Cardfight Coalition

Creative Deck Strategy: Sacred Impcantations

Let’s talk about Ritual Summoning and how the mechanic shines in today’s game. Extenders for days anyone?

Blaze your Path Forward:

Before I begin and walk through the card design of Ritual monsters, let’s take a second to talk about the theme that this article intends to spotlight and showcase – the Nephthys. The forgotten archetype from our last Deck Build Pack is very unique, a Ritual-centric theme that employs Link monsters and lots of destructive capabilities. However, since basically all of the archetype members need to be destroyed and then wait until your next Standby Phase to activate their effects, it is seen by many to be way to slow. The original phoenix, Sacred Phoenix of Nephthys, still blazes as the shining star of the deck, wiping the backrow each turn before you begin your Ritual plays, but is it enough? Is this theme really as slow as duelists have categorized the theme? Before we can tackle these looming questions and since this archetype does not work optimally when played purelet’s discuss how Ritual monsters have evolved over the years and how we get to the card design of the Nephthys monsters today.

History of Ritual Monster Design:

If you are interested in just jumping to the deckbuild and strategy of Nephthys/Impcantations, you can skip this entire spoilered section. Otherwise, feel free to enjoy the history as we build up to how Ritual monsters are designed today, since that clearly has influenced the direction of the current options available to our build.


It all began near the dawn of the game, when Spell Ruler (Originally called Magic Ruler) was released. Relinquished was the star of the show, stealing your opponent’s best monsters then turning their power against your opponent as its own. But there was one major issue with a Ritual Strategy – Relinquished was literally the only Ritual monster with an effect. In a time where Special Summons were rare and required significant resources, the power budget of the original Rituals were exclusively tied to their ATK power and ‘ease’ of summoning. Compared to a two-tribute boss monster like Blue-Eyes White Dragon or Dark Magician, all you had to do was get a couple of cards in your hand to unlock a powerful monster. But it was that precise ‘getting two cards to the hand’ that was the second major hurdle for Ritual Summoning to shine, because even though Senju of the Ten Thousand Hands and Sonic Bird existed, running a weaker monster just to search combo pieces did not work out too well.

Fast forward through the rest of the original series, and Ritual monsters still had virtually no impact on the game. So, card design tried to facilitate their use. New Ritual Spells were released that could be used to Ritual Summon multiple different Ritual monsters, Ritual monsters started appearing with increasingly powerful effects, and they even released a better searcher in the form of Manju of the Ten Thousand Hands. But that wasn’t enough. Around the midpoint of GX, they released a Ritual that could destroy all other cards on the field, Demise, King of Armageddon, but it still wasn’t enough. Rituals never really took off to become good until a couple sets later when they made the first Ritual Spell that could summon any other Ritual monster – Advanced Ritual Art (ARA).

At the extremely low cost of requiring a deckbuilder to run Normal monsters, you could make a Ritual Summon with just 2 cards in hand. One being the Ritual you wanted to summon, and the other being ARA. In today’s game, this doesn’t seem like much, but it was an insane combo back then. Two cards and a measly 2000 LP, and you could destroy your opponent’s entire field. However, the strategy didn’t end there. The Demise deck was known for its use of Insect Normal monsters so then after a Ritual Summon of Demise, you could then Special Summon Doom Dozer from the hand. In a world where hand traps did not yet exists, wiping the field then attacking for 5200 damage was one of the best plays in the book. So immediately, since the power of Ritual monsters had been demonstrated so clearly even on the competitive scene, card design died down once again. For the 10 subsequent main booster sets, not a single new Ritual monster was released.

And when they were, the new rituals were underwhelming. After two misses with Divine Grace and Garlandolf, they tried adding disruption to a ritual monster resulting in a new Ritual deck that would embody the summoning type for the foreseeable future – Herald of Perfection. Yes, everyone knows how annoying it is to face down a Herald with an opponent fully loaded with a hand of Fairies. It isn’t fun. But that’s how the summoning mechanic was known, as yet again, there was a hiatus in new Ritual monsters from main sets (14 this time). However, card designers didn’t quite abandon the theme entirely. During this time and through the Duel Terminal world, the Gishki were unleashed upon the game. For the first time, we had an entire archetype built around Ritual Summoning and Ritual Summoning alone. They had in-theme search power, cards that served as the entire tribute for the Ritual Summon and more. Also for the first time, we had Ritual Spells that were unique in their summoning methods and that were designed for an entire archetype rather than just a single monster or two. One of these Ritual Spells, Gishki Aquamirror, could float card advantage, one could summon without using any monster as a tribute… yes, this was a revolutionary theme. While it was relegated to the banlist due to degenerate loops, it was a proof of concept that there was innovation that could be made to the Ritual mechanic to put it up to par with both Synchro (and now the Xyz) summoning methods. And just like that, everything changed when the Nekroz attacked.

To put it bluntly, the Nekroz archetype took all of the consistency and unique attributes of the Gishki monsters, then turned it up to 11. Gishki can recycle their Ritual Spells? Well Nekroz get to use any of their spent Ritual Spells to get any of their others. Gishki gets unique Ritual Summoning methods, Nekroz can Ritual multiple monsters at once using the Extra deck, Ritual summon a monster back from the GY, and more. Gishki has monsters that can either serve as an entire tribute or search out another Ritual combo piece, Nekroz gets a monster that does both. Then to add even more craziness, every Nekroz Ritual monster not only got a powerful effect to use on the field, but also a second effect that could be used while the Ritual monster was in the hand. To date, people still consider the Nekroz archetype to be the best Ritual archetype ever made, and I cannot blame them. Any time a new Ritual support card comes out, immediately people flock back to the Nekroz archetype, because its card design was so ahead of its time. To put it bluntly, every single Ritual Summon could be done with 2 cards, a Ritual Spell and either a Ritual monster or a monster to tribute, and that proved to be the true power behind this crazy deck. Nekroz mirror matches were tests to a player’s skill, as you had to extend for power plays but without overextending and opening yourself up to a Nekroz of Trishua ending the duel right then and there. But with all these powerful effects, a big theme emerged – Nekroz doesn’t need to be played pure with all of their Ritual monsters to be successful. Any ritual deck can reliably run a 3-card Nekroz engine (Nekroz of Brionac, Nekroz of Clausolas, and Nekroz Cycle) for virtually no downside at all. This will be another important point later on, especially as more Ritual support cards have been released, so let’s leave the Nekroz behind and continue with our history lesson.

The remnants of the power of this archetype are still evident in the game today as two cards remain forbidden in the TCG due to their abuse in Nekroz decks and two cards remain limited. Will we see the return of some of these cards in the future, perhaps, but I don’t like to spend too much time on pure speculation. Instead, let’s shift the discussion to how Ritual monsters were designed after the Nekroz dominated the metagame. Like with many attempts to bring old players back into the game, card designers toyed with nostalgia, releasing the first Ritual theme since Nekroz – Cyber Angels. Debuting as an anime archetype in GX that never was released into the card game, Cyber Angel had a lot of hype to live up to if it was to follow in the footsteps of Nekroz. But card designers were wary of putting too much power into another Ritual theme, so they tried giving them a different unique path. Instead of getting effects from the hand, the archetype used Ritual monsters that wanted to be used as material for other Ritual Summons. With Cyber Angel Benten searching any LIGHT Fairy when tributed, it was never easier to support a Fairy-centric Ritual strategy.

In tern, this heralded the re-emergence of a ritual deck of old, as Herald of Perfection was back in the fray. This even opened up Xyz combos as well when using the Star Seraph archetype, since Benten provided a crucial search of either piece of the Stick/Chair combo. And who could forget the final piece of Ritual support that will be used in many Ritual themes to come – Ritual Sanctuary. Ritual decks continued to have insane innate search power in order to get to the combo pieces you needed. Don’t forget that Rituals also received their best support card to date, Pre-Preparation of Rites. This one Spell card searches every combo piece you need for a Ritual Summon, just as long as the Ritual monster is named in a Ritual Spell’s text. Now this may seem like a long boring rant at this point, but this evolution is important, as post-Cyber Angel, we got into true modern card design with Ritual themes for the first time – give them significant power in one or two unique, ‘identity’ areas with a downside other decks can exploit. So let’s take a second to cover the modern Ritual archetypes.

First, let’s talk the first WIND Ritual theme – Shinobaron. This ritual theme was all about pulling off a major Ritual Summon, using its effect to swing the duel into your favor, then setting yourself up to do it again on the next turn. Sure, they could blow anything away with their spinning effects, and they had all of the search power offered to Ritual themes. But their big downside was that they were all Spirit monsters. Sure, this opened up Spirit support cards as well for the theme, but the best Spirit support cards all interact with the Normal Summon, something that Ritual Support already did better with Senju and Manju since the dawn of the mechanic. So, this theme fell flat for many duelists, because while the significant power of the Ritual Summon was there, the downsides for the rest of the deck were too much to overcome.

Around a similar point, the TCG launched a new World Premiere theme to make use of the Ritual summon – the Vendread. I group this theme with Shinobird simply because it took the same design philosophy into account: “How can we support a Ritual theme with already existing generic support cards?” Sure, Spirits might not have had the best support, but the Zombie-type? The type that arguably has the best type-support in the game? And it worked out fairly well. Vendread was released at a pretty standard power level, with some neat Zombie combos and some Ritual Summons. Even though they adopted the mechanics of the Djinn Ritual support theme as offering effects to the Ritual monster being summoned, it wasn’t quite enough to make the theme center around its Ritual monsters. Even today, the archetype is still used as a vessel to support other Zombie decks, rather than focusing on the Ritual Summoning itself. So one theme focused on the Ritual Summon without providing enough support, and the other focused on providing enough outside support but not enough on the Ritual Summon. Got it. So what came next?

As stated before, when a mechanic or theme hasn’t been working out well, designers typically throw nostalgia at duelists to try and reinvigorate interest. That was definitely the case with Ritual Summons, as they needed to breath new life into support for the mechanic. As a result, card designers revisited the first iconic Ritual theme, Demise/Ruin. With new Levels, new Rituals, and new support cards inspired by our original End of the World duo, the rebooted version of the Rituals were powerful. Bringing in successful elements from past ritual themes, the deck featured easy ways to Ritual Summon, even introducing to Ritual Summon a monster indirectly from the deck during the opponent’s turn. This theme even adopted the strategy of the Cyber Angels, tributing Rituals to make Ritual Summons, just Demise/Ruin wanted you to take it further and tribute ONLY Ritual monsters to get the most out of your two bosses of oblivion. Despite all of this, the deck never took off, was consistent yet not quite strong enough to force its way into the meta. So, if one round of nostalgia doesn’t work, try try again.

That’s how we arrived at the Nephthys archetype. Nephthys were designed following the lessons of both the Shinobird and Vendread themes: a ritual theme with enough outside support to stand on its own, but not forced to be played pure. So, they created a mismash of types and attributes, all centered around destruction and rebirth. Quite literally the theme of the original Sacred Phoenix of Nephthys. But while other themes tried to just play up unique qualities, the Nephthys theme is a jack-of-all-trades Ritual theme. Want to Ritual Summon? Great we got that. Want to destroy things? Great we got that. Want to Link spam? Want to search out all of the combo pieces you need? Despite being a jack of all trades, each monster still focused on the central identity of self-destruction and being reborn again, but since that identity is not the only thing the theme has going for it, it actually works well in the modern game. The rest of this article is hopefully going to convince you why, but before I can get into that, we must talk about the archetype that will define Ritual Summoning going forward.

[caption id="attachment_41622" align="alignright" width="134"] Impcantation Creator – Crealtar[/caption]

We made it to the current day in the TCG, so let’s keep going into the future. With Savage Strike just over the horizon and Dark Neostorm about to be here in the Spring, the Impcantation are a theme to start talking about now. Taking the search power of Ritual Support cards to the extreme, this 0/0 monsters pull whatever else you may need for a Ritual Summon from either the Deck or the GY, while serving as the Tribute fodder for that Ritual Summon. So, if you open a corresponding Impcantation and a Ritual Spell, just bring out Impcantation Talismandra with your imp’s effect and add the Ritual monster you want to the hand. Or conversely, if you have a corresponding Impcantation and a Ritual Monster, just bring out Impcantation Candoll with your imp and grab a Ritual Spell you need. The theme also comes with its own Ritual Spell, which lets you summon any Ritual Monster in the game as long as you use Imps as the tribute fodder, and the Ritual Spell can even recycle itself back to your hand while summoning a new Imp from the deck to then search a new Ritual spell or monster and yeah, you get the point. The cycle never ends. The downside to the theme is that you cannot Special Summon from the Extra Deck while you have an Impcantation out, but don’t let that stop you! The card design behind these monsters is that they add the consistency to ensure that you can make all of the Ritual plays you intend to try making. Even if you don’t have the right Ritual Spell or levels, the Impcantations give you an avenue to still perform your Ritual Summon. That is big in today’s age when want to maximize your chances of pulling off big combos from the start of the duel! As you might expect, the Impcantations were the impetus behind this article, since this archetype works with a multitude of Ritual options and themes. So let’s dive into the actual strategy behind the deck, because I think it might surprise you.


What can the Nephthys do:

The Nephthys are a series of WIND/Spellcasters and FIRE/Winged Beasts that change self-destruction into advantage in a similar fashion to the Fire King or Scrap archetypes that have come previously. Most similar to Fire Kings, this advantage is typically delayed by a turn in order to provide the opponent a chance to respond and provide you with more cards to destroy on the subsequent turn. This delay that is intrinsic to just about every Nephthys monster can make the theme unappetizing to some duelists, but its true power is how it can open a duel in stride, applying pressure through sitting on a Link monster that can generate immense amounts of card advantage. So, before talking about any of the Ritual capabilities, let’s talk about the Link capabilities of the Nephthys.

First up will be the most important Link monster of the theme, Nephthys, the Sacred Preserver. If Preserver was Link Summoned, once per turn, you get to add a Level 8 Winged Beast from the deck and a Ritual Spell from the GY to the hand. This may not seem all too exciting to begin with, but Preserver takes most of the focus of your opponent’s removal to get off the field as soon as possible. You might be asking, how would a Ritual theme get a Link Monster onto the field, since most Ritual themes are not known for flooding the field with monsters? Well the simple answer lies in their first ritual, Devotee of Nephthys. Whenever this Level 2 Ritual is Ritual Summoned, you get to Special Summon 1 Nephthys from the deck. Since that satisfies the requirements of 2 Nephthys monsters, you automatically have your first Link summon ready to go. But let’s consider the card economy side of this play. Tribute + Ritual Spell + Devotee, so a -3 in initial card advantage, only to get out a Link that adds a two cards to the hand. In total, it is a net neutral trade. But you also just got out a Link with 2 down arrows for nothing! And, if you added a Nephthys monster to the hand with the Link, you can destroy it to bring back Devotee from the GY. This may be an initial even trade in card advantage, but it can quickly spiral out of control, turning any Normal Summon into having all the pieces for a Knightmare Link Summon to gain advantage and continue your combo. At the end of the day, this is the initial goal of Nephthys – make an initial Ritual Summon to then provide the materials for a Link Summon which then prepares the hand for a second Ritual Summon or a second Link Summon. The other link of the theme, Nephthys, the Sacred Flame, can appear in all of its glory at the seemingly high cost of using at least 1 Ritual as part of a Link 3 Link Summon. However, if you go above and beyond and use 3 Ritual monsters for its summon, you get a boss monster that can’t be destroyed by battle, card effects, or targeted on a 4800 ATK monster. Unfortunately it can still be outed by any Kaiju or a Borreload Dragon, but you take what you can get.

Sure the Link Monsters may be the symbolic heart and soul of the deck, but Nephthys would not exist without the original bird and its reliance upon the cycle of destruction. Sacred Phoenix of Nephthys gets to bring itself back from the ashes during your Standby Phase after it was destroyed by a card effect, and when it does, it gets to destroy all Spells or Traps on the field. Now at first this seems like a relic of the past, but just consider the scenario above, but where Devotee returns itself to the field by destroying a Sacred Phoenix in the hand. As you are setting up your initial Link board, you are also simultaneously setting up a counterpush for your following turn that will begin with an opponent devoid of backrow. Now in today’s game, there are plenty of disruption tools that don’t need to be face-down to affect your board, but don’t let that take away from this delayed boost of card advantage when you might need it.

Alongside the Phoenix is a set of WIND Spellcaster monsters that all thrive around destruction. While a pure Nephthys build takes advantage of both destruction effects of each, today’s article will only focus on the best two – Disciple of Nephthys and Hand of Nephthys. For her part, Disciple lets you destroy a card in your hand to search any other Nephthys monster to your hand, and does this make the deck so much better. Return back to our original combo off of a Ritual Summon of Devotee. If you bring out a Disciple with the effect of Devotee, you can then trade any card in your hand for a Sacred Phoenix, ensuring that you have one in your hand to destroy with Devotee to bring it back from the GY. And if you had a Sacred Phoenix to begin with, then you just get two of your firebirds ready to rise from the ashes to start your next turn! As for the other Handmaiden, Hand of Nephthys, she comes in handy when you really need to bring out a Sacred Phoenix from the hand or clear away one of the other monsters on your board. We will return to this point later.

So where does that leave us? We have a nifty opening play to shoot for, delayed card advantage that is easily rolled into more plays, and a ‘boss’ that clears the way for a counterattack, but we still don’t have a clear win condition. That’s where the other Ritual monster of the theme comes in, Cerulean Sacred Phoenix of Nephthys. Clocking in as another Level 8 Winged Beast, Cerulean lets you wipe away your opponents monsters by destruction by destroying a couple of Nephthys monsters in your possession. That want to be destroyed. In the short term, it is a break-even effect in terms of card advantage, but once your next Standby rolls around, you get all of that lost advantage back. Cycle of destruction, said it before and will continue to loop back to that phrase. Cerulean also rises back from the ashes if destroyed, even if you destroy him with its own effect! But beyond all other benefits as described above for using the Nephthys monsters, you also have a Ritual Spell that allows for some thrifty plays. For one, Rebirth of Nephthys mentions both of our themed Ritual monsters in its text, unlocking use of Pre-Preparation of Rites. Secondly, it allows you to snipe an opponent’s card away while giving the impression you were just Ritual Summoning, as long as you use one of the Nephthys Rituals as tribute for the Ritual Summon. Since this destruction occurs during the Ritual Summon, your opponent cannot respond to the destruction once you are given permission to continue and perform your Ritual Summon! All in all, this just ties into the theme of endless destruction that the Nephthys truly embody, at least as much as their shrouds of flame.

A Destructive Impcantation:

While the archetype might not be fully complete with the imminent release of Savage Strike to the TCG, the Impcantation archetype brings a ton of power to any Ritual strategy, but it especially works well here. Drawing an Imp with its corresponding Ritual component unleashes an immediate +2 in card advantage. The only problem with this card advantage is that the Imps inherently eliminate the possibility of using that advantage for a Link Summon, so you have to get creative with it! I hope it is clear by this point that you always want to open turn 1 with a Devotee summon, so that’s what the Imps do. In tandem with Pre-Preparation of Rites, Preparation of Rites, and more, you can intelligently construct a competitive Nephthys Ritual deck where over 80% of the deck includes an effect to search or Special Summon from the deck. This lets you dig straight to that Devotee or Ritual Spell you need, even if you don’t happen to open either one of them.

The other benefit that the Impcantation archetype brings is the unique qualities debuting with the two cards in SAST – Impcantation Chalislime and Impcantation Inception. The first is a Ritual monster that can reveal itself in the hand to Special one of your other Imps directly from the deck while discarding a card from your hand. This effect lets you simulate ANY card in your hand as an Impcantation, bringing out Impcantation Talismandra to then search a Ritual monster or Impcantation Candoll to then search a Ritual Spell. If you just need material to tribute for a Ritual Summon, you can even be cheeky and discard Chalice itself to summon Impcantation Pencilplume from the deck, only to use its effect to immediately return Chalislime to the hand. More free card advantage is a big yes. As for the in-theme Ritual Spell, it is time to introduce you to the first Ritual Spell that can bring out ANYTHING since Advanced Ritual Art. This is still a crazy powerful characteristic, the only downside being that you have to tribute Imps if you Ritual Summon… which you want to do… so it isn’t really much of a restriction. Also, similarly to the Nekroz Ritual Spells that let you get a new Ritual Spell to hand if it is in the GY, Inception can also bring itself back to the hand at the small cost of trading an Imp in your hand or field for another Imp Special Summoned from the deck… which then lets you add another Ritual component resulting in, you guessed it, more card advantage.

You might be thinking to yourself: “All of the card advantage in the world does not equal a solid win condition, how does Nephthys expect to really be able to win even with these Imps?” You would have a valid point if you were, because I haven’t spent enough time discussing that until now. You see, everything that we described can mesh with just about any Ritual theme ever released. Some themes better than others, but just about everything is fair game. You want to use Gishki? Great, Impcantations can search what you want and Nephthys can provide a backup plan if your initial Ritual loops don’t spiral too far off the ground. You want to use Nekroz? Aside from the obvious synergy between the Impcantations and Nekroz of Valkyrus, they have always been a theme that has a reliance on just opening a Nekroz of Unicore and/or Nekroz of Clausolas and hoping you disrupt the opponent enough to get enough time to counterattack with a Trishula. Throwing in the Nephthys gives you that same potential, just with the additional chance of opening a flashy Nephthys play and adding a Sacred Phoenix or two to your counterattack. Run a couple of the Blue-Eyes Rituals, and you can make a Chaos Form/Advanced Ritual Art OTK deck that actually has a turn 1 to stand on. Or of course, take the path less traveled by and build a Dark Magician Ritual deck with them! Spellcasters unite after all. This combination of themes even opens up a deckbuilder to considering the Shinobaron Rituals, since you don’t need to commit to a large Spirit engine now that Impcantations provide a Ritual Spell to summon them AND Nephthys, the Sacred Preserver can search either straight from the deck! Each of these themes I mentioned have solid win conditions and that is the key to using Nephthys. Take the win condition of other Ritual themes, add it to the consistency and opening plays that Nephthys brings and the advantage offered by the Impcantations, and you create a powerful, multi-faceted Ritual Strategy. If you still aren’t on board with the strategy I’m pitching, check out the deck build and see for yourself.

Sample Decklist:

Since the Nephthys archetype works best when combined with others, I have provided a main core deck build and then three engines that can be added to the core to provide various ritual strategies. These are just some examples of how to use the deck, but each build brings its own specialty. As implied in the last paragraph, there are many other ways to finish out the deck – try some of your own!

Monsters (25):
|| Disciple of Nephthys
| Hand of Nephthys
||| Impcantation Bookstone
||| Impcantation Candoll
||| Impcantation Pencilplume
||| Impcantation Talismandra
||| Sacred Phoenix of Nephthys
| Cerulean Sacred Phoenix of Nephthys
||| Devotee of Nephthys
|| Impcantation Chalislime
| Impcantation Creator – Crealtar*[YGOrg Translation]

Spells (13):
|| Impcantation Inception
|| Impcantation Secret Study*[YGOrg Translation]
Pre-Preparation of Rites
||| Preparation of Rites
||| Rebirth of Nephthys

World Source Regalia Demiurgear

Extra Deck:
Black Luster Soldier, the Chaos Warrior*[YGOrg Translation]
Borreload Dragon
| Borrelsword Dragon
| Knightmare Cerberus
| Knightmare Phoenix
| Knightmare Unicorn
| Knightmare Mermaid
| Nephthys, the Sacred Flame
|| Nephthys, the Sacred Preserver
| Place-N’-Erase Puzzle Polyromino*[YGOrg Translation]
Proxy Dragon
| Summon Sorcerer
| Underclock Taker
| World Regalia Demiurgear*[YGOrg Translation]

Nekroz Engine (+5):
| Nekroz of Brionac
| Nekroz of Clausolas
| Nekroz of Valkyrus
| Nekroz Cycle
| Nekroz Mirror

Shinobaron Engine (+5):
| Amano-Iwato
|| Aratama
| Shinobaron Peacock
| Shinobaronness Peacock

Magician of Black Chaos MAX

Dark Magician Engine (+7 \ -2):
| Magician’s Rod
| Chaos Form
|| Magician of Chaos*[YGOrg Translation]
| Magician of Black Chaos MAX*[YGOrg Translation]
| Dark Magical Circle
| Impcantation Secret Study*[YGOrg Translation]
– Hand of Nepthys
– Impcantation Creator – Crealtar*[YGOrg Translation]

Engine Card Choices and their Advantages:

As stated many times in the introduction and key card walk-through, this deck, regardless of supporting Ritual engine, is all about an endless cycle of combos. So, as you’ll notice in the sample build above, everything is about searching and/or summoning the combo pieces you need. As a result, this deck has a tough time against Mistake if it cannot find a way to trigger a Sacred Phoenix to return and bomb the field, but with the meta about to go through a major shift with the rise of the low-rarity Salamangreat, a deck like this that maximizes extenders and combos on top of combos might be able to hold its own. Unlike many of the current OTK decks, Nephthys does not live or die by the Normal Summon, and even if your opponent does stop your Devotee effect, there are plenty of ways to swing that into additional advantages later in the duel. But enough about the core deck as a whole, let’s take a second to discuss the card choices in each of the Ritual engines. First up, Nekroz – and to begin, Nekroz is the best engine to match with the Impcantations, period. Since a Brionac turns into a Clausolas which turns into a Ritual Spell, holding either of these Rituals results in any other Impcantation in your hand being live. The other big benefit is that Nekroz Cycle can be used to bring out either of them after your search chain. Tributing a Pencilplume for Clausolas or a Talismandra for Brionac just feels great. I also chose to include a Valkyrus and a Nekroz Mirror, just in the case that you need a bit more draw power. So in short, the Nekroz engine adds the most speed and consistency to a Nephthys build due to the synergy with the Impcantation side of the deck..

Moving right along, let’s take a look at the Shinobaron engine. Since Nephthys, the Sacred Preserver can add any Winged Beast, you can easily search out either of these spinning bosses as part of your initial main combo. This unlocks additional removal options for the deck, which is especially helpful against decks that don’t mind destruction too much. In a couple of the test duels I conducted practicing the build, the Baron’s ability to bounce back fields of multiple Extra deck monsters was invaluable. Then the Baronness opens up the possibility of a secondary wave of backrow removal in the case that your opponent stopped your initial Sacred Phoenix wipe. Alongside these two regal Ritual monsters, I suggest running two copies of Aratama, the Spirit searcher, and one copy of Amano-Iwato. The first tech seems to be a no-brainer – you don’t use the Normal Summon in this deck, so use it for a Spirit that can add either of your Shinobarons to the hand, or to add the negator. Amano-Iwato, while seemingly contradictory in a deck built around monster effects, is in the build to ensure that you win once you commit to the field. Bringing him out after blowing away 3 cards with a Shino ritual is brutal, and as an absolute worst case, you can even use him as a way to ensure a Pre-Preparation of Rites resolves without any Ash problems, before tributing Ash away for the Ritual you had just searched. In short, the Shinobaron engine adds the most OTK power to your build, clearing away any threats to your win, while also synergizing the best with your Nephthys side of the deck.

Magician of Chaos

Last but not least, I wanted to bring up a Dark Magician ritual build as a quite potent option for those of you looking ahead to the new Chaos Magician Ritual monsters. Magician of Chaos*[YGOrg Translation] is the key card of this deck as it allows for you to have some disruption options during your opponent’s turn. When a Spell/Trap or its effect is activated, you get to destroy 1 card on the field. This is great against decks that rely on Field Spells, like Trickstars. More importantly, it adds disruption to your opening play that can provide a bit of a bigger chance of keeping your Preserver alive to abuse for a second turn. The other Ritual supporting this engine is Magician of Black Chaos MAX*[YGOrg Translation], another boss monster that can also disrupt your opponent. While the ability to recycle Spell cards is great in a deck relying on Rituals, the best use of MAX is to stop the opponent in their tracks and summon it during the opponent’s turn. With Magician of Chaos‘s last effect in consideration, it is actually fairly easy to summon during the opponent’s turn as well. To round out this engine, I’m suggesting that you run 1 Magician’s Rod and two targets for it: 1 Chaos Form and 1 Dark Magical Circle. Rod falls into the same category as Aratama, a Normal Summon that benefits your card advantage, except it can add a Ritual spell instead of a Ritual monster. Also, while the odds of grabbing your one copy of Chaos Form with Circle is very low, the ability to make use of Magician of Chaos’s name change is great. Ritual Summon it while Circle is faceup and you get to banish 1 card AND then chain it’s effect to destroy another card, all for the low price of a Ritual Summon. Or if you had a Secret Study out as well, you could be destroying 2 cards and banishing 1. This is the reason for maximizing the copies of the Impcantation Field spell in this variant. All together, that’s a ton of field removal, which is bound to set back your opponent in the short term. Thus in short, the Magician engine adds disruption capabilities, both in the form of new card removal and in the form of blanket effect prevention.

Test Duel Logs:

I wanted to try something new for this article, so I’ve included the following are play-by-play examples from actual test duels. While there were (without question) a couple of duels where I was defeated, I wanted to highlight the combos available to the deck, which is why I only presented winning logs. Let’s just say Thunder Dragons were not my friend while testing. If you do choose to read this section, let me know in comments on our social media pages or in a PM on Discord if you like this format and would like to see it continued in future articles.

Nekroz Build:

Duel 1 – Salamangreat:

Opening hand: Impcantation Secret Study, Impcantation Creator – Crealtar, Devotee of Nephthys, Impcantation Talismandra, Impcantation Pencilplume

(Opponent went first, doing Salamangreat things and ending with a Sunlight Wolf {reincarnated}, Gazelle and Sanctuary, with a face-down that was certainly Salamangreat Roar and 2 cards left in hand).

Turn 2 – Drew Sacred Phoenix of Nephthys  [will be referred to as origSP in this section]. Began by activating Secret Study, and got Ash Blossomed. Activated Pencilplume, revealing Devotee, Summoning itself and Candoll from the deck. Candoll then added Inception to hand. Activated Inception, was negated by Roar. Used Inception eff in GY, sending Pencilplume, adding itself to hand, and summoning Talismandra from deck. Talis’s subsequent effect was then negated by an Effect Veiler. Next came the Nephthys things. Ritual Summoned Devotee with Inception, tributing Candoll. Devotee activated followed by the effect of Secret Study, attempting to destroy Wolf. The opponent banished Veilynx to protect Wolf, but I still summoned Disciple. Disciple destroyed origSP to add another origSP to hand. Next, I tribute set my Talismandra in hand, tributing Talismandra on the field. Using Disciple and Devotee, I link summoned Preserver, which added Cerulean (from deck) and Inception (from GY). Used Devotee eff in GY to destroy origSP in hand, summoning itself back. Next, used the eff of Crealtar, discarding itself to summon back a Talis and Candoll. I then Ritual Summoned Cerulean with Inception, tributing the face-up Talis and Candoll just summoned by Crealtar. Attacked over his field, then left him with just a Sanctuary to his name. He conceded the duel after drawing and realizing that I had two origSP returning on the following turn. Checked the top card and saw that it was Brionac, which would have put a quick end to any field he could have generated, with whichever card he had drawn.

Duel 2 – Speedroid:

Opening hand: Sacred Phoenix of Nephthys [origSP], Impcantation Talismandra, Rebirth of Nephthys, Devotee of Nephthys, Impcantation Chalislime

Began by revealing Chalice for Talis, Special Summoning itself and a Candoll from deck. Candoll added Inception to hand. Ritual Summoned Devotee with Inception and tributing Talis, which brought out Disciple from deck. Disciple destroyed origSP to add another origSP from deck to hand. Next, used Chalislime eff, discarding itself to get Pencilplume from deck, which added Chalislime back to hand. Inception eff in GY to send Pencil and Special Summon a Bookstone from the deck and add itself back to hand. Ritual Summon Chalice using Candoll and Bookstone. Next, Link Summoned  Devotee and Disciple into Preserver, which added Cerulean (from deck) and Inception (from GY). Devotee eff from GY, destroying the second origSP to summon itself back, then ended turn. (Opponent was using Speedroid with the new support, wiping my field and ending with Clear Wing, Crystal Wing, and GOM Gun, with Hexasaucer and Marble Machine as Pendulum Spells.)

Turn 3-9; Not going to completely play by play this, but ended up baiting his effect negates with my origSP, then used a Candoll I topdecked to summon a Talis, add Brio, which added Claus, which added Cycle, tributing Talis to Ritual summon Brio to use its effect and bounce both Synchros to Extra with Brio before slowly grinding out a victory with both of us on strapped resources.

Shinobaron Build:

Duel 1 – Danger/Shaddoll:

Opening Hand: origSP, Impcantation Secret Study, Impcantation Talismandra, Impcantation Pencilplume, Preparation of Rites

Began by activating Secret Study, revealing Talis and summoning the 2 copies from the deck. Talis activates, adding Devotee to the hand. Next, activate Pencilplume by revealing Devotee, Special Summoning itself and a Candoll from the deck, which then activates and adds Inception. I activated Inception, tributing a Talis to Ritual Summon Devotee which brought out Disciple from the deck. Disciple destroyed origSP to add another origSP from deck to hand. Next, used Preparation to add a Chalislime from deck and Inception from GY to hand. Next used that Inception, tributing Candoll and Pencil, to Ritual Summon Chalislime. Secret Study then triggers, destroying my remaining Talismandra. Link Summon Preserver with Devotee and Disciple, which adds Shinobaronness to hand and Inception back from GY. Then Devotee eff to destroy origSP and Special Summon itself back from GY. Then ended turn. (Opponent was using Shaddoll/Danger, ended up building a field of El-Shaddoll Shekhinaga, Wee Witch’s Apprentice, and Starving Venom Fusion Dragon, with one backrow and a Shaddoll Beast in hand, and leaving me with 1 Devotee and Secret Study on the field).

Turn 3; Drew Bookstone. During SP – brought back both origSP destroyed on turn 1, destroying Secret Study and his backrow. Link Summoned Preserver using Devotee and 1 origSP. Brought back Devotee by destroying a Devotee in hand. Link Summoned Knightmare Cerberus using Devotee and the other origSP, discarding Shinobaroness to target Shek and Shek negated. Used Preserver to add Shinobaron (from deck) and Inception (from GY) to hand. Revealed Inception for Bookstone to summon itself and Talis from the deck, Talis adding Crealtar to the hand. Next, Ritual Summoned Shinobaron tributing the 2 Imps on my field, and Shinobaron bounced all 3 of his monsters back to the Extra Deck. Used Crealtars eff, discarding itself to summon back Talis and Candoll. Next, used Inception’s GY eff to send Candoll and Special Pencilplume from deck, which added Shinobaronness back to the hand. Ritual Summoned Shinobaronness using the two Impcantations, then attacked with all 4 monsters (Cerb, Preserver, Shinobaron, Shinobaronness) to win.

Duel 2 – Malefic (?):

Opening Hand: Pre-Preparation of Rites, Aratama, Amano-Iwato, Impcantation Inception, Impcantation Secret Study

Began by Normal Summoning Aratama, adding Shinobaron to hand. Next, used Pre-Prep to add Rebirth and Devotee to hand. Ritual Summoned Devotee, tributing Arat, using Rebirth then summoned Disciple from deck. Disciple destroyed Inception to add origSP to hand. Link Summon Preserver, using its effect to add Cerulean (from deck) and Rebirth (from GY). Next, Devotee destroyed origSP to summon itself back from GY. Used both Preserver and Devotee to Link Summon Nephthys, the Sacred Flame. (Opponent was using something with Malefics and Kaiju, ended up Kaiju’ing my Nephthys and attacking over it with a Malefic Cyber End.)

Turn 3; Drew Candoll. During SP – origSP came back, destroying his field and 1 set backrow, which in turn killed his Malefic. First activated Secret Study, revealing Candoll and summoning 2 more copies from Deck. Candoll then added a Inception to hand. Next, the eff of Inception in GY, sending a Candoll, adding itself to hand, and summoning Talis from deck. Talis then added a Chalislime from deck. Chalislime eff, revealing itself and discarding a Inception to bring out Pencilplume from deck, which added Devotee back to hand. Ritual Summoned Devotee with Rebirth, tributing Pencilplume, and Devotee activated, bringing out Disciple from the deck. Next, Ritual Summoned Cerulean from hand with Inception by tributing Candoll and Talis. Disciple destroyed Chalislime to add Devotee to hand, then linked Preserver, adding an origSP (from deck) and Rebirth (from GY). Devotee destroyed origSP to summon itself back from GY, then I Normal Summoned Amano-Iwato and attacked for game.

Magician Build:

Duel 1 – True Draco:

Opening Hand: Magician’s Rod, Impcantation Chalislime, Cerulean Sacred Phoenix of Nephthys, Devotee of Nephthys, Disciple of Nephthys

(Opponent opened the duel, getting out a Dragonic Diagram that searched True King’s Return, then set 3 backrow).

Turn 2 – Drew Preparation of Rites. I began by summoning Rod, adding a Dark Magical Circle to hand. Next, I used Chalislime’s effect, discarding Disciple and summoning Candoll from deck. Candoll then added Inception to hand. I Ritual Summoned Devotee with that Inception, tributing Candoll and summoning my other Disciple from deck. Disciple then activated, destroying Cerulean and adding an origSP to hand. Then came the Link Summon of Preserver, using Devotee and Disciple, which then added another origSP (from deck) and Inception (from GY). Used the eff of Devotee in GY, destroying an origSP and summoning itself back. Next, I Link Summoned Phoenix, discarding Inception and destroying his Diagram, then drawing Magician of Chaos. Continuing on, I activated Preparation, adding another Chalislime (from deck) and Inception (from GY). Then, I activated Magical Circle, and (luckily), had Chaos Form in the top 3 cards of my deck, so I added it to hand. Next came the Ritual Summon of Magician of Chaos with Inception, tributing a Chalislime from hand. Circle activated, targeting one of his backrow (ended up being Return), the opponent chained Imperial Iron Wall, and then I chained with Magician of Chaos’ effect to destroy Iron Wall, so he chained with Return to bring back a True King from GY. I then Link Summoned Knightmare Unicorn with Preserver and my Magician, discarding origSP to bounce his True King back to deck, then drew a Talis. I then used Talis’ effect, revealing Chalislime and summoning itself and a Pencilplume from deck. Plume activated, adding Magician of Chaos back to hand. Then, I Ritual Summoned that Magician with Chaos Form, tributing Chalislime. Next, I used Inception’s GY eff, sending Pencil, adding itself back, and summoning Bookstone from deck. Chaining to this effect was Magician of Chaos, destroying his last backrow (which was Disciples of the True Dracophoenix). Bookstone then returned Chaos form to hand, and his disciples destroyed my Circle. Then I attacked with my 3 monsters before ending my turn. Unsurprisingly, he did not topdeck into an answer to my field, and surrendered after seeing his drawn card.

Alternative Tech Options:

  • Manju of the Ten Thousand Hands – Search out any Ritual component on summon. This deck does not rely on the Normal Summon at all, so this is a great fit, but for the sample builds above, I just couldn’t find space to run a couple copies.
  • Extra-Foolish Burial – Since you don’t set anything in this build, this is a decent option when paired with Herald of the Arc Light. The downside is the steep LP cost, especially when you are piloting a deck that lives to win on the ‘comeback’ turn after the opponent tries to defeat the initial board you stood up.
  • Sauravis, the Ancient and Ascended – Extra protection for your monsters, as well as being a Ritual that returns to the hand to negate a Summon? Awesome. This would be a great monster to bring out on the opening turn if you can muster it.
  • Saffira, Queen of Dragons – Want more advantage? Check this out as a way to keep up the pressure and ensure that you have an Impcantation at the ready for your second turn to follow up after the first!
  • Amorphactor Pain, the Imagination Dracoverlord – As a one-off, this monster can throw a wrench into a deck that relies upon MP1 of their first turn to establish a presence. With the ease of searching due to the Impcantations, it really is possible to just run 1 and be able to dig to it as needed.
  • Black Luster Solider – Envoy of the Beginning – Provides additional OTK power to the deck, especially since it is so easy to summon due to the LIGHT/DARK nature of the Impcantations.
  • Awakening of Nephthys – While this is certainly a slow searcher trap, it can provide an additional jumpstart to your second turn of the duel. Combined with a primed Sacred Phoenix, you are set to Link Summon a Preserver right off the bat if you had this active first.
  • Dark Nephthys – When Summoned off of Devotee, this tech offers the ability to immediately pop a Spell or Trap.
  • Spellbook of Secrets, Spellbook of Knowledge, and Spellbook Magician of Prophecy – You can also choose to forgo the extra Ritual theme at the cost of power in exchange for more draw power and search power. Knowledge especially synergizes with Bookstone since it is a Spellcaster!
  • Secret Village of the Spellcasters – When you have a Devotee, it is live. Then, whenever your Phoenix rises from the ashes, Village will be burned to the ground, preventing you from being locked out by your own field!
  • Onslaught of the Fire Kings – Start your turn with a free Sacred Phoenix from the deck!
  • Fire King High Avatar Garunix – Just like Fire Kings could run Sacred Phoenix, so can the opposite. The downside here is that you would have to waste your Preserver search on this in order to destroy it with a Devotee, but it would increase the amount of destruction available to you! The other big downside to consider is that it summons during the next Standby Phase, not during your next Standby Phase.
  • Fire King Avatar Arvata – This guy can ensure that your plays go off without a hitch, and if your opponent does try to throw a hand trap in your face, you can just negate it!
  • Emergency Teleport\Lonefire Blossom – The Impcantations can also be brought out by generic type support cards such as these to get a search, so this can be a good alternative to consider to use your Normal Summon on.
  • Urgent Ritual Art – Since Nephthys is a deck that prefers to leave a Ritual on the field, this is relegated to the Tech section, but it can work out if you need an emergency Ritual Summon during the opponent’s turn. (And doing so could trigger Secret Study).

Build-Specific Alternative Tech Options:

  • Nekroz of Unicore – The card that defined Nekroz during its time in the meta spotlight, you can always consider running this.
  • Nekroz of Trishula – While slightly more difficult to summon here than in pure Nekroz/Impcantation, it is a possibility.
  • Shinobird’s Calling – This Ritual Spell does not offer as many benefits as the Nekroz Rituals, but it can be searched from the deck with Pre-Preparation of Rites, which is the only reason to consider using it as well.
  • Hebo, Lord of the River – This may seem like a weird tech option, but it works well with the Impcantations by returning one back to the hand in the End Phase if you have no other option due to disruption. Or it can be used as monster removal for Extra deck monsters.
  •  Nikitama – If you want to go a more Spirit-heavy route with your build, you can. This could work well if you included the upcoming Salamangreat Link, Salamangreat Almiraj*[YGOrg Translation]
  • Magician of Dark Illusion – You can tech in this card to make use of a Magician of Chaos in the GY, bringing it back on the opponent’s turn if you trigger the eff of a Spell or Trap. Thus, you would also need to be running traps or something else to make full use of this.

Conclusion and Tying back to History:

If you’re still practicing your perfect Ritual Summon shout, congratulations on making it this far and I’m sure it’s great. If you’ve skipped down to the bottom looking for a TL;DR, sorry, but this type of article doesn’t have one of those. At the end of the day, the Nephthys theme combined with the Impcantations take advantage of just about every innovation over the years for the Ritual mechanic as a whole. Both have high search power to get to the Ritual components you need, Imps offer the ability to summon any Ritual monster with a Ritual Spell, and both have the ability to match or exceed levels. But this is just the beginning. The Nephthys combo into other monsters OR they facilitate the summoning of your bosses. The Imps offer access to a Ritual spell that brings itself back, the Nephthys introduce Ritual monsters that summon themselves back, while having just enough nostalgia to tie the theme of the cycle of destruction and rebirth all together. Nephthys can even get advantage off of tributing Rituals, and the Imp rituals have an additional effect to use when they are in the hand! But beyond everything I just mentioned, you can also include just about any other Ritual monster and still have the deck work with minimal friction. This deck showcases the true power of Ritual summoning in the current era – so the only question that remains is: Are you willing to try it?

Reminder, I also take suggestions for future CDS articlesI really want to see some input from you! While I will (hopefully) not run out of cool ideas, I do want to be writing articles about strategies you are interested in. So if you wish to see a CDS article about the archetype, theme, or strategy you love, feel free to private message me on the YGOrg Discord server, the YGOrganization Forums, or just post a comment in response to this article on our Facebook page with your ideas to keep under consideration. On most YGO-related communities my username is Quincymccoy, so feel free to reach out.


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