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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
During your opponent’s turn, if all monsters in your GY are WATER (min. 1), your opponent cannot activate cards or effects in response to the activation of your WATER monster effects as Chain Link 2 or higher. You can banish 1 monster from your GY; Special Summon 1 WATER monster from your hand in Defense Position, but its effects are negated and it becomes the same Type as the banished monster’s, also you cannot Special Summon monsters from the Extra Deck for the rest of this turn, except WATER monsters. You can only use this effect of “Ga-Koro, Village of Water” once per turn.
Bionicle: Coming of the Toa (v3.21.6)
Ga-Koro is a beautiful village of leaf huts swimming on the waters of Naho Bay. According to Mata Nui Online Game 2, the central Principle of the Ga-Matoran is Purity, from which they derive Speed. How these concepts translate to card game mechanics was, at least to me, not entirely obvious at first glance, so let’s go over the design in detail.
Effect #1 preserves the purity of your plays by not letting your opponent corrupt them with any dirty responses, as long as your GY is filled purely with WATER monsters. To make this reasonably balanced, it has an additional restriction of only working on effects activated during the opponent’s turn as Chain Link 2 or higher – which usually means quick effects. Because speed, geddit? Incidentally, quick effects that can be used during the opponent’s turn are somewhat common among existing WATER monsters (e.g. Abyssalacia, Crocodragon, the entire Crystron archetype), so that provides ample deck building options.
Effect #2 grants speed in the form of tempo, specifically an extra summon of a WATER monster at the cost of banishing any monster from the GY (which conveniently helps with the setup for Effect #1). The purity aspect here is that it locks you into only summoning WATER monsters from the Extra Deck for the rest of the turn, as is appropriate with this kind of effect. Also, the Type of the summoned monster is changed to match the banished one, which was originally a trick to make up for the lack of WATER Warriors in the game, but is now mostly just another point of purity flavour after I added more Ga-Matoran.
The reason we need specifically WATER Warriors is, of course, the village’s Turaga, Nokama.
Link Effect MonsterLink-2 [▲ ↙] | WATER Spellcaster | ATK 1200
2 monsters, including a WATER Warrior monster Cannot be destroyed by battle while it points to a monster. (Quick Effect): You can banish 1 card from your GY, then discard 1 card; until the end of this turn, this card and monsters it points to are unaffected by the effects of cards with a different card type (Monster, Spell, and/or Trap) than the card banished to activate this effect, except this card’s. During your opponent’s End Phase, if this card points to a monster (Quick Effect): You can target 1 of your WATER monsters that is banished or in your GY; add it to your hand. You can only use each effect of “Turaga Nokama” once per turn.
Bionicle: Coming of the Toa (v3.21.6)
Noble Kanohi Rau
If another “Kanohi” card becomes equipped to the equipped monster, destroy this card. Once per turn, if the equipped monster is a “Turaga”, “Toa”, or “Makuta” monster, the first activated effect that targets it becomes “You can move 1 monster in the Main Monster Zone to another Main Monster Zone on its controller’s field, then your opponent can move 1 monster in the Main Monster Zone to another Main Monster Zone on its controller’s field”. If this card is in your GY: You can Tribute 1 monster, then target 1 “Turaga Nokama” in your GY; Special Summon it and equip it with this card. You can only use this effect of “Noble Kanohi Rau” once per turn.
Bionicle: Coming of the Toa (v3.21.6)
In accordance with the particular type of “protection” offered by Ga-Koro, this WATER monster comes with a Quick Effect that you will often want to use on your opponent’s turn: The ability to make Nokama and everything she points to immune to 2 of the 3 card types in the game for the rest of the turn. A funny thing to note is that this immunity, instead of the usual “except its own” clause, makes an exception only for Nokama’s own effects, so you can do stuff like making an opponent’s monster unaffected by its own protection or stat boosts. This way, you can potentially get some benefit out of the arrow pointing to the opponent’s field. Finally, for synergy with both Ga-Koro’s purity concept and the general inclination of WATER monsters towards being discarded for cost, this effect comes at the price of banishing a card from the GY and discarding one. The banished card determines which card type is not included in the granted protection (to keep things a bit more fair and to leave yourself with ways to deal with an opponent’s monster in the relevant zone), while the discard allows triggering effects like Atlantean Heavy Infantry at any time.
Nokama’s other effects further play into this theme of protecting monsters she points to, with herself being indestructible in battle as long as one of those zones is filled (because being unaffected by stuff doesn’t help much if you’re a 1200 ATK monster that can easily be run over) and replenishing the fodder you need for the main effect as a reward if you manage to keep the monster(s) she’s pointing to alive until your opponent’s End Phase. Note that the latter is a quick effect rather than a trigger effect like it would usually be, so you can potentially chain it to something and take advantage of Ga-Koro.
The Kanohi Rau, Mask of Translation, adds a further level of complication by “translating” one targeting effect per turn into a “translation” along the Main Monster Zones. Not only does this functionally negate whatever the original effect meant to accomplish, but it also provides an opportunity to set up a monster placement that is convenient for Nokama.
What’s this? You want more Quick Effects? Well, you’ve come to the right place, because this floating village is populated by more than just its elder.
When a monster effect is activated while you control a WATER monster and this card is in your hand (Quick Effect): You can draw 1 card and show it, then if it is a monster, Special Summon this card, and if you do, its Level becomes the shown monster’s Level. Otherwise, discard this card. If this card is sent from the hand or field to the GY, and you have no Spells/Traps in your GY: You can send 1 Spell/Trap from your Deck to the GY. You can only use each effect of “Matoran Astrologer Nixie” once per turn.
Other “Matoran” monsters you control cannot be destroyed by card effects. You can only use each of the following effects of “Matoran Assistant Hahli” once per turn. During the Main Phase (Quick Effect): You can inflict 400 damage to your opponent. If a WATER “Matoran” monster(s), except “Matoran Assistant Hahli”, is sent to your GY, while this card is in your GY (except during the Damage Step): You can Special Summon this card, but banish it during the End Phase.
When your opponent activates a card or effect on the field (Quick Effect): You can Special Summon this card from your hand or GY to your zone in that card’s column, and if you do, change 1 face-up monster on the field to Defense Position. (Quick Effect): You can target 1 other face-up card you control; for the rest of this Chain, or until the end of this turn if it is a “Matoran” monster, it is unaffected by card effects, except its own. You can only use each effect of “C.C. Matoran Maku” once per turn.
During the Main or Battle Phase (Quick Effect): You can make the monster(s) your opponent currently controls with the highest ATK lose 800 ATK, until the end of this turn. If this card is sent from the hand or field to the GY: You can target 1 monster on the field; its owner draws 1 card, and if they do, return that target to the hand. You can only use each effect of “Matoran Tender Kotu” once per turn.
Bionicle: Beware the Swarm (v3.20.4)
There’s the astrologer Nixie, who can draw you a card and (with some luck) Special Summon herself from the hand in response to any monster effect activated while you control a WATER monster. If you do draw a monster from this effect and thus get Nixie on the field, the included Level modulation combined with her Tuner status could also be helpful in making a big Synchro Monster to pair up with Nokama. If you’re not as lucky with your draw and end up having to discard Nixie, she can potentially still help set up Nokama for granting protection from monsters by putting a Spell/Trap in the GY to banish – but only if you didn’t already have one. This will also trigger when used as material for Nokama or a Synchro or even when discarded for Nokama’s cost, so that particular piece of setup is quite accessible.
Hahli, at this point in time a mere assistant flax maker, does nothing flashy by herself, but provides valuable assistance to her fellow Matoran in various ways. There’s obviously the destruction protection, but the small Quick Effect burn is also not to be underestimated – not because of the damage it deals, but because it gives you +1 chain length and thus a chance to activate more impactful Quick Effects in the range where Ga-Koro shields them from interference, not to mention giving Nixie an opportunity to activate from the hand. The GY effect serves a similar purpose, as it will trigger together with another Ga-Matoran’s floating effect and thus let you either chain block or build the chain the way you want it for Ga-Koro.
Maku even gives us not one, but two quick effects. On the field, you can make a card unaffected by other effects for a single Chain only, which is obviously something that only makes sense as Chain Link 2 or higher and therefore works perfectly for Ga-Koro’s protection. As a little special clause, fellow Matoran get to remain unaffected for an entire turn – imagine it as them being taught to swim, as opposed to just being briefly held above the water like everything else. In the hand or GY, she summons herself when your opponent activates an effect in a free column, which is also inherently at Chain Link 2 or higher.
Finally, Kotu’s Quick Effect lets her calm your opponent’s most ferocious beast with an ATK reduction, a reference to her job of tending to even large Rahi like Tarakava after they leave Makuta’s control. She also comes with a disruptive floating effect (once again, set up so it triggers when discarded for Nokama’s cost) that works best when used on something of yours controlled by your opponent, but may otherwise still be worth it if you can hit a choke point.
And with that, all that’s left is the resident heroine and Main Deck boss, Gali.
To Tribute Summon this card face-up, you can Tribute a WATER or “Toa Mata” monster in your hand, except “Toa Mata Gali”, instead of a monster you control. Once per turn, when the turn player’s opponent activates a monster effect, except “Toa Mata Gali” (Quick Effect): You can target 1 other face-up monster on the field; negate its effects, and if you do, this card gains 400 ATK.
Bionicle: Coming of the Toa (v3.21.6)
Great Kanohi Kaukau
If another “Kanohi” card becomes equipped to the equipped monster, destroy this card. If the equipped monster is a “Toa” or “Makuta” monster, it is unaffected by your opponent’s card effects, unless they target it. If this card is sent to the GY: You can banish 1 monster from your GY; add 1 “Toa Mata Gali” from your Deck to your hand. You can only use this effect of “Great Kanohi Kaukau” once per turn.
Bionicle: Coming of the Toa (v3.21.6)
Now, what does the Toa of Water bring to the aid of her village? You guessed it, another Quick Effect. This one can be chained to any monster effects activated by the turn player’s opponent (for Ga-Koro’s purposes, this particularly means your effects during the opponent’s turn), negates a face-up monster, and gives Gali an ATK boost that can potentially stack to infinity with enough patience. So we basically have three main uses:
Bonus disruption during the opponent’s turn whenever you already have a monster effect that can activate (e.g. a Ga-Matoran)
Shutting down your opponent’s monster-based disruption on the field during your turn
Stacking ATK boosts to get over big monsters in battle (something Ga-Koro otherwise struggles with)
Meanwhile, the Kanohi Kaukau, Mask of Water Breathing, offers an additional layer of protection from non-targeting effects, leaving you free to save your Nokama for something else. Though really it’s just a joke about Torrential Tribute if I’m quite honest.
Being a WATER-based strategy that discards for cost as one of its key plays, it seemed natural to use Atlanteans, and Mermails along with them. Using (restricted versions of) standard issue combos I will not cover in detail here, you can put out big monsters like Abyssmegalo + Mizuchi, Moulinglacia, or any of the high-Level Synchros in your Extra Deck to serve as the target of Nokama’s protection. Possibly the best you can get is Chengying, because Nokama banishing for cost lets you trigger his effect whenever you damn feel like it and just get rid of two of your opponent’s cards.
To make Nokama herself, we just need to find one of our many Ga-Matoran at any point throughout the combo, which is made easy by Nixie being a Level 2 Tuner, well within the range of what good ol’ Halqifibrax can fetch. Even his effect during the opponent’s turn would be pretty good to put a fresh monster into Nokama’s zone when needed, if not for the fact that the two of them tend to compete for the Extra Monster Zone and thus rarely coexist on the field. Finally, Marincess Coral Anemone comes up a fair bit because she not only extends your combos, but also brings back Nokama in just the right spot to make her live, though not necessarily in the strongest possible configuration.
Best of Test
Decks centered around Ga-Koro focus mainly on quick effects chained to the opponent’s own plays on their turn. By utilizing Nokama’s solid protection in tandem with disruptive effects like Gali, Maku, Kotu, and even Atlanteans, you can establish a successful control strategy to keep your cards on the board while interfering with the opponent enough to keep victory within reach.