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.
Ta-Koro, Village of FireField Spell
While all face-up monsters you control (min. 2) are FIRE, face-up monsters you control cannot be destroyed by your opponent’s card effects. If a FIRE monster you control battles an opponent’s monster with higher original ATK, before damage calculation: You can discard 1 card; that monster you control gains ATK equal to the highest original ATK on the field, until the end of this turn. You can only use this effect of “Ta-Koro, Village of Fire” once per turn.
This principle also guides the design of the Field Spell representing the village, as well as the strategy surrounding it. First you have a protection effect on the condition that you control multiple FIRE monsters (and no others) – a reference to both the solid walls surrounding Ta-Koro and the idea that protecting one’s allies is a notable way to show courage. But most defining for the playstyle is the second effect, which allows your FIRE monsters to always win in battle if they are courageously facing a monster with higher ATK. Higher original ATK, that is.
That last part, as you might imagine, is the one you’re meant to “abuse” in order to win the game. Essentially, a Ta-Koro deck is focused around boosting the ATK of your own monsters and/or reducing that of the opponent’s monsters before you charge into battle and inflict massive damage. Ideally you want 8000 or more, but if you don’t get there, the walls of Ta-Koro might just let you survive a turn so you can finish the job.
The first precondition to making all this work is of course getting Attack Position monsters to both sides of the field, as your damage potential will be considerably limited if you are only attacking directly. Luckily, this basic setup can be guaranteed by the village’s leader, Turaga Vakama.
Turaga VakamaLink Effect MonsterLink-2 [◀ ▼] | FIRE Spellcaster | ATK 1400
2 monsters, including a FIRE Warrior monster
You can activate this effect; each player reveals the top card of their Deck, and if it is a FIRE Warrior monster, they Special Summon it. Otherwise, they Special Summon 1 “Vision Token” (Warrior/FIRE/Level 3/ATK 1500/DEF 0) in Attack Position, but it cannot be Tributed or used as material for a Synchro or Link Summon. When a monster is destroyed by battle: Draw 1 card. You can only use each effect of “Turaga Vakama” once per turn.
Noble Kanohi HunaEquip Spell
If another “Kanohi” card is equipped to the equipped monster, destroy this card. If the equipped monster is a “Turaga”, “Toa”, or “Makuta” monster and you control another monster, your opponent cannot target the equipped monster for attacks. If this card is in your GY: You can Tribute 1 monster, then target 1 “Turaga Vakama” in your GY; Special Summon it and equip it with this card. You can only use this effect of “Noble Kanohi Huna” once per turn.
Known to experience visions of the future, Vakama comes with an activated effect to peek at the future that is the top card of each player’s Deck, and depending on what is found there, will cause that player to Special Summon a monster to your field. If a FIRE Warrior, which is of course the Attribute and Type of Ta-Koro’s inhabitants, is found, it will come to the field with no strings attached, able to attack, use its effects, or be material to your heart’s content. Anything else will instead be replaced by an Attack Position Token that is pretty much stuck on the field until someone destroys it. Bottom line is that no matter how this effect resolves, it will end with an additional monster on each side of the field, which is exactly what this strategy wants. Even better is the fact that your opponent’s will, in all likelihood, be the Attack Position Token with an ATK stat that is just a little bigger than Vakama’s own and thus enables the boost from Ta-Koro.
The secondary effect simply rewards you for sticking to the battle-focused gameplan with a free draw, which is of course convenient to offset the discard cost of Ta-Koro. It also combos with Vakama’s Mask of Concealment, the Kanohi Huna, which forces the opponent to get over your other monsters first if they want to attack him, thus giving you the opportunity to get another draw before he’s destroyed. And on your next turn, as is generally the case with the Turaga’s Noble Kanohi, you can just Tribute something (though sadly not a Vision Token) to bring the Huna and its wearer right back to the field.
We’ve covered how to get the monsters needed for battle, but to get some really good damage going and deal with potential impediments to our rather simplistic win condition, it’s going to need some more help. This is where the Ta-Matoran come in, making up both the majority of the village’s population and of our Main Deck monster lineup.
Matoran Guard Captain JalaEffect MonsterLevel 2 | FIRE Warrior | ATK 800 / DEF 500
While your opponent controls a face-up monster, Level 4 or lower FIRE Warrior monsters you control gain 400 ATK for each “Matoran” monster you control. During your Main Phase, you can Normal Summon 1 “Matoran” or FIRE “Toa” monster in addition to your Normal Summon/Set. (You can only gain this effect once per turn) You can only control 1 face-up “Matoran Guard Captain Jala”.
C.C. Matoran KapuraEffect MonsterLevel 2 | FIRE Warrior | ATK 600 / DEF 200
If a “C.C. Matoran” monster you control attacks, your opponent’s cards and effects cannot be activated until the end of the Damage Step. At the start of your Battle Phase: You can banish this card from your GY, then target 1 face-up monster you control that was not Summoned this turn; it can make up to 2 attacks on monsters during this Battle Phase. You can only use this effect of “C.C. Matoran Kapura” once per turn.
Matoran Legend LhiiEffect MonsterLevel 2 | FIRE Warrior | ATK 0 / DEF 0
During the Damage Step, when your FIRE monster battles an opponent’s monster (Quick Effect): You can send this card from your hand to the GY; until the end of this turn, that opponent’s monster loses 500 ATK/DEF, also negate its effects. If your FIRE Warrior monster destroys an opponent’s monster by battle, while this card is in your GY: You can Special Summon this card, and if you do, it gains ATK equal to the destroyed monster’s original ATK, until the end of this turn. You can only use 1 “Matoran Legend Lhii” effect per turn, and only once that turn.
Jala, as the captain of the Ta-Koro Guard, leads your Matoran (and other low-level FIRE Warriors, including Vakama’s Vision Token!) into battle and boosts their ATK as long as there is actually an enemy force to take on. He also helps you gather your fighters on the field in the first place by allowing an extra Normal Summon of a Matoran or specifically a FIRE Toa (more on that below).
Kapura is a mysterious character mostly known for his skill in traveling quickly by moving slowly, and as a member of The Chronicler’s Company. His first effect is direct support for that group, but also applies to himself in a Ta-Koro deck, making it so your opponent literally gets Kapura’d and cannot react in time to respond whenever he attacks – and with backup such as your Field Spell, this is extremely dangerous despite the low ATK stat. The second effect implements his signature combination of slow and fast, speeding up your damage output with a double attack on the rather slow condition that a monster has to survive a whole turn first. Makes for a good backup plan in case you can’t immediately OTK or are forced to go first.
Lhii the Surfer is a legendary Ta-Matoran who never truly existed and was merely made up by Vakama in memory of Toa Lhikan, which is why his stats are both 0 and he doesn’t actually do anything on the field. However, he makes significant contributions in the Battle Phase by either weakening an opponent’s monster from the hand – allowing you to clear pesky obstacles such as battle protection – or joining the battle himself by rising from the GY with the ATK of an opponent’s monster you just destroyed (but still an original ATK of 0, conveniently). Granted, I’m not sure how that last one makes sense given the fact that he isn’t real, but it certainly is useful to take out that last bit of LP. And of course, you can’t do both in one turn because the discard cost of the hand effect would mean the GY effect could immediately trigger from the same battle, which would be silly.
And if an enemy is too great to defeat even with all the tools the deck has access to in battle? If there are perhaps multiple humongous monsters blocking your way and the single Ta-Koro boost is not enough to get rid of them all? Well in that case, we need a hero.
Toa Mata TahuEffect MonsterLevel 6 | FIRE Warrior | ATK 2500 / DEF 1500
To Tribute Summon this card face-up, you can Tribute 1 FIRE or “Toa Mata” monster in your hand, except “Toa Mata Tahu”, instead of a monster you control. Once per turn, if a monster battles, after damage calculation: You can target 1 monster your opponent controls; its ATK becomes 0, also if it is destroyed by battle this turn your opponent takes damage equal to its original ATK.
Great Kanohi HauEquip Spell
If another “Kanohi” card is equipped to the equipped monster, destroy this card. If the equipped monster is a “Toa” or “Makuta” monster, it cannot be destroyed by battle, also you take no battle damage from battles involving that monster. If this card is sent to the GY: You can banish 1 monster from your GY; add 1 “Toa Mata Tahu” from your Deck to your hand. You can only use this effect of “Great Kanohi Hau” once per turn.
Tahu is possibly the greatest OTK enabler Ta-Koro has when faced with a large number of monsters. After a battle has occurred (no matter who battled, or who won), he can reduce the ATK of a monster that remains on the field to 0 and make it so that monster’s destruction in battle will burn your opponent for its original ATK this turn. Or in other words, he sets monsters on fire so they can’t fight properly and die in a big explosion when you hit them. And the Kanohi Hau, Mask of Shielding, offers simple battle protection that lets you trigger Tahu’s effect with zero risk.
Since the Battle Phase is our main win condition and there’s not that much you can do to set up a first-turn board while sticking to FIRE monsters, the deck is generally built to go second. That means we use both handtraps such as Ash Blossom (conveniently matches the Attribute!) and Infinite Impermanence to hopefully stop the opponent from setting up anything we can’t deal with, and cards like Lightning Storm, Harpie’s Feather Duster, and the Kaiju package in the Side Deck to expand the range of what we can deal with. There’s also an argument to be made that you could focus on going first with more diverse Attributes in the Extra Deck (since you aren’t locked or anything) and take advantage of Ta-Koro’s protection and Kapura-granted double attacks, but I haven’t tried that yet, so …
The line you basically want to go for, after using the going second staples to bring your opponent’s field as close as possible to the ideal of “multiple Attack Position monsters that don’t do anything”, is pretty simple: Put as many FIRE Warriors on the field as you can (with some combination of Jala’s extra Normal Summon, Takua getting Kapura from the Deck, and the free Special Summons offered by Red Layer/Sublimation Knight/Renaud), make Isolde and/or Vakama in order to get even more FIRE Warriors on the field, go into whatever Links and Synchros maximize your damage output in the present gamestate, and ideally activate Ta-Koro, bring out Tahu, and get Lhii into your GY. If you manage to do all of these, it’s usually an OTK, if you just do some it’s still a good bit of damage. I:P Masquerena and Avramax are a good combination to have available in case you do find yourself with the need to survive another turn.
Best of Test
Ta-Koro is a straightforward beatdown deck with OTK potential, whose special thematic feature is that you generally want to courageously hit over monsters (the bigger the better) in order to benefit from the Field Spell’s ATK boost and trigger other effects that significantly increase your damage output. This is helped by Vakama putting a Token on your opponent’s field while also increasing the number of attackers you have available, and if you can’t finish the job in one turn, there’s still at least built-in destruction protection for your FIRE monsters.