Release: Unbreakable Ko-Koro

Back to our regularly scheduled trip around the island of Mata Nui, we now arrive in the snowy realm of Ko-Wahi and enter the Village of Ice. However, unlike the previous updates of this sort, this is a BYE release rather than a BCOT release, which means all the Rahi and Bohrok cards are in the package as well! (I didn’t change them since the previous version, but they’re there)

Download for EDOPro

As for what I did change with this version, well first of all you can just check the overview right above. For more detailed information and design notes on the new Ko-Koro cards, I refer you to the Theme Guide, and the other update I’ll go over briefly right here.

C.C. Matoran Maku got the change I talked about a few months ago, with her handtrap effect to make a monster unaffected by effects for the duration of a Chain getting moved to the field so it aligns better with observed Warrior design conventions. In exchange, it’s a bit easier to get her on the field now, since she can be Special Summoned from the hand as well if your opponent activates an effect in the wrong column.

That concludes the summary for this release, thanks for reading! If you have anything to say about these updates, simply leave a comment below.

Just one village left now …

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.