Amano-Iwato's tearing up the competitive scene in True Draco decks. TrueDracos struggled during the two SPYRAL formats and were mostly reserved asa rogue strategy. But eventually, players figured out that they could useAmano-Iwato as both an aggressive and defensive tool.

Going second, Amano-Iwato keeps your opponent's "unbreakable" board fromstopping your plays. Cards like Odd-Eyes Vortex Dragon, Firewall Dragon,Toadally Awesome, and more can't respond to Amano-Iwato. That lets yousafely make your plays without interruption. Going first, you can useAmano-Iwato to make sure your opponent doesn't stop you with any handtraps; cards like Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit or Ash Blossom & JoyousSpring. That's especially important in True Dracos, since it ensures thatCard of Demise and Dragonic Diagram will resolve.

But even though Amano-Iwato does happen to fitinto the True Draco strategy quite nicely, that's not necessarily the deckit was supposed to benefit. Amano-Iwato's a Spirit monster as you probablyknow, and it's right at home in the modern Spirit deck: Shinobirds!

If It's Stupid But It Works Then It Isn't Stupid
Ritual Summoning requires a sizeable investment because it demands not onlythe Ritual Monster, and not only the Ritual Spell, but also the appropriatetributes. Considering how fast paced Yu-Gi-Oh! is compared to other cardgames, it's no surprise that Ritual Monsters have usually had a difficulttime in serious competition. Combining the mechanic with Spirits, whichbounce back to the hand in the End Phase, seems like a strange idea onpaper.

But in practice Shinobaron Peacock and Shinobaroness Peacock turn out to bepretty good due to some clever card design. Both can be Ritual Summonedwith Shinobird's Calling, which luckily mentions both monsters by namespecifically so you can use Pre-Preparation of Rites to search them out.

Depending on the situation you'll either be summoning Shinobaron Peacock tobounce up to three monsters on your opponent's side of the field back tothe hand, or Shinobaroness to spin up to three backrow into your opponent'sdeck. Then, as long as you bounced or spun one card, you can special summona Level 4 or lower Spirit monster from your hand or deck, respectively.

Those effects are insane for two reasons: first, they're non-targeting; andsecond, they prevent the Level 4 Spirit monster from returning to the handduring the End Phase, because it wasn't Normal Summoned. That latter pointmeans if you summon Amano-Iwato with either of the Shinobird RitualMonsters that it sticks on the field forever, making it tough for youropponent to make a comeback.

The way that Shinobaron Peacock and Shinobaroness Peacock get around thedrawback of returning to the hand during the End Phase is twofold. On onehand you have the design of Shinobird's Calling, which lets you banishSpirits from your graveyard for Ritual Summons. The implication is thatyou'll summon the first Ritual Monster using cards in your hand, and thensummon the second Ritual Monster by banishing the cards you just tributed.

In addition, when the Shinobird Ritual Monsters bounce back to the handduring the End Phase they actually replace themselves with two Tokens. Youcan use those for a Ritual Summon, a Link Summon, or they could blockattacks. That part's up to you, but the crucial idea here is that you're atleast getting something for your investment even though monsters arereturning to your hand.

Amano-Iwato doesn't boost the consistency of the Spirit deck directly.You'll still use cards like Aratama, Nikitama, Manju of the Ten ThousandHands, and Pre-Preparation of Rites to smooth out your combos. But theaddition of Amano-Iwato gives you a real win condition to end on if youcan't OTK your opponent. That's a huge difference, and it makes ShinobirdSpirits a force to be reckoned with. Let's take a look at what I've beentesting the last couple weeks:

DECKID=108664Whenever I play a deck like Shinobird Spirits I want to streamline it asmuch as possible. In this list, 75% of the cards are three-of's, so you'llhopefully see the most consistent hands possible. There are definitelyarguments to be made in favor of tech choices like Yaksha or Izanami, but Ibelieve that overall, consistency is more important than versatility inthis particular strategy.

It should be noted that this strategy wants to go second. I mention thatbecause Urgent Ritual Art is one of my favorite cards for this deck, butyou don't want to draw any traps if you're going second. If you were toplay this deck at a tournament I'd suggest Side Decking Urgent Ritual Artjust in case your opponents make you go first in Games 2 or 3.

This "going second" mentality explains why I'm playing two copies of GhostOgre & Snow Rabbit and Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring, too. While it'strue that you can't use those cards once you secure a Special SummonedAmano-Iwato, they definitely help you keep your opponent from making a bigboard so that you have an easier time breaking it. A key difference betweenthis deck and True Dracos is that this strategy aims to end on Amano-Iwato,not start with it. While there are going to be hands where you want toNormal Summon the Amano-Iwato, you'll quickly find out that cards likeAratama and Manju of the Ten Thousand Hands are better in most cases.

I feel like the Brilliant Fusion engine's still somewhat controversial inthis deck but I can't understand why. The double Normal Summon often putsyou in a position where you can get an Aratama and a Manju search back toback, and in those cases you can send off Nikitama with Brilliant to get afree draw as long as you summoned Aratama first. Unlike Spirits in 2014,the extra Normal Summon from Nikitama doesn't come up as often as you'dthink because you're really just trying to use it as tribute for yourRitual Summons.

This deck also has a lot of subtle plays that you should know of before youtry to pick it up. For example, one of your best ways to break boards is byusing Gameciel, the Sea Turtle Kaiju to take care of the most problematicmonster on your opponent's side of the table, and then bouncing it back toyour own hand with Shinobaron Peacock.

You should also be aware that Gem-Knight Seraphinite doesn't activate togive you its extra summon, so Amano-Iwato doesn't interfere with thateffect. Much like True Dracos, Amano-Iwato ensures that your power spellsresolve, although in this deck's case it's Pot of Desires andPre-Preparation of Rites. While the goal is to end on Amano-Iwato, don't beafraid to Normal Summon it if you really need those searcher spells to gothrough!

#####CARDID= 23132 #####

There are other options for this deck if you're interested in changing somecards. Evenly Matched is the first that comes to mind, since it's fantasticagainst most rogue strategies out there. Where it suffers is againstPendulum Magicians and Mekk-Knight Invoked, but you can consider it if yourlocal metagame is more laid back. You could add Upstart Goblin and Trade-Inif you wanted a little more draw power, or if you're not a fan of Pot ofDesires. If your local metagame's more backrow heavy, Twin Twisters makes afine addition and pairs nicely with Nikitama, too.

Compared to the similarly positioned Dinosaur strategy, the benefit ofplaying Spirits is Amano-Iwato. What the deck might lack in versatility itmakes up for in raw strength, and you'll find yourself OTK'ing throughinsane boards quite often. Relatively speaking this deck's inexpensive tomake, especially if you cut the hand traps. I got my first Regional Top 8with Spirits way back in 2014 so they'll always hold a special place in myheart, and I'm happy to see that the theme is still alive and kicking.

That is, of course, assuming True Dracos don't end up getting Amano-IwatoForbidden…

-Doug Zeeff

Doug Zeeff is about to graduate with an English and Communicationdegree. 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 posting dailyYu-Gi-Oh! content on his Youtube channel, Dzeeff. In his spare time heenjoys eating cheese, Overwatch, and, of course, playing Yu-Gi-Oh.