or "Fiendish Chain", because it is not on the field when it resolves (due to Tributing itself as a cost), its effect is not negated by "Skill Drain" or "Fiendish Chain". This was called Release Escape in the Yu-Gi-Oh 5D's anime.[1]

Costs from Continuous Effects

Cards such as "Chain Energy" and "Dark Panther" have Continuous Effects that impose a cost on performing certain optional actions, such as declaring an attack or Summoning monsters. If the player cannot pay the cost for the Continuous Effect, they cannot perform the action.

Maintenance costs

A maintenance cost is a cost required to keep a card on the field. These costs are typically paid during a player's Standby or End Phase.


Activation costs

Negation of "Seven Tools of the Bandit"

  • Step 3 resolves: "Solemn Judgment" negates and destroys "Seven Tools of the Bandit".
  • Step 2 doesn't resolve because "Seven Tools of the Bandit" was negated. The Life Points paid when "Seven Tools of the Bandit" was activated are not refunded.
  • Step 1 resolves: The effect of "Mirror Force" resolves.

Negation of "Premature Burial" in a Chain

  • Step 2 resolves: "Magic Jammer" negates the effect of "Premature Burial".
  • Step 1 does not resolve because "Premature Burial" was negated. No monster is Special Summoned. The Life Points paid when "Premature Burial" was activated are not refunded.

Destruction of "Premature Burial" in a Chain

  • Step 2 resolves: "Mystical Space Typhoon" destroys "Premature Burial".
  • Step 1 does not resolve because "Premature Burial" was destroyed; because it is an Equip Spell Card, the card's effect relies on it continuing to be in play in order to activate. No monster is revived. The Life Points paid when "Premature Burial" was activated are not refunded.

Chaining "Mask of Restrict" to the effect of "Cannon Soldier"

  • Step 2 resolves: "Mask of Restrict" is in play and prevents monsters from being Tributed.
  • Step 1 resolves: The monster was already Tributed before "Mask of Restrict" was successfully resolved. Therefore the effect of "Cannon Soldier" resolves and Player B loses 500 Life Points. Because "Mask of Restrict" is active, further Tributes cannot take place.


  1. Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's episode 125: "Soul Solution"