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
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.