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Ritual Monsters (Japanese:
Ritual Monsters are Special Summon-only monsters. This means that they cannot be Normal Summoned or Tribute Summoned from the hand and cannot be Special Summoned from the Graveyard or while banished unless they were first Ritual Summoned (even with a card like "Fulfillment of the Contract").
In some ways, Level 5 or higher Ritual Monsters are easier to Summon than Normal or Effect Monsters of the same Level, since their Tributes do not need to be on the field. However, they do require a number of specific cards to be in the hand at once, which can be quite difficult to achieve. Some Ritual Spell Cards such as "Advanced Ritual Art" can ameliorate this by using monsters from the Main Deck instead, as opposed to using monsters from your hand and/or side of the field. Cards such as "Preparation of Rites" and "Manju of the Ten Thousand Hands" help the player to assemble the necessary components for a Ritual Summon, while cards such as "Ascending Soul" and "Ritual Buster" help alleviate the costs of Ritual Summoning. The "Djinn of Rituals" monsters can serve dual purposes, as they make the Ritual Spell Card's monster requirement easier to fulfill by banishing themselves from the Graveyard, as well as granting an additional effect when used for the Ritual Summon of a Ritual Monster.
Because Ritual Monsters are not stored in the Extra Deck, they don't have the benefit of being immediately available to be Summoned as soon as the player has the necessary monsters. Likewise, needing specific Spell Cards for each Ritual Monster (with some exceptions) can also limit the player's ability to Ritual Summon should they be missing the Ritual Spell Card or Ritual Monster. As a result, Decks focused on Ritual Summoning tend include ways to search Ritual Monsters and Ritual Spell Cards.
Ritual Summoning is supported by a number of Spell Cards, including "Ritual Foregone" which allows for the instant Summon of a Ritual Monster from the hand, though such a monster cannot attack and will be destroyed during the End Phase. Generic search cards such as Preparation of Rites, Pre-Preparation of Rites, and Manju of the Ten Thousand Hands are a common sight in Ritual-based strategies for their ability to easily set up a Ritual Summon, tributes notwithstanding.
The Impcantations are the best support for any Ritual based Deck to date; notably "Impcantation Talismandra" and "Impcantation Chalislime". By helping to search the Ritual Monsters and Ritual Spells, and by Special Summoning themselves to the field, they can easily meet the requirements for a Ritual Summon. Overall, they give all Ritual-reliant decks some much-needed consistency.
No other Tributes are required if using "Ritual Raven" for the Summoning of a DARK Ritual Monster. Two of the "Gishki" archetype monsters, "Gishki Shadow" and "Gishki Vision" allow them to be the entire Tribute for any WATER monster, not just a "Gishki" Ritual Monster.
Ritual-reliant Decks benefit the most from having multiple copies of Ritual Spell Cards and Ritual Monsters, as the chances of drawing both the Ritual Spell and the Ritual Monster increases greatly. Ritual Summoning can cost the player a large amount of cards in hand/field so ways to generate hand advantage and recycle Ritual Spell cards are also important.
In the anime
Ritual Monsters have never been one of the major mechanics in the anime. A few prominent characters used Ritual Monsters in Yu-Gi-Oh and Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, including Yugi Muto, Joey Wheeler, Seto Kaiba, Maximillion Pegasus, and Bastion Misawa, but they were never featured as prominently as Fusion Monsters in GX. However, it should be noted that Alexis Rhodes, with her Cyber Angel archetype, was the first character to use Ritual Summoning as her primary form of Special Summoning as opposed to an auxiliary form like the aforementioned characters. Kite Tenjo used a Ritual Monster in Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, but that was the only time Ritual Monsters were featured in the entirety of ZEXAL. Even in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, which tried to show off all of the Summoning methods, Ritual Monsters were only used by two characters, Alexis Rhodes and Aura Sentia, neither of whom were featured significantly in the anime.
- Ritual Monsters have the fewest number of anti-support cards of all monster card types, with only 8 card specifically designed to stop them: "Brutal Beast Battle", "Dimensional Barrier", "Forbidden Arts of the Gishki", "Inspector Boarder", "Invincibility Barrier", "Ritual Sealing", "Sophia, Goddess of Rebirth", "Steelswarm Sting".
- "Blue-Eyes Chaos MAX Dragon" has the highest ATK of all Ritual Monsters.
- With only 109 different Monsters Ritual Monsters are, by far, the Monster Card with the lowest card count in the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game.