If you weren't around in 2015 to 2016 for their heyday, Kozmo decks probably aren't on your radar.

 

Sure, when Master Rule 4 was implemented in 2017 there were mutterings that Kozmos might make a comeback. But that never wound up happening, even though you could easily make the case that Kozmos never really got that bad. Any deck going second against a field of seventeen negations is going to have some struggles, but with so few players piloting Kozmo decks in serious tournaments we never really saw what they could do.

Of all the players you're familiar with on the competitive scene, whether that be in actual tournaments or just from analysis, you should be familiar with Johnny Nguyen, known on YouTube as aznpersuasion2008. Not only has he proven himself as a strong player with "top tier" decks over the years, but Nguyen has the habit of playing a rogue deck and slapping around his opponents with one hand tied behind his back.Check out his deck archive pageto see what I'm talking about.

I won't say that Kozmos are the best deck right now because they aren't, plain and simple. But Nguyen has a finely honed talent for capitalizing on rogue strategies and abusing whatever tools they have at their disposal.Whether it'sNoble Knights in 2018 or Scraps in 2017 or Kozmos in 2019 twice already, the man has skill. HisTop Cut count with Lightsworn is probably in the double digits alone.

Nguyen took Artfact Kozmos to a Top 8 five weeks prior in Omaha, and whenhe was asked about the reason he returned to the deck again his response was simple: "The deck likes me!" Congrats to Johnny Nguyen and (another)Top 8 finish at the Lenexa, Kansas Regional!

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I'm not saying Nguyen could top a Regional with two Watapons and a pocketfull of sawdust, but it would be foolish to bet against his savvy pedigree. Kozmos are split into two categories. On one side, you have the small"pilots", which are humanoid and anthropomorphic Psychic monsters that banish themselves to summon higher Level Kozmos.

Conversely, the rest of the monster lineup is comprised of giant-sized"ships" that Summon lower Level Kozmos when they're destroyed. Of course,all of the monster cards have additional effects and Kozmo Dark Destroyer's the exception to those rules, but cutting the theme in half is really theeasiest way to look at the archetype for the first time.

Obviously the deck needs a handful of pilots and ships, but the first splitthat Nguyen takes from "other" Kozmo decks places and emphasis on drawingcards in the most economical ways possible. Gone are Upstart Goblin, Allureof Darkness and Pot of Desires - anything that nicks off your core engine or is a simple one to one tradeoff is gone, despite those cards being nearstaples in some past eras of Kozmos . Nguyen ran Card of Demise, Pot ofDuality and Pot of Extravagance instead, leveraging the game's latest generic draw spell.

"Pot of Extravagance is why I've been doing well with the deck," Nguyen explained post event, which might seem odd considering how much of theExtra Deck is banished when you resolve Extravagance's effect. Thankfully, Kozmos don't need the whole Extra Deck to function, and unlike Card of Demise Pot of Extravagance is almost always live.

Yes, Kozmos revolve around Special Summons, but since the pilots can summona bigger monster on either player's turn and vice versa, having consistent access to more cards in your deck is infinitely more important than a random special summon here or there. That's especially true on Turn 1 going first, when Kozmos will almost never muster a dominating field ofmonsters like combo decks usually present.

On the off chance Nguyen did make a big board on Turn 1, that perhapsconsisted of a Kozmo Forerunner… or maybe a Kozmo Tincan, since its abilityto yard cards also works on both turns? Even "combo" Kozmo decks thatleverage Instant Fusion to ultimately feed into Cyber Dragon Infinitybarely qualify as a combo deck by today's standards. Instead of trying tosplit the deck into two parts Nguyen doubled down on his drawing cards,leaning into traps he'd draw off Card of Demise.

"The less monsters you have, the less likely you are to brick," Nguyensaid, and that couldn't be any more true. Because at least in Kozmo decks,reviving yarded monsters with Back to the Front is an option.

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Normally it's pointless to scrutinize each monster in a deck ad nauseum,but the simple story of Kozmos comes down to Kozmo Dark Destroyer. Itis your win condition in almost every sense of the word. Not onlyis it an untargetable 3000 ATK behemoth, it destroys other monsters whenyou summon it. None of its effects are once per turn and it summons moremonsters when it dies. No need to reinvent the wheel, right?

"You always want to see it, but I wouldn't play a third," Nguyen remarkedreferring to Kozmo Tincan. It's the best of the small "pilots" and it addsa Kozmo card to your hand, setting up the rest in your graveyard. It's oneof those cards that's it's essential to your plays but clashes so much withyour other summons and Card of Demise that you don't need to play three.

Moving on to the traps, you'll see that Nguyen focused on Artifact Sanctum,Back to the Front, and Kozmojo as pulls with Trap Trick. For the low priceof banishing an additional copy from the deck, Nguyen had three stellaroptions from one card. He could ht something with Kozmojo or ArtifactSanctum, block his opponent from the Extra Deck with Artifact Sanctum, orrevive his best monster with Back to the Front!

Oops, All Victories
While Kozmos flourish with the help of all those Special Summon inhibitingdraw cards, it doesn't mean winning with an OTK is out of reach when youneed to Special Summon.

Consider a situation where you have a big ship like Kozmo Dark Destroyer onthe field and then summon Kozmo Farmgirl. Dark Destroyer can attack for3000 damage, Kozmo Farmgirl hits for 1500, searches Dark Destroyer andbanishes for to bring Dark Destroyer down for another 3000! And if youdestroyed your first Dark Destroyer with your second, you'll net KozmoForerunner clocking in at more than 10,000 damage total.

So despite not having any overwhelmingly strong monster boards for theearly game, Kozmos can suddenly produce the damage needed to end the game,almost any time. Nguyen could lock an opponent out with Artifact Scythethen follow up on his turn with some insane damage.

Since Card of Demise discards your stuff in the End Phase cards like Backto the Front become that much stronger, but the interactions don't stopthere. Running Summon Limit as the only "true" floodgate in the build buffsup the power of the other traps. Because Trap Trick limits you to one moretrap for the turn and Dark Destroyer only deals with one threat at a time,Summon Limit's the icing on the cake. It effectively magnifies the power ofthe other traps.

And with all that in mind it's important to understand that this deck isn'tjust a one tricky pony: Nguyen diversified his Kozmos to maximize the widerange of effects while dodging that risk of bricking on too many monsters.In the Main Deck you can see both Kozmoll Dark Lady and Kozmo Dark Eclipseras the main counters, but the Side Deck is filled with cards for everysituation. It's not uncommon to see a player run three copies of each oftheir Side Deck cards for a grand total of five different options, butNyugen ran eight different cards to deal with a variety of threatsacross the board.

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With Card of Demise, Pot of Duality and Pot of Extravagance, it's easy todig around in the deck and find what you need – both to build your corecombos and to adapt to whatever your opponent throws you way. But I likethe Extra Deck even more. Since Kozmo decks rarely need anything from theExtra Deck, banishing cards with Pot of Extravagance is rarely an issue. Ifyou have the space you could add in clutch cards like Gaia Dragon, theThunder Charger and Artifact Durendal.

Between a strong defense of traps on Turn 1 coupled with the uncannyability to throw down a ton of damage, it's no wonder Nguyen and his Kozmosdid so well. As a friend of mine said to me after I showed him the list,"Kozmos are like Frogs if they were any good." The parallels don't match upperfectly, but abusing trap cards backed by single powerful monsters thataccrue resources upon leaving the field is a common thread between both.

Just remember: beat your opponents before they beat you.

-Loukas Peterson


Loukas Peterson lives in Nashville, Tennessee, hoping one day to run in5th Congressional District on the platform of "Fabled Link Monsters forEveryone." You can find him onTwitteror building a bonfire in his backyard to attract the local wildlife foran audience with his ukulele. Hailed as the only person capable ofcooking Minute Rice in 56 seconds, Loukas is always looking atexpanding his backyard to house every dog in the world without a home.Well, and those with homes already.