At this year’s past NAWCQ, Omar Jones “The Chef” Jr. got top 64 with a variant of Spright that doesn’t get as much of the limelight as other builds, Gishki. This particular variant of Spright had a decent showing in the OCG when it first came into being thanks in part to “Spright Elf” allowing for easy loops of “Gishki Abyss” to quickly build hand advantage. Elf had been banned in the TCG by the time the Gishki support came out in Phonton Hypernova, so the deck was quickly passed over in favor of other Spright flavors.
Gishki Spright is one of my personal favorite variants, and seeing Omar’s top made me want to revisit the deck. His build is focused more on using the Gishki cards to enable explosive Spright plays and give more space to running generic staples. A big weakness of the deck is that it runs a lot of engines, so there’s not a lot of wiggle room for handtraps and cards to side out. I like the original OCG builds where the deck revolved around summoning out 2 Neremanas with “Aquamirror Illusion” set in the back row to further disruption. It's easier to interrupt but focuses more on the Gishki end of the deck than the Spright one.
The game plan in Gishki Spright is to end on a Spright board with 2-3 interactions, plus an extra 2-3 monster negates/summons from “Evigishki Neremanas.” An ideal board for this deck is very hard to playthrough without multiple board breakers or “Dark Ruler no More.”
-The Gishki Engine-
First is “Gishki Grimness,” a level 2 water that special summons any other Gishki monster from the deck on Normal or Special Summon. The effect comes with the downside of only letting the player attack with Ritual monsters the turn it’s activated, but that’s not much of a setback when going first. Grimness also comes with an effect that allows it to be used as the entire tribute for the ritual summon of a single water Ritual monster.
Grimness is the ideal starter for the deck, since he can grab “Gishki Abyss” from the deck to set up resource looping. Abyss has an on-Summon effect to add any Gishki monster with 1000 or less defense from the deck to the hand, and it is not a once-per-turn effect.
The cards you’ll most commonly be digging for are either “Gishki Shadow” or “Gishki Vision”. Both of them share the same ritual tribute effect that Grimness has, while also having their own built-in discard effects to search for either a GIshki Ritual Monster or Gishki Ritual Spell. Both of these cards can also play under Arise-Heart, since they say “discard” and not “send to the graveyard,” which can be relevant since GIshki has an out to Kashtira, assuming they aren’t zone locked.
The main ritual monster run in Gishki-Spright is “Evigishki Neremanas.” She’s a level 10 Water Ritual with several soft once-per-turn effects. First, when she is special summoned she can target a Water Monster in the graveyard and special summon it to the field. Second, when an opponent activates a monster effect, she returns a ritual monster the player controls to the hand to negate the effect and shuffle the negated monster back into the deck.
Only 3 of the 4 Ritual Cards in Gishki are worth considering in the deck, but which ones you choose, and the ratios you run them at, ultimately depend on your goals. A lot of players simply settle for "Gishki Photomirror," since it can just summon out Neremanas without the need for tributes (at the cost of 5000 life). "Gishki Nekromirror" gives similar results, but comes with a much smaller burn (in this case, only 3000 for Neremanas instead of 5000). It also has the added effect of letting you tribute an opponent’s monster for the full cost, regardless of whether it has a level or not. This makes Nekromirror a somewhat decent board breaker against decks that aren’t playing multiple negates.
The original "Gishki Aquamirror" is great in builds where you’re running 2 or more ritual monsters since it can quickly put itself back in the back to facilitate a big combo play. If you’re only running 1 ritual monster, then Aquamirror is probably worth skipping.
“Focused Aquamirror” is a generic search card that can grab any GIshki monster from the deck and add it to hand. It also has a graveyard effect that triggers at the end of the turn where, if the player controls a Water ritual monster, they can banish “Focused Aquamirror” to set any other “Aquamirror” spell or trap from their deck to their field. The main target for this is “Aquamirror Illusion” since it allows the player to summon a GIshki Ritual monster from hand at no cost, but it cannot attack and has to return it to their hand at the end of the turn. Neremanas’s effect will almost always have it bouncing itself back to hand, so Illusion gives the deck another Monster negate, and technically another Special Summon from grave to help setup plays on the following turn.
-Combos and Playlines-
Gishki is blessed with a large number of starter cards to the point that it’s rare not to open with one. In this particular list, the starters are Gishki Grimness, Gishki Abyss, and Focused Aquamirror. An uninterrupted normal summon of Gishki Grimness sets up a near full combo without any other cards, but it’s typically over if he gets hit by an Ash Blossom. This is where the Spright half of the deck takes over, and helps Gishki recover from their lost game state. The downside here is that Gishki doesn’t play well into Spright without a lot of corner-cutting. The main boss in Gishki is Neremanas, a level 10 ritual monster, while Sprights like to get to "Gigantic Spright" as early as possible to play around “Nibiru, the Primal Being” which would also lock Neremanas from being summoned.
I don’t want to spend too much time on Spright combos, as they’re almost universal across the whole range of Spright deck variants, but If your Grimness is interrupted, you want to try and hit Spright Red as early as possible to provide cover for your combo until you can reach “Gigantic Spright.” The main plays to aim for are:
>Going into “Spright Sprind” (off of Grimness and a Spright Monster)
>Sending “Nimble Angler” to the graveyard with Sprind’s On-Summon effect
>Special Summoning two “Nimble Beaver” off of Angler’s effect when sent to the graveyard
>Overlaying one Beaver with Sprind for "Gigantic Spright"
>Using Gigantic’s effect to detach Beaver and special summon "Swap Frog"
>Use Swap Frog’s on-summon ability and send another copy of itself from the deck to the grave
>Activate Swap Frog’s effect on the field to return it to the hand
>Link two of your remaining level 2 monsters into "Bujinki Ahashima" (the remaining "Nimble Beaver" and another Spright)
>Use Ahashima’s on-Summon effect to special summon the Swap Frog in your grave and hand to overlay into “Toadally Awesome.”
If you can’t get to Toad, either because you don't have a way to make Ahashima or Gigantic, the next best thing is to go into “I:P Masquerena” and attempt to disrupt your opponent on their turn with either a “Mekk-Knight Crusadia Avramax” or “Nightmare Unicorn.”
Now, as for the typical Gishki line to go when uninterrupted:
>Normal Summon "Gishki Grimness"
>Activate Grimness’s on-Summon effect to Special Summon a Gishki from the deck
>Special Summon out "Gishki Abyss"
>Activate Abyss’s on-Summon effect to add a Gishki Monster with 1000 or less Defense from deck to hand
>Add either "Gishki Shadow" or "Gishki Vision" depending on what combo pieces you’re missing to summon out "Gishki Neremanas."
Now, let’s assume you have both a Neremanas and Ritual Spell in hand.
>Overlay Grimness and Abyss into “Herald of Pure Light”
>Activate Herald of Pure Light, removing Gishki Abyss and targeting whatever searcher (Shadow or Vision) you used
>Activate your ritual spell (if using Aquamirror or Nekromirror tribute either the Shadow or Vision returned to hand)
>Summon out Neremanas
>Neremanas on-summon effect to target a water monster in the graveyard to summon back to the field (targeting Gishki Abyss)
>Giski Abyss on-summon effect to either add another Vision/Shadow to go for a second Neremanas (if you have the cards to get there) or a Grimness for potential follow-up plays on the next turn.
This gets a Neremanas out before your 5th summon, and lets you now go safely into bigger Spright plays and combos.
The original Aquamirror is great if you’re trying to go for a double-Neremanas board. If you have both Neremanas in hand you can
>Tribute one to summon the other from hand with Aquamirror
>Revive Gishki Abyss with Neremanas's effect
>Search out Gishki Shadow with Abyss’s effect
>Use Aquamirror’s graveyard effect to add the Neremanas in the grave to hand and shuffle itself back into the deck
>Discard Gishki Shadow to search the Aquamirror out of the deck again
>Use Aquamirror and tribute the Neremanas on the field to Special Summon the one in hand
>Use Neremans’s on-summon effect to bring back the old Neremanas used for its Ritual Summon
>Use the new Neremanas’s effect to Special Summon back another water monster.
This is as close to an “ultimate end board” as you can get on the Gishki half of the deck, so from that point on it’s about making Spright plays before ending the turn on at least 2 monster effect negates, and potentially an “I:P Masquerena,” “Toadally Awesome,” and/or “Gigantic Spright” with either “Spright Smashers” or “Spright Double-Cross” set in the back row.
There aren't that many unique tech options for the deck considering Gishki is already a unique enough engine on its own, but running an "Evigishki Zielgigas" on the side to help disrupt boards when going second is a potential splash option at the cost of losing consistency. He combos very well with the double Neremanas combo, by summoning him first, using his effect, and then summoning Neremanas, using Zielgigas as the ritual fodder, to revive him so he can potentially remove something again.
"Marincess Coral Anemone" is the bargain bin version of Spright Elf. She requires two water monsters, and can, once per turn, she can target and Special Summon 1 Water Monster with 1500 or less Attack from the graveyard. Afterward, the player is locked into only being able to Special Summon Water Monsters for the rest of the turn. A lot of the setup plays for Spright use non-Water Monsters, so Anemone should only be summoned as the absolute last monster of the turn or if going for some kind of OTK play with double Neremanas or Zielgigas into a "Superdreadnought Rail Cannon Gustav Maxx."
That about does it for the basics of Gishki Spright. It's a very combo-intensive version of an already combo-heavy deck, but has a lot of interesting plays and loops that can be difficult for your opponent to play around if they're not familiar with how the deck works and how easily it can generate value with a single "Gishki Abyss." The deck has lots of interesting plays outside of just loops and even has its own form of built-in Kaiju-like effects by letting you tribute your opponent's monsters to ritual summon out your bosses. I would highly recommend giving the deck a try if you haven't, especially if you're a fan of Spright.