|Japanese (kanji and furigana)||
|Appears in (sets)||
|Appears in (anime)|
Spirit monsters (スピリットモンスター Supirittomonsutā) are a subtype of Effect Monsters, characterized by having an effect that returns them to their owner's hand during the End Phase of turns they are Normal Summoned or flipped face-up (whether by Flip Summon, surviving battle, or any other method). This would seem to symbolize the monster being "spiritual", in that its physical body on the field is temporary.
They are designated by having "Spirit" in the place where "Effect" would be ([Spellcaster/Spirit] instead of [Spellcaster/Effect]). They are the second subset of Effect Monsters to have this indicator, the first being Toon Monsters. (Flip Effect Monsters, which were the first subset of Effect Monsters, had "FLIP:" at the beginning of their effects rather than an indicator prior to Starter Deck 2014.)
Usual effect text (using Problem-Solving Card Text):
Cannot be Special Summoned. During the End Phase of the turn this card is Normal Summoned or flipped face-up: Return it to the hand.
So far, the only exception for this rule is "Yamato-no-Kami", that can (and must) be Special Summoned.
Spirit monsters often have effects that activate when they were Summoned, or had combat-based effects but would be vulnerable due to low ATK, making the returning to hand ability a boon. Examples of the former include "Rasetsu" and "Maharaghi", and examples of the latter include "Fushi No Tori" and "Inaba White Rabbit".
Spirit monsters can only remain on the field temporarily (unless they are face-down during the End Phase they would be returned or removed from the field temporarily during the the same time), and thus their controllers run into a major problem of maintaining field presence, but many Spirit monsters have devastating special effects to make up for this deficiency. "Mirror of Yata" and "Izanagi" keep the spirits on the field permanently or until they are removed, making these cards a must for any Spirit deck. "Spiritual Energy Settle Machine" also does this, but it costs a discard per turn. Other ways to make up for the returning to hand is to make your opponent's monsters return to their hand whenever a Spirit does, such as with "Spirit's Invitation", or to gain Life Points whenever this happens, such as with "Spring of Rebirth".
In addition, there is a loophole with Spirit monsters that lets them stay on the field regardless of their self-bounce effect. The exact text on Spirit monster cards states they must return to their owner's hand "during the End Phase of the turn [they are] Normal Summoned or flipped face-up". Therefore, if you can get them to stay on the field past the End Phase, you don't have to worry about them returning to your hand. Also, if you flip "Yamato-No-Kami" face-down and flip it face-up, during the turn it is Special Summoned, it will not return to your hand, since it only returns during the End Phase of the turn it was Special Summoned, but the second Summon, a Flip Summon, will prevail. For instance, if a "Hino-Kagu-Tsuchi" equipped with "Mirror of Yata" has its Equip destroyed (e.g. "Mystical Space Typhoon"), it will stay on the field the subsequent turns.
A considerable feature on a Spirit Deck is its ability of increase its owner's Life Points, by using cards like "Orb of Yasaka", "Fushi No Tori" and "Spring of Rebirth", which partly compensates the lack of field presence caused by the Spirit monsters' bounce.
They are also perfect to counter "Light and Darkness Dragon": to avoid its negating effect, simply Normal or Flip Summon a Spirit monster, then end your turn. During the End Phase, "Light and Darkness Dragon" will negate the effect that would return the Spirit monster to the hand, but it will keep on activating until it returns and the ATK of "Light and Darkness Dragon" becomes too low.
Two of the strongest Spirit monsters ("Hino-Kagu-Tsuchi" and "Yamata Dragon") focus on maintaining a significant hand advantage over the opponent, and they can easily turn the tide of any duel in their owner's favor. Though it wasn't an option in the past, there is currently enough support for decks entirely themed around Spirit monsters to be viable. Because Spirit monsters return to the player's hand, the player runs the risk of having too many cards during the End Phase, forcing a discard, so "Infinite Cards" is an effective way to counter this problem. Cards like "Exchange", "Creature Swap", and "Mystic Box" are staples.
A commonly used card with Spirits is "Mausoleum of the Emperor", which allows users to pay a Life Point cost to get high-level Spirit monsters out without tribute. Trap Monsters are also often used either as tributes or as a method of maintaining a field defense when the Spirits leave the field. "Kaiser Colosseum" is another decent card to maintain field advantage when "Izanagi" or a Spirit Monster equipped with "Mirror of Yata" is on the field. Another way of easing the Normal Summon of a high-level Spirit monster is by using "Star Blast" or monsters like "Totem Dragon" and "Flame Ruler".
Another Field Spell Card that may help this Deck is "Summon Breaker"; since Spirit monsters do not have good swarming capabilities (before "Nikitama"), this card will not harm the player using Spirit monsters much, but it will stall many Decks that do swarm, like "Six Samurai", "Madolche" and "Mermail". If your opponent doesn't want to miss a chance to attack, he/she will have to change his/her strategy and perform the Summons during the Main Phase 2.
Another way to make Level 5 and higher Spirit monsters more usable is "Level Eater". After Normal Summoning the Spirit, Special Summon a many "Level Eaters" as possible; because the Spirit monster returns to the hand, its Level will be reset, meaning next turn it can be Tribute Summoned with the "Level Eaters", which can then be Special Summoned again.
Some non-Spirit Monsters that may help a Spirit Deck include "Cyber Valley" and "Neo-Spacian Grand Mole" or "Gorz the Emissary of Darkness", "Tragoedia", "Kuriboh" and "Battle Fader", once, due to the Spirit Monsters returning to the hand, the player might be open for a Direct Attack. You can use "Battle Fader" or the "Emissary of Darkness Token" to Tribute Summon a Spirit Monster and use "Tragoedia" to take control of a opponent's Monster by discarding a Spirit (that can be later retrieved by "Izanami", or that can be banished to Special Summon "Yamato-no-Kami"). Another remarkable Hand trap is "D.D. Crow", that can be a sad surprise to a card like "Pot of Dichotomy", "Call of the Haunted", etc, and, like the others Level 1 monsters cited here, can be later revived by "Kinka-Byo" for a quick Xyz Summon.
"Black Luster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginning" can be a great beatstick, and can be Summoned by banishing, for example, "Nikitama", "Otohime", "Asura Priest" or "Effect Veiler" and "Yamato-no-Kami", "Aratama", "Kuriboh", "Great Long Nose" etc, giving the fallen Spirit monsters a last utility.
"Forbidden Chalice" can be very useful, as it can negate the Bounce effect of the Spirit Monsters and keep them on the field. Use this card after you used their main effect, like after attacking with "Hino-Kagu-Tsuchi" or after destroying a Spell/Trap Card with "Yamato-no-Kami". The usage of this card is more compensative with high-level Monsters, such as "Great Long Nose", "Yamata Dragon", etc, or with those ones whose effects don't activate upon their Normal/Flip Summon, such as "Asura Priest" or "Fushi No Tori".
"Forbidden Lance" can also be useful to protect monsters like "Yamata Dragon" and "Hino-Kagu-Tsuchi" from Spell or Trap cards, so if you are intenting to inflic damage to your opponent with them, cards like "Bottomless Trap Hole", "Mirror Force", "Dimensional Prison" will not be a problem.
Another card that can keep Spirit Monsters on the field is "D.D. Sprite", and since it is a Tuner Monster, it can give the Deck more flexibility, allowing you to perform Synchro Summons. Among some remarkable Synchro Monsters, one of the more recommended is "Ancient Sacred Wyvern", that can be Summoned by using one of the Level 6 Spirit Monsters and, since most of the times the Deck has cards that increase the difference between both players' Life Points ("Spring of Rebirth", "Orb of Yasaka", "Fushi No Tori", etc.), this monster can be used at its maximum potential.
Some other Extra Deck options to mention include:
- "Slacker Magician"
- Can be Summoned by the effect of "Kinka-Byo", if you had used a monster like "Effect Veiler", "Kuriboh" or "D.D. Sprite";
- "Number 54: Lion Heart" can be Xyz Summoned if you control a "Battle Fader" at the moment you used the effect of "Kinka-Byo" and can can serve as a damage-inflincting wall, as long as it remains in Attack Position.
- Can be Summoned by the effect of "Kinka-Byo", if you had used a monster like "Effect Veiler", "Kuriboh" or "D.D. Sprite";
- "Daigusto Emeral"
- To recycle Spirit Monsters, once they are virtually useless in the Graveyard;
- "Lavalval Chain"
- To send "Nikitama" from the Deck the Graveyard to draw a card, or to put a desired Spirit on the top of the Deck;
- "Constellar Ptolemy M7"
- To retrieve fallen Spirit monsters or to bounce an opponent's monster and open up him/her for a direct attack from "Yamata Dragon" or "Hino-Kagu-Tsuchi";
- "Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack"/"Number 11: Big Eye"
- These are a little unlikely to Xyz Summon, being "Tragoedia" the most capable Monster to do so, due to its effects; you can also Xyz Summon them by using a weak "Ancient Sacred Wyvern".
Their effects range from beatdown, direct attack and even field control, making a dedicated Spirit Deck very flexible regardless of what the opponent has. However, due to their habit of returning to the hand, cards that make you discard will be a serious hamper, as Spirit monsters in general are rather useless in the Graveyard. Cards that recover discarded cards are thus suggested, but not recommended as Spirit monsters do not have much in the way of deck thinning (except for "Aratama"). Once the problem of field presence is resolved, Spirit Monsters can be quite annoying as well as devastating, since it is hard for the opponent to destroy them, and even with cards that forces discards, it is hard to target a particular Spirit Monster (unless something like "Card Destruction" is used). Also, once a pure Spirit deck does not relies on only one Type, Atributte or main Spirit monster, being precisely the variety of monsters and effects the ace feature of the build, your opponent will probably don't have a focused strategy to stop the whole deck.
The main weaknesses of the Spirit Monster are the fact that they can't stay on the Field for long and can't be Special Summoned (except "Yamato-No-Kami"), which make them having no swarming capabilities. Once most of the times the player cannot maintain Field Advantage, this Deck is susceptible to Direct Attacks, so Beatdown and Aggro Decks, like "Six Samurai", "Dark World", "Madolche", "Noble Knight", "Spellbook", etc are good against this Deck.
Note: avoid using "Hino-Kagu-Tsuchi" against a "Dark World" or "Infernity" deck, once discarding your opponent's entire hand will highly probably help him/her rather than harming.
Stall decks are the main threat to this deck, since it is already slow due to the inability of swarming the Field and to the Spirits return to the hand during the End Phase, therefore summoning and attacking with monsters like "Hino-Kagu-Tsuchi" or "Yamata Dragon" are actions that cannot be wasted; cards like "Vengeful Bog Spirit", "Level Limit - Area B", "Threatening Roar", "Gravity Bind", "Chain Energy" and even "Skill Drain" can mean trouble.
Another cards that can damage this deck include cards like "D.D. Designator" and "Mind Crush", since the player's hand will be exposed due to the bouncing effects of the Spirit Monsters.
"Rivalry of Warlords" and "Gozen Match" can slow this deck down, since there are Spirit Monsters of different Types and all Attributes.
Beware of "Legacy of Yata-Garasu".
- Many of the Spirit monsters' designs are based on icons from Eastern mythology and they all have very similar backgrounds, supposedly of the Spirit World. Their OCG names are given in kanji, but the furigana would be given in katakana which normally would indicate a foreign-language word. These themes would also tie into the anime and manga's story; Maximillion Pegasus, the creator of Duel Monsters, would not only have lifted specific cards of his game from Egyptian legends and his love of American cartoons, but would have drawn inspiration from the religions of Eastern Asia to create the Spirit monster type, after having extensively traveled in the continent.
- The two most powerful Spirit monsters are "Hino-Kagu-Tsuchi" and "Yamata Dragon"; they are counterparts of each other. They are both high-level monsters with high ATK and DEF (also, both monsters' ATK and DEF have a sum of 5700), and have hand-based effects. The first empties your opponent's hand when it deals damage, and the second fills yours when it do the same. The fact that they are counterparts is emphasized on "Last Turn", where a battle between them is depicted.
- One Spirit monster in particular, "Yata-Garasu", is infamous for its complete lockdown of the opponent's hand when combined with "Chaos Emperor Dragon - Envoy of the End"; however, both have been Forbidden since 2004 (see Yata-Garasu Lockdown).
- "Izanagi" is the only non-Spirit monster that have Spirit World on its background and the only non-Spirit monster that supports directly the Spirit monsters.
- "Soul Resurrection" is the only card that have the Spirit World on its background without having absolute no relation with the Spirit monsters.
- "Yamato-no-Kami" is the only Spirit monster that cannot be Normal Summoned and must be Special Summoned.
- So far, there are no Archetypes composed purely or mainly by Spirit monsters; the only two Archetypes that have Spirit monsters as members are the "Ice Barrier" ("Sacred Spirit of the Ice Barrier") and the "Gishki" ("Gishki Natalia" and "Emilia"). Both Archetypes are WATER-Atributted, which may reflect the mysticism that always surrounds this element, compensating somehow the fact these 3 Spirit monsters don't represent any figure of any mythology; also, these monsters represent the revived spirit of dead characters of their storyline.
- The effect that returns Spirit monsters to the hand, as well as their transparent appearance, may be a reference to them not being able to stay on the physical plane for long.