Kozmos emerged the big winner from YCS San Jose, finishing out the last format by sweeping all four seats in the Top 4. With Nekroz, Shaddolls, Qliphorts, and Ritual Beasts now gone from competition, and the future of Burning Abyss up in the air, Kozmos are in a great position. While decks like Majespecters, Performage Pendulums, and even Deskbots are raising the profile of Pendulum strategies, Kozmos remain the number one non-Pendulum deck in the game. And while the strategy's begun to draw angst from players declaring it an auto-pilot strategy and worse, you really can't argue with the deck's consistent results.

We've seen a lot of different Kozmo decks topping tournaments since the new cards were released in Dimension of Chaos, with lots of variety in the numbers of specific cards competitors are running. We've seen Kozmoll Wickedwitch played at one and played at three; Kozmo Strawman vaunted as a two-of staple by some players, and regarded as a near-worthless afterthought by others; and even Kozmo DOG Fighter surprised many when it emerged as a successful card, sometimes even played in triplicate. Cards like Honest and Juragedo, now played in varying numbers or not at all, have provided some variation too.

But despite that variation, all of the builds we've seen topping tournaments largely operate in the same way. Reasoning is the new norm, coupling with Emergency Teleport to help play around the Kozmo strategy's dependence on Normal Summons. Dark Destroyer reigns supreme, demolishing big threats and clogging the field by being impervious to targeting. The deck still looks to score direct hits with Kozmo Farmgirl and then banish her, as well as other Psychics, to follow up with the tough-to-eliminate spaceship boss monsters. While we did see an intriguing Deck Devastation Virus build with triple Kozmo DOG Fighter piloted to the Top 32 of YCS San Jose by veteran duelist Angel Ascencio, he was the first to readily state that the variations weren't actually very helpful in post-event remarks.

But one different version of Kozmos stood out to me as drastically different, and I don't think it's seeing anywhere near the level of discussion it deserves. For some reason, the low end of the Kozmo dialogue right now seems to revolve around whether the deck requires skill to play, and on the high end specific numbers and trap choices.

Nobody's taking about the incredible power of Offerings to the Doomed.

DECKID= 103723Adan Salas played this build to the Top 16 of YCS San Jose right before the format rolled over. Salas might not be an instantly recognizable name since he doesn't travel much outside of California, but he Top 8's Regionals quite reliably and you might remember him the Top 32 at YCS Anaheim back in 2011. He tends to take long breaks from the game and then return to score tops largely out of nowhere, as was the case at YCS San Jose. He played the above deck entirely at the advice of his teammates on Team Jobber with no prep, and at first glance it looks a lot like every other winning Kozmo deck you've seen. But there were a couple key differences, and while they only really constitute four or five cards, the result's actually a very different strategy.

The new cards from Dimension of Chaos give Kozmos unparalleled OTK potential. But so far, this is the only build I've seen in a major tournament that actually takes full advantage of it. This deck was created for the last format, but the tweaks you'd make to keep it current are quite clear, and we'll talk about them later. For now, let's dive right to the core of this strategy and discuss the elephant in the room.

Offerings To The Doomed Is Freaking Crazy
It's really easy to look at Offerings to the Doomed and see a bad removal card that's never done anything since it was released in 2003. As a Quick-Play spell it has obvious speed on its side, playable from your hand or set and flipped reactively like a trap card, and that's always good. But since it makes you skip your next Draw Phase, it quickly goes from being a 1-for-1 to a hard minus, and that's why it's always disregarded in serious competition. While the ability to clear the field for Kozmo Farmgirl has always been valued in Kozmos, Raigeki and Dark Hole obviously do a better job.

Which raises the question: why is Salas not running Raigeki or Dark Hole? He's literally just swapped out those three mass removal spells for three cards that only eliminate single monsters and cost him a card in the long run. In a format where you can't target Kozmo Dark Destroyer or Kozmo Forerunner in the mirror match, and where your opponent's Majespecters and Performages just go back to their Extra deck, targeting 1-for-1 removal would be bad enough. So why is this happening, and how did the deck top? That discussion's more complicated than it might look, because there's a short answer and a much longer, more complete one. The short answer is "combos," butI spoke directly with Salas to really get at the heart of the issue.

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Offerings to the Doomed has a number of uses, and sometimes, yes, you'll just throw it down to pop something and make a push with something like Kozmo Farmgirl. That's a thing. It does happen, and it's central to Offerings' versatility. But that's just the beginning. To get a firm idea of the real beauty behind Offerings in Kozmos, I asked Salas to describe the kinds of play sequences that he was gunning for – the moves that saw most of his matches at YCS San Jose end in under seven minutes.

He was quite happy to oblige with examples. "One simple three card OTK with Offerings works with, let's say Kozmo Forerunner, Kozmo Farmgirl, and Offerings to the Doomed. So you attack with Farmgirl for 1500 damage. Then you proceed to search a ship, and banish Farmgirl to Summon Forerunner and do 2700 damage." That's a familiar play for any Kozmo duelist, or anyone who's played a couple games against Kozmos at this point. But here's where the sequence diverges from the norm. "From there you Offerings Forerunner to destroy it, and use its effect to Summon Kozmoll Wickedwitch from your deck. You attack with Wickedwitch for 1900 Battle Damage, then banish it to Summon whatever you searched off Farmgirl." If you searched Kozmo Dark Destroyer that's 9100 damage total.

I spoke about similar combos back in the Giant Set Review, which required a hand of Farmgirl or Emergency Teleport; Kozmo Goodwitch or Kozmoll Wickedwitch; and a Dark Destroyer or Forerunner. That combo sees you attack with Farmgirl, search the missing spaceship, banish Farmgirl to Special Summon your in-hand Witch, attack with it, banish it for Dark Destroyer, destroy Dark Destroyer with its effect to Special Summon the other Witch from your deck, attack with that, and then banish it to Special Summon your other spaceship for game.

That's a nifty combo but it had some challenges: you needed one card from each interchangeable pair, and while you'd definitely run Farmgirl, Teleport, Dark Destroyer, and Forerunner in threes, it meant running a lot of Witches just to have one in hand, and to guarantee the other would still be available in your deck. If you played just one Kozmo Goodwitch you could draw it and wind up with a dead-ended OTK that turns into a total nonbo.

Salas actually ran a lot of Witches anyways, playing triple Kozmoll Wickedwitch and two Goodwitch, so he's got that option. But by running triple Offerings to the Doomed it eases the reliance on the Witches – just having one of any of them left in your deck will do – and adds three more cards you can draw to fill that slot in the OTK sequence. So instead of looking for one card of six for Farmgirl, one card of six for a spaceship, and one card of five for a Witch, you're actually looking for a Farmgirl, a spaceship, and one of eight possible hits for what we'll call the "Witch slot." The plays that emerge there are two divergent OTK's, but the cards you gather for them are pulled from a shared pool, and the end result is still a win.

To make those plays even easier, Salas ran two more cards that would help him build his combos: Generation Shift and Mystical Space Typhoon. "Generation Shift was just a slower Offerings to the Doomed," he explained, "hence only one. With certain combos you can find yourself missing pieces, so Generation Shift helps you beat problem fields or make game-breaking damage." Generation Shift doesn't have the utility of destroying an opposing monster, and it's a slower card than Offerings since you need to set it before you can activate it. Regardless, destroying your own spaceship is so good that it's worth running what's effectively a worse Offerings to the Doomed anyways. Searching a free copy of something like Forerunner or Dark Destroyer from your deck can open up more plays as well.

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And Mystical Space Typhoon? It's obviously a great card in a general sense, but while not all Kozmo duelists are playing it right now, it made the cut for Salas specifically because it let him destroy his own Kozmotown. With his Field Spell on the table, Mystical Space Typhoon was effectively a wildcard that could pop Kozmotown and search whatever card Salas needed for an OTK.

All that hand fixing and redundancy was what led him to switch from Nekroz to this build of Kozmos, literally the day of the tournament, even though he had no previous experience with the theme. "We went on a trip to get food," Salas said referring to his team, "and we talked about Reasoning and the law of large numbers, and how Offerings accelerated the game state with mediocre hands. Once we were done talking I was sold." The deck's explosive consistency let Salas and his teammates ignore a lot of concerns other Kozmo decks can have: "Offerings [made our games so much] faster we almost never worried about the late game."

So What's Next?
The big question moving forward now, is what's next for this type of Kozmo variant. If you're familiar with the theme and the progress that's been made with it in the new format, the immediate point of change is clearly Breakthrough Skill: Salas and his teammates played three copies of it, almost entirely to stop Nekroz which is no longer a concern. "Not having to run Breakthrough, it frees up a few spots that can potentially be better." It's very easy to see how those three slots could be used for something like a second Mystical Space Typhoon to take further advantage of the "wild card" factor, and two copies of an emerging top trap card like Storming Mirror Force, Time-Space Trap Hole, or Grand Horn of Heaven.

Storming and Time-Space actually deserve their own acknowledgment, since both are popular against Kozmos and this variant has unique interactions with both. In Salas' own words, Offerings to the Doomed "…makes it so that you can play around Storming Mirror Force and Time-Space Trap Hole." Those cards are especially powerful against Kozmo Dark Destroyer and Kozmo Forerunner because they don't target, and they send the affected cards back to the hand or the deck instead of triggering their graveyard effects. Chaining Offerings or Generation Shift to the activation of either card destroys a Spaceship to ensure it goes to the graveyard, letting you attack through Time-Space or at least keep a monster on the field against Storming.

When I asked him about the deck's chances in this format, Salas was quick to draw a line between what he knew and what he didn't. "I usually just play big events and my team tells me what's going on. I use my prior knowledge on the game, and being able to adapt on the fly helps a lot also. So I can't say how good the deck will be. I still believe it'll be Top 3 though, without a doubt." Salas comes across as one of those players who knows where they stand in the game, understanding his strengths and weaknesses alike, and is fully comfortable with it. Throughout our discussion he was fast to give credit to his teammates on Team Jobber; Peter Duong and Andre for the build; and youtuber JRBJobber.

I think the deck's obviously well positioned for competition moving forward. It's essentially just a faster and more consistent spin on the basic Kozmo build that's already a huge force in competition. There's no reason to think that it won't continue to win tournaments. If you're playing Kozmos yourself I think this is a must-try, especially as the conventional Kozmo mirror match becomes more ubiquitous and expectations for how the deck plays start to get cemented in the minds of opponents. If you're more concerned with playing against Kozmos than piloting them yourself, then knowing the tricks Offerings can create may prove to be hugely important.

This deck is so, so underrated.

-Jason Grabher-Meyer