Theme Guide: Ko-Koro (BCOT)

When I set out to make Ko-Koro, there were already a few specific goals I was aiming for with the design: It should reflect the principle of Peace that MNOG2 assigned to the village, the playstyle it facilitates should be clearly distinct from the other Koros, and it should especially be incompatible with the Ga-Koro strategy with which it shares the focus on the WATER Attribute. Given these requirements, the following part of the quote at the top of the BS01 “Peace” article stood out to me:

On Mount Ihu, nothing grows and nothing changes. The mountain is perfectly at Peace.

In other words, “Peace” as a concept is (semi-)canonically equated to a lack of change, and in card game terms that comes out to a type of strategy that is as unique as it is controversial – stall. By preventing your opponent from making progress towards victory, you buy yourself the time to achieve some win condition that would normally be too slow to work. And this inherent slowness gives us a nice big point of distinction from Ga-Koro, which is all about quick effects and playing on both your and your opponent’s turn.

With that settled as the direction I wanted to go in, I sketched up the Ko-Koro field spell with three effects that limit your opponent on the condition that you also limit yourself in a similar way (much like a peace treaty), all under the shared condition that your monsters are all WATER to establish that Attribute focus. While the basic outline of this idea survived testing pretty much unchanged, the details of the effects underwent a lot of changes, so let’s just look at them point by point:

  • If you did not attack during your last turn, your opponent’s monsters cannot attack on the turn they are Summoned. This effect started life as a total attack lock with the same condition and I honestly think that might have been fine in a realistic environment, but apparently the EDOPro AI is completely unable to deal with this type of restriction and it leads to the overly long stall games everybody hates, so I had to tone it down a bit. If the strategy works as intended, this honestly barely makes a difference, for reasons I’ll get into in a bit.
  • If you did not banish/destroy any of your opponent’s cards since your last Standby Phase, your monsters get targeting and destruction protection. This one is super significant since the blanket protection makes it very hard for your opponent to break through even otherwise unimpressive opening boards, enabling you to build on them in consecutive turns until you reach something actually game-winning. On the other hand, the condition attached to it requires you to opt out of the vast majority of removal, massively influencing deckbuilding and the design of other cards related to Ko-Koro. Initially, the restrictions were even harsher as you were not allowed to make your opponent’s cards leave the field with your effects in any way whatsoever, but after one particularly atrocious test duel I realized this just forces you into situations where you cannot possibly clear the way to deal damage and are stuck passing back and forth for like 40 turns. Speaking of damage, I briefly had an extra stipulation that did not allow you to deal effect damage if you wanted this protection (because burn of all things as a win condition for an ice deck is kinda stupid), but then I remembered Wave-Motion Cannon exists and enables burn wins without ever needing to deal damage while you are stalling. So I gave up on that restriction – I will be judging you if you play Ko-Koro Burn, but you are free to do so.
  • During turns in which you did not activate any monster effects, your opponent is pretty much under Lose 1 Turn (sans position changing). The main purpose of this one is to prevent most decks from comboing into big bosses that just win them the game even under Ko-Koro’s restrictions, while also ruining any possible Ga-Koro synergy with its condition. It actually didn’t change much from its very first draft, unlike the other two. I honestly think “no monster effects for you” is generally a cool drawback on a big floodgate, as it pretty much prevents it from being used in tandem with an oppressive board of negating and disrupting Extra Deck monsters.

Overall, the payoffs for these effects make it so that your opponent has a very hard time doing anything to your monsters unless they get an extra turn of setup, while the restrictions greatly limit your ways to counteract that setup. The game you play under Ko-Koro essentially consists of using your limited options to keep your opponent off anything that could break them out of this stall situation, while gradually building momentum turn by turn until you reach a point where you are ahead far enough to safely break the peace and go on the offensive.

But if we want to avoid destruction, banishment, and battle, how are we actually supposed to get the opponent’s monsters off the field before they stop being affected by Ko-Koro? Some existing cards can do that of course, but the answer that exists natively within this village’s support is Turaga Nuju.

Being concerned with the future as he is, the first thing Nuju will do upon entering the field is protect a face-up Spell/Trap from destruction for a short while, and he himself doesn’t need to stay around for this – you just need any WATER monster. Now, the idea here is obviously to target Ko-Koro, hopefully leading to a situation where your opponent cannot get rid of your monsters because of the Field Spell, but also cannot get rid of the Field Spell before dealing with your monsters. Other applications are quite limited, and while this one important use case is kinda enough, I am strongly considering also allowing face-down targets for just a bit of extra utility.

But the main point of the card lies in the second effect, representing the most notable trait of the Turaga of Ko-Koro: He communicates almost exclusively in bird language. And thus, he has a removal effect that is tailored for the strategy and designed in the “language” of birds, specifically those of the frosty variety, by which I mean exactly Penguins. By flipping one of your monsters face-down, he returns a card your opponent controls to the hand, resetting any progress made towards escaping the Ko-Koro lock. Get it, because there are Penguins in the game that bounce stuff when they flip, haha

Meanwhile, the Kanohi Matatu is a non-targeting “telekinetic” battle position changer, and one neat way to use it is to flip the monster you used for Nuju’s effect back up and trigger some effect that way. Yes, the mental focus required for that on the noble version means you don’t get to attack with the equipped monster the same turn, but being able to reuse a Penguin Soldier seems well worth that.

If bouncy birds are not your speed, maybe I can interest you in Kopeke, the resident Chronicler’s Company member and designated WATER Warrior material for the Turaga. When Normal Summoned or flipped, he gets another Level 2 Warrior from Deck or GY, so using this effect repeatedly helps gather the resources you need for the winning push. You’re also able to place the monster you get on the top of the Deck or flip Kopeke face-down to save another C.C. Matoran from destruction, but neither really matters in the context of Ko-Koro.

By the way, the original idea for the first effect in this new version was adding a Level 2 Warrior to the hand and then placing a card from the hand on the top of the deck, “shaping” the hand as a reference to delicate ice carving. But as I found out after making the script, adding a card from the Deck causes an automatic shuffle after the effect resolves, which then removes the card from the top again (and it needs to be there for an interaction I have not yet revealed). Later I also noticed that there are already cards in the game that do similar things and so it is very much an established fact that you’d just shuffle right after searching in this case, but at that point I had already redesigned the effect to avoid any weird issues – first with a discard to keep it neutral since Level 2 Warriors is a pretty generic pool, then I took that out as well because it turns out the pool actually doesn’t have much good stuff anyway.

Finally, Kopaka is one of the major ways you can actively put pressure on your opponent amidst this stall-focused playstyle, and that is despite him technically being a mostly defensive card. The key point is that he can, to a degree, let you ignore Ko-Koro’s restriction on attacking, as he will change himself to defense at the end of the Battle Phase and proceed to redirect any attacks from your opponent’s side into his hefty 2500 DEF butt (incidentally, this marks the first actual stat change I’ve made in the BCOT overhaul – 2000/2150 was just a bit underwhelming). He also kind of indirectly protects your other cards (such as Ko-Koro itself) from removal effects by punishing any harm to those on his side with a non-targeting banish – this would turn off Ko-Koro’s protection and negation effects, but in the case where that’s the card that got removed, it doesn’t matter, right?

Protecting Ko-Koro is also the intent of the Kanohi Akaku, which uses its power of X-Ray vision to peek behind cards your opponent draws, keeping Spells and Traps pinned in the hand by its user’s icy gaze for a turn. Since Spells in particular represent the most common form of generic S/T removal next to Extra Deck monsters that are neutered by Ko-Koro itself, this potentially takes those threats to your attempted lockdown out of the equation. That said, in testing the few times I managed to set the Akaku up it never ended up mattering at all, so I might still need to refine this idea a bit in upcoming versions.

Sample Deck

Ko-Koro forces you to forgo monster-based disruption if you want to use it as a proper floodgate, so in order to not get completely wrecked every time an opponent does manage to play through the village’s passive restrictions (or we just don’t draw it), the logical move seemed to be using lots of Traps to fill this hole. And when WATER and Traps are in the requirements, the answer probably lies in Paleozoics with a decent helping of Frogs.

https://www.duelingbook.com/deck?id=8852285

Starting from the boring parts, we have the classic Frog engine of Dupe Frog, Ronintoadin, and Swap Frog plus Paleozoics Canadia and Olenoides to get lots of Aqua Level 2s. Why only two Olenoides in the Main Deck and no Dinomischus? Because we don’t want to destroy or banish anything if we can help it, but also can’t justify skipping out on Spell/Trap removal entirely. Finally, Penguin Soldier is also a Level 2 Aqua, but mainly in here for the previously described synergy with Nuju because that’s just so funny.

But if we want to make Nuju, we’re going to need WATER Warriors, which here mainly means Kopeke, with one copy each of Taipu and Maku included as search targets. Yes, Taipu is not WATER, but having him in here means Kopeke always makes Nuju – Normal Summon Kopeke, add Taipu to hand, Special Summon Taipu, and there are your materials. The downside of essentially not being able to attack that turn conveniently doesn’t matter too much in a Ko-Koro deck.

On the custom side, the last part of the monster lineup are Kopaka (of course) and a Suva as free Tribute fodder that helps access Kanohi. On the non-custom side, I also included the very recently released King of the Sky Prison because that thing is just crazy in anything backrow heavy. The only reason I didn’t run 3 is that it’s the wrong Attribute.

The Spells are merely Ko-Koro itself, the Kanohi, and basic consistency stuff, so not much to say there. For non-Paleo Traps, I included Ice Dragon’s Prison as nontargeting removal (clashes with Ko-Koro, but sometimes you can’t avoid that – at least it’s an ice card) and Infinite Impermanence as just about the only major handtrap we can use without disabling the floodgate.

The Extra Deck is a mix of Links and Rank 2 Xyzs, most importantly Nuju and Toadally Awesome. Another inclusion to deal with untargetable stuff is Sky Cavalry Centaurea, and amusingly enough, using that sets you up perfectly for Zeus. Of course, neither of those are WATER, so once you do that you’re at least temporarily abandoning the usual Ko-Koro strategy. But hey, gotta have a Plan Z.

Funny things in the side deck include Gameciel and Sphere Mode Ra for going second, Demise of the Land and Metaverse to hit your opponent with the Ko-Koro floodgate as a surprise, Evenly Matched and Macro Cosmos because even though their effects make cards get banished it doesn’t count as cards being banished by your effects (’tis a very silly game), and Ice Barrier as another nontargeting removal option (also an ice card!).

Best of Test

Best of Test: Ko-Koro

This deck performed quite interestingly in testing. Not only did it have the highest winrate out of everything I’ve put through the structured test circuit so far (mostly because the AI is unable to play under Ko-Koro), its good and bad matchups were also quite different from usual. In particular, this was the only deck so far that won its match against the Dragoon AI (by simply never letting the boy come out), and also the only deck that lost the match against the Chain Burn AI (turns out going slow and protecting your field is a bad strategy against heaps of effect damage, and Ojama Tokens screw me over to a hilarious degree).

Conclusion

The central strategy of Ko-Koro is restricting yourself in order to slow down your opponent as well, and then using the fact that you’re better adapted to playing under these limitations to gradully approach a game-winning position. This is a very unusual playstyle with a lot of weaknesses, such as Ko-Koro doing almost nothing against already established boards, but between the additional support offered by powerful Traps and the AI’s sheer inability to counteract what you’re doing, it worked so well in testing that I kind of had a hard time justifying any buffs. As a result, the cards this time may be a bit undertuned if you wanted to use them against a human opponent with brain cells and all that, but that may not matter much when the main use case for EDOPro custom cards is just the AI.

As a final note, despite my doubts about the powerlevel, I must say I’m very happy with some other aspects of the design, in particular how “icy” it ended up being:

  • It accomodates some ice-related cards like the Penguins, Ice Dragon’s Prison, and Ice Barrier really well.
  • The strategy of going first and preventing battle stands in perfect contrast to Ta-Koro, were you want to go second and battle as much as possible.
  • The crucial need to accurately judge when you can start pushing for victory and turn off Ko-Koro without screwing yourself mirrors the Ko-Matoran’s focus on knowledge and foresight.
  • The deck melts against burn like an ice cube in the sun.

Theme Guide: Po-Koro (BCOT)

Among the villages on Mata Nui, I’d say Po-Koro is pretty high up there in terms of memorable traits. There’s the sculptures made by the resident carvers, the busy trading going on at the bazaar, the entire sport of Koli, and of course that little plague it suffered under in MNOG. For my particular depiction of the Village of Stone, I chose to focus on the first two of these: Trading and carving. (Koli is something I plan to study in more detail when it transforms into Kolhii later down the line, since it gets much more focus in the story then, and the plague is a topic for BCOR.)

Let’s begin dissecting from the second effect, since that will usually be the first you use. This one represents carving, and what it does is, like most Koro stuff, mainly inspired by the corresponding MNOG2 principle. In Po-Koro’s case, that means “Creation”. My first association with this in game terms has alway been the various Extra Deck summons (literally putting your monsters together to CREATE a new one), but upon further reflection I realized that there is one mechanic that creates stuff more literally than any other, and that is Tokens – those straight up don’t exist in any form until an effect says they do. So by combining those two ideas, I ended up with an effect that summons Tokens whenever you Special Summon from the Extra Deck.

“But isn’t that basically just Linkross for every summoning method?”, you might ask, and you wouldn’t be exactly wrong. However, there are some extra hoops to jump through here that hopefully fix the glaring balance issues with the concept. Most trivially, this card is in the Main and not the Extra Deck, so it’s already less consistently accessible by default. Then there are also two points that prevent using it too generically: You need to banish an EARTH Warrior (the “sculptor”) from the GY as cost, and you only get Tokens (the “sculptures”) up to the number of EARTH materials (the “raw materials”) in the summon. Note especially the banishing, which is meant to directly discourage mixing the Po-Koro strategy with Onu-Koro (where the resource loop relies on not getting your monsters banished). They both revolve around the EARTH attribute since Stone doesn’t exist separately in Yugioh, so I made sure to strongly distinguish them by playstyles instead. The final restriction meant to prevent Linkross-tier combos even in those decks that can make Po-Koro work is that whichever summoning method you use to trigger it becomes entirely locked for the rest of the turn (as opposed to just restricting how the Tokens are used). So the moment you make your Tokens, you need to be ready to pivot to something else. In MNOG2 terms, this sensitive issue of timing matches up quite well to the Kolhii skill of Strategy that is derived from Creation. I was quite cautious making this effect since it’s so close to a recently banned card, and initially it was even more restricted, but test runs suggest the current level of power should be fine without causing any notable problems. As usual, feel free to prove me wrong.

The secondary effect (which is listed first because that seems to be the convention for continuous vs activated effects) allows you to save your monsters from destruction by “trading” fancy Rocks, as they do on the Po-Koro bazaar. This is possibly not the best trade since you have to go as far as banishing a monster to protect another, but the Tokens made by the other effect are conveniently Rocks and in their case banishing is no different from destroying, so the idea is to mainly use those. One pesky detail I only noticed after implementing the effect is that it does not protect from full boardwipes because you can’t banish a card already marked for destruction as replacement, but it’s still fairly handy regardless.

If you compare to the other Koro field spells, you might notice that this one is much less xenophobic: You need to play EARTH monsters, including at least one EARTH Warrior, to make it work, but it doesn’t punish you for playing anything else. This is because, in the name of creation and creativity, I wanted to leave it possible to put whatever you want into the Extra Deck, as long as you’re using at least two different summoning methods.

Those were some long-ass design notes, but to summarize and boil the strategy down to its essence: The idea of a Po-Koro deck is simply to spam as much as possible from the Extra Deck, building a board while combining at least two different summoning methods, and any Tokens left at the end of that can act as additional protection.

As usual, the village itself is only part of the equation here, so on to the rest. For example, what could you summon from the Extra Deck to make especially good use of Po-Koro’s effect?

Turaga Onewa is meant to be one answer to this question. On having an EARTH monster summoned next to his arrow, he will immediately bring back a banished EARTH Warrior, which transforms the cost to summon Tokens into one more monster on the field. Of course, the summoning restriction means you can’t use all this field presence to just continue Link Summoning, so you’ll need to make sure you have a Tuner or something to really benefit here. One thing I considered doing for a bit was letting Onewa turn the monster he brings back into a Tuner, but what bothered me there was that it would potentially allow you to just use the same Gouki-based deck I had for Onu-Koro and still reliably fulfill the requirement of two Extra Deck summoning methods. Kind of runs counter to the separation I’m trying to achieve, although it would technically be a distinct strategy even if it uses the same cards as its vehicle.

Since you can’t always expect to draw Po-Koro and do the setup that way, Onewa’s first effect provides another way to banish stuff, and comes with a lore gimmick to its math representing his famous ability to resolve disputes fairly. On top of the perfectly neutral action of putting a monster from the GY back into the hand and banishing a card from the hand, it gives a draw to only the player who is currently behind in advantage, so it works out to +1 if that’s you and -1 if it’s your opponent (and neutral in every other case). Fair.

The Kanohi Komau has mind control as its power, and with the original version back in 2014, I was quick to make the obvious association and write an effect that takes control of an opponent’s monster. In hindsight, that’s a bit above the intended powerlevel of Noble Kanohi, so the redesign instead turns it into a passive effect of using mind control to “stun” the weakest enemy (in terms of ATK, because unfortunately there isn’t a willpower stat that could be used for perfect accuracy). This fits well with the Huna and Rau as an effect that just inconveniences the opponent a bit and forces them to play around it, and for Po-Koro’s particular strategy of building a board with Extra Deck monsters, it makes a reasonable addition to the usual negates and disruptions you want to set up. Tributing a Sculpture Token to revive Onewa together with the Komau is something that happened semi-frequently during testing.

One noteworthy aspect of the way Onewa brings back banished monsters is that they are free to use their effects, so we can gain further advantage by using targets with beneficial effects on Special Summon. This is the niche our first Po-Matoran plays into.

Both of Hafu’s effects are essentially retained from his original incarnation, with a bit of adjustment. Being the master carver, he’s fully meant to facilitate more Extra Deck summoning and brings back another Level 2 Warrior (could be another Matoran, or a generic Tuner like Junk Anchor to enable Synchros) when Special Summoned. His other ability is crafting “Hafu originals” in his own likeness, meaning whatever uses him as material inherits his name. This mainly has applications in a dedicated “C.C. Matoran” strategy, where members of the archetype get a range of neat benefits. Here, it’s really just a cute gimmick that barely comes up.

I did consider a few additional tweaks for the Special Summon effect during testing, such as making it trigger on Normal Summon as well or expanding its target range to Level 4 or lower Warriors, but since the deck I ended up building seems to be able to utilize him just fine as is, it appears no such buffs are necessary.

If you’re familiar with the structure of these Koro strategies, you already know that the last piece of the puzzle is the village’s Toa, but in the case of such an Extra Deck focused theme, a Main Deck boss is a bit of an odd fit. Still, I feel like I managed to give him an effect that provides a fair level of utility.

What Pohatu brings to the table is Spell/Trap removal, and to match Po-Koro, he does it whenever monsters are Special Summoned from the Extra Deck. Furthermore, since we don’t want him to be useless after you have already built your board, he has a secondary trigger off the effect activations of Extra Deck monsters. Do note, however, that this is a trigger effect and not a quick effect, meaning it will activate on a separate chain only after the triggering effect has resolved.

The mental image behind this S/T destruction is destroying stuff by kicking a rock at it, and so it’s fitting to have a bonus effect if you actually happen to have a Rock monster (e.g. a Sculpture Token or a Suva). I went with the ricochet idea here, which means you get an additional (non-targeting) S/T destruction in that case. Seeing how the law of creative heroic thinking permits using the environment to harm enemies indirectly, letting the second destruction affect monsters as well may be a viable option, though in that case it would probably be fair to also destroy your Rock monster as a downside.

Finally, the Kanohi Kakama, Great Mask of Speed, lets the equipped monster move fast enough to attack everything in a single Battle Phase, essentially letting you use Pohatu to clear out all the monsters after using his effect to clear up to 2 backrow. This is a scenario that occured exactly 0 times during the test circuit, but hey, theoretically it sounds useful.

Sample Deck

I couldn’t think of any existing EARTH Warrior archetype that focuses mainly on Extra Deck spam while also adhering to the rule of using 2+ summoning methods, so I had to get a bit more creative than usual to fill the holes left by the not yet created Po-Matoran. Therefore, I’m including a section to explain the deck I built to test Po-Koro this time. As with everything else, feedback and criticism on this part is absolutely welcome.

The route I took to fulfill the 2 summoning method requirement was Link + Synchro, since they’re much easier to pull off than Fusion and immediately put banishable monsters into the GY unlike Xyz. In order to get access to the necessary Tuners, I picked Junk monsters as the EARTH Warrior core: Forward as a free Special Summon to start making Onewa, Anchor as a Tuner that also happens to be a Level 2 Warrior for Hafu, Converter as another Level 2 Warrior who does both searching and setup for Synchron (who is unfortunately not EARTH, but still good), and Servant as a free Special Summon whenever I have any of the others out. For the actual Matoran, we have just one Hafu (he only triggers on Special Summon, so having him in the hand isn’t the greatest) and three Taipu because free Special Summon going first. The latter isn’t a Po-Matoran, but since the Chronicler’s Company are meant to work together, I figured there was no way to avoid synergy through the shared attribute in this case. Thanks to Taipu’s presence, Hafu’s name change actually matters occasionally, by still letting you attack with some of your monsters from the Extra Deck after you summoned Taipu. The remaining EARTH Warriors are one Super Agent as an unreliable Special Summon and potential Spell/Trap remover, and Pohatu as your main Spell/Trap remover, Kakama search target, and Suva enabler.

The second major group of monsters, providing a fitting distinction between Earth and Stone, are Rocks. We have Adamancipator Researcher as a Tuner whose Special Summon from the hand is enabled by Po-Koro’s Tokens, Nemeses Keystone as another Special Summon that can trigger Onewa while recycling other banished stuff and to banish for Po-Koro’s protection so it comes back to hand at the end of the turn, and Nibiru to initiate extinction events. The Suva is also technically a Rock, and its purpose is of course being Tributed for Pohatu and then coming back every turn, which can actually trigger Onewa if you have Po-Koro up because the Suva counts as all non-DARK Attributes in that case.

The Spells can be quickly summarized as Kanohi, searchers, and ways to Special Summon to Onewa’s zone (most interestingly Word Legacy Succession, which does exactly that). And of course, we have the Dragoon package I put in to celebrate the complete freedom of Extra Deck choices and then proceeded to regret immensely because it’s so powerful and easy to make that it ends up distracting from the actual point of the Deck. Which is why I ended up intentionally siding it out for the rest of the match every time I won a duel during testing, even when I didn’t actually use it.

The Extra Deck could probably be filled a million different ways, but what I settled on after trying a lot of variations is:

  • Double Onewa to get free monsters.
  • Isolde to trigger the Kakama’s search and to get Hafu or Junk Anchor (either as followup to Onewa or as an alternative if you don’t have the setup to trigger him).
  • Halquifibrax because it has just as much synergy with Po-Koro as it did with Linkross.
  • Desert Locusts to summon via Halq for a discard while potentially triggering Onewa.
  • Linkuriboh because it can be made with a single Sculpture Token.
  • Avramax as a big dude you can make e.g. with Onewa and Isolde.
  • Herald of the Arc Light as an easy banishing floodgate and negate.
  • Jiujiu as an indestructible removal tool.
  • Marcher and Integrator so you can get to Jiujiu from Researcher and two Sculpture Tokens while drawing in the process.
  • Dragite as a negate and removal tool.
  • Quandax to make Dragite while getting a WATER into the GY so the negate is turned on.
  • Verte Anaconda plus Dragoon in case you mess up the actual combo but feel like winning anyway.

Finally, the side deck is just a pile of EARTH staples and cards that are really good in some situations, plus a few options to fill the Extra Deck slots left open when removing the Dragoon stuff (Accesscode and Apollousa as alternate bosses, Reprodocus and Geonator Transverser as alternate Links you can make with random monsters).

To see all this in action, continue right on.

Best of Test

Best of Test: Po-Koro

Conclusion

Po-Koro decks encourage Special Summoning from the Extra Deck and excel at providing a bunch of material to do so. However, lacking dedicated boss monsters of its own and having some tricky requirements and restrictions on the Field Spell, the success of the strategy is very much dependent on what other cards you combine it with, perhaps more so than any of the other villages. Also, the need to have cards to both make Onewa in the Extra Monster Zone and trigger him with an additional Special Summon can be quite the hurdle to consistency.

Designer’s Quip: The Thin Line Between Victory and Defeat

Notice the similarity between these cards? That’s right, both are Quick-Play Spells that let you activate one of two effects if you control a specific category of monsters. Even more, in both cases the first effect has lower requirements and provides some simple utility, while the second needs more setup but deals a potentially game-ending blow.

This is, of course, no coincidence. As It Was in the Before-Time shows the scenario in which the Bohrok swarms successfully eliminate everything else that dwells on the surface, and The End of the Swarm shows the scenario of their defeat that eventually came to pass in the 2002 storyline. They are victory and defeat, so they naturally form a pair – though which one is which obviously depends on what deck you are playing.

No, I am still not going to explain what’s going on with the Level 8+ monsters and Continuous Spells. Try to figure it out on your own if you really want to know already, or just wait patiently 😉

Theme Guide: (Exo-)Toa (BBTS)

After collecting all types of Krana and descending into the depths of the Bohrok Nest to stop the swarms for good, the Toa Mata came across a new power to aid them in this quest, sealed deep beneath the earth. Suits of armor equipped with powerful weaponry, at the cost of inhibiting their innate elemental powers.

The Exo-Toa, like the Boxor used by the Matoran, is represented by a Union Monster, but like the Toa, it’s Level 6, so getting it on the field where it can do all the Union stuff is the first challenge. The built-in solution is being able to Special Summon itself if all monsters you control are Normal Summoned Toa, though in hindsight it probably wouldn’t be broken to drop the “all monsters” part. Anyway, equipping it gives an enormous boost of 2000 ATK, but comes with two downsides. First, it negates the monster’s effects (i.e., the “elemental powers”), and second, it robs the Toa of their individuality by replacing their name with “Exo-Toa”. Which, due to the little clause at the start of the card text that I’m pretty sure has never actually been used in history (because why would it?), means the are not technically “Toa” monsters anymore and thus lose access to archetypal support cards. This, unfortunately, includes the Kanohi (even in their most recent and well thought out form as of the time of this writing), which canonically shouldn’t be affected by the armor. Might have to come up with something to fix that.

As if this wall of text wasn’t enough, the Exo-Toa has a final consistency-boosting effect to make sure it’s capable of carrying the frankly kind of useless original Toa Mata designs to playability: After going to the GY, it Sets Exo Armaments from the Deck during the End Phase. And once the next turn starts, you can immediately use this Trap Card to bring out a Toa Mata from your hand and equip it with an Exo-Toa from Deck or GY, completing the package in one shot. This also conveniently makes it so the effect negation is actually relevant on the old versions of the Toa Mata who only had on-summon effects, since this way the negation is already active when that effect tries to resolve.

Once in the GY, the Trap turns into what it really takes its inspiration from, namely the array of equipment found on an Exo-Toa. The “boxing claw” works similar to the Boxor (just because of the name) and prevents your opponent from using effects while an Exo-Toa (which could be the Union Monster itself or a Toa that has been equipped and renamed) battles. The armor simply grants protection as you would expect it to. And the electro rocket flies in a straight line to destroy something in the same column as an Exo-Toa, which can be two columns with one copy if you set up the zones correctly when equipping (one from the equip card, one from the equipped monster). Do note that all of these are Quick Effects due to this being a Trap Card.

So the Exo-Toa has many powerful features, but in the story, they were not enough to overcome the combined power of the Bahrag. And I did indeed design the cards specifically so nothing they do can actually out the Bahrag when paired up with both their protection effects online. Because that requires an ability that can only be used when the Toa shed the armor and return to their own elemental powers.

The Toa Seal is the ultimate finishing move achieved when six Toa of different elements combine their powers, imprisoning whatever is unfortunate enough to be in the middle in an inescapable mass of crystalline Protodermis. Accordingly, this card requires six Toa to activate, but due to Yugioh’s Attribute lineup not quite containing the boatload of elements Bionicle has, we will settle for different names. And since getting 6 monsters on the field is only technically possible, you may also pick from those in your hand and GY, though those will be banished on resolution. The result is a non-targeting mass banishing of up to 6 cards, which easily gets past the mutual protection of the Bahrag queens and wipes out pretty much everything else while it’s at it. The number of cards banished from the hand is limited by the number of Normal Summoned Toa participating in the seal, because just banishing 6 from the hand specifically sounded a bit too broken even with these difficult requirements.

The final new card on the Toa’s side is The End of the Swarm, and it’s a … kinda weird one. Assuming you have a Toa, it grants you the choice between two effects relating to Level 8 or higher monsters (?). One temporarily banishes (??) one of those to recover a Continuous Spell (???) from the GY. The other locks a number of your opponent’s monsters depending on your Level 8+ count into face-down Defense Position and basically makes your monsters go UCT on them, except continuous.

Now I can reveal that the second of these effects represents the deactivation and subsequent cleanup of the Bohrok, referenced in the name of the card. Face-down is their sleeping state, so they get switched into that, and the rest is mostly to bypass their Flip effects because this would be kind of self-defeating otherwise. As for what is going on with these Level 8 or higher monsters, Continuous Spells, and the entire first effect, I will remain quiet. Just enjoy the foreshadowing and wait for the answer to your questions to one day rock your universe (okay, that might be overstating it a bit).

Conclusion

While the Toa Mata are currently undergoing a total redesign in order to make them playable on their own, this was actually one of my first attempts to fix those old designs by introducing a small, consistent combo that they could use in the likely event that Plan A (just somehow summoning a lot of Toa) didn’t work out. It provides a 4k+ ATK beater who, with the Exo Armaments correctly set up in the GY, has access to either an effect lockdown during battle, protection against both destruction and targeting, and a limited Quick Effect destruction. Nothing crazy, but at least good enough to actually start getting somewhere in most games.

Once the BCOT overhaul is done and the Toa Mata are fully updated with a more competent strategy, these cards may have to be adjusted for that. But in the meantime, you can find a sample deck using both them and the old Toa in the BBTS release.

Theme Guide: Onu-Koro (BCOT)

In the underground caverns of Onu-Koro, hard work is rewarded with great wealth, at least according to the Principle of Prosperity. For the effects of the Field Spell, I interpreted “hard work” as “putting monsters in the GY”, which is usually a pretty decent indication you’re doing things, and “wealth” as the resources of both LP and cards. So the first effect trades the proof of your work, the monsters in the GY, for wealth in the form of LP, and the second directly trades that amassed wealth for cards.

There are several extra balancing factors to the draw effect, given that it can potentially draw up to 3. First, it only works when you have higher LP, so you have to do some healing and/or damage before using it. Second, you need to send an EARTH monster from your hand or field to the GY, mainly to downgrade the level of advantage you get and to make the effect a bit more conditional, but also as setup for LP regeneration. Third, if you pay so much that you are now behind in LP, you lose an equal number of cards to what you drew, which technically works out to a -1 but is still fairly good since you can freely put anything from your hand into the GY. Fourth, it locks you into only summoning EARTH monsters for the whole turn, just to be extra sure it doesn’t get randomly abused. A proper Onu-Koro deck is mostly okay with this restriction anyway.

It follows that, as an Onu-Koro player, you want to establish a stable loop of putting EARTH monsters in the GY while building your board, shuffling them back to gain LP, and potentially drawing additional cards to further strengthen your position. Now we’ll take a look at how other cards contribute towards that goal.

Whenua essentially acts as an overseer of the “work” you perform, providing small rewards in real time for every EARTH monster you put into the GY. On summon, he also helps you solve your current problems by learning from the mistakes of the past, or in non-lore terms, searches a low-level EARTH Warrior that isn’t in your GY yet. Of course, putting stuff back with Onu-Koro expands your search range here.

The Kanohi Ruru, Mask of Night Vision, doesn’t really have a main focus that synergizes with the Onu-Koro deck much – it just reveals Set cards, because that’s the mechanic that historically fits night vision best (for the record, hand reveals would be mind reading). It does also inflict some damage as a bonus, which could at least help achieve the necessary LP difference to use Onu-Koro to its full potential.

The search effect on Whenua is of course meant to fetch Onu-Matoran, and as the only one implemented so far, the choice will probably fall on Taipu a lot of the time.

Always eager to come to the aid of his friends, the stronkest of Matoran will jump from your hand to the field in just about any situation, but by being a bit clumsy about it he’ll mostly lock you out of attacking for the turn. Don’t ask me how he does that.

On his way out, the helpfulness continues, with a generous stat boost given to whichever friend remains around. Due to the largely irrelevant nature of stats, the greatest use for this is actually chain blocking.

A potential hole in our whole strategy of continuously shuffling monsters from the GY back to heal and draw is that we will eventually run out of Spells and Traps, as those are not recycled. It may not matter a lot of the time, but still, to our rescue comes the wise Toa of Earth.

Indeed, Onua gives us the ability to return any card from the GY to the Deck, assuming the trigger of a monster being sent from hand or Deck to GY applies. And beyond simple recycling, he comes with the benefits of working on both GYs, being able to place the card either on top or bottom of the Deck, and healing you if you return a monster with lower ATK than him. This means he can put your own Spells/Traps just a draw away, place something dead on top of the opponent’s Deck, take something they just sent to the GY away before it can be used, or simply be used for LP regeneration to enable Onu-Koro.

The Kanohi Pakari, Great Mask of Strength, also plays into these LP games. The bonus ATK on Onua makes it so you stand to gain more LP from his effect, and a high-ATK piercer is a pretty reliable way to damage your opponent and help establish the desired LP difference.

Best of Test

Best of Test: Onu-Koro

Conclusion

The greatest strength of Onu-Koro decks is the ability to replenish resources, both cards and LP, over and over again. Even if you can’t kill your opponent quickly, you can probably survive long enough to outlast them if things go reasonably well, though most of the time there isn’t a need to drag things out too much. Here‘s a sample Gouki-based decklist to get you started, slightly more updated versions are included with each BCOT release.

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.

Theme Guide: Ta-Koro (BCOT)

Amidst the lava flowing from the Mangai volcano lies the fortified village of Ta-Koro, home to the steadfast Ta-Matoran who live according to the Principle of Courage. These facts are reflected in the design of the field spell, which grants protection to those who live within its walls (obviously only FIRE monsters – if there’s others around you probably aren’t in Ta-Koro) and gives strength to those who show the courage to face stronger opponents in battle. And this directly leads us to the basic points of the strategy the Ta-Koro theme is meant to follow:

  • Build a board of only FIRE monsters
  • Battle your opponent’s established board to inflict lots of damage
  • Hide behind the walls protecting you from easy boardwipes if you can’t OTK, so you get the chance to continue the beatdown in another turn

Being a battle focused deck, you of course want to go second, which means you will likely have to contend with negations and floodgates and all that. The nice thing about having this ATK boosting effect on a Field Spell is that, in theory, you only have to deal with any potential Spell negates (using the various going second staples we thankfully have nowadays), plop down any FIRE monster of your choice, activate Ta-Koro, and you are ready to run over just about any monster that can be destroyed by battle – no monster effects needed. We can of course imagine any number of scenarios in which this is not possible, but it has at the very least proven to be a highly convenient option in the EDOPro AI testbed.

Ta-Koro by itself provides a clear strategy we should be going for, but the tools it gives us to achieve that are somewhat situational. In order to ram your monsters into your opponent’s for big damage, you first need to get to a point where both players do in fact have monsters on the field. A reasonably easy condition, but nonetheless one which the Field Spell does not at all help us achieve. Therefore, it is time to look at some of the other cards that go into a Ta-Koro deck.

Like the other Turaga, Vakama is a Link Monster requiring at least one Warrior monster of the right attribute (here FIRE) as material, which means you can use Ta-Matoran, Toa of Fire, or any other FIRE Warrior serving as standin for them (cough Infernoble cough). So the Ta-Koro deck clearly has easy access to him, but what does he contribute?

Well, his first effect, based on the visions of the future he saw in the story, reveals the top card of each Deck, and then the players automatically Special Summon either the revealed monster if it is a FIRE Warrior, or a clunky Attack Position Token with 1500 ATK otherwise. The idea is that, unlike you, the opponent isn’t likely to run any FIRE Warriors, so in the desirable case, you get some useful monster while your opponent only gets the Token. And suddenly, we have set up the exact type of situation that enables Ta-Koro. Which, by the way, can be searched with the help of this effect as well because the opponent is forced to Special Summon and thereby provides the activation trigger for Demise of the Land.

The second effect rewards the battle-focused playstyle Ta-Koro is going for by letting you draw from other monsters’ destruction by battle. This effectively means Ta-Koro’s ATK boost effect replenishes its own cost immediately (unless some kind of battle protection is at play), making for another nice bit of synergy. This effect is also where Vakama’s Mask of Concealment, the Noble Kanohi Huna comes into play: By making it so he cannot be attacked while you control another monster, the opponent is forced into giving you that draw before destroying Vakama himself by battle.

Okay, so we can now get a few monsters on board, make sure our opponent has something we can attack into, and use Ta-Koro’s effect to ensure a successful Battle Phase where we can deal a fair amount of damage. Even if it’s not enough to win right there, the fact that we have multiple monsters (and presumably obey the FIRE restriction) means the Field Spell grants some protection so we may have another chance to finish the job. But “may” is an unreliable word, and in a game like Yugioh, a single layer of blanket destruction protection can easily be broken even by an opponent at a disadvantage. So perhaps it would be better if we could somehow increase the damage output to the point of OTK after all. If we can make certain generic bosses like Powercode Talker, that is already possible, but there really should be some built-in method as well. Still, we cannot exactly expect the small Matoran and Turaga of the village to start hitting like a truck just because it’s convenient.

In other words: We need a hero.

Tahu, as indicated in the long lead-up, serves as your big damage source that bridges the gap between beatdown and OTK. Since you either need to save your Normal Summon for him (though a Ta-Koro deck should at least have plenty of monsters he can Tribute from the hand thanks to his special condition) or coincidentally get him from Vakama’s effect, he’s probably not going to be around in every single board you make, but when he’s there you’re looking at quite the big additional hit in the Battle Phase. Tahu’s effect triggers after damage calculation – regardless of which or whose monster battled – to make a monster’s ATK to 0 and set it on fire so it burns the opponent when destroyed by battle in this turn.

Imagine, for example, this scenario: You control Ta-Koro, Vakama, and Tahu. Your opponent controls a 1500 ATK Vision Token generated by Vakama, as well as some attack position monster with 2800 (original) ATK. Now you can just attack over the Vision Token with Tahu (= 1000 damage), trigger his effect to make the bigger monster’s ATK 0, and attack into that monster with Vakama. Since Ta-Koro compares the original ATK of the battling monsters, you can now trigger its effect before damage calculation to make Vakama gain 2800 for a total of 4200 ATK. Not only does your opponent take that to the face (= 4200 damage), but also the burn from Tahu’s effect (= 2800 damage). We add up 1000 + 4200 + 2800, and surprise, there’s the magic 8000. Meanwhile, without Tahu’s effect, we are limited to 1000 damage from attacking over the Vision Token plus 1400 from boosting Vakama to get over the big monster – still 5600 short of lethal.

Bit of an idealistic setup, of course, but with the help of generic staples and various other FIRE monsters you might just be able to force the game into that kind of state, or alternatively just add some extra attackers to make up the difference in less perfect scenarios.

Adding the Kanohi Hau, Mask of Shielding, to the mix also allows you to attack some big monster with Tahu, safely trigger his effect, and then have one of your small guys finish that monster off for massive burn damage, which is a nice option to have.

C.C. Matoran Kapura

And as the final piece of Ta-Koro support in BCOT, the (real) Ta-Matoran of the Chronicler’s Company brings two more battle-related effects to the table.

The first one is perhaps of more interest in the dedicated Chronicler’s Company deck, but here it still lets the opponent get Kapura’d by Kapura himself attacking before they get a chance to react, which can be pretty good when the Ta-Koro ATK boost is added.

The second effect is my take on something that is simultaneously slow and fast: If you manage to have a monster stick around for a full turn, Kapura can give it an extra attack for potentially a whole lot of additional damage. This is especially potent in combination with Tahu, who could then trigger both halves of his effect all on his own, giving you that much more flexibility in how you use him.

Best of Test

Best of Test: Ta-Koro

Conclusion

A Ta-Koro deck’s aim is to go second and utilize its various built-in tools as well as convenient cards from the general pool to hit through the opponent’s monsters for massive damage. Here‘s a sample decklist to get you started, slightly more updated versions are included with each BCOT release.