I'm a huge Star Wars fan. The premiere of the The Force Awakens is easily the cultural event of 2015 for me, undoubtedly. Like so many of you, the films, videogames, books, and comics have been with me since I was a kid. As I've grown older and the reach of the franchise has gotten ever wider, Star Wars has permeated into several areas of my life. Imagine my surprise when Star Wars even found its way into Yu-Gi-Oh.

I think it's safe to say that the Kozmo theme's easily the greatest homage we've seen in our beloved TCG. If you're sharp on history and mythology then you recognize that almost every new theme introduced these days is a tribute to one thing or another – that's the entire premise of Franco's work here on TCGplayer. But the Kozmo monsters mark the first instance where Konami's delved so deep into pop culture for ideas and Inspiration.

The release of the Kaiju monsters as well seems to confirm that we can expect this kind of fan service as a staple of future releases. I'm definitely looking forward to whatever's coming next.

A Conflict Of Interest
What I'm not looking forward to is how much more expensive a complete Kozmo deck gets with every subsequent set release. When the next batch drops in Breakers of Shadow, I presume that I'll need to take out substantial loan just to play with a complete set of Kozmo cards. It's a fate I've been resigned to since I first wrote an introduction to the strategy earlier this past year. I'm just too budget for that galaxy far, far away.

Or so I thought, anyway.

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The other writers here on TCGplayer have been bugging me the last couple of months to look into the idea of a budget Kozmo deck. Dimensions of Chaos brought Kozmo Strawman and Kozmo DOG Fighter into the fold and with them a new level of field presence that the Kozmo strategy had yet to see. Strawman's ability to Special Summon banished Kozmos to the field, and DOG Fighter's Token Monsters load the field with the kind of raw material necessary to make big Synchro Summons.

It was later brought to my attention that DOG Fighter Tokens are Machines, and when they're coupled with Karakuri Barrel MDL 96 "Shinkuro" you could load the field with Karakuri Synchros without committing many cards from your hand. That was enough to spark the idea of a Kozmo Karakuri mash-up in my mind, and so I set out to building.

Tightening The Belt
The goal of this mash-up was to use the Karakuri monsters to fill the gaps left by the severe, budget conscious cuts that I'd have to make with Kozmos. When you look at the current strengths of the Kozmo strategy, you could argue that the cuts are pretty severe. I had to abandon Kozmo Dark Destroyer right off the bat: it's a $75 dollar Secret Rare, and there's just no way to justify it in a budget build. With my self-imposed restriction of $100 a deck – spoiler: I'm breaking that this week! – there would be no way to build a truly functional deck with just $25 to spend on the rest of the cards.

Losing Kozmo Dark Destroyer'ss a pretty big blow. Its 3000 ATK meant it was the deck's biggest beater, but it's actually the loss of its spot removal effect that you really feel the most. Losing the ability to drop whichever monster is threatening you the most was a big deal in terms of threat management. But adding Karakuri monsters meant that Level 7 Synchro Summons are easy to come by, and that affords you the option of Ancient Pixie Dragon.

You'll spend much of the duel with Kozmotown on the field, and Ancient Pixie Dragon pops a face-up attack position monster once per turn if there's a Field Spell in play. Since Kozmotown's a must in any Kozmo deck and Sky Iris is pretty popular in Magician Pendulum decks, chances are pretty good that you'll use Ancient Pixie Dragon's effect consistently. Its 3000 DEF is also a big deal too. In the current competitive landscape, 3000 DEF is top dollar. Unless your opponent has some pretty solid spot removal of his or her own it can be tough to power through.

The second big issue when it came to the budget – and the one that I wrestled with the most – was what to do with Kozmo Farmgirl. She kickstarts the entire strategy, and things can move painfully slowly without her. That's often the difference between a win and a loss in this game, so she's hugely important. But she's still a $20 card.

Originally, I was running the deck without Farmgirl altogether. Then I went back and forth on it for a while before settling on just one copy. Much to my surprise and joy, one Farmgirl's perfect! The deck recycles monsters so quickly and efficiently that you can often end your turn with Farmgirl in your hand after having her on the field moments before. Emergency Teleport's what really makes a single copy of Farmgirl possible. It's like having four copies of Kozmo Farmgirl for the literal price of one.

Check out the deck, and then we'll pick it up on the other side now that you know what had to be left out…

DECKID=103930So keeping in mind the two big cuts we made due to budgetary constraints, I knew that I had to address those losses in other ways. Surprisingly enough, Kozmo Strawman actually takes much of the burden that would've been carried by Kozmo Farmgirl. While Strawman can't search cards out for you, it can toolbox your banished cards and, when they're destroyed in the End Phase, pull a Kozmo with a lower Level from the deck to the field. It's a worthwhile little trick that goes a long way towards making up for the budget handicap. And since this strategy's also relying on Synchro Summons, you could argue that its effect is even better here.

Filling the void left by Kozmo Dark Destroyer took a little more work. Since it comprises so much of the deck's power and destructive capabilities, you have to fill that void with the Extra Deck. Early on I planned to run Farmgirl and slimming down the Extra Deck to compensate for the added dollar value, but the end result was a field full of Karakuri Shoguns and no way to handle threats that couldn't be removed by battle.

By adding some variety to the Extra Deck, you can compensate for the difference. That's also one of the best ways to customize the strategy to fit your own needs, too. For example, most players don't run a full playset of Karakuri Shogun MDL 00 "Burei", but you might use it heavily for Level 10 and 11 Synchro Summons plus Rank 7 Xyz plays like I did. You can tweak the Extra Deck as you see fit.

Kara, Kara, Kara, Kara, Kara-ku-ri Monsters!
The absolute hardest part of this build was finding the right numbers for the Karakuri monsters. You want to go ham with them whenever you'd like to, but you don't want them cropping up in your hand all the time since your Shoguns will rip them out of the deck for you. Interestingly enough, I also had to lean more heavily on Tuners than non-Tuners since that's what they provide to the strategy. I've found that two Ninishi, two Shinkuro, and one Saizan are optimal.

It follows a simple logic: you never want Saizan in your hand at all and you can put the other two to use if you do happen to draw them. Since Ninishi nets you a second Normal Summon for a Karakuri monster every turn, you can make a Level 7 Synchro out of that and Shinkuro can get the ball rolling when it's coupled with Kozmo DOG Fighter.

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On the other hand, Saizan's great for ending your string of Synchro Summons because you'll use it to whip out Star Eater or Leo, Keeper of the Sacred Tree and wreck face. It isn't quite as useful in your hand unless you're building a play around one of your generic Synchros.

Also, since this isn't really a Karakuri deck first and foremost, I found Karakuri Cash Cache to be unnecessary as well as any non-Tuners, aside from Haipa and Nisamu. You may find that you prefer other choices, but this is what worked best for me.

Alright, Buck! Where's The Bang!?
This is one of the rare times where I break my self-imposed budget of $100 for the purpose of making a point. Kozmo's inarguably one of the best decks of this Format, without question.

With that in mind, you'll pay around $130 if you want to build this whole thing from scratch, but it's not a lesser deck in any capacity and really, if you can shell out a little more for some swankier Extra Deck cards, it could be really impressive. The thing this deck has going for it that other Kozmo builds don't, is the element of surprise and the fact that your opponent won't really know what to do with the Karakuris. It's worth a try if only to play something new.

-Zach Buckley


Zach is husband to his beloved wife, Emma. He's also a composer who's studying composition and production formally in an attempt to be both happy and poor. You can follow his progress on these goals by checking out his sporadically updated blog at www.wordpress.com/zwbuckleymusic