Deck Idea: Turaga Nui Turbo

Do you enjoy unnecessarily long combo lines? Is linking off your Link Monsters to make more Link Monsters one of your primary sources of endorphins in these trying times? Do you consider the existence of handtraps and disruption a mere myth that can be safely ignored? Are you a truly skilled player with the ability to draw exactly the right combination of three cards every game? Do you respect your elders for their wisdom and ability to utilize Noble Kanohi as well as minor elemental powers? Then boy, do I have the deck for you.

As the name may suggest, the centerpiece of this silly little strategy is Turaga Nui, a card first included in version 3.19.4 of the expansion.

Turaga Nui

Effect MonsterLevel 9 | LIGHT Spellcaster | ATK 2000 / DEF 3000

Cannot be Normal Summoned/Set. Must be Special Summoned by its own effect. You can send this card from your hand and 1 “Noble Kanohi” Equip Spell from your Deck to the GY; reveal 1 “Turaga” Link monster in your Extra Deck, and if you do, Special Summon 1 Level 4 or lower Warrior monster with the same Attribute from your hand. When your opponent activates a card or effect while there are 6 or more “Turaga” Link Monsters with different names in your GY (Quick Effect): You can Special Summon this card from the GY, and if you do, negate the effects of all face-up cards your opponent currently controls. You can only use each effect of “Turaga Nui” once per turn.

Bionicle: Coming of the Toa (v3.19.4)

This supremely wise sage is the united form of six different Turaga, and like many combination models from the early years, was never ever formed in canon. Similarly, the card’s summoning condition of having 6 different Turaga Link Monsters in the GY makes it so it will likely never hit the field in a sane player’s hands, considering the Turaga aren’t even meant to be used together in the first place. However, if you do make it happen, it acts as an omninegate that hits your opponent’s entire field at once, so that’s a decent motivation to try anyway.

The Deck

https://www.duelingbook.com/deck?id=9798612

Basically, the idea is to go through an elaborate Link climb that ideally ends up putting 4 Turaga Link Monsters plus Turaga Nui into your GY while establishing a board consisting of (a relatively small) The Arrival Cyberse @Ignister and Knightmare Gryphon, and then completing the setup using the effect of Dogmatika Maximus.

The main engine carrying the Link climb part are the C.C. Matoran (AKA The Chronicler’s Company), a sub-archetype of Matoran across all Attributes that work together to swarm the field with appropriate Turaga materials. Helping them out is the classic combo of Neo Space Connector and Neo-Spacian Aqua Dolphin, which gets to Isolde while potentially taking out a handtrap, thus increasing the chances of actually pulling off the best-case scenario. For the Dogmatika part, we have Maximus as the crucial piece plus six searchers for it in Nadir Servant and Ecclesia, as well as a Dogmatika Punishment to have an alternate search target for Ecclesia in case we draw Maximus.

While the stated goal is to fully set up the Turaga Nui in one turn, accomplishing that is a bit of a pipe dream, since even in the absence of all disruption, you still need to actually find no less than three different pieces to even stand a chance: A Warrior starter to get you to Isolde, some way to access Dogmatika Maximus, and, curiously enough, a C.C. Matoran Tamaru that is not required to make Isolde – more on that in the following section. Failing that, you can usually still get to the Arrival + Gryphon part of the payoff, which may keep you alive for another turn to finish the job.

The Combo

Turaga Nui Turbo

One of the most ideal combo lines I found is showcased in the above video, and starts with the following cards:

Neo Space Connector
Diminished Matoran Nui
Nadir Servant
  1. Activate Matoran Nui and select Tamaru, Taipu, and a third Matoran of your choice – it doesn’t actually matter which one ends up in your hand, but the most efficient case is Tamaru, so let’s assume that (so Taipu + other Matoran go to the GY)
  2. Normal Summon Connector and use its effect to Special Summon Aqua Dolphin
  3. Optional: Use Aqua Dolphin to discard 1 and look at your opponent’s hand – you can only afford this if Tamaru is in your hand!
  4. Connector + Dolphin -> Isolde, search anything that isn’t mentioned in the following steps
  5. Use Isolde to send two Noble Kanohi to the GY and Special Summon Takua
  6. On Summon, use Takua’s effect to stack Hafu on top of the deck and become EARTH
  7. Discard one of your spare cards to activate Takua and Special Summon Hafu, who in turn Summons Taipu from your hand or GY
  8. Isolde + Hafu -> Onewa in the Extra Monster Zone
  9. Takua + Taipu -> Whenua into a zone Onewa points to – the Taipu summoned with Hafu’s effect gets banished when it leaves the field, so Onewa can immediately summon him back and Whenua can search a second copy
  10. Whenua or Onewa + Taipu -> Amaja-Nui (placed so it points to a free zone), on Summon send Turaga Nui to the GY
  11. Use Amaja-Nui to Summon Takua from your GY to the zone it points to, on Summon stack Kapura on top of the Deck so Takua becomes FIRE
  12. Special Summon the second copy of Taipu from your hand
  13. Takua + Taipu -> Vakama
  14. Use Vakama’s effect to Special Summon Kapura to your field and a Vision Token (or some FIRE Warrior they happen to be playing) to your opponent’s
  15. Special Summon the Tamaru in your hand (by discarding itself for cost) or in your GY (by discarding a spare card)
  16. Tamaru + Kapura -> Matau
  17. Onewa + Vakama + Matau -> The Arrival Cyberse @Ignister (in the Main Monster Zone pointed to by Amaja-Nui, so the upwards arrow only points to the Extra Monster Zone at most)
  18. Activate The Arrival to destroy your opponents Vision Token and give yourself an @Ignister Token
  19. Amaja-Nui + @Ignister Token -> Knightmare Gryphon (co-linked with The Arrival, and not pointing to the opponent’s field)
  20. Optional: If you still have a spare card to discard, you can activate Gryphon’s effect on Summon to draw a fresh card and maybe set a useful Spell/Trap from your GY
  21. Activate Nadir Servant, sending one of your remaining Extra Deck monsters to add Ecclesia (sadly no Turaga can be used here due to their ATK being all below 1500)
  22. Special Summon Ecclesia (linked, because Gryphon!), on Summon search Maximus
  23. Banish something that isn’t a Turaga from your GY to Special Summon Maximus (linked, because Gryphon!)
  24. Activate Maximus, send Nokama and Nuju from your Extra Deck to your GY

Final payoff: Full Turaga Nui setup in the GY, 3000 ATK The Arrival and a Knightmare Gryphon on the field

Many hands fall short of fully achieving this combo due to lacking access to either the Dogmatikas or the free Tamaru to make Matau, but even those tend to manage putting up enough material for Arrival, Gryphon, or both. And if you don’t have a complete Turaga Nui setup, you actually don’t need to leave the previously summoned Turaga in the GY and can instead tribute off stuff like a leftover Token or the Dogmatikas for Onewa + Komau (preventing your opponent from activating the effects of their weakest monster while they control multiple) and/or Vakama + Huna (giving you a draw should something else be destroyed by battle, while not being available as an attack target himself).

Deck Idea(s): Things You Can Do With Toa Mata

At the time of this writing, the Toa Mata have yet to receive their Theme Guide, because even with all members of the team implemented, they’re still missing some support cards from old BCOT that have a major role in their playstyle. However, to modernize those missing cards, I do need to have a solid idea of what the updated Toa can do and what they need help with, so I have been experimenting with a few different builds using what we have so far. This is a brief account of those ideas and the rationale behind them.

The Kanohi Build

https://www.duelingbook.com/deck?id=9539889

This one was included with the 3.17.4 release, and represents what is probably the most functional way to play “pure” Toa Mata at this point. The sole combo it revolves around requires a hand of any 2 different Toa Mata plus Kini-Nui (or Mata Nui to search it): Activate Kini-Nui, Normal Summon one Toa by Tributing the other one from your hand, trigger Kini-Nui to revive the Tributed monster, and use the two Toa to make Isolde, searching another Toa for the next turn. Then, you activate Isolde for 6 and watch your opponent quiver in fear at the sight of such a power move while you send all the Kanohi to the GY and Special Summon a Toa Mata from the Deck. The sent Kanohi let you add two more Toa of your choice by banishing the materials used for Isolde, the extra Normal Summon from Kini-Nui means you can get one of those out right away if you wish, and during the End Phase Kini-Nui can summon a Suva from the Deck by destroying itself, which will also bring a Mata Nui in your GY (if there is one) back to the field.

In summary, the turn 1 payoff consists of:

  • 2 Toa Mata with at least 2000 ATK, each providing a more or less potentially disruptive trigger effect during the opponent’s turn (such as monster effect negation, Spell/Trap destruction, bouncing monsters, or returning cards in the GY to the Deck)
  • A Suva that lets you access any of the 6 Kanohi in your GY to buff your Toa Mata with things like protection from either targeted or non-targeted effects, battle protection, or simply +1000 ATK.
  • Isolde (largely useless at this point, but still there)
  • 1 Toa Mata in your hand (searched by Isolde)
  • Optionally Mata-Nui, which gives your Normal Summoned Toa Mata +600 ATK/DEF
  • The 2 other cards that were initially in your hand

Going second, the deck has some convenient properties that may help it do its thing in the face of an established board. First of all, 18 of the 21 monsters it plays have 2000 or more ATK and don’t take any field setup to bring out, so sometimes you can just Normal Summon, immediately hit over a boss monster, and then safely do the combo in Main Phase 2. Also, if the monster you Normal Summon to trigger Kini-Nui is Gali, she will be able to negate one of the monsters on the opponent’s field to prevent interruption (but doesn’t do anything against handtraps, sadly). Lewa can also help clear the field because he’ll be able to bounce something when you summon your Suva (whether from Deck or GY).

If you don’t manage to pull off the combo, what you usually fall back on is still a boss-sized monster that may or may not have meaningful disruption and/or protection, which may just be enough to keep you in the game. And with the Kanohi constantly repleneshing Toa Mata in your hand plus Mata Nui being able to search Kini-Nui every turn, you should be able to try again easily.

Can a deck that puts up 2 disruptions at best, needs intensive micro-managing to achieve protection, and has almost no room to run staples be called good? Probably not. Does it do its thing impressively well for having no major plays beyond a (more or less) 3 card combo? Yes. I rate it “Isolde is a stupid card”/10.

Aristotlean Hybrids

The following decks are all based on the idea of combining the Toa Mata with other archetypes that also have their monsters spread across the Attributes WIND, WATER, FIRE, and EARTH. The idea is basically to perform the usual plays of such an archetype X, ideally get a Kanohi into the GY along the way for a search, and then use either a leftover Normal Summon or the extra one from Kini-Nui on a Toa, adding an extra miniboss or even a Rank 6 to the field. The matching Attributes are meant to help consistency by letting you use excess monsters from archetype X in your hand as Tributes for the Toa Mata, though in practice it certanly felt like hands such as Tahu plus anything except another FIRE monster were way more common than they should be.

C.C. Matoran

C.C. Matoran

Prank-Kids

Prank-Kids

Brave Token

Brave Token

Kaiju

Kaiju

Ghost Girls

Ghost Girls

The order in which the decks appear in the slideshow above is also an approximate ranking of their playability, ranging from actually kinda decent to complete garbage. The ratios in the Toa Mata portion differ between them because I threw them together at various points in time and never tested them deeply enough to figure out what’s best.

A quick summary of each of these ideas:

  • C.C. Matoran: The most lore-friendly of all builds, and quite competent due to both halves being Warrior archetypes. Normal Summoning Kopeke gives you easy Isolde access by searching either Taipu (at the cost of an attack lock) or Tamaru (at the cost of only putting 1 monster in the GY instead of 2), and Isolde can then dump 2 Kanohi to search up to 2 Toa Mata and Special Summon Hafu, who will in turn bring out an additional C.C. Matoran from hand or GY. That gives you the material for a Link-4, and if you have Kini-Nui, a Toa Mata or two to back it up as well.
  • Prank-Kids: The problem with Kanohi being the main searcher for Toa Mata is that you first need to put both the Kanohi and a monster into the GY. A Link-1 is quite possibly the easiest way to accomplish that, and Prank-Kids are an archetype notoriously capable of getting ridiculous value through a simple combo that starts by summoning their (now sadly limited) Link-1 monster. Better yet, the combo doesn’t care if the Prank-Kids stay in the GY beyond their activation as long as you ultimately end up with WIND+FIRE+WATER in your hand or field ready to fuse, so banishing them with a Kanohi along the way is pretty much a free Toa Mata. Only downside is that Prank-Kids usually take up the Normal Summon, but that’s what Kini-Nui is for.
  • Brave Token: The OCG’s recent hot meta thing, the Brave Token AKA Adventurer Token AKA Isekai Engine, also has the correct Attribute mix, and actually gets by with no Normal Summons needed. In fact, it actively discriminates against Normal Summoned monsters by making you unable to activate their effects the turn you use the engine, but since your Normal Summon is going to be a Toa Mata that generally reacts to something during your opponent’s turn, this restriction is quite stomachable. My impression of the deck is that it works, but the Toa Mata’s contributions of big stats, situational disruption, and Rank 6 access unfortunately feel a bit overshadowed by the insanely consistent omni-negate engine that is Brave Token.
  • Kaiju: The main idea behind this one, Attribute matching aside, is that Special Summoning a Kaiju to your opponent’s field triggers Lewa to bounce it back, which is obviously a pretty cool play. Sadly it doesn’t do much more than that plus plain old beatdown, and that’s not quite enough to win unless you get really lucky.
  • Ghost Girls: Stuffing leftover deck space with handtraps is a well-tested competitive strategy, so I figured I’d try doing that as well, using the ones that have the appropriate Attributes. Sadly those particular handtraps aren’t exactly impactful enough to totally prevent an opponent from bringing out anything a big beatstick can’t deal with, so it doesn’t quite see the same results here as it does in actual meta decks.

60 Card Monstrosities

Another archetype with all the right Attributes I tried out was Nemeses, however they are not featured in the previous section because I ran into a bit of a problem: Just like the Toa Mata don’t really do anything unless you can get out multiple and/or set up your GY with a Suva and several Kanohi, Nemeses don’t really do anything unless you get some monsters banished first. And since the main way to get monsters banished also relies on sending Kanohi to the GY, neither half of the deck is particularly capable of getting itself or the other started despite having good synergy once they’re running.

In trying to resolve this, I attempted stuffing a bunch of extra “spicy” techs into the deck, eventually blowing it up to a pile of 60 cards that somewhat reliably worked.

https://www.duelingbook.com/deck?id=9557017

Aside from the obvious, the most significant addition here are probably PSY-Framegear Gamma + Driver, as a powerful handtrap that conveniently can also set up some banished monsters for Nemeses plays. Driver also happens to be Level 6, so you can use it to pay the cost of Celestial Observatory and feel like an absolute king. However, at the end of the day, these additions only bring a slight reduction in the amount of luck you need to actually set up the really good plays, so I took a second stab and tried to fill up the 60 cards by bringing in a third archetype instead.

https://www.duelingbook.com/deck?id=9557112

C.C. Matoran proved quite competent at quickly dumping a few Kanohi to the GY when I previously tried them as the sole partner archetype for the Toa Mata, so I figured adding them might be a fine way to handle the observed issues with getting the deck to its initial velocity. And it does indeed seem like doing the good old C.C. Matoran play of letting Isolde send 2 Kanohi to the GY provides just enough setup for both the Toa Mata and the Nemeses portion to perform actual plays. Maybe it would even be possible to condense this triple mix down to 40 cards somehow, but I haven’t tried.

Single Attribute Soup

A common problem with the mixed-Attribute decks was getting Toa without any of the right Tributes, so to bypass that issue I also tried building a deck that only uses Toa of the same Attribute along with matching support. The candidates for that would be WATER (Gali and Kopaka) or EARTH (Onua and Pohatu), and I picked WATER because then I can also incorporate Kopeke for that sweet C.C. Matoran Isolde combo.

https://www.duelingbook.com/deck?id=9563264

The rest is just Frogs as a compact WATER package with a pretty good payoff, plus a single Ko-Koro to search with Mata Nui. Because I guess falling back to stall in cases where you don’t have anything else might at least keep you alive.

My verdict on this after a brief test run is that it can definitely do something more consistently than the decks that try to make multiple Attributes work, but what it does tends to be less impressive. For example, playing only 2 Toa gives you much less Rank 6 access via Kini-Nui, and even summoning one plus a Suva doesn’t do as much when the Kanohi selection is limited to Akaku and Kaukau. Also, I don’t really like it in concept, because the only reason there even are multiple Toa with the same Attribute is because ICE and STONE aren’t a thing in Yugioh.

Takeaways

The difference between a worthwhile experiment and a waste of time lies in whether or not you learn something in the process, so after trying all this, we face the big question: What does it tell us about Toa Mata and their future design requirements? I will end this on a quick summary of my observations, don’t hesitate to tell me in the comments if you feel I missed something.

  • There need to be more ways to get at least two Toa on the field. Kini-Nui is nice and quite accessible now that Mata Nui exists, but even assuming you find it every game, it’s still a gigantic choke point and negating it might just end your turn on a single big monster with a moderately useful effect.
  • Continuing from that last point, a single Toa Mata should provide a bit more value than it currently does. I kinda made this harder for myself than it needs to be by deciding the standard archetype support effects (searching, revival, etc) should be supplied only by support cards (and eventually Extra Deck monsters) rather than the main monsters themselves, to represent the Toa starting out as scattered amnesiacs before gathering towards the climax of the ’01 story. We’ll see if I can get away with sticking to my guns there.
  • A mix of all the Toa plus another engine/archetype that covers the same Attributes isn’t as good as expected, probably because it gives you more wrong ways to combine Attributes than right ones. As far as Toa Mata Tribute fodder goes, other members of the team or the multi-Attribute (in the hand) Suva have proven to be far more reliable options.
  • Early in the duel, going into Isolde with two Toa Mata and dumping all your Kanohi seems way better than making any Rank 6, which always bothers me a bit. I’d like to design the archetypal Xyzs to provide more value than even that, but it’s hard to imagine a way to do that without getting ridiculous. Maybe the better solution would be introducing additional ways to set up Kanohi, since Isolde is only so crazy good while you haven’t done that yet.
  • Another problem with making a Rank 6 out of Toa is that it usually removes all the Toa on your field, which takes away their potentially disruptive effects, Suva access, and Kanohi benefits. Isolde at least can give you another Toa by dumping 6 Kanohi, so it’s less of an issue there. This honestly might be resolved just by the fact that the upcoming dedicated bosses will also have “Toa” names, but I already have some ideas how this point could be addressed even further.
  • The banishing cost I somewhat spontaneously added to the Kanohi searches so stuff like Isolde wouldn’t get out of hand too much comes with some interesting practical challenges. On the one hand, the fact that you need to get both the Equip Spell and a monster into the GY makes them too unreliable to really act as the archetypal search cards, not to mention they can only get one specific monster each. On the other hand, if you do get them going, and especially if you get a Toa Mata + Suva setup where potentially every Kanohi swap translates to a search, you end up accumulating a lot of banished monsters that don’t really have any use if you’re not playing specifically a Nemeses hybrid. Not sure yet if it makes sense to add support that takes advantage of the big banished pile, since it tends to only exist when you’re already popping off anyway.

Deck Idea: Kaiju Makuta

No, not talking about Miserix, we still have quite a few years to go before getting to that guy. The Makuta in question here is the one and only who was released as a Ritual Monster in BCOR:

The Makuta

Now this particular form of the master of shadows is certainly a bit too small to qualify for the “Kaiju” title, but of course that term here refers to the actual archetype. Those are high-level monsters summoned to your opponent’s field by tributing one of their monsters, and if you add to that Makuta’s ability to return high-level monster to the hand when he is summoned, the bit of synergy that prompted this deck idea should be quite apparent.

Kaiju Makuta Deck

(The above deck is also included in the new BYE release for EDOPro as BYE_Makuta)

Basically, you want to use Makuta to clear the field of monsters, and to do that you have to make sure as many of your opponent’s monsters as possible fulfill the condition of being at least Level/Rank 5.

Mangaia, Lair of Makuta

Back in ze day, the trick to doing that was the Mangaia Field Spell, which can increase Levels and Ranks by up to 4 by self-milling. It also serves as a searcher for Makuta or his Ritual Spell and protects them from negation, so using this was usually enough to get pretty much anything off the field. Until Link Monsters came along, because those have neither Levels nor Ranks to be increased and so literally do not care about any of this. They can, however, still be tributed for Kaijus, so that’s a convenient way to fill that gap.

Once you have successfully summoned and resolved Makuta, he can tribute himself to summon a Rahi from anywhere, ideally going into some big Synchro for a quick win. Failing that, his Ritual Spell does allow summoning him once more from the GY, so that can still give you a second chance (remember, any Kaijus you used before will also be back in your hand ready to go again!).

Some additional interesting inclusions in this deck are the Ritual Djinns, which can be used as material for a Ritual Summon while in the GY and thus go well with Mangaia’s milling effect. Cherubini can send not only those directly to the GY, but also any of the Level 3 Rahi to trigger their effects, and Cross-Sheep gives you one of its better effects for summoning a Ritual Monster, which the Makuta Ritual Spell conveniently does twice. Finally, if you’re wondering why the deck uses specifically Gadarla as part of its Kaiju lineup, that’s because some genius thought it made sense to let the Kewa search every single WIND monster. Very balanced.

Deck Idea: Nokama’s Secret Village

Once upon a time (last week or so), in the middle of building this website and uploading cards, my mind wandered to Secret Village of the Spellcasters. And in that moment, it hit me. “Wait a minute”, I thought. “I made Nokama a Spellcaster!”

And thus was the birth of Nokama’s Secret Village.

You see, Turaga Nokama has the effect to make herself and the monsters she points to completely unaffected by two out of the three card types, depending on what you banish from the GY as cost. Secret Village prevents your opponent from activating Spell Cards as long as you control a Spellcaster and they don’t. Therefore, with Secret Village active, Nokama could make herself and one other monster you control unaffected by every single effect your opponent can legally use.

Add to that the other two benefits she gets from pointing to a monster – being indestructible by battle and recycling a WATER monster from GY or banished during each of your opponent’s End Phases – and you end up with a fun little challenge to the opponent. Can they use their restricted options to break through your protection, or will you get to recover your resources for a followup push in the next turn?

This by itself is certainly not an unbeatable challenge. Even assuming just running over the monster next to Nokama’s arrow isn’t feasible (due to protection or beefy stats), it’s still possible to use single cards like Kaijus or Evenly Matched that don’t care about “unaffected by effects”, or just use monster-based removal to get rid of Secret Village before exploiting the Spell-shaped hole in Nokama’s defenses. Since Nokama needs to activate an effect to turn on her protection, a negation or removal in response to that will also really screw up the plan. And if your opponent manages to get at least 9200 damage on board, they can just disregard the challenge entirely and beat you to death straight through your feeble little Turaga.

So to make this idea reasonably effective, we still need to combine it with additional threats and/or disruption. I tried to achieve this by tweaking the Mermail/Atlantean-based build I originally came up with for Ga-Koro a bit, here’s how it turned out.

Theory

Most of this is just standard Mermail/Atlantean stuff and you can probably find much better descriptions of that elsewhere than I’m able to write, so I’ll just explain the other additions that specifically help this deck idea.

Crusadia Arboria, being a WATER Warrior, serves as the honorary Ga-Matoran that allows reliably making Nokama. She can either be Special Summoned directly from the deck by Crystron Halqifibrax, or searched out by ROTA or Mermail Abysspike and then Special Summoned to your zone a Link Monster points to (which is why playing Salamangreat Almiraj can really unbrick certain hands). Instant Fusion and Elemental Hero Steam Healer are also a possible route to Nokama.

In addition to Secret Village itself, we play the extra field searchers Metaverse (because getting to the Village anytime before your opponent’s Main Phase is good enough) and Set Rotation (because giving your opponent Ga-Koro probably isn’t going to hurt much, also they can’t activate it anyway with Secret Village up).

For the Abyss-scales that go on Abyssmegalo or Abyssgaios, I included both Cetus and Mizuchi – the former actually gives some additional benefit (such as negating Evenly Matched) when we’ve already locked the opponent out of Spell Cards, while the latter is much better in cases where we can’t get to Secret Village. And the combined ATK boost from having both equipped makes it a whole lot harder to solve the challenge via battle.

A last-minute addition to the side deck that unfortunately never came up in my brief tests is Ice Dragon’s Prison, which in theory should have a bunch of utility in this deck. You can use it to fill Nokama’s zone during your opponent’s turn in case whatever was there originally gets removed, and chances are you’ll actually get the banish for free since your monster will be unaffected by Traps. Honestly might be main deck worthy, but I’d have to test more to be sure.

Random sample hands:

Again, most of this is standard Mermail/Atlantean stuff that probably could be done better, the interesting part is just how Nokama is worked into this.

Practice

I ran about half the usual AI testing circuit with this deck and got some, well, mixed results. The basic strategy of sitting on an invincible pair of Nokama + big body and recycling monsters every turn does often work, but the fact that it only slightly disrupts the opponent’s plays with maybe an Atlantean discard here and a negation there does give them a lot of room to break through the small gaps that do exist. And if they do, it’s going to be pretty hard to turn the tables back because setting up the initial board eats up a lot of resources. Similarly, if they just don’t bother with Nokama and instead build up an annoying board of their own, the one monster you get back in the End Phase might not be enough to mount the kind of offense you need at that point. These issues could potentially be fixed by moving away from pure WATER monsters a bit and including more cards that hinder your opponent with relatively low investment, but that would take some additional effort to figure out and feels a bit less interesting to me since it’s off-theme.

Also, another source of problems was that I’m straight up not smart enough to play Nokama competently. The fact that she immunizes monsters on both sides of the field against a specific, variable subset of cards has been the source of many fuckups leading to probably avoidable losses. The existence of this effect irrefutably proves that I know much more about making Yugioh cards than about playing them.

Anyway, despite the problems found in testing, there were definitely times when things did go as envisioned and I was able to enjoy being on the dispensing end of a soft lockdown facilitated by a 28-piece Lego set from 2001. For an example, check out the video below.