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|Appears in (anime)|
Spirit monsters (スピリットモンスター Supiritto monsutā) are Effect Monsters with the ability "Spirit". With the exception of "Yamato-no-Kami", they cannot be Special Summoned. Also, all of them have an effect that returns them to their owner's hand during the End Phase of the turn they are Normal Summoned or flipped face-up, and cannot be Special Summoned (or Special Summoned, as in the case of "Yamato-no-Kami").
Spirit monsters were the second Effect Monsters with an ability to be introduced, the first being Toon monsters. While Flip monsters (as Flip Effect Monsters) were introduced earlier, they were not treated as having an ability until much later.
Spirit monsters can only remain on the field temporarily (unless they are face-down during the End Phase), and thus their controllers run into a major problem of maintaining field presence, but many Spirit monsters have devastating effects to make up for this deficiency. "Mirror of Yata" and "Izanagi" keep the Spirits on the field permanently or until they are removed. "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 LP whenever this happens, such as with "Spring of Rebirth".
Spirit monsters have a wide variety of effects, that range from searching for cards, allowing an extra Normal Summon and retrieving fallen monsters to locking the opponent's next Battle Phase or possibly destroying all monsters the opponent controls.
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: "Hino-Kagu-Tsuchi" empties the opponent's entire hand before their Draw Phase, while "Yamata Dragon" fills its owner's hand with up to 5 cards; these effect are triggered when they inflict battle damage to the opponent.
In addition, Spirit monsters will only return to their owner's hand during the End Phase of the turn they are Normal Summoned or flipped face-up; therefore, there are some ways of taking profit of this loophole, by using cards that can keep a Spirit monster on the Field, such as "Dimensionhole", "Forbidden Chalice", etc.
Some of the generic cards that may help a Spirit Deck include:
- "Gorz the Emissary of Darkness", "Tragoedia" and "Battle Fader": due to the lack of Field presence, the player might be frequently open for direct attacks. Also, these monsters can be used as fodder for the Tribute Summon of a Spirit monster.
- "Black Luster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginning": it 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 signature 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 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.
- "D.D. Sprite": this monster can also be used to keep a Spirit monster on the Field, and since it is a Tuner Monster, it can give the Deck more flexibility, allowing the player 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' LP ("Spring of Rebirth", "Orb of Yasaka", "Fushi No Tori", etc.), this monster can be used at its maximum potential.
- "Slacker Magician": this monster can be easily Summoned by the effect of "Kinka-byo" and can serve as a wall, since it cannot be easily taken off the Field, except by effects that don't target.
- "Creature Swap": the Spirit monster given to the opponent will return to its owner's hand anyway.
- "The Monarchs Stormforth": this card can be used to get rid of an opponent's monster while also Tribute Summoning a Spirit monster.
- "Soul Transition": this card's drawback of not allowing Special Summons during the turn it is used generally is not a problem. It is best used if the monster tributed as cost is "Nikitama", while you control another Spirit monster, preferably "Aratama": in this scenario it is possible to draw 3 cards while also replacing the tributed "Nikitama".
- The main weaknesses of the Spirit Monsters 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", "Yosenju", "Qli", "Noble Knight", "Spellbook", etc are good against this Deck.
- Stall decks are the main threat to this deck, since it is inherently 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.
- Other 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.
- 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.