I've mentioned before how I was in disbelief when the Shinobird cards wereannounced.

I've been a fan of Spirit cards - specifically Aratama and Nikitama - foryears, so when new Spirit support got revealed I was ecstatic. Spirts are asub-type that brings an interesting set of challenges to the table:generally speaking, your monsters cannot be Special Summoned, and theybounce back to the hand during the End Phase of the turn they're NormalSummoned or flipped face-up.

However, behind those drawbacks lay unique effects for winning games.Aratama's a free search that's not limited to once per turn. If you have acard like Double Summon or Gem-Knight Seraphinite with two copies ofAratama you can grab two Spirit monsters for free. Nikitama compliments itperfectly, granting you an extra Normal Summon of a Spirit monster once perturn. Not only that, but when Nikitama hits the graveyard and you control aSpirit monster you'll nab a free draw.

That second effect is crucial because, once again, you're not limited tousing it only once a turn. If you manage to send multiple Nikitamas to thegraveyard in the same turn you'll instantly draw a whole bunch of cards.Between Link Summoning, Brilliant Fusion, and Ritual Summoning you're boundto get a few of them in the graveyard in the early stages of the game,which quickly turns into you burying the opponent in card advantage.

And yes, I said Ritual Summoning. Shinobaron Peacock and ShinobaronessPeacock break a lot of rules. They're Spirit monsters, but they're alsoRitual Monsters. Not only that, but they both have effects that let youSpecial Summon Level 4 Spirit monsters, ignoring their summoningconditions.

To get those Special Summon effects you have to resolve the first half oftheir effect, which bounces cards. Shinobaron Peacock returns up to threemonsters your opponent controls back to the hand, and then you get toSpecial Summon a Level 4 Spirit from your own hand. Shinobaroness shufflesup to three backrow back into your opponent's deck, and then brings out aSpirit from your deck, not the hand.

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There are a few important notes with those effects. First, both of them arenon-targeting removal. That means your opponent has to activate anycounters to them before you select the cards that are returning to the handor deck, and it also means they get around annoying stuff like Kozmo DarkDestroyer. Secondly, the Spirit monsters they bring out do not return tothe hand in the End Phase, because they weren't Normal Summoned or flippedface-up. That's huge, and while it was cool before Circuit Break as away to cheese cards like Nikitama and Shinobird Crane onto the field,Circuit Break brings a new monster that truly breaks thismechanic.

Amano-Iwato is deceptively simple, but packs a mean punch. It has the samereturning effect as Aratama and Nikitama, but while it's on the fieldneither player can activate monster card effects except for Spiritmonsters. It's basically a Majesty's Fiend that only affects your opponent,and in a lot of cases you'll instantly win the game off of it. Sure, itseffect is really good, but the real reason it steals games is becausenobody knows it exists. By the time you're Special Summoning Amano-Iwatooff of Shinobaron or Shinobaroness Peacock, it's too late for youropponent.

I specifically remember a cool interaction I had where I used a ShinobaronPeacock to bounce back several ABC monsters to my opponent's hand, and thenbrought out Amano-Iwato to prevent the equipped pieces' effects from goingoff. It was impossible for my opponent to come back from that muchnegation, so I won the game on the next turn.

But Amano-Iwato does so much more than stop a couple B-Buster Drakeeffects. Hand traps are useless against it, so you're free to use yourPre-Preparation of Rites without fear of Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring.There's no worry of SPYRAL Sleeper blowing up all your cards, either.Amano-Iwato hits the field like a better Denko Sekka with a similar impacton your opponent's morale: once they read it, they're not going to be happyto see it.

The goal of a Shinobird Spirit deck is pretty straightforward: disrupt youropponent with a bunch of Ritual Summons, and close out the game withAmano-Iwato. Let's take a look at the deck list.

DECKID=108041Urgent Ritual Art is a crucial part of any Shinobird list. A trap card thatwas released a little too late to be used in Nekroz, Urgent Ritual Artfills a huge gap in this deck.

There are a ton of ways to get additional uses out of your Ritual Monsters,specifically cards like Pre-Preparation of Rites that can add ones in thegraveyard back to your hand. Unfortunately, there aren't any consistentways to get spent Ritual Spells back. Without using any outside cards,you'd only be able to summon three Ritual Monsters per game. That'sobviously not good enough, especially since the Shinobird Ritual Monstersreturn to the hand during the End Phase just like any normal Spiritmonster.

Urgent Ritual Art lets you banish a Ritual Spell in your graveyard to copyits effect. That's utterly insane in a deck with cards like the Shinobirds,because it lets you use their disruption effects on your opponent's turn.More importantly, it grants you three extra Ritual Summons. Even better,Shinobird's Calling lets you banish Spirit monsters in the graveyard forRitual Summons.

That means you can aggressively summon a Shinobaron Peacock on your ownturn, using at least one Nikitama to get a draw. Then, you can set UrgentRitual Art before passing turn. During the End Phase, Shinobaron bouncesback to your hand and replaces itself with two Level 4 Tokens. On youropponent's turn when they go to make a play, you can respond with UrgentRitual Art to banish the cards you used for the first Ritual Summon tobring out the Shinobaron again. That's even crazier when you're doing itwith Shinobaroness Peacock because you'll also get two Spirits from yourdeck. No matter how you spin it, bouncing back three cards followed byAmato-Iwato is insane.

Brilliant Fusion's a fan favorite of mine and makes perfect sense in thisdeck. You'll almost always want to Normal Summon Aratama, grab Nikitama,and then used Brilliant Fusion to send a Nikitama to the graveyard. Thatlets you draw a card, and hopefully you can Ritual Summon to get the secondNikitama draw effect. If you can't, there's always the option of using yoursecond Normal Summon on the Nikitama, and then making Akashic Magician withSeraphinite. That'll get you a second draw, and then you can use Akashicand Aratama to make a Decode Talker. It's not the flashiest play in theworld, but it certainly gets the job done when you're trying to deck thintoward your Ritual Monsters.

The restrictions of Spirits might dissuade some newcomers to the deck, butonce you get the hang of things you'll find they're not as harsh as theylook. The Shinobird Ritual Monsters are extremely powerful, and Amato-Iwatoreally ties the deck together. When I played this thing before it reallylacked a great monster to bring out with the Rituals, but that's no longeran issue.

I'm excited to mess around with Spirits at less competitive events, andcan't wait to see if Konami gives them even more support!

-Doug Zeeff


Doug Zeeff hails from Michigan and is currently an English major incollege. When he's not found emailing Konami about why there's not asingle walrus card in all of Yu-Gi-Oh! you can find him regularlyposting unorthodox, unfiltered Yu-Gi-Oh! content on his Youtubechannel, Dzeeff. In his spare time he enjoys eating cheese, Overwatch,and, of course, playing Yu-Gi-Oh.Click hereto follow him and his adventures on Facebook!