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Ritual Monsters (Japanese:
Ritual Monsters are Special Summon-only monsters. This means that they cannot be Special Summoned from the hand or Deck except by Ritual Summon and the card "Ritual Foregone", 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.
In addition, "Advanced Ritual Art" can be used should you have a sufficient amount of Normal Monsters.
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 number 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.
In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Ritual Monsters rarely appeared; Fusion Monsters were more prominently associated with the series. Alexis Rhodes used the first Ritual Monster-focused archetype; "Cyber Angel". Bastion Misawa, Titan, and Kaibaman all used a Ritual Monster.
In Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS, Ritual Summons were the first of the non-Link Summon Special Summoning methods to be reintroduced in the anime, with Yusaku Fujiki and Theodore Hamilton using one Ritual Monster each, and Ai later using one of his own.
- Ritual Monsters have the fewest number of anti-support cards of all monster card types, with only 6 card specifically designed to stop them: "Brutal Beast Battle", "Dimensional Barrier", "Invincibility Barrier", "Ritual Sealing", "Sophia, Goddess of Rebirth", "Steelswarm Sting".
- "Blue-Eyes Chaos MAX Dragon" has the highest ATK of all Ritual Monsters, with 4000 ATK. "Nekroz of Sophia" has the highest DEF of all Ritual Monsters, with 3400 DEF.
- "Shinobaron Peacock" and "Shinobaroness Peacock" are the first (and currently only) Ritual Monsters to have an ability: they are Spirit monsters.