While Koa'ki Meiru strategies have never been at the bottom of the pecking order, they've often faced an uphill battle through restrictions on tangential support.

Cast in point? For a while, Tour Guide From the Underworld was an easy way to field Koa'ki Meiru Urnight thanks to M-X Saber Invoker. But Tour Guide was quickly Limited to 1 again, and then we all saw what happened to M-X Saber Invoker. And just like that, Koa'ki Meiru took an inadvertent hit even though they were never the intended target.

Even in the early stages of the deck's run, the Limit of Fire Formation - Tenki hurt Koa'ki Meiru as well, even though the Limit was only intended to slow down Fire Fists. Now with Summon Sorceress Forbidden, Koa'ki Meiru decks are forced to rebuild again with their primary combos totally gone.

If you're a fan of Duel Links - the dueling platform on mobile devices whose real life equivalent is Speed Dueling - you're no doubt familiar with the recent rise in Koa'ki Meiru decks. With only 20 to 30 cards per deck and a drastically limited card pool, the Koa'ki Meiru builds on your phone are very different from the ones you'll create in real life. Take a look at how I've handled the deck today to see what I mean.

DECKID=109972 This may come as a surprise to newer Yu-Gi-Oh! players, but balancing the number of Normal Summons you play is quite a different world these days. I sound like an old timer saying it, but it wasn't very long ago that it was pretty common to stock a deck with fifteen or more monsters that needed Normal Summons. And the Koa'ki Meiru are, on their own, a very Normal Summon heavy strategy.

Thankfully the Koa'ki Meiru blendswell with other strategies that support the Normal Summons you're forced to make. Keep that in mind as we continue our discussion today.

Sadly, 1 + 1 Should Equal 2
You couldsay there are "lots" of different ways to play Koa'ki Meiru, but that's misleading since several versions of the deck have all been deprecated. Rock Stun is the oldest usable version of Koa'ki Meiru, revolving around Koa'ki Meiru Sandman, Koa'ki Meiru Guardian, and Koa'ki Meiru Wall to try and shut down everything your opponent could do. Koa'ki Meiru Overload was added to the strategy later, but the entire endeavor just isn't cost effective since you're stuck trading your Normal Summon for negation against single effects.

I wrote about that deck back in 2015 , and it's safe to say a strategy probably isn't viable when so little has changed in four years. If you wanted to get crazy I suppose you could try a Koa'ki Meiru Maximus turbo variant, but even that sounds dated in its own right.

The best thing about Koa'ki Meiru in 2019, hands down is Koa'ki Meiru Urnight, so who cares if it looks like an angry baby holding a macaroon and half a pair of safety scissors? Reveal Iron Core of Koa'ki Meiru in your hand and you get a free monster from the deck, and with so many powerful Level 4s to choose from you're guaranteed to lay some hurt on your opponent.

Against an open field you'll hit for 3900 damage. If your opponent's playing Light or Dark monsters you can summon Koa'ki Meiru Drago from your deck to stop big summons before they happen. Need to wipe out an opposing monster? Koa'ki Meiru Ice is your go-to thanks to its removal ability. And with Koa'ki Meiru Crusader you'll make Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Tiger King, fetching Fire Formation - Tenki while negating everything your opponent has!

But there's one major problem with all of that - you'll need Koa'ki Meiru Urnight andan Iron Core of Koa'ki Meiru in your hand to make any of that magic happen. With Fire Formation - Tenki and Diamond Core of Koa'ki Meiru that's not completely unreasonable to achieve, but the math simply isn't in your favor and the deck needs something else to move forward.

Looks Like a Zoo In Here
While I've never been in love with the Zoodiac cards I've always fancied Zoodiac Barrage, ironically for its destruction ability more than the summoning effect. Obviously summoning monsters from your deck is amazing, sure, but Zoodiac Barrage is just screaming with potential no matter which way you look at it. Funny enough, you can leverage the last effect of Zoodiac Barrage to attach itself as an Xyz Material, but let's focus on how it intersects with the Koa'ki Meiru.

Zoodiac Barrage is basically an Emergency Teleport for Zoodiacs, and that means any other monster you'll have turns into a quick Xyz or Link play. Say you just have a Koa'ki Meiru Urnight and Zoodiac Barrage? That's a fast and easy Brotherhood of the Tiger King - Fire Fist, boosting your card economy while likewise shutting down opposing monsters. It helps broaden the consistency of what are really kind of just normal Koa'ki Meiru plays.

But if you have no Koa'ki Meiru cards in your hand, Zoodiacs can fill other niches more independently. Start with Fire Formation - Tenki and search Zoodiac Ratpier. Once you've yarded another Zoodiac from your deck, make Zoodiac Chakanine, revive your Zoodiac from the graveyard and turn them into Fire Fighting Daruma Doll! It's not the same as Knightmare Phoenix, but it's a low cost investment that lets you pop your opponent's cards. It's not bad!

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Since the Koa'ki Meiru kind of require a fair amount of luck to pull off their combos consistently, I went the opposite direction to ensure balanced duels when Urnight and Iron Core of Koa'ki Meiru aren't always in your starting hand. Obviously Zoodiacs provide some additional leverage, but I was pleased to find another theme that can lend some help.

While Time Thief Redoer is the only Time Thief you've seen played competitively, Time Thief Bezel Ship, Time Thief Winder, and Time Thief Regulator certainly pull their own weight. Originally I wanted to just use Time Thief Winder - an easy monster to put on the field once you start adding Zoodiacs - but Time Thief Regulator and Time Thief Bezel Ship have just as much merit.

Time Thief Regulator pops out two Time Thief monsters as long as it's your only monster on the field, and Time Thief Winder nets you another card when Summoned. It isn't a big flashy combo, but it's another one-card play that turns into a net benefit. While Time Thief Flyback isn't going to win games on its own, having a searchable card that at the very least works with Fire Fighting Daruma Doll helps in some surprising ways.

Sadly, there isn't much protection built into any of the three themes we're running here, largely just coming in the form of off-theme support: Bujintei Kagutsuchi and Evilswarm Exciton Knight. The deck excels going second, so stocking up on Effect Veiler, Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring, and Infinite Impermanence help stop your opponent's big combos. Biding your time and hitting your opponent with big monsters from a single Zoodiac Barrage or Koa'ki Meiru Urnight's a surprising way to steal victory!

Just remember: beat your opponents before they beat you.

-Loukas Peterson


Loukas Peterson lives in Nashville, Tennessee, hoping one day to run in 5th Congressional District on the platform of "Fabled Link Monsters for Everyone." You can find him on Twitter or building a bonfire in his backyard to attract the local wildlife for an audience with his ukulele. Hailed as the only person capable of cooking Minute Rice in 56 seconds, Loukas is always looking at expanding his backyard to house every dog in the world without a home. Well, and those with homes already.