If you don't know what TKRO stands for, it is the abbreviation for one of the best standalone monsters in Yu-Gi-Oh's recent years - Thunder King Rai-Oh. It was used from the day it was released to help counter the TeleDAD deck and started seeing maindeck play in X-Sabers in 2010 to help against the mirror and Infernities and it was still seeing maindeck play in late 2011 in Plants and Agents. The only format it's been absent from was the last one because of the existence of Inzektors. It's been a very important card in the game of Yu-gi-Oh and I think he's particularly strong right now. He can shut down Rabbit and Tour Guide if you can protect him from Sabersaurus. He can shut down Hyperion, Kristya and The Agent of Creation - Earth if you can protect him from Venus and Card Trooper. Against Wind-Ups? He's a complete blowout and quite frankly the best place for him to see play. Even against Water he stops their key cards Genex Undine and Mermail Abysspike. After the release of Cosmo Blazer he'll stop even more. The new Water TCG exclusive adds from the deck to the hand and he shuts that down too. Knowing all this I wanted to test a deck completely based around Thunder King but I didn't create a whole new deck, that would be silly. It already exists:

Monsters - 25
3 Thunder King Rai-Oh
3 Master Hyperion
3 The Agent of Creation - Venus
3 Mystical Shine Ball
3 Herald of Orange Light
2 The Agent of Mystery - Earth
2 Tour Guide from the Underworld
2 Card Trooper
2 Archlord Kristya
1 Honest
1 Sangan

Spells - 5
2 Mystical Space Typhoon
1 Heavy Storm
1 Dark Hole
1 Monster Reborn

Traps - 10
3 Call of the Haunted
2 Torrential Tribute
2 Dimensional Prison
2 Solemn Warning
1 Solemn Judgment

This deck isn't even saved in my DN under Agents, it's saved as TKRO.dek. That's basically what it is. I'm not sure if Alistar planned that when he built the first stages for YCS Indy but that's what it's evolved into. It's the card of the format and this deck supports it best. It lets you put TKRO on the field whenever the most optimal time is to shut your opponent down hard. The Agent engine supports it. Venus-Gachi boosts him to 2300. Your opponent has a problem monster on their field? Venus-Dark Mist to get rid of it, then flip Call and summon your TKRO there. TKRO makes the opponent want to play to a slower paced game so they can deal with it easier. So while they're trying to play slow and defensive, you put pressure on them with the Agent cards. Hyperion is there as extra pressure or backup if you need him. Herald takes care of problems (or threats to TKRO itself) without making you use your negate. TKRO is the card of the format. You have 3 of him, 3 Calls, Reborn, Troopers to dig you to him, and Agents to thin your deck out to him. I see some people cutting him down to 2 copies in this deck but don't ever cut him down to any less than 3. Abuse him. People started taking him out of Wind-Ups, a deck where you could Rat-Rabbit loop and just have Leviair whenever you wanted to protect TKRO from Bottomless and Prison. Don't be like those people.

You might have noticed some cards missing that you'd usually see in an Agent deck and I'm going to address those right now. The first card? None other than the boss of all bosses himself:

Black Luster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginning

BLS is an interesting card in this deck. With the addition of the Tour Guide engine (which Alistar originally wasn't running) it adds 3 more darks combined with Dark Mist and Catastor for 5. Almost seems too good to not play at first glace but when you actually look at what the deck aims to do he starts to look like an unnecessary dead draw. You can't count Catastor and Dark Mist, I'm just going to say it now. Your odds of resolving a Venus before even drawing BLS are high, so are you going to just hold Venus until the last moment to see if you're going to draw BLS or try to stabilize (Gachi) or push for damage (Phoenix) when the opportunity presents itself? Let's not even talk about the times Venus gets hit by Bottomless Trap Hole. Sometimes it's so hard to even be able to summon a Hyperion, let alone waiting to draw a dark for BLS. Let's say you do open Tour Guide and BLS though, the best case scenario. What if Giga-Brilliant does nothing in the particular situation you're in? And you'd rather make Zenmaines.. You're forced to throw away your TGU to make BLS live. There's no point in that. If they see Brilliant and have a way to remove it from play via Bottomless or Prison you can bet they're going to too. Of course you can get lights from Earth, Venus and Trooper too but then you're counting on having a perfect hand to support BLS. It's hard enough dropping Hyperion and Kristya in this deck, and those boss monster's summoning conditions actually work with the deck. Just because you run TGU and Sangan along with 2 Card Troopers doesn't mean you should throw another boss monster in a deck that already draws clunky hands.

If you're aiming to control the early game with TKRO and only have bosses to fall back on if that plan fails, why do you need 6? 3 Hyperion is already enough and sometimes when combined with 2 Kristya that's already too much. At least Hyperion can become live off a single Agent monster and it and Kristya can also be used for Herald fodder when you're controlling with TKRO or your opponent opens the nuts. Imagine staring down Magician Shark with BLS and Herald in your hand. That sucks. They also work very well with Call of the Haunted if milled off Trooper or discarded rather than having to summon them first like BLS. So with our other options of 2 Hyperion 2 Kristya 1 BLS and 3 Hyperion 2 Kristya 1 BLS both being subpar compared to just 3 Hyperion, BLS didn't make the cut. That brings up the question of "If the whole game plan is to control with TKRO and drop bosses after they've used their resources dealing with him, why are you even playing Tour Guide?". The same reason I'm opting not to play BLS - consistency. You have to ability to open some pretty dead hands with this deck. Between 3 Shine Ball, 3 Hyperion, 2 Kristya, 2 MST, 3 Call, 3 Herald (unless you draw it with a boss and Call), and Heavy Storm you can draw a lot of combinations of those and start with a hand that can't do ANYTHING and Tour Guide can help by tutoring Sangan to grab Earth or Trooper or just going into Zenmaines to stall. If you already have a good hand it can help keep the pressure on the opponent by just making a Leviathan to beat with. Being able to go into Zenmaines to answer problem cards like an early Macro Cosmos is also just another nice option to have available to you.

Whew, never thought I'd write 2 huge paragraphs on why not to run BLS. The game sure has changed. Next..

Maxx "C" and Tragoedia

A lot of people say running both Tragoedia and Maxx "C" together is great. You should be basing the effectiveness of Tragoedia on whether or not you're playing Maxx "C", but not how most people do it. You shouldn't be saying Maxx "C" makes Tragoedia better, instead Tragoedia makes Maxx "C" better. Against Wind-Ups, if you're using Maxx "C" and they decide to go for it anyway you need the Tragoedia for Maxx "C" to be doing anything (this deck has Herald to draw into too, but I'll get back to that down below). Now let's take that same situation except instead of having Maxx "C", you have Tragoedia in your hand. It'll let you survive the turn but without the extra cards you most likely won't be able to make a comeback. So you're running 2 subpar cards, need to draw 1 of them before the other to pull off what you're trying to do, and hope you draw into the other in the amount of draws your opponent gives you before they put together OTK. Or you could just use 1 (Effect Veiler/Herald), stop their play and not have to run those cards. You don't even need Maxx "C" mained to beat Wind-Ups because this deck slaughters that deck. Maxx "C" gets weaker game 2 in comparison to cards like Gozen Match because of their sided Dimensional Fissures, so really the amount of times you actually want multiple copies of Maxx "C" in your deck should be never which makes using Tragoedia pointless.

Agents really only lose to their own bad hands. Cutting cards like BLS and Maxx "C" in favor of more cards that add consistency can do nothing but good for the deck. That's what you try to do when you make an optimal deck - cut the unnecessary cards. The deck has virtually no bad matchups and gets to abuse Thunder King alongside 2 Stratos (Earth), more Tour Guides (Venus), Hyperions, walking Royal Oppressions, 4 Monster Reborns, and 3 Super Effect Veilers. It may not have Mage Shark but Agents are busted in their own way. When a deck is already that broken you just need to make it consistent to make it work the best it can. No tricks or gimmicky cards needed! Give the deck a try if you're stumped on what to run at YCS Miami or any other tournament you might have before the format ends. Chances are they're going to hit this deck again so might as well use it when it's at it's full power! I mean, we all know Earth isn't going back to 3 anytime soon haha. Until next time!

- Mike Steinman