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.

Theme Guide: Ga-Koro (BCOT)

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, as a little trick to remedy the relative lack of good WATER Warriors that can currently be used as substitute for not yet created Ga-Matoran.

So, the big takeaway from Effect #1 in particular is that a Ga-Koro deck should want to play mainly on the opponent’s turn and in response to other effects, since doing so renders them virtually unstoppable. Let’s take a look at how the villagers approach this simple idea.

Maku immediately gives us not one, but two quick effects. In the hand, you can discard her at any time to make a card unaffected by all other effects for the duration of that 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 GY, she summons herself when your opponent activates an effect in a free column, which is also inherently at Chain Link 2 or higher.

Continuing the quick effects, Turaga Nokama brings another way to make monsters unaffected, but with more tricky mechanics. Most significant is that rather than a free choice of targets, it’s always herself and the monsters she points to – so up to three monsters, though you lose some flexibility. Also, rather than the usual “except its own” clause, the exception is here made for Nokama’s own effects, so you can do fun things 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 linked 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 the linked monsters, with herself being indestructible in battle as long as she points to something (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.

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. Maku)
  • 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, provides some extra pressure on the opponent to use monster effects rather than Spells/Traps so Gali can be triggered during your turn as well. Though really it’s just a joke about Torrential Tribute if I’m quite honest.

Best of Test

Best of Test: Ga-Koro

Conclusion

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, 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. Here‘s a sample decklist to get you started (though there are lots of options for entirely different builds), slightly more updated versions are included with each BCOT release.