Designer’s Quip: Matoran’s Best Friend

Oh golly, finally a post that talks about something else than Rahi and …

nah, tricked you, still a Rahi post. But only one more to go after this, so we have in fact reached peak penultimacy. I’m not sure that’s a word, but at the very least it’s a combination of letters that has been typed before.

See also:

Concept

Certain Rahi appear not only in the wild, but also fill significant roles within Matoran society, particularly its more rural incarnation on the island of Mata Nui. Whether they are used as beasts of burden, kept as pets, or handle more specific tasks, that is a relationship that would be nice to reflect in card design.

To some extent, this has already been done from the Matoran side:

Matoran Racer Onepu

Effect MonsterLevel 2 | EARTH Warrior | ATK 700 / DEF 500

When this card is Normal Summoned: You can target 1 of your banished EARTH monsters; place it on the bottom of the Deck, then you can reveal any number of “Matoran” monsters in your hand, and if you do, gain 500 LP for each. During your Main Phase: You can Special Summon 1 Level 4 or lower Beast “Rahi” monster from your hand or GY, but banish it when it leaves the field. You can only use each effect of “Matoran Racer Onepu” once per turn.

Bionicle: Challenge of the Rahi (v3.20.4)

Matoran Pilot Kongu

Effect MonsterLevel 2 | WIND Warrior | ATK 800 / DEF 400

If this card is Normal or Special Summoned: You can send 1 Winged Beast “Rahi” monster from your hand or Deck to the GY, and if you do, this card can attack your opponent directly this turn. You can only use this effect of “Matoran Pilot Kongu” once per turn. When this card inflicts battle damage to your opponent: You can banish 1 WIND monster from your GY, then target 1 face-up monster your opponent controls with DEF less than or equal to that banished monster’s ATK; destroy it.

Bionicle: Challenge of the Rahi (v3.20.4)

These two individuals whose occupations both involve riding certain types of Rahi interact with just that in-game Type, providing a point of synergy that justifies mixing a Rahi or two into an appropriate Koro deck. In the other direction, the interaction is a bit less targeted and stems mainly from that small group of Rahi that provide a generic revival effect for their respective Attributes – as we will see in a moment.

To summarize the question at hand: What is the best way to encode these connections between Matoran and Rahi into designs going forward?

Implemented

For four of the six Attributes, we already have one Rahi each that helps out by bringing back other matching monsters from the GY. Most prominent in this group are the EARTH and WIND ones that are already involved in combos with the Matoran shown above.

Ussal, Crab Rahi

Pendulum Effect MonsterLevel 3 | Scale 2/2 | EARTH Beast | ATK 1000 / DEF 1000

Pendulum Scale = 2
[ Pendulum Effect ]
Once per turn: You can reduce the Pendulum Scale of the card in your other Pendulum Zone by 1 until the End Phase; this turn, while this card is in your Pendulum Zone, you can also Pendulum Summon “Rahi” Pendulum Monsters from your GY, but monsters Summoned this way are destroyed during the End Phase.
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[ Monster Effect ]
If this card is sent to the GY: You can Special Summon 1 Level 4 or lower EARTH monster from your GY, except this card. If this card is banished: You can Special Summon 1 Level 3 or lower “Rahi” monster from your GY. You can only use 1 “Ussal, Crab Rahi” effect per turn, and only once that turn.

Bionicle: Challenge of the Rahi (v3.15.5)

The Ussal is a crab that sees widespread use among Matoran for … more or less anything you might use a horse for in our world. Transporting passengers or cargo, riding into battle, racing for sport, and all that stuff. Their chief employers are the Onu-Matoran and, on Metru-Nui, also the Le-Matoran. Between being strictly ground-based creatures and their special skill of helping with tunnel-digging, it’s clear EARTH is the most reasonable Attribute to support.

The other effects are specific to Rahi, so a Matoran deck won’t derive any benefit from them (though they do theoretically work with additional copies of the card). This isn’t necessarily a problem, since the synergy already functions fine when built around the single generic effect, but we will have to reconsider the in-archetype interactions in light of the shift to Type-based substrategies. Perhaps in that process, we could take some care to give the Rahi in this little category abilities that, to some extent, still apply in a non-Rahi deck – like recycling themselves, for example.

Kewa, Vulture Rahi

Pendulum Effect MonsterLevel 3 | Scale 2/2 | WIND Winged Beast | ATK 1400 / DEF 400

Pendulum Scale = 2
[ Pendulum Effect ]
If you control no other cards: You can add 1 WIND monster from your Deck to your hand, except “Kewa, Vulture Rahi”, and if you do, destroy this card during the End Phase. You can only use this effect of “Kewa, Vulture Rahi” once per turn.
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[ Monster Effect ]
If this card is sent to the GY: You can Special Summon 1 Level 4 or lower WIND monster from your GY, except this card. If this card is banished: You can add 1 “Rahi” card from your GY to your hand. You can only use 1 “Kewa, Vulture Rahi” effect per turn, and only once that turn.

Bionicle: Challenge of the Rahi (v3.15.5)

The Gukko and its subspecies, including the Kewa, are the aerial steeds used in Le-Koro, and thus a close counterpart to the Ussal. It only makes sense then, to make it the WIND representative of the same category, and indeed much of what we said for the crab also applies to the vulture. The Pendulum Effect on this one is actually extremely useful in generic WIND decks, being able to search basically anything as long as you use it on an empty field, but it also definitely isn’t surviving a redesign, so eh.


Daikau, Floral Rahi

Pendulum Effect MonsterLevel 3 | Scale 2/2 | WATER Plant | ATK 1500 / DEF 300

Pendulum Scale = 2
[ Pendulum Effect ]
You can send 1 “Rahi” Pendulum Monster from your Deck to the GY; all monsters your opponent currently controls lose ATK equal to that monster’s ATK, until the end of this turn. You can only use this effect of “Daikau, Floral Rahi” once per turn.
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[ Monster Effect ]
If this card is sent to the GY: You can Special Summon 1 Level 4 or lower WATER monster from your GY, except this card. If this card is banished: You can discard 1 “Rahi” card, then target 1 monster with 2000 or less ATK on the field; destroy it. You can only use 1 “Daikau, Floral Rahi” effect per turn, and only once that turn.

Bionicle: Challenge of the Rahi (v3.15.5)

Infernavika, Lava Bird Rahi

Pendulum Effect MonsterLevel 3 | Scale 2/2 | FIRE Winged Beast | ATK 1100 / DEF 800

Pendulum Scale = 2
[ Pendulum Effect ]
Once per turn, at the start of the Battle Phase: You can target 1 face-up monster you control; this turn, when that target battles an opponent’s monster, destroy both monsters at the start of the Damage Step, except FIRE monsters.
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[ Monster Effect ]
If this card is sent to the GY: You can Special Summon 1 Level 4 or lower FIRE monster from your GY, except this card. If this card is banished: You can banish the top card of your Deck; add this card to your Extra Deck face-up. You can only use 1 “Infernavika, Lava Bird Rahi” effect per turn, and only once that turn.

Bionicle: Beware the Swarm (v3.15.5)

Now the WATER and FIRE members don’t get more than a footnote in this article, because neither the Daikau nor the Infernavika are in any way utilized by Matoran (and the former technically isn’t even a Rahi). I just gave them these effects to round out the quartet as an afterthought, and they’re probably not keeping them.

Of course, this does raise the question of who should instead fill the niche for these Attributes – would be unfair for only half the villages to have Rahi support, after all. Ta-Koro is a bit out of luck here, since it seems like the only real candidates are an elemental recolor of Po-Koro’s Mahi and an unnamed six-legged fox … not exactly the most worthwhile things to turn into cards.

We do, however, have one more legitimate option for Ga-Koro.

Keras, Crab Rahi

Pendulum Effect MonsterLevel 3 | Scale 2/2 | WATER Aqua | ATK 1400 / DEF 500

Pendulum Scale = 2
[ Pendulum Effect ]
At the start of the Damage Step, if a monster you control with 1000 or less ATK battles an opponent’s monster: You can destroy this card, and if you do, that monster you control gains 1400 ATK until the end of this turn. You can only use this effect of “Keras, Crab Rahi” once per turn.
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[ Monster Effect ]
If this card is sent to the GY: You can target 1 Level 4 or lower monster on the field; that target is unaffected by Spell/Trap effects until the end of this turn. If this card is banished: You can target 1 Set card on the field; destroy it. You can only use 1 “Keras, Crab Rahi” effect per turn, and only once that turn.

Bionicle: Beware the Swarm (v3.15.5)

The Keras are a more aquatic kind of crab that served as special steeds to the Ga-Matoran when they were fighting off the Bohrok swarms. This is reflected by their effects that actually all work generically to either support those with low ATK and/or Levels (Hint: that includes Matoran), or fight against face-down cards (Hint: Bohrok are Flip Monsters). That’s kind of a step up in terms of splashable design compared to what we saw so far, but given the clear parallels to Ussal and Kewa, replacing some part of these abilities with the WATER revive currently held by the Daikau is under serious consideration.


Now, moving on to Rahi that have been implemented, but failed to receive any mechanics reflecting their canon domestication. There’s a surprising amount of these.

Mahi, Goat Rahi

Pendulum Effect MonsterLevel 3 | Scale 2/2 | EARTH Beast | ATK 700 / DEF 1500

Pendulum Scale = 2
[ Pendulum Effect ]
(Quick Effect): You can send 1 face-up “Rahi” Pendulum Monster from your Extra Deck to the GY, then destroy this card. You can only use this effect of “Mahi, Goat Rahi” once per turn.
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[ Monster Effect ]
If this card is sent to the GY: You can add 1 Level 3 or lower “Rahi” monster from your Deck to your hand. If this card is banished: You can add 1 of your banished Level 3 or lower “Rahi” monsters that was not banished this turn to your hand. You can only use 1 “Mahi, Goat Rahi” effect per turn, and only once that turn.

Bionicle: Challenge of the Rahi (v3.15.5)

Mahi are iconic for the herds of them that can be seen (and heard) in MNOG’s Po-Koro, but their usefulness as livestock has only been adapted here in the sense that they provide a lot of helpful utility effects to the Rahi archetype. One idea I have for an overhaul is to have an effect that not only provides a bit of generic utility, but also resembles some part of what Po-Koro does – the destruction replacement effect, for example, was specifically based off the Mahi trading happening in the village!

Husi, Ostrich Rahi

Pendulum Effect MonsterLevel 4 | Scale 5/5 | EARTH Winged Beast | ATK 1700 / DEF 1100

Pendulum Scale = 5
[ Pendulum Effect ]
If a card in your Pendulum Zone is destroyed: You can Special Summon 1 face-up Level 4 or lower “Rahi” Pendulum Monster from your Extra Deck. You can only use this effect of “Husi, Ostrich Rahi” once per turn. If you control no monsters: You can Special Summon this card from your Pendulum Zone.
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[ Monster Effect ]
A Synchro Monster that was Summoned using this card as Synchro Material gains this effect.
●If this card is destroyed by a card effect and sent to the GY: Target 1 “Rahi” monster in your GY with a lower Level than this card; Special Summon it.

Bionicle: Challenge of the Rahi (v3.15.5)

The Husi plays a similar role as livestock slash trade item, and in this case the effect it gives to a Synchro Monster is based on the idea of “trading”. But again, nothing here in any way works outside the Rahi archetype, so adjustments will have to be made if we want Matoran synergy.

Hapaka, Shepherd Rahi

Pendulum Effect MonsterLevel 3 | Scale 2/2 | WATER Beast | ATK 1200 / DEF 1400

Pendulum Scale = 2
[ Pendulum Effect ]
“Rahi” monsters you control gain 700 DEF. If a “Rahi” monster(s) you control would be destroyed, you can destroy this card instead.
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[ Monster Effect ]
If you do not control “Hapaka, Shepherd Rahi”, you can Special Summon this card (from your hand or GY) by changing 1 Level 4 or lower “Rahi” monster you control to Defense Position. If Summoned this way, banish this card when it leaves the field. If this card is banished: You can return 1 of your banished “Rahi” monsters to your GY, except “Hapaka, Shepherd Rahi”. You can only use this effect of “Hapaka, Shepherd Rahi” once per turn.

Bionicle: Beware the Swarm (v3.15.5)

For the protection of their Mahi herds and Husi flocks, the Po-Matoran employed Hapaka. Accordingly, the effects on this one are themed around protecting other Rahi (or in case of the banish one, “returning them to the herd”), but again locked into the archetype specifically. Adjusting it for use with Matoran is going to be a bit awkward because the color scheme and their habitat in the mountains suggest to me that it’s an Ice Rahi, thus WATER … but it’s mainly used in Po-Koro, which wants EARTH. A though nut.

Since these three are so explicitly connected and all belong to the Beast/Beast-Warrior/Winged Beast typings, I could actually see them primarily acting as a small synergistic group within that strategy. Then maybe helping out Matoran could be kept to a largely symbolic level, with effects that can technically work in a Po-Koro deck, but don’t necessarily have to be so good you actually would use them.

Dikapi, Ostrich Rahi

Synchro Tuner Effect MonsterLevel 5 | EARTH Winged Beast | ATK 1000 / DEF 1650

1 “Rahi” Tuner + 1+ non-Tuner monsters
When this card is Synchro Summoned: You can choose a number from 1 to 4; reduce this card’s Level by that number, then take damage equal to that number x 300. When using this Synchro Summoned card as a Synchro Material, you can use 1 face-up “Rahi” Pendulum Monster in your Extra Deck (and no other monsters) as the other Synchro Material.

Bionicle: Challenge of the Rahi (v3.15.5)

On a less prominent note (in fact I wasn’t aware of this previously), the Dikapi apparently were also tamed by Po-Matoran, but as mounts for scouts and messengers rather than for trading. As the resident Synchro Tuner, this is a key piece in the Beast & co Synchro climb strategy, so I’m having a hard time imagining it redesigned in a way that also works with decks using Matoran. But maybe there is a chance if the materials are adjusted to make it feasible? Po-Koro does also want to spam stuff from the Extra Deck, after all. Side note, since the Dikapi’s big selling point is endurancem, and strong grind game is all the hotness in Yugioh these days, it would be nice if it did something related to that.

Moa, Bird Rahi

Pendulum Effect MonsterLevel 3 | Scale 2/2 | WIND Winged Beast | ATK 1300 / DEF 600

Pendulum Scale = 2
[ Pendulum Effect ]
You can banish 1 “Rahi” Pendulum Monster from your Deck; this card’s Pendulum Scale becomes the same as that monster’s, and if it does, destroy this card during the End Phase. You can only use this effect of “Moa, Bird Rahi” once per turn.
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[ Monster Effect ]
If this card is sent to the GY: You can shuffle 1 of your banished “Rahi” cards into the deck. If this card is banished: You can Special Summon 1 Level 3 or lower “Rahi” monster from your hand. You can only use 1 “Moa, Bird Rahi” effect per turn, and only once that turn.

Bionicle: Challenge of the Rahi (v3.15.5)

To continue and complete the theme that Po-Matoran will tame anything, the Moa also appeared domesticated in the one game that included it. But that was only one individual Rahi, so honestly it’s probably better to just ignore that unless we happen to figure out a really subtle way to include it.


Gukko-Kahu, Hawk Rahi

Synchro Effect MonsterLevel 6 | WIND Winged Beast | ATK 2500 / DEF 1000

1 “Rahi” Tuner + 1+ non-Tuner monsters
If this card is Synchro Summoned: Draw 1 card. If this card is sent from the field to the GY: Add 1 “Rahi” monster from your Deck to your hand. You can only use each effect of “Gukko-Kahu, Hawk Rahi” once per turn.

Bionicle: Challenge of the Rahi (v3.15.5)

What we can’t ignore is the Gukko-Kahu, the larger of the birds ridden by Le-Koro’s aerial cavalry. This is another case where the domestication was translated into effects with broad utility, but in this case one of them is a simple draw, so that’s even generic. Once again, an adjustment of materials might be all it takes to make this justifiable in a Le-Koro deck. Those aren’t explicitly about Synchro Summoning, but with Makani in there, they certainly can.

Potential Members

Now on to those candidates that have not yet received cards. This could be because we haven’t reached their part of the story yet, or because they were just deemed too irrelevant.

By that latter category, I really just mean the Lightfish, the shiny little things you see floating in Ga-Koro’s lamps in MNOG backgrounds. If implemented, they would go into the Fish/Aqua/Sea Serpent strategy that centers on effect-based removal and disruption, while also helping the Ga-Matoran playstyle that wants as many quick effects as possible. That does sound like a winning combination at first, but then things stop aligning when you consider the Attribute – wouldn’t this one have to be LIGHT going by the name? When Ga-Koro has one of the most xenophobic Attribute limitations of all the villages? I guess you could work around it a bit if it was able to banish itself from the GY as cost for a quick effect, but still, doesn’t sound too optimal. And just making it WATER feels so boring.

Anyway, I think that does it for the Rahi species that were domesticated on the island of Mata Nui. It’s worth mentioning that the Mask of Light movie prominently figures a specific Ussal and Gukko that are both going to get their own cards in the next expansion, but I already have a fairly solid plan in place to make those work primarily in the Mask of Light deck while having some secondary utility for Rahi decks.


The years of 2004 and beyond, of course, introduced some more Rahi kept by Matoran. With the wolf-like Kavinika, taming them and using them as guard dogs ended in failure, so maybe giving them outside synergy isn’t even the right move. But I think it would be funny if I manage to figure out a technically generic effect that looks enticing to include in Ga-Metru decks, but ends up not working in practice due to debilitating drawbacks that bite you in the ass. Not exactly an easy balancing task, though.

Razor Whales, gentle giants of the sea, can also be tamed and ridden by Matoran once their tail spines fall off in old age. This gives us the interesting case of a Rahi that joins the domesticated group with a delay, which is mechanically problematic in a speed freak game like this one. Perhaps it could work in a way where it has one effect representing its young self, and using that one immediately enables a second one that has it acting as a mount. And like many large Rahi, there’s a good chance this would be a Synchro, so this is another case where we might want it to be generic for use with Matoran.

The Kikanalo is a bit of a questionable inclusion, since they aren’t exactly kept by Matoran. Rather, they’re accidentally beneficial due to the Protodermis they dig up – which is also appreciated by other Rahi like Catapult Scorpions. It stands to reason that this trait may translate into some (semi-)generic way to generate (excavate?) resources, but I don’t think it needs to be tuned to the point where you’d actually use it in a Po-Metru deck or anything like that. There’s also the matter of Toa Lhikan riding a Kikanalo in his set representation, but that never comes up in the lore and is also sufficiently explained by Lhikan being just that badass, so I don’t think it needs to be addressed from the Rahi side.


Moving on to Voya Nui, there isn’t really much worth mentioning – even the native Rock Ussal were never seen domesticated, probably because they’re a more aggressive breed.

But even in this kind of hostile ecosystem, the Le-Matoran Piruk specifically still managed to have a pet, namely a tame Burnak. Since this is such a minor one-time thing in side media, much like Lhikan’s Kikanalo, it should be sufficient to maybe include some unassuming piece of synergy with whatever Piruk ends up doing.


And as the last hurrah of Rahi getting along with Matoran, we dive into the waters of Mahri Nui and find Hydruka at work in the air fields. In a first since Mata Nui, we’re looking at a Rahi that appeared primarily in a domesticated state, so that definitely should be a significant part of the effect design. They harvest the air bubbles that are essential to the survival of the underwater Matoran, which makes me think their role should be to provide whatever in-game resource will end up representing that. Of course, this being 2007 story material that won’t be implemented for ages, the details are still fuzzy at best.

Finally, we do also have two more cases of specific individuals being tamed, rather than a species as a whole.

One is the Energy Hound Spinax, guard dog of The Pit. While their looks and abilities indicate they might very well be serving similar roles in a lot of other places, we only ever see one of them. Since their skill at tracking was always going to be the primary guide for their design anyway, domestication status probably doesn’t even make a difference here. Throwing in a pit (this was a typo but I’m leaving it) of synergy with all the other stuff surrounding The Pit only makes sense, of course.

The other, as I am just realizing, may actually be a throwback to the Ussal and to Pewku in particular, since we’re talking about a Hahnah crab kept by Jaller.

While it didn’t do much other than act as a Cordak mount, I could see it belonging less with other Rahi and more with the Toa Mahri archetype as a “team pet” of sorts. The affinity for heat also suggests FIRE synergy, so you really don’t have to look hard to find generic usage for this one.

Conclusion

Rahi domestication was primarily a focus during the Mata Nui years, so a large part of the cards to consider here have already been implemented. However, since only a select few of them actually incorporate synergy with Matoran, this is going to be a major point to consider in upcoming redesigns. So far, the main direction has been support based on the Attribute, which I intend to keep at least for the Ussal and Kewa, since those already work pretty well with their Matoran handlers. The Keras may also join this group, but at the same time its present incarnation shows a different approach of having the card generically help with the task for which it was tamed.

When it comes to the remaining Rahi, it would of course be nice to have a proper FIRE member so every village gets a helping Rahi, but it’s a bit unfortunate that the first real opportunity for that is the Hahnah all the way in 2007. Others can be categorized either as being domesticated at large scale for a given purpose, or as wild creatures that beneficially interact with the Matoran population in some spots, or as pets that belonged to certain individuals. I believe the Keras model of just doing something generically helpful and thematically appropriate should work fine for the first two types, while the final one is easily handled by synergizing specifically with the pet’s owner.

An interesting thought that cropped up along the way is that large Rahi like the Kahu or the Razor Whale, which are generally expected to be Synchro Monsters, could be made accessible to Matoran and others by simply making their materials fully generic. This potentially simplifies effect design compared to main deck cards, since you can then incorporate them in a combo without needing to justify running a non-archetypal brick.

Finally, I want to make sure that these Rahi, while capable of helping Koro and other non-Rahi decks, do also still have a spot in their native Rahi strategies. After all, a big reason to split those up by Type was always that it simplifies design of anything added to the archetype later, and that’s especially useful when you have the extra challenge of also making it work outside the archetype.

It also helps, as I’m just noticing, that all the Rahi covered here come from only two Type groups: Beast/Beast-Warrior/Winged Beast and Fish/Aqua/Sea Serpent. No Reptiles or Insects to be found, and nothing exotic either if we (rightfully) ignore the Daikau. In other words: We now know everything except those two groups is free to throw around archetype locks and such without having to worry about ruining some lore-friendly hybrid in the distant future!

Designer’s Quip: Surprise Rahi

Boo! Bet you didn’t expect another one of these! What, you obviously did because there are several unaddressed items left in the overview? Shut up and pretend otherwise for the sake of my joke, because this is the Ambush Predator article.

Much like an ambush, this should be relatively quick since it’s such a small group, but let’s see what there is to cover.

See also:

Concept

The reason I’m specifically highlighting this one as a “behavioral grouping” in addition to those that go by card properties is that it appears prominently in the traits of a few different Rahi, and translates fairly nicely to card game mechanics. So naturally, it would be nice to have a somewhat consistent way of representing ambush predation, though we may need to differentiate based on the broader deck types each Rahi is meant to play a role in. Today’s goal is getting a handle on exactly that.

The Rahi Who Predate Ambushingly

An early and already implemented example of an Ambush Predator is the Tarakava, as evidenced by its flavor text.

Tarakava, Lizard Rahi

Normal Pendulum MonsterLevel 6 | Scale 3/3 | WATER Reptile | ATK 2600 / DEF 1200

Pendulum Scale = 3
[ Pendulum Effect ]
While you have a Level 6 Reptile “Rahi” Pendulum Monster Card in your other Pendulum Zone, your opponent’s cards and effects cannot be activated in response to the Pendulum Summon of a “Rahi” monster. When an opponent’s monster declares a direct attack: You can destroy this card, and if you do, Special Summon 1 face-up “Rahi” Pendulum Monster from your Extra Deck.
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[ Flavor Text ]
The first thing to remember about Tarakava is that even if you can’t see them, they are always there.

Bionicle: Challenge of the Rahi (v3.15.5)

What’s relevant here is the Pendulum Effect that Special Summons in response to an attack, “ambushing” the opponent with a monster they couldn’t see – but it was always there. Never mind that they could technically see it in the Pendulum Zone, we can’t exactly give a Normal Monster a hand effect.

This effect implements the idea of a sudden Tarakava attack, but also somewhat ties into the broader planned Reptile Rahi playstyle that’s supposed to be all about moving monsters back and forth between Monster and Pendulum Zones (and a future overhaul would probably align with that even more closely). A Beast-Type employing the same hunting tactic, by comparison, may have received a version of the effect that doesn’t mess around with Pendulum Zones in the same way.

We should probably consider a quick statistical rundown of the remaining Ambush Predators, which I have marked as candidates for the “Flip” subtype in the spreadsheet. These make up a modest total of 5 Rahi, consisting of 2 Insects, 1 Reptile, 1 Beast and 1 Winged Beast.


On the Insect side, the general plan calls for making them weird and toolboxy, with the option of integrating them with other Rahi Types or the established Insect pile. The latter has its own prominent ambush predator in Infinite Antlion, popping out of the hand and then popping the opponent’s cards during battle. We could use this as reference, however we must keep in mind there’s a significant difference between this Level 3 and the substantially larger 5- and 6-star Rahi noted down as ambushing Insects.

One is the Chute Lurker, a Visorak combiner that could also be Aqua because it’s amphibious and could also get away with being a Level 4, but my instinct from just looking at it leans more towards a high-level Insect. Its ambushes take the form of grabbing prey that comes flying around curves in the Le-Metru Chute System, so the exact implementation of its effects will hinge on how we end up representing that stuff. In any case, the Flip idea where it would be triggered by the opponent attacking it sounds much too slow for such a speedy context, so more likely it’d be something from the hand again. Maybe related to some measure of speed like when your opponent is drawing/summoning/activating too much stuff in a short period of time.

By comparison, the Tunnel Stalker’s wait-and-lurk approach to hunting would actually go well with it sitting face-down, “under the sand”, and assaulting whatever dares walk over it. The tricky part is also providing enough general utility to be worth playing when your chances to get off the battle effect as planned aren’t exactly going to be high, but I imagine we could just have it offer a weaker version of its gimmick from hand and/or GY as a less high-roll alternative.

There’s actually a third maybe-Insect, which also happens to be our first probably-Beast. You see, typing tends to be a bit uncertain on shapeshifters like the Archives Beast, so my two main options are to go with what’s mentioned in the name or the kind of animal most known for mimicry. Either way, the unique method of ambush by shapeshifting means we’re probably combining the element of surprise with one of copying properties of other cards – maybe more than just monsters, given that its part in the story had it posing as a room. As an Insect, this would probably be implemented in a fairly simple and straightforward manner to work as a standalone tool, while as a Beast, I could see it being more of a inherited effect in the same vein as the current Level 4 Pendulums, aiding that Type’s goal of climbing into big Synchro bosses. And if it’s instead a Reptile – could be – then it might do something like destroying a Spell/Trap to take its zone and then assault monsters from there.

As a sister Type to Beasts, the Winged Beast representative Vahki Hunter would likely be worked into the same Synchro climb strategy, but might up being itself one of the mid-tier bosses since it’s pretty damn big. As previously noted, its diet of mostly machinery should manifest in some kind of bonus against Machines, but the broader effect representation of its ambushing tactics should be generically usable to have any relevance. It attacks the tail end of passing Vahki squads, so maybe something “at the end of the Battle Phase”, to somewhat keep with the beatdown theme?

And finally, the Swamp Stalker is a Reptile that hunts much like a crocodile … which is just the Tarakava all over again. Except this one doesn’t punch and is smaller, even more so when it’s not a mutant specimen. I struggle to think of anything super original it could do while aligning with the scale manipulation gimmick, so maybe the Reptiles just need to cook a bit more before we settle on something here. It’s from Karda Nui, so there’s ample time.

Conclusion

I definitely don’t get the impression that my very first idea of making the Ambush Predators a cohesive Flip-based strategy has any chance of panning out at all. The different types they span simply have too widely varying needs and gimmicks, and mechanics based on ambushing aren’t a strong enough focus to easily work as a completely standalone thing with so few members.

Instead, what’s probably going to happen is that they all end up as unrelated pieces of their own native strategies, offering different takes on ambush-based effects depending on what most helps the decks they’re supposed to go in.

But maybe, just as a little gag, we could set things up so eventually a support card can be made that works for specifically those scattered Rahi? Like by making them all Flip monsters after all (that don’t necessarily rely on flipping), or using a common statline, or have an effect pattern that could be referenced by a “that has an effect that …” clause. We’ll see, not like it matters too much.

Release: Unity Evolved

Featuring Xyz made from Fusions, Fusions made from Xyz, a Rank-Up (that also goes down?) and … Mata-less Nuva?

In the spirit of evolution, we have also evolved past the need for download links – the expansion is now available as a repository integrated with EDOPro, automatically updating in the background whenever you open the game!

To set that up, all you need is a simple edit to a config file – see here.

The one thing that doesn’t include is decks, which you can instead get from this archive. This update brings a whopping 5 new ones, so we’ll cover that in addition to the usual notes.

New Cards

Let’s start with the odd one out, the one that doesn’t relate to the overall Kaita theme of the release. A new “Nuva” Continuous Spell called Tales of the Nuva.

Tales of the Nuva

Continuous Spell

When this card is activated: You can add 1 “Energized Protodermis” card from your Deck to your hand. If a “Nuva” Spell/Trap(s) is sent from the hand and/or Deck to your GY: You can target 1 of them; Set it to your field. If your opponent activates a monster effect: You can send this card to the GY, then target 1 “Toa Nuva” monster you control or in your GY; shuffle it into the Deck, and if you do, you can Special Summon 1 “Toa Nuva” Fusion Monster with a different name from your Extra Deck. You can only use each effect of “Tales of the Nuva” once per turn.

Bionicle: Protodermic Evolution (v4.6.5)🎉

The name and image on this one borrow from Tales of the Masks, the fourth book in the Bionicle Chronicles series, in which the Turaga tell each other stories of the Toa Nuva’s exploits while dropping Metru Nui foreshadowing left and right because it was already late 2003. We aren’t quite that far yet, however, so rather than foreshadowing, this card is motivated by two other specific aims:

  • Providing a Continuous Spell that isn’t a Nuva Symbol . While I do quite like the shared structure of search + major benefit + punish I put together for those, it’s proven to be a bit of an annoyance in deckbuilding – the search part makes it feel like you’re missing out if you’re not also playing the matching Toa Mata (i.e., a Level 6 Main Deck Brick), while the lore-relevant punish gives your deck a whole new weakness you really might rather avoid. But if you then decide not to play the Nuva Symbols, the half of the Kanohi Nuva that searches Continuous Spells becomes useless, which also doesn’t sit right with me. Thus the conclusion: We need a “Nuva” Continuous Spell that is not a Nuva Symbol, doesn’t require playing a Toa Mata, and doesn’t risk accidentally losing you the game!
  • Dabbling in designing a “custom card”, in the meaning of the term used when talking about actual Konami-published Yugioh product. That is, a support card printed a wave or two after the core of its archetype, featuring a patently ridiculous lineup of effects that resolve a bunch of outstanding issues and make a flawed deck seriously playable overnight. I figured a boost like this might be needed after the Isolde ban kneecapped my previous Toa Mata/Nuva builds (Warriors and Equip Spells!), and thematically it fits this particular card because the book it’s based on was also a late addition to the Toa Nuva vs Bohrok-Kal part of the story.

So what issues does this actually resolve? Well, on activation it searches you an Energized Protodermis card , giving you a bridge from our numerous Nuva Spell/Trap searchers into our fusion enablers – one that doesn’t need a specific Toa Mata in hand to work. While on the field, it lets you Set a Nuva Spell/Trap that was sent from the hand or Deck to the GY, offsetting the discard required by the aforementioned searches in situations where you can’t do so with a Kanohi Nuva. Finally, when your opponent does stuff, it can send itself to the GY to swap a Toa Nuva into a different one, allowing you to make better use of the toolbox offered by their various effects. And because this can also target a monster in the GY, it doubles as a way to recover after the front row of your board is broken.

Overall, the structure here is search + minor benefit + major benefit, so just from that you can tell this card is deliberately set up to be a bit ahead of the curve balance-wise. However, to keep things somewhat fair, it does have a few drawbacks the Nuva Symbols don’t suffer from: The search only works on activation, meaning you can’t get it if it’s placed via a Kanohi Nuva, and it has to remove itself to activate its major benefit, so you can’t use it turn after turn. Remember, the Toa Nuva only search when properly Fusion Summoned, so swapping them in with this won’t help you get to another copy that would let you do it again!

In those decks I tested that played both this and the Nuva Symbols, it definitely did feel like the latter were still more powerful options in many situations, so I do think I managed to hit about the powerlevel I was aiming for. The card is crazy, but not in such an all-encompassing way that it totally eclipses the other members of its design space.

One small thing of note is that the swap actually lets you target any Toa Nuva, not just Fusions. This paves the way for distant-future synergy with Phantoka and Mistika, but more immediately works with our freshly introduced Xyz Monsters: The Toa Nuva Kaita.

Akamai

Akamai, Toa Nuva Kaita of Valor

Xyz Effect MonsterRank 8 | FIRE Warrior | ATK 3400 / DEF 2400

3 Level 8 monsters
After this card was Xyz Summoned during your turn using a “Toa” monster as material, your opponent cannot activate cards or effects for the rest of that turn, except during the Main Phase 2 and End Phase. You can detach 1 material from this card; add 1 “Nuva” Spell/Trap from your Deck or GY to your hand. You can only use this effect of “Akamai, Toa Nuva Kaita of Valor” once per turn.

Bionicle: Protodermic Evolution (v4.6.5)

Great Kanohi Aki Nuva

Equip Spell

If another “Kanohi” Equip Spell becomes equipped to the equipped monster, destroy this card. If the equipped monster is a “Toa Nuva” Xyz Monster, it cannot be destroyed by battle, gains 1000 ATK, and can attack all monsters your opponent controls once each, also if it attacks a Defense Position monster, inflict piercing battle damage. While this card is equipped to a monster: You can reveal 1 “Toa” monster in your Deck or Extra Deck, then target 1 monster you control with a Level; its Level and name become the same as the revealed monster (until the end of this turn), then destroy this card.

Bionicle: Protodermic Evolution (v4.6.5)
Wairuha

Wairuha, Toa Nuva Kaita of Wisdom

Xyz Effect MonsterRank 8 | WIND Warrior | ATK 3000 / DEF 3000

3 Level 8 monsters
When your opponent activates a card or effect while this card has a “Toa” monster as material (Quick Effect): You can detach 1 material from this card; negate the activation, and if you do, you can banish both that card and the top card of either player’s Deck. Then, if you banished 2 different card types (Monster, Spell, Trap), draw 1 card. You can detach 1 material from this card; add 1 “Nuva” Spell/Trap from your Deck or GY to your hand. You can only use 1 “Wairuha, Toa Nuva Kaita of Wisdom” effect per turn, and only once that turn.

Bionicle: Protodermic Evolution (v4.6.5)

Great Kanohi Rua Nuva

Equip Spell

If another “Kanohi” Equip Spell becomes equipped to the equipped monster, destroy this card. If the equipped monster is a “Toa Nuva” Xyz Monster, it is unaffected by your opponent’s card effects, also your opponent must keep their hand revealed. While this card is equipped to a monster: You can add 1 “Nuva” Normal or Quick-Play Spell from your Deck to your hand, then destroy this card. You can only use this effect of “Great Kanohi Rua Nuva” once per turn.

Bionicle: Protodermic Evolution (v4.6.5)

Like all the other Toa Nuva, both of these guys share a Nuva Spell/Trap search effect – but through the power of three combined, they can even do it without discarding. Their other effects are more or less direct upgrades from their Mata counterparts, so let’s take them one at a time.

Akamai is still an OTK enabler that locks your opponent out of doing stuff in the Battle Phase, be it responding to attacks or triggering floaters. However, the Nuva incarnation covers its bases even further and applies the lock from the instant of its summon to when you’ve finished your one-sided beatdown. That means there’s no risk of getting outed before going to battle, and you can even safely make additional plays to get enough damage on board. That last part is a bit worrying because you can also do it going first and then still go for a degenerate combo that is now impossible to interrupt, but I did not manage to figure out a restriction that would prevent that without harming the intended use cases and/or being an unreadable word salad. So I’m just banking on there not being a way to make this turn 1 while still retaining resources and without offering ample opportunity for disruption before you get to that point, which seems to be true so far. Do correct me in the comments if you have a different idea, though!

Besides that, Akamai Nuva does … nothing. While his previous form also made sure to negate continuous effects of what he battles and burned upon victory, I ended up cutting these features here to stay at a nice compact 2 effects. Being able to search already offers plenty of OTK help in and of itself, because one of the targets is the Kanohi Aki Nuva, granting exclusively Toa Nuva Xyz Monsters the same benefits its base form gave to the base Kaita – more ATK, more attacks, piercing, and battle protection. And for secondary utility, it lets you disguise a monster as a Toa to help with Xyz plays.

Wairuha , meanwhile, retains his role as an omni-negate for turn 1 setup. Where the original version had its “Wisdom” component implemented as a little guessing game on a separate effect, the Nuva incarnation already gives you (a less versatile form of) the banishing reward for free with the negate, and then also a draw on the same effect if you wisely choose between the players’ decks.

Now the reason I originally split the game from the negate was that the game, by virtue of involving a draw, is vulnerable to Ash Blossom. That isn’t a weakness you typically want on a disruptive effect, but for Wairuha Nuva I found it acceptable because it’s in some way offset by the search effect. If that already eats an Ash, that’s one thing less to worry about with the negate, and if it doesn’t, it just adds the Kanohi Rua Nuva, which makes him immune to all effects including those that would negate the negate. This specific interaction is why I made the effects share a HOPT clause here, because otherwise you either let the search go through and have to deal with an omninegate Towers … or you try to stop the search, get negated, and still have to deal with an omninegate Towers. That felt like an unfun kind of interaction, so I wanted to prevent that. Might still soften that to only forbid using them in the same Chain though, or walk this back entirely – not sure yet if it makes sense to put an Xyz with a Fusion as material under the same scrutiny as famous 1-card Synchro Chixiao.

Anyway, the Rua Nuva also lets you see if anything threatening is in the hand. And for utility, it searches those Nuva cards none of the other Kanohi get and then blows itself up. Can you tell I’ve been playing Infernoble?

In general, despite being two Ranks higher, these cards are not strictly stronger than their predecessors – in fact, they do lack some specific features those had. That is because their most significant upgrade is instead in the materials line, which just says “3 Level 8 monsters” – they’re generic, though with the big caveat that their true boss effects only work with a Toa as material. Putting out 3 Toa Nuva just did not seem realistic, and if you look at actual card releases, almost all Xyz Monsters have been generic for ages. Once in a while there’s a Type restriction, but archetype ones are basically unheard of nowadays.

The implication of this is that something like a Horus deck that can easily make a Rank 8 before breakfast is now able to access the Nuva Spell/Trap lineup, and if you throw some actual Toa Nuva into the mix, even gets a nice big boss monster on top. One of our new decks covered below takes advantage of exactly this.


In those last few paragraphs, several things were casually brought up that do not fully make sense relative to the cards shown so far. Why does Akamai Nuva specify it only locks if Summoned during your turn? What does the Rua Nuva actually search if there aren’t any Nuva Normal/Quick-Play Spells? And why do the Kaita work with any Toa as material even though the Toa Nuva are the only Level 8s?

The answer to all those questions lies in the cover card of this release and the namesake of this part of the expansion: Nuva Rank-Up-Magic Protodermic Evolution.

Nuva Rank-Up-Magic Protodermic Evolution

Quick-Play Spell

During the Main Phase: Target 1 Warrior monster you control with “Toa” in its original name; Special Summon, from your Extra Deck, 1 Warrior Xyz Monster whose Rank is 2 higher than that target’s Rank or 2 lower than that target’s Level, by using it as material, and if you do, you can attach 1 other card from your hand or face-up field to the Summoned monster as material, except this card. (This is treated as an Xyz Summon. Transfer its materials to the Summoned monster.)

Bionicle: Protodermic Evolution (v4.6.5)

From the very moment I settled on the set name “Protodermic Evolution”, I was thinking “that sounds like a RUM“. And here it is, the so far one and only Nuva Quick-Play Spell, allowing you to flex your Toa into all kinds of Warrior Xyz above their Rank or below their Level. Specific use cases include:

However, with apologies to the Dark Infinity stans in the audience, I may yet end up futureproofing this to only summon up to Rank 8. Just because there isn’t a crazy R10 Warrior yet doesn’t mean there’ll never be, and at that point this would be searchable access in any deck that can make 3 Level 8s.


And let’s not forget about the other side of the conflict. The Bohrok-Kal only have two cards here, but that’s enough to get them all geared up and ready to fight a Kaita battle.

Kaita Za

Bohrok-Kal Kaita Za

Fusion Effect MonsterLevel 9 | LIGHT Machine | ATK 3000 / DEF 0

“Bohrok Tahnok-Kal” + “Bohrok Nuhvok-Kal” + “Bohrok Pahrak-Kal”
Must first be Fusion Summoned, or Special Summoned by Tributing the above cards you control. You can banish up to 3 “Bohrok” cards from your GY; until the end of this turn, this card gains 1000 ATK for each, also it can make up to that many attacks on monsters during each Battle Phase this turn. If this card is sent to the GY: You can target 1 “Bohrok” Xyz Monster in your GY; Special Summon it, and if you do, attach this card to it as material. You can only use each effect of “Bohrok-Kal Kaita Za” once per turn.

Bionicle: Protodermic Evolution (v4.6.5)
Kaita Ja

Bohrok-Kal Kaita Ja

Fusion Effect MonsterLevel 9 | LIGHT Machine | ATK 2500 / DEF 2900

“Bohrok Gahlok-Kal” + “Bohrok Kohrak-Kal” + “Bohrok Lehvak-Kal”
Must first be Fusion Summoned, or Special Summoned by Tributing the above cards you control. (Quick Effect): You can banish up to 3 “Bohrok” cards from your GY, then target 1 monster in either GY, or if you banished 2 or more, you can target 1 monster on the field instead; equip it to this card. If you banished 3 cards to activate this effect, your opponent cannot activate cards or effects in response. If this card is sent to the GY: You can target 1 “Bohrok” Xyz Monster in your GY; Special Summon it, and if you do, attach this card to it as material. You can only use each effect of “Bohrok-Kal Kaita Ja” once per turn.

Bionicle: Protodermic Evolution (v4.6.5)

Like their non-Kal counterparts, these are meant to deal specifically with situations that their components alone cannot handle, and use banishing from the GY as cost to go with the Fusion Spell .

Kal Kaita Za is for when all effect removal fails and you must simply unga the bunga, either to hit over something specific or to deal massive damage. Rising up to 6000 ATK, it gets even bigger than the original Kaita Za, and while it lacks the protection at full tilt, it instead doubles, nay, triples down on offense by also gaining additional attacks. I think this effect remained unchanged from the very first draft, because it arrived fully formed in my head the moment I actually built the combiner. Seriously, what else could fit “Tahnok-Kal with beefy arms” better than dealing three big hits to the face? Except I allowed the extra hits to be on monsters only, because 18k direct damage seemed just a tad too extreme.

Kal Kaita Ja has the, among Kaita, rare privilege of having its effects based on something it actually did in the story: Showing up for a few comic panels so Wairuha Nuva can job hard enough to completely erase the concept of Toa Kaita from all following installments. Accordingly, its effect is basically a combination of Gahlok- , Kohrak- , and Lehvak-Kal tuned to beat specifically Wairuha Nuva, as well as other negates and disruptive monsters. The whole thing is tied into a neat, yet still somehow really wordy modular package that lets you access more of the effect depending on how much you banish for cost. For 1, it’s GY disruption, for 2 it can also be removal, and for 3 your opponent can’t even do anything about it.

A point of distinction from the original Bohrok Kaita is that the costs on these let you banish any Bohrok card, not just monsters. This is partially to expand the recycling capabilities of Bohrok Swarm Fusion , and partially because being forced to banish your own Bohrok-Kal with these would really, really suck. You see, in addition to their situational effects on the field, the Bohrok-Kal Kaita have a floating effect that massively boosts your recursion once you get them into rotation: When sent to the GY, they bring back a Bohrok Xyz from there (not the banishment!) and attach to it as material. Now if that material gets detached, it returns to the Extra Deck, but if the Xyz as a whole leaves the field with it attached, that means the Kaita is sent to the GY and triggers again! If it’s not the same turn, anyway. I did have the presence of mind to put a HOPT on these.

I feel like I also need to say something about the fusion materials, because didn’t I mention before that getting out 3 Toa Nuva was unrealistic? Yet now we are demanding not just 3 Bohrok-Kal, but even specifically named ones? Even with a contact fusion clause, that seems quite hard to achieve, no?

Well yes, kinda. The reason we can’t make these anymore generic is that a) Fusions don’t really do generic materials (for obvious reasons) and b) Bohrok have an in-archetype fusion substitute “monster” , so not having a specific name in the materials would have been anti-synergistic. The most that could be justified is something like “X-Kal”, “Y-Kal”, or “Z-Kal” + 2 “Bohrok” Xyz Monsters, but even that’s extremely questionable.

Also, funnily enough, between contact fusions not working with substitute materials and Bohrok-Kal Strategy providing plenty of searching for the Fusion Spell while you set up your Xyz, it actually seems to be easier to make these by fusing the normal way. A surprise, but a pleasant one, because that means you can also get an extra draw while you’re at it.

Updated

A sweeping change that barely affects anything is that cards which previously said “Nuva” Fusion Monster now say “Toa Nuva” monster so as to also include the Toa Nuva Kaita. That means all the Kanohi Nuva, all the Nuva Symbols, and also Nuva Emergence for consistency (still only lets you Fusion Summon Fusion Monsters though – shocking, I know). I’m only putting up one representative for each category here, surely nobody needs more to get the idea.

Kanohi Nuva

Great Kanohi Pakari Nuva

Equip Spell

If another “Kanohi” Equip Spell becomes equipped to the equipped monster, destroy this card. If the equipped monster is a “Toa Nuva” monster, it gains 1000 ATK, also if it attacks a Defense Position monster, inflict piercing battle damage. If this card is sent to the GY, and you have not activated any “Kanohi” Equip Spell effects in the GY this turn: You can banish 1 monster from your GY; place 1 “Nuva” Continuous Spell from your Deck face-up in your Spell & Trap Zone, also if you control a “Toa Nuva” monster, all monsters you currently control gain 600 ATK until the end of your opponent’s turn.

Bionicle: Protodermic Evolution (v4.6.5)
Nuva Symbol

Nuva Symbol of Burning Courage

Continuous Spell

You can shuffle this card you control into the Deck; add 1 “Toa Mata Tahu” from your Deck to your hand, or reveal it in your hand and add 1 “Energized Protodermis” card instead. You can only use this effect of “Nuva Symbol of Burning Courage” once per turn. If your “Toa Nuva” monster battles, your opponent cannot activate cards or effects until the end of the Damage Step. If this card leaves the field: Target 1 “Toa Nuva” monster you control; negate its effects, and if you do, skip the Battle Phase of your next turn.

Bionicle: Protodermic Evolution (v4.6.5)
Nuva Emergence

Nuva Emergence

Trap

Fusion Summon 1 “Toa Nuva” Fusion Monster from your Extra Deck, by shuffling the Fusion Materials listed on it into the Deck, from among your hand, GY and/or face-up banished cards. If your opponent controls a monster, you can also banish 1 monster from your Deck as Fusion Material. During the Main Phase, except the turn this card was sent to the GY: You can banish this card from your GY; add 1 “Nuva” Spell/Trap from your Deck or GY to your hand, except “Nuva Emergence”, then discard 1 card. You can only use each effect of “Nuva Emergence” once per turn.

Bionicle: Protodermic Evolution (v4.6.5)

And balanced as all things should be, the Bohrok-Kal also get a little tweak, this one just consisting of me finally finding the right wording for what I wanted the effect to do all along. Bohrok-Kal Strategy now only lets you trigger both effects at once if you do an actual proper Xyz Summon, courtesy of Progression Playoffs staple Dimension Slice.

Bohrok-Kal Strategy

Continuous Spell

When this card is activated: You can Special Summon 1 “Bohrok” monster from your hand. If a “Bohrok” monster(s) is Special Summoned to your field (except during the Damage Step): You can activate 1 of these effects, or, if the Summon is an Xyz Summon, you can activate both, in sequence;
●Target 1 other Spell/Trap on the field; destroy it.
●Add 1 “Bohrok” Spell/Trap from your Deck to your hand, except “Bohrok-Kal Strategy”.
You can only use this effect of “Bohrok-Kal Strategy” once per turn.

Bionicle: Protodermic Evolution (v4.6.5)

Ever since Kalifornication got added, it bothered me a bit that I could just throw out a Bohrok-Kal on both my and the opponent’s turn to simultaneously remove backrow and search cards, even if the monster itself didn’t do anything before going back. Not to mention that Special Summoning even a poopy little Bohrok Va in the presence of a Kal would get the same crazy benefit.

Now, however, all has become as it should be. Cheating with Kalifornication only gets you one of the effects, merely summoning stuff while you have an established Bohrok-Kal only gets you one of the effects. Only good, proper overlaying of two Level 4 monsters as Astral intended gives you access to the glorious “Both” option. Or doing it with a Krana-Kal , we’re not that picky.

Decks

Bohrok-Kal with Kaita

Not much different from previous Kal builds, except you spend two spots in the Extra Deck on the Kaita and one in the Main Deck on Bohrok Swarm Fusion . If you ever find yourself in a spot where you have two appropriate Bohrok-Kal and Strategy on the field, simply bring back a Beacon from your GY to search the Fusion Spell, and you get to enjoy all the benefits of a Kaita. Granted, in those spots you’re already winning anyway most of the time, but might as well be fancy about it.

A detail worth mentioning is that the specially tight ED space forced me to put the two Regulus enablers as well as the King himself into the side deck this time. Going first, you can make room by taking out the Bahrag, since they only serve to accelerate your Kalifornication into established boards.

Also, regarding Kalifornication, I somehow only recently noticed a trick with it that always existed: use the effect to bring out a Bohrok-Kal, have it attach the Krana Vu-Kal , use the gained effect to banish until the End Phase … and just like magic, the part of the effect that would return it to the Extra Deck in your opponent’s End Phase fails to apply. Certainly helps with getting those Kaita materials ready.

Mata-less Nuva

A new possibility that opened up thanks to Tales of the Nuva alleviating the Toa Mata dependency is “Mata-less Nuva” – Toa Nuva builds that use fusion substitute monsters to stand in for all the different named materials you’d normally need. The advantage, other than removing bricky Level 6 monsters from the decklist, is that you can use the same substitute for any of the 6 Toa Nuva, so you have more freedom to choose between the options in your toolbox for a given situation. The downside is that these faux materials don’t work while in the Deck or banished, so Nuva Emergence specifically loses some versatility.

Now obviously, “put in random substitutes and hope you draw them” isn’t exactly a better use of deck space than just playing the Toa Mata, so instead I looked for a strategy that actually makes good use of those monsters already. Which of course brings us straight to notorious meta kingpin Tearlaments, where King of the Swamp has seen play quite unironically as a way to pretend Kitkallos isn’t banned. Other than that, the main synergy points are that the Toa Nuva’s on-summon searches discard as part of the effect so you can trigger Tear cards, and that milling a Kanohi Nuva, or any Nuva Spell/Trap while Tales is active, gets you something for your backrow.

Strategy-wise, the deck primarily aims for the very funny combo line where you overlay Kashtira Fenrir and Tearlaments Kashtira to get Dracossack, link the Tokens it makes into Cherubini to send King of the Swamp, link the Cherubini and something else into Sprind to send Merrli, and Fusion Summon to your heart’s content, usually for a Rulkallos. If the Dracossack stays around, Sprind doubles as an additional disruption, and if anywhere in your opening hand or many, many mills you found an extra King of the Swamp and access to Nuva Emergence, that’s all you need to also have full access to the custom half of the Extra Deck.

Now if Kitkallos actually was still around, the Energized Protodermis cards would go super crazy in here due to being hybrid Fusion Spells and materials that are also Aqua, and fusing them with a Tearlaments monster puts the the latter into the GY where it immediately triggers to fuse again. But sadly LIGHT Aqua + Tearlament does not actually make anything currently legal, and so I appear to have missed that window of opportunity. Unless there’s progress on Master Duel modding …

For a different take on the concept, I remembered that around the time Branded Fusion was first revealed, people quickly came up with the idea of sending the LIGHT and DARK Hex-Sealed Fusions as material for Albion or Lubellion, then proceeding to reuse them with those cards’ own fusion effects to make stuff like Red-Eyes Dark Dragoon. Now there’s an issue here for our purposes: Thanks to fusion substitution not working in the Deck, as well as a Konami-said-so ruling declaring that “Fallen of Albaz” cannot be impersonated when using Branded Fusion, we can’t actually get both substitutes into the GY off a single activation. But doing fancy Dragoon plays obviously removes whichever one we sent from the GY, and then it won’t substitute anymore …

So instead, you either make Mirrorjade and leave the substitute around for later, or spend it on a Granguignol that sends Muddy Mudragon to replace it. Of course, if you factor in the cards in your hand that aren’t Branded Fusion, it’s perfectly possible to also make both of those together, or one of them plus Dragoon, or maybe all three plus Nuva access – it really depends on the materials available in the specific situation.

Ultimately, to make a Toa Nuva you need both a substitute you aren’t using for anything else and some access to either Nuva Emergence or an Energized Protodermis card. Branded Fusion can provide one or the other, but for the second piece of the puzzle you’re just kind of reliant on luck, and without the ability to go through a good chunk of your Deck like the Tear build does, that means you can expect to just be playing plain old Branded a decent chunk of the time. For this reason, I consider this variant the less successful one of the two, but still, when it works it works. Finding a way to play less than 48 cards may help as well, despite what they say about 50-card Branded being “optimal”.

Some test footage of both variants can be seen in this video:

Behold: Mata-less Nuva!

Protodermic Evolution

Now for the big shiny Rank-Up of the release, the first deck I attempted to put together was … this. It’s not very good, sadly. The idea was to just skip out on the Toa Nuva entirely and play classic Toa Mata, leveraging Protodermic Evolution to either access Rank 4s from a single Main Deck Toa, or the Nuva Kaita themselves from a Toa Mata Combination. In the former case, your options would be King Dempsey to get a little Warrior/FIRE Link climb going, or Raider’s Knight for big damage on turn 2 and beyond.

Unfortunately I appear to have underestimated just how little this archetype actually does without “Isolde send 6” holding it together. Or maybe I’m just still too stuck on the plays and combos I remember from back when that was allowed, even though something completely different would be needed in this new era – perhaps a blind second board-breaking approach could work?

Will have to investigate this some more before I decide what, if anything, should be done to fix the issues. In the meantime, if you have an opinion or idea, do speak up – additional viewpoints certainly don’t hurt.

So after mostly giving up on R6->R8, I started looking into the other way to reach the Nuva Kaita: Hard making them with three Level 8s. Conveniently, recent set releases have given us some dudes who easily provide the required bodies: The Horus monsters. Of them, we’re playing just enough names to overlay into what we need, a trio consisting of Imsety (of course), Hapi, and … Gesundheit. Add the King’s Sarcophagus, and surprisingly we find ourselves left with more than enough space to play a fat Nuva package of actual Toa Mata, Nuva Symbols, and even the coveted Cube . Which in turn makes our Kaita quite powerful even when made with only Horus materials, because the search then gives us whatever we were missing to enable Fusion Summons. Even better, Horus combos don’t require the Normal Summon, so if necessary we have the option to spend that on an Energized Protodermis Chamber , or bring out a Toa Mata to fuse away with Destiny .

The Rank-Up still appears in this list, and has some reasonable utility here and there. While you won’t ever Summon two Toa Mata to get into a Rank 6 you can turn into a Rank 8, what you can do is turning a lone Toa Nuva into a Rank 6, either the base Kaita or specifically Toa Mata Combination – Storm , actually still a pretty nice tool to throw a specific Toa Mata on the board in the very instant the condition for its trigger effect would be met. Better yet, the lock preventing those free monsters from being used as material just so happens to omit Fusion Summoning, so an activation of Energized Protodermis Destiny takes you straight into your next Toa Nuva. This is far from your main play, but does come up and feels quite good to pull off.

Overall, I’m super happy with how this one turned out. It lets the Nuva Kaita fully utilize their dual role as Extra Deck search cards that can also on rarer occasions act as crazy boss monsters. Usually your very consistent access to Toa Nuva, which can still very much be considered bosses in their own right, is the foremost way you take control of the game, but every once in a while you can also enjoy Wairuha as a beefy negate or Akamai as an OTK enabler, giving you a nice cherry on top of an already functional strategy.


Speaking of functional, now begins the countdown of a few months until I hope to roll up with properly functional Rahi designs. O joy.

Well, see you then!

So I came up with some games

As is tradition, I have used the opportunity of April Fools’ to invest more effort than is reasonable in something that isn’t really part of the project. Usually this comes with a nice little haha funny release, but this year … well, making an actual implementation of what I felt like doing would have required an amount of effort more unreasonable than what the date can justify, so instead you’re getting PowerPoint presentations. Yay!

To make the occasion extra special, I even bothered narrating this one myself. But don’t worry, all the information and more can also be found in the usual textual form at the links below.

Custom CCG: Virtues

Custom Board Game: Rahi Overlord

And we now return to our regularly scheduled programming, see you at the end of the month.

Custom Board Game: Rahi Overlord

If looking at all the card game stuff usually posted here makes you think “man I wish this had more than just cards”, then boy have you come to the right article. In this one we’re covering a full board game that, yes, involves cards, but also a physical board, colorful little marbles, movable game pieces, and a headache-inducing amount of math.

Rahi Overlord is an idea that was sparked during the in-depth Rahi study I’ve been doing for the past year or so. In this game, players take the role of two or more Makuta engaging in what one might call a “Rahi-off”: A showdown where they aim to have Rahi of their creation become dominant in the ecosystem of a certain area.

Now I will say in advance there’s not all that much depth to this yet – I’m obviously less immersed in the board game space than in the card game one, and also ran out of time before I could really start doing the research I’d need to do this properly. But I believe there are still some interesting things to show off, and maybe I’ll come back to build on them one day.

Game Elements

The Board

The field on which the game is played represents the setting of the Makuta’s showdown, perhaps some part of the Southern Continent or a remote island. In any case, it is divided up into multiple individual Zones, each of which has the following properties.

  • Biome: Dictates which Rahi will thrive in this Zone, as well as what resources players can obtain from it. A wide variety of Biomes is possible, but they all belong to one of the three categories Land, Sea, or Mixed.
  • Capacity: A fixed number of slots that can be filled with different Rahi species. Different population levels within each slot are represented by printed markers that also provide information on population growth.
  • Point of Interest (PoI): Randomly distributed across the Zones at the start of the game. Different PoIs (Makuta Lab, Protodermis Pool, Matoran Village, …) have different effects that may positively or negatively affect Rahi and players.

A player is said to control a Zone if the total population of their Rahi within that Zone is strictly greater than every other player’s. In all other cases, the Zone is considered unassigned.

The Points of Interest, represented by something like small tokens at the center of the respective Zone, start the game face-down (with the exception of the Makuta Labs, of which there is one per player) and are flipped face-up once a player takes control of the Zone. It remains that way even if control of the Zone changes or it becomes unassigned later.

Resources

In a game of Rahi-making, the relevant resources are obviously going to be the ones used to make Rahi: Viruses and Liquid Protodermis. I imagine the latter would generally be a static reserve that is not meaningfully depleted with use, so it is only subtly represented as a limit on how many Rahi you can create in a round – a limit that may increase while holding Protodermis Pool PoIs.

That leaves Viruses as the main resource you gather and spend over the course of the game. Physically, they’d be represented by little orbs or cubes or whatever-hedrons in different colors. Mechanically, their main purpose is being mixed and matched into different recipes of Rahi creation, so a color is really the only property they need. Each Rahi lists a combination of Virus colors required to create it, and players periodically gain Viruses whose colors are determined by factors like their controlled Biomes, their Rahi, and a bit of randomness to keep things fresh.

Rahi

Now here lies the main focus and complexity of the game. A Rahi, or rather a Rahi species, is represented by a card that lists several pieces of information.

  • Recipe: The combination of Virus colors needed to create this Rahi.
  • Habitat: The Biome in which the Rahi lives. The mechanics of this follow four simple rules:
    • Rahi whose Habitat is a Land Biome cannot be played into a Sea Biome.
    • Rahi whose Habitat is a Sea Biome cannot be played into a Land Biome.
    • Rahi whose Habitat is a Mixed Biome can only be played into Mixed Biomes – they need both Land and Water to survive, basically.
    • Being in a Biome that exactly matches the Habitat, not just its category, grants some additional bonus.
  • Diet: Provides the baseline of how the Rahi’s population in a Zone develops over the rounds. Herbivores experience a fixed amount of growth depending only on their location and population level, Carnivores grow by “stealing” population from other Rahi in their Zone, and Omnivores can mix these two sources, but gain less from each alone than the pure Diet types.
  • Size: A number that mainly plays into carnivorous population growth – wouldn’t make sense to have giant beasts be the prey of tiny critters, after all.
  • Traits: An assortment of standard keywords that describe in more detail how a Rahi lives, feeds, and grows. Stuff like Flying, Poison, Ambush Predator, and so on would go here. I’d like to keep this to a level of complexity where you just need a reference page in the rulebook to figure it all out.

The Rahi card can basically be considered the blueprint of the species and always remains with the player. The actual physical Rahi populations only come into being once the blueprint is realized by investing Viruses according to its Recipe, and are separately represented by a little plastic stand (colored depending on the player) in which you place a token identifying the Rahi species.

Such an assembled playing piece is then placed into a free slot on the chosen zone, in the lowest so-called population level. Round by round, the combination of Biome matchups, feeding, and traits is used to calculate a population change in each species, and the piece moves up and down the levels on the board accordingly. If a population hits zero, it’s considered extinct and removed from the Zone entirely.

Now the details of all this involve, ugh, numbers, and so haven’t been worked out at all. I do get the impression it may just end up ludicrously complicated no matter how we slice it, but hey, nothing wrong with a game that appeals only to Ecologists and Mathematicians.

Sample Rahi cards:

Makuta

Finally, each player takes the role of a different Makuta, also represented in the form of a card. In this case, though, there are only two key properties to consider.

  • Affinities: Some combination of Biomes, Diets, Size ranges, and/or trait keywords. When creating a Rahi featuring any of those listed, the Makuta is allowed to substitute one Virus listed on the Recipe with one of any other color.
  • Ability: A unique effect that the Makuta can apply when certain conditions are fulfilled. Unlike the fixed ability keywords of Rahi, this can be just about anything and is described as text on the card.

Each Makuta also comes with a unique Makuta Lab PoI, which is placed face-up in a Zone by that Makuta’s player at the start of the game and gives only that player a certain bonus to any population calculations happening in that Zone.

Sample Makuta cards:

How to Play

Or, well, as much of an outline of it as I’ve figured out at this point. It’s not exactly an instruction manual.

Setup

Each player selects a Makuta and takes the respective card, as well as the PoI token for that Makuta’s Lab. Place the board on the table, and have each player (in turn order) pick a Zone where they put their Lab, along with a plastic stand in their chosen color (so you can easily tell who has which). It might even make sense to have the Zones be individual board segments that you connect together, so the greater number of Labs with more players can be accounted for using a greater number of Zones.

In any case, once the Labs are placed, add random face-down PoI tokens to the remaining Zones. Shuffle the Rahi cards and form a deck that is also placed on the table. Admittedly, with almost 200 Rahi species, this could end up physically difficult if you’re playing with the full set, but maybe it makes sense to have multiple decks anyway – to ensure more demanding Recipes only appear late in the game, for example.

Finally, each player gets a starting stock of Viruses – something like one of each color, I guess.

Research Phase

This is where blueprints are acquired from the shared deck, one way or another. A lot of fun options like drafting and trading come to mind here, but for this loose description let’s just keep it simple and do the following: Players take turns picking up 3 cards from the top of the deck. They choose one to take, one to place back on the top, and one to place on the bottom. Once every player has done so and thus taken a card, the research phase is complete.

Creation Phase

Players again take turns to create Rahi from a blueprint they have, using Viruses as per the Recipe. They select one of the Zones where they have either their Lab or a population of Rahi, and place a piece (plastic stand + cardboard token) representing the new population into the lowest population level of an empty slot in that Zone. A player may also pass, either voluntarily or for lack of Viruses matching their blueprints.

The creation phase ends once all players have exhausted their maximum creation count – one by default – or passed.

Calculation Phase

This is where you all put your heads together, grab pen and paper, and figure out the population change for every Rahi in every Zone. Most likely some kind of helper sheet should be provided for this purpose.

After all calculations are done and the positions of the Rahi pieces have been updated to reflect the new populations, the calculation phase ends.

Migration Phase

Optionally, players now have the opportunity to split off part of the population of any Rahi species past a certain threshold into an adjacent Zone, putting together and placing a new Rahi piece in the process. This is crucial because it’s how you spread your reach and ultimately approach victory, but since it requires a fair amount of population gain first, activity in the migration phase only really starts a couple of rounds into the game.

Additionally, it could be useful to also have the option to entirely migrate a species, taking its whole population (no matter its size) and shifting it over to an adjacent Zone. This could be used to escape predators, for example. However, we don’t want Rahi zipping all over the map in an endless migration phase, so if we have this mechanic, it should only be once per player and round.

It’s worth nothing that, as it currently stands, this is the only part of the game where a player can actually gain control of an unassigned Zone. Do remember to flip up the appropriate PoI when that happens – its effects will begin applying immediately!

Once no further movements are possible or all players have passed, the migration phase ends.

Extraction Phase

Players obtain fresh Viruses, their colors distributed as per the latest board state. The details are left as an exercise to the reader, but I imagine you could assign colors to Biomes and then distribute Viruses based on the players’ controlled zones, or something with Rahi properties, or have them blindly pick out of a mixed bag. Maybe some combination of those.

Once everyone is stocked up and ready, return to the Research Phase for the next round.


Now you might say it doesn’t look like I have any idea when this game would end, and you would be totally correct. Let’s just say that at some point, perhaps simply after X rounds, the terrible cycle above will have to be broken, and the player who controls the most Zones at that point is crowned the victor of the Rahi-off – the Rahi Overlord, if you will.

Custom CCG: Virtues

The Bionicle YGOPro Expansion, unsurprisingly, is all about designing cards for specifically the game of Yugioh. Which is fun and has been going well, but between the scope of the topic that is Bionicle lore and the project’s rather slow and steady progress, I have sometimes worried about the risk that the actual game may meet its demise and fall out of relevance before I’m done over here. Not looking like that’s happening anytime soon, but with strange aeons …

So what do we do in that case? One option is to just keep going and enjoy not having new product releases continuously changing the landscape I’m trying to design for, but I feel like it might be hard to maintain my or anyone else’s interest in the long term when working on a static corpse. Another is moving the project to any of the countless other similar card games that exist, but honestly there’s a reason I picked this one, and anything else would just feel like a downgrade in terms of how well it accommodates the source material.

The third, my favourite, and the one that means the most work, is the following: I make my own card game, with blackjack and hookers. And so, presenting “Virtues”, an original CCG made from and for the legend of the Bionicle.

What’s a CCG?

The acronym stands for “collectible card game”, a type of game that can be traced back to 1993’s Magic the Gathering. Since then, the concept has inspired a wide variety of titles that add their own twists to it, but broadly speaking they all can be described as follows:

Players pick from a large pool of cards with different properties and abilities to construct a deck that they then use to face off against another player. Over the course of the game, cards are played according to some basic ruleset to interact with each other and the players. The winner is the first player to achieve some fixed goal, which often means reducing a specific resource on their opponent’s end to zero.

And then things get complicated because cards have text on them.

Great. With all that established, let’s see how our own cards look.

Card Properties

Card Type

In most CCGs, and especially in this one, cards represent the building blocks of a story that is told as the game unfolds. So if we want to begin by figuring out what types of cards there are, the question we have to ask is “what types of building blocks does our story need?”. In that regard, I think the storylines of Bionicle – and really most other stories – can be reasonably generalized to the following form:

Someone uses something somewhere to do stuff.

From that, we can derive four different types of cards:

  • Beings – Represent the characters in the story (“someone”). These cards have a white frame, are played onto the field, remain until removed by some means, and actively engage in battles.
  • Items – Represent inanimate, mostly physical objects in the story (“something”). These cards have a gray frame and stay on the field permanently just like Beings, but do not themselves play an active role in battles.
  • Locations – Represent the setting of the story (“somewhere”). These cards have a green frame and are played into a dedicated zone from where they influence the game.
  • Actions – Represent things that happen in the story (“do stuff”). These cards with a blue frame are played onto the field only briefly, resolve their listed action(s), and then immediately proceed to the Grave.

In Yugioh terms, this is roughly equivalent to a division into Monsters, Continuous Spells/Traps plus Equip Spells, Field Spells, and then all other Spells/Traps. Important disclaimer: The interpretations of what each card type represents are only a guideline, and exceptions based on gameplay considerations are always possible.

Generic Properties

Most of the information that can be found on a card is actually universal to all card types. Some – the name, the image, and the card text – are obvious, so let’s proceed right to the more interesting ones.

In the top right corner, you have an icon and number denoting the cost of the card. Which tells us that, like most CCGs and unlike Yugioh in particular, this game comes with a general system of costs that must be paid in order to use cards. While such a fundamental difference is naturally going to make recycling existing designs a little harder, I wanted to include a cost system just because coming up with one is a lot of fun, and I must say I’m quite satisfied with the result. More on that later, as it’s not something that can be explained while looking only at the cards. For now, just remember this kind of icon labeled with “Duty” and the number 1 indicates a Duty Cost of 1.

Below the name, we can find two different types of descriptive properties. Leftmost, highlighted with an icon and colored background, stands the card’s Element – this can be Fire, Water, Earth, Wind, Light, or Dark, but also Stone, Ice, and all other manner of nonsense – in some cases it may even be blank. The remaining space with the gray background lists any number of groups, which can also include subgroups (denoted as e.g. Toa > Toa Mata). These two properties are frequently used to identify cards in card text, with one special piece of terminology being that two cards sharing either the same element or at least one group are said to match each other.

Combat Stats

Specific to Beings and Items is the block of stats at the bottom of the text box. For Beings, who can both attack and be the target of attacks, it consists of both Attack and Defense values. For Items, who can be targeted for attacks but not attack by themselves, there is only Defense.

At this point we should probably talk about how battling works a bit. In yet another break from Yugioh, I have decided to handle the stats in a way more similar to MtG: Defense acts like a little health bar for each card, and a battle involves the two combatants dealing their Attack worth of damage to each other’s Defense. It’s just a nice storytelling device that allows depicting various scenarios – teamwork, damage resistance, poison, and regeneration are just some examples of concepts that can be neatly implemented through battle-related effects this way.

As far as battles in general are concerned, instead of also copying Magic’s system of attackers and blockers, I’d prefer to go with something less involved. A good candidate is the system of Shadowverse, where Attack/Defense stats work as previously described, but also target selection is simply left to the attacking player much like in Yugioh.

There are, of course, many more aspects to consider with this central design element. Do we have summoning sickness? Is there a dedicated Battle Phase? Under which conditions can you directly attack the opponent’s life points? But such things are best figured out in the process of actual testing, of which I did none. So yeah.

Location Level

The number underneath the textbox of a Location is unrelated to combat, as Locations go into their own separate zone where they can neither attack nor be attacked. Instead, this value represents the Location’s “zoom level”, and to explain this I have to elaborate a bit on how Locations work. Take a look at the Mata Nui Field Spell on the Yugioh side of things:

The Island of Mata Nui

Field Spell

All Normal Summoned “Toa Mata” monsters gain 600 ATK/DEF. During your Main Phase: You can reveal 1 monster in your hand and add 1 “-Koro” Field Spell that mentions that monster’s Attribute from your Deck to your hand. If you revealed a “Toa Mata” monster, you can add 1 “The Great Temple, Kini-Nui” instead. If a card in your Field Zone, except “The Island of Mata Nui”, is destroyed while this card is in your GY: You can activate this card, but banish it when it leaves the field. You can only use each effect of “The Island of Mata Nui” once per turn.

Bionicle: Coming of the Toa (v3.21.6)

One of its effects searches you the Field Spell of a particular village on the island (“zoom in”), while another is able to bring the island back to the Field Zone later (“zoom out”). This kind of dynamic with locations that exist within other relevant locations is something that occurs all the time in Bionicle’s story, so I’d like to have it implemented on the level of game mechanics rather than card effects.

Which is where the Location Level comes in: If you have an active Location, and you play another Location with a higher Level, it is simply stacked on top of that active Location. Only the topmost layer of the stack actually applies its effects and interacts with the field, but if it’s ever removed, you simply fall back to the layer below it. On the other hand, if a new Location you’re trying to play does not have a higher Location Level than the active one, you will be required to remove cards from the stack until you reach a Location for which that is the case – essentially zooming out and then back in.

Card Text

We previously brushed this one aside as “obvious”, but that of course meant only as far as its inclusion on every type of card is concerned. After all, card text is what truly makes the game go round and the source of most of the things that actually occur when you’re playing. So a fair amount of consideration is needed when it comes to layout, format, and structure of these texts. To summarize my stance on a few relevant points:

  • Structure: Please yes. There’s no good reason to make it just one big paragraph.
  • Keywords: Sparingly, but don’t shy away from them either.
  • Icons: Please no. At least not as a way to replace words in the big main text box.

Basically, the goal is to maintain the very useful property of “reading the card explains the card”, while still doing what we can to simplify said reading.

Let’s start with some simple ways to add structure to a card text. What Yugioh does in the OCG, and for some reason not in the TCG, is numbered effects – so you can clearly see where each of them starts and ends. We’re definitely copying that, as well as the practice of listing meta-restrictions like once-per-turn clauses in a leading sentence using those numbers. Additionally, if space allows, putting a line break and some kind of visible separator between effects further helps everything look clean and orderly.

In the effects themselves, I would like to extract two particular pieces of generic information so they can be found at a glance: The type of the effect, and the location(s) where it can be used. Maybe things like costs and conditions could also receive some special highlighting.

For instance, a Yugioh effect of:

If you control no monsters: You can discard 1 card; Special Summon this card from your hand or GY.

might all in all take on this form:

[Active | Hand, Grave] (If you control no Beings) Discard 1 => Place this card in your Destiny Area.

With this format, a quick scan of the [bold bracketed] parts on the left edge of the text box already tells you which parts are actually relevant in a given game state. The activation condition for this “Active” effect is in (parentheses) because it has no bearing on the actions you need to perform when using the effect, and the cost (paid at activation) is split from the effect (performed at resolution) by a nice bulky “=>”, acting much like the “;” in PSCT.

We’ll see various effect types and tentative standard wordings while looking at sample cards, so I won’t bore you with a dictionary at this point. The idea of how card texts are built should be clear from this brief introduction, at least.

The Field

Now that we know the cards, it’s time to look at where they’re played, and how. Virtues gives each player a field that looks like this:

We’ll go into some detail about the marked locations and the mechanics that involve them, but for starters here’s a quick overview:

  • (Duty) Deck: The standard main deck from which you draw.
  • Unity Deck: The Extra Deck equivalent, containing an always available pool of cards you can form by “combining” other cards.
  • Destiny Area: The main “battlefield” where you play cards in order to beat your opponent.
  • Duty Area: Used to pay the Duty Costs of the cards played into the Destiny Area.
  • Unity Area: Used when playing cards from the Unity Deck – the materials go here.
  • Location: The special zone where Location cards are played and stacked on top of each other.
  • Grave: Where spent cards go; the GY (duh).
  • Seal: Alternative place cards can be removed to, usually by effects; the banishment.

The Deck (and drawing cards)

There’s a lot that could theoretically be said about the Deck, or “Duty Deck” as its full name would be. How small or large can it be? How many copies of each card are you allowed to play? How many cards do you draw at the start of the game? How many each turn?

All valid questions, and all questions I have not studied enough to make any kind of statement that’s not a random guess. So, leaving out specific numbers, we can just say your opening hand of X cards comes from here, and then presumably you draw an additional one at the start of each of your turns.

Destiny

Now this is really getting into the meat of things. The Destiny Area, located right in the middle of the combined board formed by both players’ fields, hosts the core of the gameplay. In the story you carve out as you play, the cards placed here are the heroes fighting to fulfill their destiny.

The main way to get a card – specifically a Being, Item, or Action – into the Destiny Area from your hand is to pay its Duty Cost (more on that in a moment). Once you have done so, you can put the card into any part of your Destiny Area; there are no zone divisions or limits planned here at the moment (though I can’t say I’m not slightly tempted to open up the super fun design space that is columns). If the card is a Being or Item, it stays there until otherwise removed. If it’s an Action, you apply its effect and then put it straight into the Grave. As a side note, the act of putting a card into the Destiny Area by paying its cost (basically our Normal Summon) is called “Assembling” it, in reference to the constructable nature of the material.

What Beings, and to a lesser extent Items, can do while in the Destiny Area is, of course, battle. During its controller’s turn, a Being gets to attack one opponent’s Being or Item and each combatant with an Attack stat subtracts it from the other’s Defense stat. A card whose Defense hits 0 goes to the Grave, and presumably some manner of damage to the player is involved at some point. As I said before, the details of all this would only really take shape during actual testing.

Duty

To the right of the Destiny Area lies the Duty Area. Its purpose is, quite simply put, to hold the resource used to pay Duty Costs. And that resource is none other than cards.

Duty is a cost system that, out of the ones I looked at, most closely resembles the mana system of Duel Masters: By placing arbitrary cards into a special location, they each act as 1 of the resource that drives your plays, and you indicate payment of a certain cost amount by changing the position of that many such cards until your next turn. This achieves a gradual ramp into being able to pay for more and more expensive cards, allowing cost to act as a design handle which determines in which part of the game a card is meant to be played.

Another thing I was considering getting out of this cost system was a “soft” deckbuilding restriction, comparable to those that result from MtG’s different mana colors. But rather than requiring payment in different types of Duty, the idea would simply be that you can only Assemble cards that match (= share the Element or a Group with) at least one card in your Duty Area. However, while putting together some example cards, I already realized cards don’t quite end up being playable together the way I’d want them to be, so that idea has been shelved for now.

Flavor-wise, the cards in the Duty Area represent the ones working in the background to keep the world running while the heroes of Destiny engage in their epic tale. Therefore, I would refer to an upright card here as being “on duty”, and when it gets turned sideways, it becomes “idle” until the next turn.

Finally, for balancing it’s important to consider how quickly the Duty Area can grow. My initial idea was to let you just place cards in it as much as you want, paying in card advantage for a quicker progression to more powerful cards. However, it’s not hard to imagine how to abuse this – stuff your deck full of cards with Duty Cost 4 or so, immediately put almost everything into the Duty Area and use it to turbo out a boss, and then another one on each subsequent turn as your opponent either does the same or fails to catch up.

To work around this issue, three approaches come to mind.

  • Card design: If everything is consistently set up so that a combination of a few low-cost cards has an advantage over a single high-cost card, one could keep boss turbo from being the optimal playstyle. But that seems hard to keep up in the long run.
  • Delay: We could amend the Duty Area’s mechanics so that paying a cost flips the card face-down (“resting”), and then it returns to idle on the next turn and finally goes back to being on duty two turns after the inital use. That would change the dynamic insofar as it would give decks with a lower rate of growth a faster rate of play, since they can still replenish their resources from the hand while waiting for their initial supply to recover. But for that extra turn to make a meaningful difference, we again need appropriate card design.
  • Growth limit: Pretty much all card games with a cost system actually put a hard limit on how quickly you can amass your resource, following in the footsteps of the limit MtG puts on Lands. Often, the limit is you just get to add 1 resource at a specific point early in the turn, providing a stable cap on how fast one can really go. Adopting this rule would be the most reliable fix, but I’m not sure I really want to, since I do very much enjoy the concept of a tradeoff between resource availability and card advantage. Surely the latter can be considered a solid limitation of its own, I mean just look at the shit Purrely gets away with in Yugioh.

Finding out which, if any, of these approaches is the right solution would once again require a fair amount of testing. So, moving on.

Unity

The final of the three virtues that give the game its name is associated with both a secondary deck and an area on the left-hand side of the field. These are both in service of a mechanic that works a lot like the Extra Deck of Yugioh, but more specifically meant for cards that represent multiple entities combining or working together – consider the examples below.

Unity Cards look mostly like regular cards and cover the same card types as well, with the exception of Locations (I imagine Spherus Magna might be an exception to that exception as the one and only Unity Location). They can be recognized as Unity Cards by two special features: A symbol labeled “Unity” without a number where you’d expect to find the duty cost, and a section at the start of the text box marked with the same symbol.

As this should ideally suggest at a glance, playing a Unity Card does not require paying a Duty Cost, but instead you have to use the listed materials. To do so, move them from the Destiny Area to the Unity Area in the sideways “idle” position. The Unity Card now enters the Destiny Area and remains there – or not, if it’s an Action. The basic card types continue to function as usual.

The instant a Unity Card exits the Destiny Area, no matter by what means (unless it goes to the Unity Area itself, maybe?), you take as many of the idle materials in the Unity Area as possible and flip them into the upright position … which I guess can’t be called “on duty” here (“ready” works, but suggestions welcome). At the start of your next turn, presumably in the same phase where the Duty cards are restored from their resting or idle state, all upright cards in the Unity Area return to the Destiny Area, as if the combination has come apart.

What this slightly involved process achieves in particular is that, in addition to Kaita-like boss monsters smoothly floating back into their components, Unity Actions functionally “blink out” the used material until the next turn – since the Action will leave the Destiny Area by itself right after resolving, causing the cards in the Unity Area to be primed for coming back at the next opportunity.

LoCation

Really, we’ve said everything that there is to say already when describing the Location Cards that go here. You can stack them in order of increasing zoom level, but only the topmost Location is active at a time. If you want to play a Location with lower zoom level than the active one, you have to remove layers from the stack until you find one with even lower zoom (or all cards are gone).

Probably should also be noted that just like when playing a card into the Destiny Area, you have to pay the Duty Cost of a Location you add to this zone.

Grave and Seal

The Grave just fills the basic role of a place where cards go after they have been used and/or removed from the field. CCGs like to have some unique name for this thing, but none of the options I’ve considered have really convinced me – “Archives”, “Chronicle”, or “Wall of History” all don’t sound right one way or another. Maybe there’s a good one I’ve missed?

The Seal is a brazen copy of Yugioh’s banishment, because I had some pretty neat design associations with that mechanic already. Namely, abilities that could non-lethally seal away someone or something, be it simple freezing or a mighty Toa Seal, were generally associated with banishing. Therefore, I have decided to already highlight this piece of flavor in the name of the location itself.

Further Mechanics

Below are some mechanics that I also figured would be nice to have, but might introduce too much additional complexity to be really worth it.

Destiny Cards

Besides combining through Unity, there is another way by which individuals in Bionicle often attain more powerful forms: Evolving under certain conditions as ordained by their Destiny. Consider as examples the transformation from Matoran into Toa, the changes brought about by Energized Protodermis, or even the Makuta turning into energy beings at some point in history.

These evolutions, I was thinking, could be represented by a type of card similar to, yet distinct from, Unity Cards. Such “Destiny Cards” would also be marked with a special cost symbol and label, as well as a dedicated materials section in their text box. However, their cost still comes with a number, and the materials tend to require a more specific setup.

How this works is that you can play a Destiny Card in either your Duty Deck or your Unity Deck. In the former case, you would be able to play it from your hand through the regular assembly process of paying the listed cost in Duty. But in the latter case, you can Assemble it from the Unity Deck for free using a material that meets its condition. Doing so will send any used materials to the Grave instead of storing them away in the Unity Area, as an evolution through Destiny is generally neither temporary nor reversible.

This gives you the opportunity to tell either a story of the evolution itself by playing a deck aiming to set up the right conditions, or a story that simply features the evolved form by playing it in your deck like any other card – no materials required. Think about it like the difference between the Toa Nuva in the Bohrok Saga and in Mask of Light.

Equipping

If you are familiar with the Bionicle YGOPro Expansion, you know it has its fair share of Equip Spells in the form of all the different Kanohi. And on each of those cards, you can find one shared clause:

If another “Kanohi” card becomes equipped to the equipped monster, destroy this card.

every Kanohi ever

This is meant to represent the simple fact that only one Kanohi can be worn and used at a time, and in order to avoid writing that over and over again, I wanted to give Virtues an equipment mechanic that inherently handles that kind of stuff.

My idea was as follows: An Item, and perhaps a Being in some cases, can have one or more of its listed Groups marked with a special symbol. This would, while in the Destiny Area, give it the non-effect ability to equip to a Being in the Destiny Area by attaching much like an Xyz Material (in particular, it also goes to the Grave if the Being leaves the Destiny Area). In this state, its effects labeled with the Equip location apply, and we say it is equipped “as” the Group that had the equip symbol (player’s choice, if multiple available). And to accomplish the single-Kanohi rule from this position, we just make it so that whenever a Being has two Items equipped as the same Group, its controller must pick one of them to send to the Grave. Of course, an equipped card can also be voluntarily removed and return to being standalone in the Destiny Area.

Beyond this, I was thinking about further extending the design space of this “equipment slot” mechanic by also allowing the equip symbol on a group name to be listed either multiple times or in combination with a number. The meaning would be that this specific item “tolerates” sharing its equip slot with up to that many others, so if you for example equip two Kanohi with an equip value of 2 (the halves of the Vahi?) to a Being, they would both be able to stay. But if only one of the pair has the value 2 and the other is a regular 1-equip, one of them needs to go. Basically, you’d need to find any legal state in which no currently equipped Item exceeds its equip value. As you can imagine, this could end up really complicated for the player to handle and isn’t really needed for all that many cases, so probably better to not go there.

More Gameplay Details

Phases

Considering all the elements introduced so far, it seems like a turn needs to be divided into at least:

  • Draw Phase: Where you draw for turn.
  • Ready Phase: Where time-based adjustments to cards in Unity and Duty Areas happen (rested to idle, idle to on duty/ready).
  • Main Phase: Where the turn player Assembles cards, uses effects, and battles.
  • End Phase: Where stuff expires.

Arguably some kind of distinct Battle Phase could be beneficial to have, but like most details of the battle system, that’s a question for a later stage of development.

Activated Effects: Order and Responses

With trigger effects and probably also quick effects in the game, there’s no getting around having some mechanism to order simultaneous activations and to dictate when and how effects can be activated in response to something.

The two well-documented examples of such a thing are Yugioh’s Chain and Magic’s Stack, both of which basically amount to resolving in reverse activation order. However, there are two main differences to be pointed out:

  • Once a Chain starts resolving, it does so in one go with no room for further activations until it’s done, while the Stack allows activating more stuff between two individual resolutions.
  • Chains only allow responses to the most recent Chain Link, but anything on the Stack can be responded to even if other objects have been stacked on top of it already.

The former gives long Chains that nice feeling of building tension that finally culminates in a massive, unstoppable sequence of resolutions – whatever happens, happens. The latter is what enables Chain Blocking to protect crucial trigger effects from negation, which is just a super nice part of the learning curve. So even beyond the fact that we’re operating under the conceit of repurposing effects designed for Yugioh’s system, I’m inclined to go with something like Chains just because Chains rule.

On the other hand, when it comes to ordering simultaneous trigger effects, it’s probably better not to copy Yugioh and its pedantic distinction of mandatory and optional effects. We can just keep it simple and use the same rules as more or less any game out there: Each player freely decides the order of their triggers, turn player first.

Example Card Conversions

With all that established, thank you very much for reading! Enjoy some additional cards from the Expansion that I’ve attempted to translate to the system of Virtues, but do always keep in mind a lot of the details are guesswork that is far from being suitable for a functional game.

BYE

Toa Mata Onua

Effect MonsterLevel 6 | EARTH Warrior | ATK 2100 / DEF 2100

To Tribute Summon this card face-up, you can Tribute an EARTH or “Toa Mata” monster in your hand, except “Toa Mata Onua”, instead of a monster you control. Once per turn, if a monster(s) is sent from the hand or Deck to the GY: You can target 1 card in either GY; place it on the top or bottom of the Deck, and if it was a monster whose original ATK in the GY was lower than this card’s current ATK, gain LP equal to the difference.

Bionicle: Coming of the Toa (v3.21.6)
Virtues
BYE

Turaga Matau

Link Effect MonsterLink-2 [↙ ▶] | WIND Spellcaster | ATK 1400

2 monsters, including a WIND Warrior monster
During your Main Phase: You can Special Summon 1 Level 4 or lower WIND monster from your hand in Attack Position, but its ATK becomes 0. If this card is sent from the field to the GY: You can activate this effect; during the Standby Phase of your next turn, add 1 WIND monster from your GY to your hand, then, if your opponent controls more monsters than you do, you can make all monsters they currently control lose 700 ATK/DEF until the end of that turn. You can only use each effect of “Turaga Matau” once per turn.

Bionicle: Coming of the Toa (v3.21.6)
Virtues
BYE

Ta-Koro, Village of Fire

Field Spell

While all face-up monsters you control are FIRE (min. 2), face-up monsters you control cannot be destroyed by your opponent’s card effects. If your FIRE monster battles an opponent’s monster with higher original ATK, before damage calculation: You can discard 1 card; your monster gains ATK equal to the highest original ATK on the field, until the end of this turn. You can only use this effect of “Ta-Koro, Village of Fire” once per turn.

Bionicle: Coming of the Toa (v3.21.6)
Virtues
BYE

The Makuta

Ritual Effect MonsterLevel 2 | DARK Fiend | ATK 1500 / DEF 1500

You can Ritual Summon this card with “I am Nothing”. Must be Ritual Summoned, and cannot be Special Summoned by other ways. If this card is Ritual Summoned: Return all Special Summoned Level/Rank 5 or higher monsters on the field to the hand. You can Tribute this card; Special Summon 1 “Rahi” monster from your hand, Deck, or GY whose Level is less than or equal to the number of monsters in your GY. You can only use this effect of “The Makuta” once per turn.

Bionicle: Challenge of the Rahi (v3.15.5)
Virtues
BYE

Toa Mata Pohatu

Effect MonsterLevel 6 | EARTH Warrior | ATK 2400 / DEF 1700

To Tribute Summon this card face-up, you can Tribute an EARTH or “Toa Mata” monster in your hand, except “Toa Mata Pohatu”, instead of a monster you control. Once per turn, if a monster(s) is Special Summoned from the Extra Deck, or a monster Special Summoned from the Extra Deck activates its effect: You can target 1 Spell/Trap on the field; destroy it, also, if you control a Rock monster, you can destroy 1 additional Spell/Trap on the field.

Bionicle: Coming of the Toa (v3.21.6)
Virtues
BYE

The Chronicler’s Company

Continuous Trap

You can only control 1 “The Chronicler’s Company”. This card gains these effects based on the number of “C.C. Matoran” monsters you control.
●1+: Once per turn: You can Special Summon 1 “C.C. Matoran” monster from your hand or GY with a different name than the cards you control.
●3+: Once per turn: You can target 2 “C.C. Matoran” monsters you control and 1 card your opponent controls; return them to the hand.
●6: You can send this face-up card to the GY; shuffle all cards on the field into the Deck, except “C.C. Matoran” cards. Neither player can activate cards or effects in response to this effect’s activation.

Bionicle: Coming of the Toa (v3.21.6)
Virtues
BYE

The Island of Mata Nui

Field Spell

All Normal Summoned “Toa Mata” monsters gain 600 ATK/DEF. During your Main Phase: You can reveal 1 monster in your hand and add 1 “-Koro” Field Spell that mentions that monster’s Attribute from your Deck to your hand. If you revealed a “Toa Mata” monster, you can add 1 “The Great Temple, Kini-Nui” instead. If a card in your Field Zone, except “The Island of Mata Nui”, is destroyed while this card is in your GY: You can activate this card, but banish it when it leaves the field. You can only use each effect of “The Island of Mata Nui” once per turn.

Bionicle: Coming of the Toa (v3.21.6)
Virtues
BYE

Taku, Duck Rahi

Pendulum Effect MonsterLevel 4 | Scale 5/5 | WIND Winged Beast | ATK 1400 / DEF 1700

Pendulum Scale = 5
[ Pendulum Effect ]
During your End Phase: You can add 1 “Rahi” Pendulum Monster from your Deck to your Extra Deck face-up. If you control no monsters: You can Special Summon this card from your Pendulum Zone.
—————————————-
[ Monster Effect ]
A Synchro Monster that was Summoned using this card as Synchro Material gains this effect.
● When a Spell Card is activated (Quick Effect): You can shuffle 1 face-up “Rahi” Pendulum Monster from your Extra Deck into the Deck; negate the activation, and if you do, destroy that card.

Bionicle: Challenge of the Rahi (v3.15.5)
Virtues

BYE

Bohrok Nuhvok

Flip Effect MonsterLevel 4 | EARTH Machine | ATK 1500 / DEF 1800

FLIP: Special Summon 1 Level 4 “Bohrok” monster from your Deck in face-down Defense Position, except “Bohrok Nuhvok”.
Once per turn: You can target 1 Spell/Trap Card on the field; destroy that target, and if you do, its Spell & Trap Zone cannot be used until your next Standby Phase. During the End Phase of the turn you activated this effect, shuffle this face-up card into the Deck.

Bionicle: Beware the Swarm (v3.15.5)
Virtues
BYE

Bohrok Lehvak-Kal

Xyz Effect MonsterRank 4 | WIND Machine | ATK 1900 / DEF 2400

2 Level 4 “Bohrok” monsters
Place materials detached from this card on the bottom of the Deck, instead of sending them to the GY. (Quick Effect): You can target 1 other card you control or in either GY; attach it to this card as material. If this card has 5 or more materials: You can detach all of this card’s materials, and if you do, destroy up to that many cards your opponent controls, then you can attach 1 of those destroyed cards to this card as material. You can only use each effect of “Bohrok Lehvak-Kal” once per turn.

Bionicle: Protodermic Evolution (v4.5.6)
Virtues
BYE

Great Kanohi Rua

Equip Spell

If another “Kanohi” card becomes equipped to the equipped monster, destroy this card. If the equipped monster is a “Toa Kaita” monster, it is unaffected by your opponent’s card effects, also your opponent must keep their hand revealed. Once per turn, while this card is equipped to a “Toa Mata” monster you control: You can Special Summon 1 “Toa Mata” monster with the same Level from your hand, then, immediately after this effect resolves, Xyz Summon 1 “Toa” Xyz Monster using monsters you control, including that Special Summoned monster.

Bionicle: Coming of the Toa (v3.21.6)
Virtues
BYE

Toa Seal

Quick-Play Spell

Target 6 “Toa” monsters with different names you control, in your hand, and/or in your GY, including at least 1 on the field; banish the targets in your hand and GY (if any), and if you do, banish up to 6 cards from your opponent’s hand (at random), field, and/or GY, but the number of cards banished from the hand must be less than or equal to the number of Normal Summoned monsters you control among the targets. You can only activate 1 “Toa Seal” per turn.

Bionicle: Beware the Swarm (v3.15.5)
Virtues

Third-party icons used:

Sword icons created by Freepik – Flaticon

Shield icons created by Freepik – Flaticon

Link icons created by Creaticca Creative Agency – Flaticon

Deck Idea: Mechanized Springtime in Onu-Koro

March is right around the corner and large parts of the world are entering the beautiful season of spring; Sylphs are abound in Flourishing Hills and Awakening Forests, reviving EARTH monsters and getting their shit kicked in by ghost girls. What better time to look at a new decklist revolving around Onu-Koro, the perhaps even second best Field Spell That Lets You Draw 3 Cards?

Onu-Koro, Village of Earth

Field Spell

You can target up to 5 EARTH monsters in your GY; shuffle them into the Deck, then gain 600 LP for each card shuffled into the Main Deck this way. If your LP are higher than your opponent’s: You can send 1 EARTH monster from your hand or field to the GY, then pay LP in multiples of 1000 (max. 3000); draw 1 card for every 1000 LP paid, then, if your LP are lower than your opponent’s, send that many cards from your hand to the GY. You cannot Normal or Special Summon monsters the turn you activate this effect, except EARTH monsters. You can only use each effect of “Onu-Koro, Village of Earth” once per turn.

Bionicle: Coming of the Toa (v3.21.6)

My main goal with this build was setting up a standard combo line that actually leaves you able to use and resolve this card’s pair of effects to their full potential, by filling the GY with material used to build your board while never summoning any non-EARTH monsters in the process. Previously, the importance of Isolde in the Gouki-based EARTH Warrior shell usually forced you to fail this condition and relegated the village’s ability to just a neat thing you sometimes got to use on later turns, but with the latest banlist, that has become a thing of the past.

For what it’s worth, I still think Gouki is a good fit and meshes well with the general Onu-Koro strategy, but I specifically wanted to experiment with something else here. That “something else” being Vernusylphs, who do a good job of filling both field and GY, coupled with a few Machines that allow us to have some sort of payoff without leaving the confines of our Attribute.

The Deck

https://www.duelingbook.com/deck?id=14840983

.ydk Download

The lineup of monsters in the Main Deck can be divided into three categories:

  • EARTH Matoran, specifically Taipu and Onepu , plus the Ussal to go with the latter. What you’re meant to do is get either of the Matoran on the field by some means and link off into Whenua to search the other, thus providing even more bodies to combo with. Rookie Warrior Lady is also in here as a third potential search target, since she can help refill your hand and even easily sets up Onepu’s Normal Summon effect (sadly it doesn’t do much).
  • Vernusylphs, which are frequently going to be the “by some means” mentioned in the previous paragraph. We play the two that search the rest, and as a one-of search the target the one that dumps an EARTH monster into the GY. Using all three of these already puts up to 4 EARTH monsters in the GY and 3 on the field, and even if we just use one search and the mill, that’s 3 and 2 – basically a complete Onu-Koro setup. The primary target for Awakening Forests is of course going to be the Ussal that will trigger to revive yet another monster (and can then itself be brought back by Onepu), but if you happen to draw that, you can do a cute thing where you discard it for cost with Forests, send something else from the Deck, and then actually do get to bring back that sent monster right away – if it’s Level 4 or lower.
  • EARTH Machines. Just a small package, not the whole deck that kinda does this whole “combo and then draw a bunch” thing way better already. The three names represented here serve three different purposes: Planet Pathfinder is an additional way to get to Onu-Koro, Revolution Synchron is a Tuner so we’re able to access the Naturia Synchros for a reasonable end board, and Regulus is another negate we can add to that if we find him. Which is also possible by means of Discolosseum, which in turn can be provided via Planet Pathfinder, who as a Machine also sets up Regulus’s own Summon (i.e., Planet Pathfinder is an omni negate). The Power Tools are also here for additional Revolution lines, but without Isolde making Equip Spells worth playing they’re not all that useful.

Other than that, we just have a good helping of handtraps that Onu-Koro will hopefully draw for us, as well as generically good EARTH monsters Fenrir and Mudora. Keldo is there in the side deck too, but I only found room for one shuffler, and Mudora was the one to make the cut simply because its Special Summon effect works even without a search target.

The EARTH payoffs in the Extra Deck consist of the aforementioned Naturia Synchros Beast and Barkion, Power Tool Braver Dragon, and Soldier of Chaos. Saryuja is for those times we have a full field but lack the right cards in hand to get anywhere, while Cerberus and Dolmen are mostly just to get stuff linked away in niche scenarios. And Plan B for Bagooska is here too, turns out that fucker is EARTH.

Now you may notice we have also spent some Extra Deck slots on non-EARTH bosses; Baronne and Crystal Wing in the Synchro half, I:P and S:P in the Link half. These are for the times we actually do not manage to get to Onu-Koro, at which point we will have a bunch of material on the field and nothing locking us out of any summons. So might as well put up some good proper household names instead and switch our strategy to the old style where Onu-Koro just shows up as refueling help in the mid to late game.

Sample Video

Takeaways

To me personally, this build honestly feels like a bit of a failure because it doesn’t really seem to get a lot of mileage out of the concept of “combo then draw 3”, despite how solid that sounds on paper. The good news is that there’s some specific reasons for that located within my own designs, which I may be able to fix in future updates. The Onu-Koro cards just trip over themselves in some small ways that didn’t become obvious until I really tried to rely on the Field Spell’s effect that’s supposed to be central to the whole thing.

Onu-Koro, Village of Earth

Field Spell

You can target up to 5 EARTH monsters in your GY; shuffle them into the Deck, then gain 600 LP for each card shuffled into the Main Deck this way. If your LP are higher than your opponent’s: You can send 1 EARTH monster from your hand or field to the GY, then pay LP in multiples of 1000 (max. 3000); draw 1 card for every 1000 LP paid, then, if your LP are lower than your opponent’s, send that many cards from your hand to the GY. You cannot Normal or Special Summon monsters the turn you activate this effect, except EARTH monsters. You can only use each effect of “Onu-Koro, Village of Earth” once per turn.

Bionicle: Coming of the Toa (v3.21.6)

First, there’s Onu-Koro itself. This is a design from an era before Runick Fountain, which means I was super careful with an effect that basically reads “draw 3” and restricted the hell out of it. Only works if you have higher LP (which it does try to provide natively via the shuffle effect), requires sending an EARTH monster from hand or field to GY so you don’t plus as hard, makes you discard as much as you drew if you’re not still ahead on LP after paying the cost, and on top of all that it locks all your Summons into EARTH for the whole turn, including retroactively. Let me tell you, after trying to build this deck, I now fully understand why Vernusylphs went with an effect lock instead – there just aren’t a whole lot of good payoffs in this particular Attribute.

This heavy balancing even bleeds into the shuffling effect, which only gives you back LP for cards you shuffle into the Main Deck, essentially forcing you to choose between valuable Extra Deck recycling and the resource you need to pay for draws. And as a small but nasty detail, it shuffles the cards instead of placing them on the bottom, meaning any deck filtering your combo did to ensure you only draw into, say, handtraps at the end is at least partially undone.

So how would I change this? Well, assuming we stick with the full EARTH Summon lock, I think that can be allowed to carry a lot more weight as a restriction and we can in turn take off some others. Specifically, the requirement to send an EARTH monster for cost always hurt like a bitch in testing, so I’d like to drop that. The discard if you lack sufficient LP is probably fine since it fits the flavor (and we can capitalize on it by making Onu- cards with GY effects), but I’d make it a bit more avoidable by making it easier to gain LP when you return cards to the Deck. The shuffle effect could say “gain 600 LP for each targeted card, then shuffle them into the Deck” or something like that and it would already be much better. That way it would even work properly with Midak too.

Matoran Tender Midak

Effect MonsterLevel 2 | EARTH Warrior | ATK 500 / DEF 500

If you control a “Matoran” monster, except “Matoran Tender Midak”: You can send this card from your hand to the GY; send 1 EARTH monster from your Deck to the GY, and if you do, gain 400 LP. If this card in your GY would be returned to the Deck by a card effect, you can add it to your hand instead. You can only use each effect of “Matoran Tender Midak” once per turn.

Bionicle: Coming of the Toa (v3.21.6)

Speaking of Midak, why was that guy not in the decklist at all? Because, dear reader, the dumbass who wrote his first effect made it basically unusable if you’re not spamming Matoran enough to always have one around. That wasn’t the case in this deck, though, and after wishing for the nth time that I could just search Midak with Whenua and actually use him reliably, I sadly had to cut him.

But yeah, that’s also my solution: Make it so he actually always works when you search him with Whenua, because there aren’t a lot of good search targets for our Turaga anyway. To achieve that, the first line simply has to change to “If you control a “Matoran”, “Toa”, or “Turaga” monster” – perfectly reasonable because they belong together in the lore anyway.

Turaga Whenua

Link Effect MonsterLink-2 [▼ ▶] | EARTH Spellcaster | ATK 1450

2 monsters, including an EARTH Warrior monster
Each time an EARTH monster(s) is sent from your hand or field to the GY, gain 400 LP for each. If this card is Link Summoned: You can pay 1000 LP; add 1 Level 4 or lower EARTH Warrior monster from your Deck to your hand, with a different name from the cards in your GY. You can only use this effect of “Turaga Whenua” once per turn.

Bionicle: Coming of the Toa (v3.21.6)

Whenua himself isn’t safe from my complaints either, though only in a minor way. I’ve mentioned here and there that any numbers I write on cards tend to be guesstimates, and the 1000 LP cost is a good example of that. Only now, after actually playing in a way that made it important to earn it back, have I realized that the correct number was 800 all along: The exact amount you need to break even off a single instance of using two EARTH monsters as material while Whenua watches, and also the amount you would gain from using a Midak he searched. Fool that I was to disregard the ancient mantra of “pay 8, feel great”.

Matoran Racer Onepu

Effect MonsterLevel 2 | EARTH Warrior | ATK 700 / DEF 500

When this card is Normal Summoned: You can target 1 of your banished EARTH monsters; place it on the bottom of the Deck, then you can reveal any number of “Matoran” monsters in your hand, and if you do, gain 500 LP for each. During your Main Phase: You can Special Summon 1 Level 4 or lower Beast “Rahi” monster from your hand or GY, but banish it when it leaves the field. You can only use each effect of “Matoran Racer Onepu” once per turn.

Bionicle: Challenge of the Rahi (v3.20.4)

Onepu has served us well as an Ussal fetcher, but his other effect has really proven to be damn useless – especially in a deck that, once again, isn’t filled to the brim with Matoran. I think I wanted to hold back on this one because the main purpose is just to get a spent Ussal back into rotation, but surely you can expect more from a Normal Summon. My initial idea of having it draw à la Chaos Space was rejected (by me) because a) Onu-Koro is supposed to be the draw provider, everything else just makes “money” (LP) to pay for it, and b) “but Chaos Space is so strong, that would be broken”.

Regarding a), I now realize that a second source of draws probably wouldn’t hurt at all, as the old saying about putting all your eggs in one basket could have told us all along. And b) was always stupid when you consider that Chaos Space does its thing from the GY rather than at the cost of your Normal Summon and supports Attributes that are significantly better equipped than EARTH.

The current LP gain does have the funny flavor of “Onepu brags to the Matoran in hand and gets rewarded”, but we can actually retain that if we just let you do the same thing after drawing a card – or even just reveal the drawn card itself.

Side note to fully tie the loop here, notice how Onepu makes the Rahi he summons get banished when it leaves the field? That also means it can’t be used to pay the monster cost for Onu-Koro, so even if we weren’t getting rid of that cost entirely it would at least have to change to say “Tribute” or something like that. Nothing feels worse than the cards that are meant to go together in a deck locking themselves out of actually working with each other.


For now, I’ve compiled these notes on the secret Pending Changes page, and will be trying to work them in over the course of upcoming releases.

The 2024 Roadmap

Now also available in fancy video form, with visual previews and editing and stuff!

Quick textual summary: The 4 month intervals worked out even with a lot of other stuff going on, so we’re sticking with that. That means the following schedule:

  • April 2024: “Unity Evolved” (Nuva/Kal Kaita)
  • August? 2024: “The Rahi Update” – may be multiple releases in the second half of the year, we’ll see how long it takes
  • After that (maybe still 2024?): “Time of Trouble” (final BPEV lore batch)

As tantalizing as it is to maybe have the BPEV expansion done with the next year, I really can’t allow myself to put the Rahi stuff off any longer. So if that isn’t done within one gigantic release (which I wouldn’t expect unless things go really, really well), that sweet taste of completion will have to wait for a bit.

Also, if you watched the video, you may have seen some “optional side quests” at the end. Those are things that might be happening in the background along the way to improve my and/or the users’ experience. To repeat them here and elaborate a bit:

  • EDOPro repositiories – Apparently those can be used to have custom expansions that automatically update after installing them once, so that would tremendously simplify the releases for everyone.
  • YGO Omega – There’s another popular client flying around, maybe I can get my scripts set up so they work in both (without having to maintain them separately).
  • mse2cdb Windows build – I’m currently running my beautiful tool in the Linux subsystem because I haven’t been able to make a Windows executable for years now. Should probably fix that, but all attempts so far have been foiled by CMake being CMake.
  • Master Duel modding – The holy grail of custom card creation at this time. I’ve seen exactly one video claiming to have pulled this off in any capacity and it was never followed up on, so if it’s possible at all, it might only be in a very limited fashion. But no way to know until I’ve at least given it a try myself.

No guarantee any of these will actually happen, it’s just a general outline of what might come up. And outside of that, there’s also the usual stuff like deck ideas and April Fools’.

Happy new year!

Release: Kalifornication

Watch out for those psychic spies from China who try to … awaken the queens and Clean it All?

Download for EDOPro

Welcome to the final release of 2023, and the best named one to date (your mileage may vary). In addition to a series of test footage videos uploaded along the way, you can watch the latest additions as part of a (p)review video I put together to welcome the new year. It’s pretty long and contains a bunch of other stuff as well, but please do take a look if you have a few minutes to spare – it took a fair bit of time and effort to get this one out of my head into reality.

And from here, on to the design notes.

New Cards

Bohrok Kalifornication

Continuous Trap

If your opponent controls a face-up card, you can activate this card the turn it was Set, by banishing 2 “Bahrag” monsters with different names from your Extra Deck. During the Main Phase: You can send 1 “Bohrok” or “Krana” card from your hand or face-up field to the GY, then target up to 2 “Bohrok” monsters in your GY; Special Summon 1 “Bohrok” Xyz Monster from your Extra Deck, and if you do, attach the targeted monster(s) to it as material, but return it to the Extra Deck during your opponent’s End Phase. You can only use this effect of “Bohrok Kalifornication” once per turn.

Bionicle: Protodermic Evolution (v4.5.6)

Much like the previous release, this one is also themed around a Trap Card that helps the evolved forms make an appearance. For the Bohrok-Kal, it’s the Continuous Trap Bohrok Kalifornication (“Kalifornication, noun: The process of transforming a Bohrok into a Bohrok-Kal”; it’s right there in the latest version of The Dictionary, maybe they haven’t shipped it in your area yet?).

In theory, it lets you bypass the regular procedure and get an Xyz Monster every turn, though with an expiration date attached. In practice, there are two preconditions: You need an archetypal card to send as cost (including Kalifornication itself, making this the easier condition), and at least one “Bohrok” monster in the GY before paying the cost – which can be surprisingly tricky because Bohrok love going back to the Deck so much. This second condition is partially based on the idea that the Kal are released after the regular swarms have been defeated, as is the fast-track activation condition for going second that banishes Bahrag to set up a situation where they can later be awakened again. Also you can use it to dodge Imperm going first, so that’s funny.


Krana Ca-Kal, Seeker

Link Effect MonsterLink-1 [↙] | DARK Zombie | ATK 0

1 “Bohrok” or “Krana” monster
Cannot be used as Link Material. Once per turn: You can target 1 Level 4 “Bohrok” monster this card points to; Special Summon from your Extra Deck 1 “Bohrok” Xyz Monster using that target as material. (This is treated as an Xyz Summon.) A “Bohrok” Xyz Monster that has this card as material gains these effects depending on the number of your “Bahrag” Monster Cards with different names that are banished or on the field.
●1+: Cannot be destroyed by battle.
●2+: Once per turn: You can draw 1 card, then discard 1 card.

Bionicle: Protodermic Evolution (v4.5.6)

I’ll get straight to the point and reveal that the aforementioned situation where the Bahrag are banished (perhaps due to a Toa Seal ?) is not just lore fluff, but actually serves a gameplay purpose. Some Krana-Kal only show their powers in the presence of sealed Bahrag, such as the Ca-Kal that serves to contact and locate them. If one of the queens has been found, the Seeker on their track can no longer be defeated through simple battle (in reference to the base Krana Ca ), and once in contact with both, it will be able to help you dig into your Deck for resources needed to complete the mission.

Krana Xa-Kal, Liberator

Link Effect MonsterLink-1 [▼] | DARK Zombie | ATK 0

1 “Bohrok” or “Krana” monster
Cannot be used as Link Material. Once per turn: You can target 1 Level 4 “Bohrok” monster this card points to; Special Summon from your Extra Deck 1 “Bohrok” Xyz Monster using that target as material. (This is treated as an Xyz Summon.) A “Bohrok” Xyz Monster that has this card as material gains this effect.
●If this card inflicts battle damage to your opponent: You can place up to 2 of your banished “Bahrag” Pendulum Monsters in your Pendulum Zone(s), then you can add 1 “As It Was in the Before-Time” from your Deck or GY to your hand.

Bionicle: Protodermic Evolution (v4.5.6)

To do that, the Krana Xa-Kal must make contact with the frozen queens, making it the win condition of this particular gimmick. “Contact” is here defined as battle damage, and the “awakening” consists of placing them in the Pendulum Zones (because that works even if Kalifornication banished them directly from the Extra Deck). And to get some immediate benefit, you get to add a little Quick-Play from BBTS that, assuming you properly placed both Bahrag, either draws 2 cards or sends the entire non-Bohrok field to the GY.

As It Was in the Before-Time

Quick-Play Spell

Activate 1 of these effects;
●Target any number of “Bahrag” cards you control; destroy them, then draw 1 card for each card destroyed.
●Shuffle 2 “Bahrag” cards you control with different names into the Extra Deck; send all cards on the field to the GY, except “Bohrok” and “Krana” cards.

Bionicle: Beware the Swarm (v3.15.5)

Both of these Krana-Kal have the Xyz shortcut effect previously seen on the Vu-Kal , because that is in my opinion the strongest of the Krana-Kal utility effects and so balances the granted effects not working without a Bahrag setup. The other two types of utility effects get a new card each, too.

Krana Yo-Kal, Excavator

Link Effect MonsterLink-1 [↖] | DARK Zombie | ATK 0

1 “Bohrok” or “Krana” monster
Cannot be used as Link Material. If an opponent’s monster this card points to battles a “Bohrok” monster, that opponent’s monster’s ATK/DEF become 0 during the Damage Step only. A “Bohrok” Xyz Monster that has this card as material gains this effect.
●This card can attack directly, also if it attacks, your opponent cannot activate cards or effects until the end of the Damage Step.

Bionicle: Protodermic Evolution (v4.5.6)

The Yo-Kal is the brainwashing type, which I consider the weakest because it never helps you combo. Accordingly, as material it gives a very powerful effect that lets an attacking Bohrok-Kal tunnel straight past any monsters or responses your opponent may have. If you ever get to a point where you have two Krana-Kal attached (the lore weeps), this can make for an easy way to trigger the Xa-Kal, but more realistically it’s just solid help in getting in possibly lethal damage.

Krana Bo-Kal, Visionary

Link Effect MonsterLink-1 [▶] | DARK Zombie | ATK 0

1 “Bohrok” or “Krana” monster
Cannot be used as Link Material. You can Tribute this card; Special Summon 1 Level 4 “Bohrok” monster from your hand or GY in face-up or face-down Defense Position, but shuffle it into the Deck if it leaves the field. A “Bohrok” Xyz Monster that has this card as material gains this effect.
●Once per turn: You can look at all Set cards your opponent controls, also look at as many random cards in their hand as possible, up to the number of “Bohrok” monsters you control.

Bionicle: Protodermic Evolution (v4.5.6)

Finally, the Bo-Kal represents the third type previously seen only on the Ja-Kal , trading itself for a Defense Position Bohrok. This is the “mid-tier” effect that has no single massive payoff but broad utility, from flexing a face-up setup into a face-down one to recycling a Bohrok’s removal effect, or just simply getting extra material. When attached itself, it just does its Night Vision and X-Ray combination thingy to look at face-down cards and hand alike. The latter is limited by how many Bohrok are in attendance since hand knowledge is so powerful, but I’ve worded it in a slightly novel way so it automatically looks at the maximum number possible without needing two confirmation prompts on the way. You’re welcome.

Another general thing to say about Krana-Kal is that their Link-1 nature provides a fairly reliable way to set up a Kalifornication summon, since Krana on the field can be used to pay the cost as well. So any Bohrok turning into any Krana-Kal and going to the GY immediately fulfills the preconditions.


Finally, the stars of the show, the remaining three Bohrok-Kal.

Bohrok Pahrak-Kal

Xyz Effect MonsterRank 4 | EARTH Machine | ATK 2400 / DEF 1900

2 Level 4 “Bohrok” monsters
Place materials detached from this card on the bottom of the Deck, instead of sending them to the GY. Once per turn: You can attach 1 “Krana” monster from your hand, field, or GY to this card as material. At the start of the Damage Step, if this card battles: You can detach 1 material from this card, then target 1 monster your opponent controls; banish all cards they control in its column. Then, if this effect banished exactly 1 card, inflict 1200 damage to your opponent. You can only use this effect of “Bohrok Pahrak-Kal” once per turn.

Bionicle: Protodermic Evolution (v4.5.6)

Pahrak-Kal, wielder of plasma, takes until battle to fire its effect, but once it does, there goes an entire column, banished to smithereens. And if that column didn’t have much in it? Then we have enough plasma left to burn the opponent’s LP as well. Advantages on the side are that it only costs one material despite potential multi-removal (because the timing is so inconvenient) and it all happens in the Damage Step, so a wide variety of effects that may stop it simply cannot be chained at that point. None at all, in fact, if you have a Yo-Kal attached – Pahrak-Kal is on that card art for a reason.

Bohrok Kohrak-Kal

Xyz Effect MonsterRank 4 | WATER Machine | ATK 2300 / DEF 2000

2 Level 4 “Bohrok” monsters
Place materials detached from this card on the bottom of the Deck, instead of sending them to the GY. Once per turn: You can attach 1 “Krana” monster from your hand, field, or GY to this card as material. During the Main Phase (Quick Effect): You can detach 2 materials from this card; change all other monsters on the field to Defense Position, also negate their effects until the end of this turn. You can only use this effect of “Bohrok Kohrak-Kal” once per turn.

Bionicle: Protodermic Evolution (v4.5.6)

Kohrak-Kal, certified noise machine, gives you another way to disrupt on the opponent’s turn, by unleashing a blast of sound that forces all other monsters to abandon their effects and go to defense. All monsters including your own, however, so it’s not exactly a team player. This card is actually at its strongest when you manage to make it alone against an established board that has exhausted its relevant disruptions, because then you can detach 2 to shut everything else down, attack over or into something (Defense Position means Kohrak-Kal survives no matter what), and then attach a Krana before stacking up into a Zeus that clears the field. Puts you in a pretty good position as long as you have some kind of followup.

As a brief experiment, I also took the once per turn away from this effect entirely in an intermediate version; the idea being that, should you ever stack up enough materials, being able to negate even through a response seems like a nice ability to have. This was reverted not because it turned out to be broken, but because it never actually came up within the archetype – the only fringe line that ever gets you 4 materials involves Bohrok Counterattack , which already takes care of responses by itself. So the only ones to possibly benefit would have been unrelated Rank-Up strategies or something like that, and I didn’t want to specifically support those.

Bohrok Lehvak-Kal

Xyz Effect MonsterRank 4 | WIND Machine | ATK 1900 / DEF 2400

2 Level 4 “Bohrok” monsters
Place materials detached from this card on the bottom of the Deck, instead of sending them to the GY. (Quick Effect): You can target 1 other card you control or in either GY; attach it to this card as material. If this card has 5 or more materials: You can detach all of this card’s materials, and if you do, destroy up to that many cards your opponent controls, then you can attach 1 of those destroyed cards to this card as material. You can only use each effect of “Bohrok Lehvak-Kal” once per turn.

Bionicle: Protodermic Evolution (v4.5.6)

And finally, Lehvak-Kal … breaks the pattern. Yes, the effect to attach a Krana is here replaced by a more generic vacuum-sucking Quick Effect that works on anything on your field, or in either GY. That can be wielded as disruption against cards that like to be in the GY (and if detached, you don’t even need to put them back), to save your other monsters from targeting effects, or simply to flexibly get something like a Su-Kal in response to a destruction effect. In exchange for such a wide range of applications, the effect that actually does something to the field – the massive vacuum blast blowing away all that stands in its path – is firmly locked behind a minimum of 5 materials. That means in absence of external help, a Lehvak-Kal needs to survive a full turn cycle to actually start destroying cards, but once it does, you get to immediately start the process again by attaching one of those destroyed cards (possibly keeping something like Waking the Dragon from triggering, too).

Updated

Two simple updates on the Bohrok side.

Bohrok-Kal Strategy

Continuous Spell

When this card is activated: You can Special Summon 1 “Bohrok” monster from your hand. If a “Bohrok” monster(s) is Special Summoned to your field (except during the Damage Step): You can activate 1 of these effects, or, if you control a “Bohrok” Xyz Monster, you can activate both, in sequence;
●Target 1 other Spell/Trap on the field; destroy it.
●Add 1 “Bohrok” Spell/Trap from your Deck to your hand, except “Bohrok-Kal Strategy”.
You can only use this effect of “Bohrok-Kal Strategy” once per turn.

Bionicle: Protodermic Evolution (v4.5.6)

Bohrok-Kal Strategy previously was intentionally designed so you could only activate 1 copy per turn, but use the effects of as many as you want once you have them. The addition of an additional good search target that also lets you Xyz Summon on the opponent’s turn made it quite apparent that this has potential to get horrendously out of hand, so now it’s a regular old HOPT. The flipside is that the activation limit has been lifted, so you can get multiple Bohrok out of (your) hand in a turn instead. Solves some specific bricks that can theoretically happen.

Bohrok Gahlok

Flip Effect MonsterLevel 4 | WATER Machine | ATK 1700 / DEF 1600

FLIP: Special Summon 1 Level 4 “Bohrok” monster from your Deck in face-down Defense Position, except “Bohrok Gahlok”.
Once per turn: You can activate the following effect, based on the type of card on top of your opponent’s GY. During the End Phase of the turn you activated this effect, shuffle this face-up card into the Deck.
●Monster: Target 1 card your opponent controls; destroy that target.
●Spell: Negate the effects of 1 face-up monster your opponent controls, until the end of this turn.
●Trap: Banish 1 random card from your opponent’s hand, until the End Phase.

Bionicle: Beware the Swarm (v4.5.6)

The base Gahlok has been a thorn in my eye since I made the first Bohrok-Kal deck and realized the Bohrok with delayed shuffling cost on their effects are really convenient because you can use them as material after firing them. Their weaker removal effects generally balanced this out, except for the Gahlok: Its drawback should be that it only gets to destroy when a monster is on top of the opponent’s GY and does other things otherwise, but those “other things” were so overtuned that it was generally the best Bohrok effect in almost any situation. Now the Spell option only negates a monster’s effects but doesn’t take away its ATK (we have Krana for that anyway), and the Trap option doesn’t permanently handrip (with actual handtraps in the game, it was possible to do this turn 1 and its a soft once per turn, so obviously a big no-no).

I believe with these changes, all the Bohrok are finally properly balanced for their respective type of cost. Even in the material-hungry Kal builds, something like a Lehvak now feels like a justifiable inclusion for the reliable removal it offers, which is about where I want to be.

And for my closing words, I will note that the roadmap for the coming year has been released – mostly covering the same things as the new video (but in much less detail and special effects, seriously, watch it).

Designer’s Quip: Rahi with a side of …

A little addendum to the Rahi Type groupings that were recently completed, because for some reason I neglected to go over generic support cards that already exist for each Type – even though those should play a major role in any design decision, whether you want to ensure synergy or deliberately conflict for balancing reasons.

We’ll go over this for each of the major Types that contain a lot of Rahi, which means this article can also double as a collected recap of the results previously reached for each of them. The minor Types that only contain a few Rahi can be disregarded since they either don’t cover enough cards to matter much, or they have a very specific playstyle that will have to be engineered from scratch once we get there anyway.

Beast

Main Article

Playstyle: Beatdown with big Synchro bosses

One option that immediately comes to mind is Tri-Brigade, a Link-spamming engine of the three Types Beast, Beast-Warrior, and Winged Beast. Now this is already kind of at odds with the concept of the Beast Rahi as an aggressive Synchro spam that should eventually end on the massive Tahtorak, but perhaps a free Link monster somewhere could be a useful bonus. The Tri-Brigades do not technically lock us out of any Synchro plays, for what it’s worth.

In fact, their proper Beast member Kerass does something that lines up pretty well with how Rahi currently function: It discards a monster from hand to Special Summon itself, which is one of the ways to trigger the GY effects on our Pendulum Rahi. And the effect to cheat out a Link that all Tri-Brigades share has a cost to banish, so that’s the trigger for the other standard Rahi effect right there.

Another classic support card is Obedience Schooled, a mass Special Summon of Level 2 or lower Beasts from the Deck. The low Level cutoff, effect negation, and strict Beast lock prevent the card from working too well in most recent Decks that use Beasts, and similar issues apply to Rahi – for one thing, the Beast Rahi start at Level 3 currently, and by current design patterns, all Level 2s would be Tuners anyway. Though if that last point were to change, this card would be easy Synchro access up to Level 6 …

Still not as easy as Cattle Call, however, because that just trades any Beast for a Beast Synchro of any Level, or another Extra Deck monster of the same Type. It’s not allowed to do anything, of course, but being easy fodder for an Accel Synchro might already be enough value by itself if you’re trying to do a Tahtorak combo. That said, there’s one thing to be careful about: This card sends from field to GY as cost, which means it straight up doesn’t work with Pendulums. That might be an issue.

What doesn’t fall into this trap is Tributing, which brings us to Cocatorium. Of course, the real point of this one would be the effect that banishes from your Deck as cost, providing pretty much the best way to trigger those on-banish effects. Sure, it’s technically a Winged Beast, but not after it resolves the effect. And we might join those Types together a bit anyway, considering the whole Tri-Brigade shtick.

Other options like Melffys and the Mystical Beasts suffer from the same Level 2 or lower issue we saw on Obedience Schooled, so they probably won’t be usable.

Aqua/Fish/Sea Serpent

Main Article

Playstyle: Board control via removal effects

Looking at the Types mixed together here and the strategy they’re supposed to be following, the first and foremost thing to come to mind is the non-archetypal series of cards colloquially known as “Generation Fish“. After all, it consists of small Level 3 Aqua, Fish, and Sea Serpent monsters that use their effects to remove stuff from the field and gradually inflict damage, with the added element of banishing themselves … a thing that Rahi very much also do.

Numerous support cards such as the beautifully named Counter Trap Oh F!sh! or Fish and Kicks further reinforce the idea that getting banished is what you’re supposed to do under the seas, so going into that direction almost seems to be the only reasonable choice. Of course, most of these cards are pretty old, so they might not be useful directly, but the general design pattern continues to be used to this day – just look at Minairuka, a card from <the current year> of 2023.

Also recent and related, though only to the Fish third, is the whole Ghoti archetype. In their case, banishing facilitates Synchro plays, making the connection to another of the general properties Rahi have – in contrast to the Generation Fish, which were more made for Xyz. Now the unfortunate part about these is that they only work with Fish, so mixing them into the deck might run into some conflicts. Maybe the Extra Deck ones would work fine though, that could be interesting to try.

A similar one-Type support card is the iconic Deep Sea Diva, though she should be comparatively easy to integrate since you don’t need a critical mass of Sea Serpents or anything – just one good low-level Sea Serpent Rahi somewhere in the Deck would be enough to get value. Which, looking at the analysis again, is actually not certain to ever exist. But if it does after all, this would be a good way to get to it.

And while we’re on the topic of classic moist monsters already, can’t forget the whole Mermail and Atlantean archetypes, with their members spread across just these three Types. Rather than banishing, these cards like to have WATER monsters sent to the GY, especially from the hand. That, once again, is something Rahi in their current state also enjoy being involved in, so it’s looking more and more like the Aqua/Fish/Sea Serpent segment especially should stick with the focus on those particular mechanics.

Of course, we shouldn’t forget that the Mermail and Atlantean gimmick is based on the WATER Attribute rather than any Types, so the synergy might be limited to only a (fairly large) part of the Rahi under consideration here – maybe there will be multiple ways to build decks depending on what support you want to align with.

Insect

Main Article

Playstyle: Broad toolbox that can be mixed with other deck types

Insects are kind of known for having a long history of support that somehow all works together in a big pile (kind of like Dinosaurs), so let’s see if we can make it through all that.

Starting with the gross ones, the “C”s have special synergy with Insect decks, specifically those that fit Contact‘s requirement of EARTH and <1500 ATK. Among the Rahi, our beloved Fikou already falls in that range, and the spreadsheet lists a lot of other tiny EARTH critters that eventually could. But in an environment where the Maxx one is banned, the roaches probably aren’t the most relevant support cards.

Sticking with the Contact-searchable EARTH Insects, there’s also Resonance Insect, a monster with one effect when sent to the GY and another when banished … wait a minute that’s just a Rahi. Maybe the real mid-Level Insect Rahi were the generic support cards Konami made along the way. Gokipole fits too, to some extent, despite our lack of Level 4s in the Rahi archetype proper. Level 5 and up for Resonance has some options though, and the part where it mills an Insect is always going to have its uses.

Another card that can do that, and is often used with the ones mentioned before, is Giant Ballpark. It can send any Level 4 or lower Insect, which covers most of the Rahi that might be relevant, and gets a bonus for Normal Monsters, which unfortunately doesn’t work because our only Normals are Nui-Jaga and Nui-Rama , merely one Level too high. I don’t think it’s worth wasting a slot on a low-Level Normal Insect Rahi just to enable that litte bit of extra swarming.

We’ve already seen that the generic support covers the GY/banish aspect of mid-Level Rahi monsters, but what about the Synchro stuff? Well, there are some good Insect Tuners available as well, such as Dragonbite or Fairyant – once again, a Level 3 and a Level 4, just the area where Insect Rahi are scarce. Given that the generic Tuners are here as well, it might make sense to have some non-Tuners among the various small Insect-Type Rahi monsters.

Speaking of Fairyant, that card is shared support for Insects and Plants, which is actually a pretty common combination. Hell, it even has its own Dragon Ruler in Beargram, who would be pretty fun to use for a Rahi build as well. Plant Rahi were already discussed in the article about the weirdly Typed ones, with the conclusion that there’s at most one of them, so there won’t be a lot happening on that front. Luckily Beargram works even with just Insects.

That more or less covers the generic pile stuff, but we’re far from done yet. Because now, there are still various Insect archetypes, most of which interact and mix with the pile in some way. The shit you have to put up with just to properly design some bugs.

Battlewasps are the main representative of Insect Synchro in the actual game, though I don’t think I’ve actually ever seen anyone in the wild playing them as an archetype. For the most part, their relevance is anchored entirely by the fact that Pin the Bullseye is a free Special Summon that aligns conveniently with time rules at tournaments, so we might be fine ignoring them. Maybe not entirely, since the fact that Rahi also make Synchros (if Insects end up following that) might make these cards fit in better than they usually do.

With some more relevance in the current decade, we have Beetroopers, a well-disciplined army of insects that literally does not even know what a Synchro is. Instead they spam Links and sometimes Fusions, which is of some interest for Rahi purposes since we already said Insects might not actually be a Synchro-based strategy and instead branch out in the Extra Deck a bit. Even without that, there’s interesting things in the Beetrooper Main Deck, be it free summons or the searchable Counter Trap.

And since we’re going through the Extra Deck Types already, Xyz have Digital Bugs. I guess. They’re a Rank 3-7 LIGHT Insect strategy with a gimmick of changing battle positions (also built on by other Insects like Cicada King). Given the general lack of Insect Rahi in those middle Levels, I feel like we wouldn’t be able to make these work even if we did go in an Xyz direction. Plus they specifically need LIGHT Insects, of which we don’t have many in the spreadsheet either.

Finally, a special mention goes to Inzektors for being a DARK Insect archetype, which is a typing we have already strongly considered for Visorak in particular. However, they themselves don’t really interact with the DARK Attribute in any special way, so their gimmick of equipping monsters to each other might be of interest for other Insect builds as well. For example, Picofalena is often used to set up Resonance Insect’s effect, so maybe similar Rahi effects could also benefit – except you can’t get Pendulums to the GY that way …

Overall, I don’t get the feeling there’s going to be much success integrating the existing generic support into such a thing as an Insect Rahi deck. Those engines and combos are already so complete that going out of our way to align with them would more likely just make our Rahi work in service of the standard Insect pile. Now I do want to do something with banishing since that has historically been a Rahi thing and Beargram is too juicy to pass up, but beyond that I’ll probably not go out of my way to connect to anything here.

But also, given the idea of Insect Rahi as a portable toolbox, it’s possible they’ll be given the role of generic shared Rahi support rather than being their own strategy. And in that case, having a second life as part of an unrelated big bug spam deck may prove entertaining.

Reptile

Main Article

Playstyle: Midrange deck with backrow/Pendulum Scale manipulation gimmick

Alright, here’s Snake Rain. The fact that triggering 4 GY effects at once is always just one unsearchable Spell and a discard away is pretty much a key design guideline for all Reptile archetypes. Basically, you want to get some use out of this card without breaking it, so while Reptiles do frequently have GY effects, they’re either not too impactful or apply relatively heavy restrictions to make up for the ease of access. I guess we’ll be sticking to that too, and make sure to make at least 4 names we want in the GY.

Another nice things Reptiles have is an Extra Deck searcher in King of the Feral Imps, and it comes with the added “benefit” of being an Xyz, thus detaching even Pendulums to the GY. Looking through the spreadsheet, the medium Reptiles tend to be Level 4 more than Level 3, so in light of Snake Rain as well, we might break with tradition and make the 4s the ones that want to be dumped in this case. Also, if you add a card to hand you generally want to use it, so there should be Reptile Rahi that do something in hand even after investing in a whole Xyz.

The most recent Reptile archetype I can think of is Ogdoadic, very clearly built with Snake Rain in mind and thus designed around the principles described before. If we also want to follow those principles, it might make sense to mix and match with whatever these guys are supposed to be, but there’s just a teensy little problem: Ogdoadic supports LIGHT and DARK Reptiles. Barely any Reptile Rahi are LIGHT or DARK. Not zero though, so maybe a crossover point can be found.

Reptilianne are a purely DARK Reptile archetype that likes monsters with 0 ATK on both sides of the field, which I suppose could be arranged with all the frogs and slugs and maybe worms on our schedule. The main issue is again the DARK Attribute, but we do actually have some critters that could slide in there, like the Spine Slug or the Night Creeper. Also, Reptiliannes are a Synchro archetype, so maybe their actually quite good modern tuners like Lamia can be put to work.

And for the pure LIGHT Reptile archetype, there’s Worms, with the main point of interest probably being the generic support card W Nebula Meteorite. It flips monsters, draws cards, and then summons a big LIGHT Reptile from Deck. Great.

In fact, the only LIGHT Reptile Rahi we have – Red Serpent and Crystal Serpent – are pretty large, so this could be a good enabler for them if we can just find fodder to flip. Those two are actually key to the whole “scale manipulation” gimmick, so more ways to get to them are certainly nice.

From these archetypes, it has become apparent that having mostly EARTH/WATER/FIRE/WIND Reptiles among the Rahi actually limits our options quite a bit, which is in some way a good thing because it gives us more freedom to make good cards without worrying what they could be combined with. Perhaps a clause like “non-DARK/non-LIGHT Reptile” could even make an appearance somehwere.

One last side note before moving on:

Specifically the Rahi known as Red Serpent spawned the idea of a gimmick where monsters are shoved into backrow and/or Pendulum Zones, and looking back that sure is reminiscient of the Snake-Eyes, an archetype of serpentine FIRE monsters that shove monsters into the backrow. I would just like to document here that a) they’re not actual Reptiles, so not relevant to the topic and b) the original Reptile article was in March and these came out in July in Japan, so Konami actually owes ME royalties.

DO NOT check the release date on Sinful Spoils of Subversion. That is all.

Winged Beast

Main Article

Playstyle: Combination of multiple small, efficient combo lines

The Tri- in Tri-Brigade stands for the three Types it consists of and supports. Given that we’ve already talked about having the few Beast-Warrior Rahi mixed into the Beasts, I’m strongly considering going all the way by including Winged Beast Rahi in that group as well. In that case, Tri-Brigades and other Tri-Typed support would work perfectly. Might really be a good idea to provide a Link of our own in that case too … (there may or may not be something planned for MoL already).

As for dedicated Winged Beast support, we have a very strange one in Floowandereeze. These migrating birbs embrace the spirit of old-school Yu-Gi-Oh by not Special Summoning at all … and then throw it out by Normal Summoning a million times instead. The strict restriction on every effect makes it hard to combine with an archetype that doesn’t follow the same alternative lifestyle, but historically, unrelated high-Level Main Deck Winged Beasts have made good bosses here, so maybe that’s worth keeping in mind?

The Simorgh archetype is also interested in Normal Summoning, but not quite so obsessive about it – they still do a bit of Special Summoning on the side. There are also some weird gimmicks of mixing DARK and WIND and wanting your opponent’s Spell/Trap Zones to be empty, but the main draw is probably that Bird of Perfection is Mathmech Circular if you squint really hard, and it works with all Winged Beasts.

Speaking of empty Spell/Trap Zones, Harpies are pretty good at accomplishing that. They’re not exactly an archetype that can be mixed into stuff easily since they tend to need a lot of each other, but Cyber Slash Harpie Lady is generic for Synchro decks and has a decent bounce effect that can even trigger by activating Pendulum Scales. And she enables Feather Storm from hand, which is funny. Theoretically the synergy could be taken further by having Rahi Spells/Traps/Pendulums that like to be destroyed, but I’m not sure it would pay off.

Continuing the theme of birds with faces, Lyrilusc are a Rank 1 Xyz archetype of Winged Beasts. That means their poopy little Levels don’t exactly lend themselves to Synchro or Pendulum Summoning, but they already swarm like crazy by themselves and their bosses can do some neat stuff like attacking directly 5 times and then making a big Zeus, so this is another thing that could work as an independent engine. However, the lack of Level 1s in the spreadsheet probably means the synergy is very limited.

And then there’s them, of course. The DARK Winged Beasts. Blackwings and Raidraptors. Two unrelated archetypes that both happen to revolve around the same Attribute/Type combination, but one of them is Synchro and the other Xyz, meaning they aren’t generally played together anyway. The question is, can we do anything with Rahi to benefit from the existence of these cards?

Blackwings of course have their fair share of Tuners to contribute if we’re hurting for those, but since Rahi also have a Pendulum side to them, I think good old Zephyros may actually be the most relevant thing. Bouncing scales can be useful for resetting something, and we could be cute and provide effects that trigger off the self-damage, particularly on our DARK Winged Beast Rahi. Currently that’s on an Aqua , funnily enough.

As for Raidraptors, while Xyz Summoning and the whole Rank-Up searching that particular archetype does isn’t really part of the Rahi gameplan, these birds also offer shockingly strong support to the general category of exactly Level 4 DARK Winged Beasts. Which means if we make sure to hit just that Level/Attribute/Type alignment, we can use Force Strix and Wise Strix to get them straight from the Deck – and neither of those locks us out of Synchros!

Overall, I’m not convinced the Winged Beast archetypes are really worth designing around much, with the exception of simply making the DARK ones Level 4 to unlock all that Raidraptor support. The spreadsheet currently has some for Level 3 and Level 5, so we’d only need to take a bit of creative liberty to allow that. And of course, linking (haha) up with the Beast Type for that Tri-Brigade engine is probably a good idea.

Conclusion

I know I JUST repeated this, but my biggest takeaway from this probably is that Beast/Beast-Warrior/Winged Beast should be joined together for the Rahi as well. Other than that, it’s nice to see that there are several specific points of synergy for the GY and banish gimmicks I currently have on Rahi – that’s a good sign for maybe being able to keep that focus intact on at least some Types. And identifying certain statlines that align with existing support, such as low-Level Beasts, high-Level Insects, or Level 4 DARK Winged Beasts, is exactly what I was hoping to get out of a list like this.

Finally, seeing all these cards that have huge potential if played in a Deck that sticks to their respective Type(s) has once again made me feel confirmed in my decision to separate the Rahi out this way. Can’t wait to figure out all the possible builds that might be able to use this stuff. On the other hand, that design goal will be difficult to balance with the wish for a generic support lineup that avoids the pitfall of needing to clone the same Utility effects for each Type, so that should be the next thing we look at in this series.