If you're an avid reader of the many articles on TCGplayer you might catch on to the running joke that Kelly Locke says the word "neat" quite frequently. Loukas is probably the biggest offender of this running joke, mentioning it approximately seven times per article. I wanted to test Kelly and see if he actually responded like this, so I asked him what he thought of today's deck idea.

"Oh, neat."

Thanks, Kelly.

Well folks, you heard it here first: today's deck is neat. As the title would suggest, we're going to be discussing a strategy consisting of the Agent and Cloudian archetypes, as well as the cards that bring them together. If you haven't played against Cloudians before and have no idea what they do, don't worry, we'll get to that in a second. Let's check out the build:

Agents have been around for several years now, but allow me to give you a quick crash course. The Agent of Mystery - Earth is your searcher, adding The Agent of Creation - Venus to your hand under normal circumstances. From there, Venus allows you to Special Summon any number of Mystic Shine Balls from your deck. That allows you to go into a variety of Synchros and Rank 2's, but that's not the best part. Master Hyperion is the big boss of the Agent theme, popping cards every turn you manage to keep it alive. It's only a twelve-card engine, but a good chunk of your plays revolve around the Agent monsters.

Moving on to the Cloudian portion of the deck, your two main Cloudians get counters when you Normal Summon them, equal to the number of Cloudians you control. Cloudian Turbulence is arguably the best of the bunch, needing no prior set-up to instantly Special Summon a Cloudian - Smoke Ball from your deck or graveyard. Cloudian - Cirrostratus has a better effect, but requires you to have another Cloudian monster on the field to make the most of it. By removing two counters you can destroy one monster on the field with Cirrostratus' ability. Cloudian - Storm Dragon's a mini Chaos monster, and it can replenish your counters for free every turn. Storm Dragon's what really lets you keep the pressure on your opponent throughout the duel.

A Bit of Overlap
On the surface, Cloudians and Agents really only have one thing in common: they're Fairy-types. That alone isn't enough to build a deck around, but there's more going on here. The Sanctuary in the Sky isn't the greatest card in the world, but it really helps out Cloudians. You see, the puffy cloud monsters can't be destroyed by battle, but they have to remain in attack position. That kind of sucks because each Cloudian has at most 1000 ATK. With Sanctuary in the Sky up, though, you won't be taking any damage from battles, forcing your opponent to work around your Cloudians with card effects. The cool part is that you're already playing The Sanctuary in the Sky for the Cloudian monsters, but it helps out your Agents as well. The Agent of Mystery - Earth can actually just search Master Hyperion straight to your hand should you have your Field Spell active; that's insane.

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Continuing on, Cirrostratus, Turbulence, and a properly Special Summoned Storm Dragon are all prime targets for revival with Masked Chameleon. That opens up simple 1-for-1 Xyz and Synchro plays, something that any pure Cloudian build would want to take advantage of. But wait, the Agents have a 0 DEF monster, too! Oh yes, Masked Chameleon can bring back a fallen Agent of Creation – Venus to go into Black Rose Dragon and blow up the field! Just like with Sanctuary in the Sky you're already playing Cloudian support, so any time it overlaps and helps the Agents that's just a bonus.

From The Heavens
You're bound to see a bunch of different decks in the first month of a new format, and the majority of them are going to be relying on Special Summons to make their big plays. Archlord Kristya kind of just says "no" to your opponent, slapping them in the face with a hefty restriction. Often times a Special Summoned Kristya completely shuts a player out of the duel, giving you a clear shot at winning the game.

And holy heckle freckle do we have graveyard manipulation for Kristya. Your average Agent deck really only has Master Hyperion for managing your Fairy count, but you've got a few more options at your disposal here. Cloudian - Storm Dragon can banish that fifth Fairy if you really need to get Kristya out, and Masked Chameleon can lower that number by one too. A lot of duelists just aren't comfortable using three Kristya, and that's understandable: drawing it early on can really screw you over if you can't put four Fairies in the yard.

…and that's where three Herald of Orange Light come in handy. Once again, this is a monster most people opt to play fewer copies of in more conventional builds. Basically, Herald of Orange Light's just infinitely better than Effect Veiler in every situation. It sets up your graveyard faster, it destroys the monster it negates, and in specific clutch situations it's a Level 2 Tuner when you really need it. You're always going to have Fairies in your hand for discarding, like Mystic Shine Ball or Cloudian - Smoke Ball, and you can even discard an Archlord Kristya for its effect if you open with two. I think Jason said it best when he wrote about Agents last format:

"I run triple Archlord Kristya because I want to run triple Herald of Orange Light. And I run triple Herald of Orange Light best I want to run triple Archlord Kristya."

At the end of the day, Herald's really there to make use of your dead cards and turn them into powerful destruction-enablers. Your second and third Venus might as well be Normal Monsters if you've burned through your Mystic Shine Balls, and your second and third Earths are only getting you +1's that you can't put towards anything. Of course, when you're playing The Sanctuary in the Sky your Earths get a little more mileage, but that won't always be the case. Herald of Orange Light's useful when you're ahead, behind, or just about even with your opponents. It's so freaking good.

Cushioning The Blow
Part of the reason I love the Cloudians here is that they really push through backrow. The majority of your opponents won't know what the heck your deck does and that puts you in a favorable position. As someone who's played Spirits at three Regionals and a YCS I can say with confidence that people will misplay hard against decks they don't know how to approach. There were times when I'd Normal Summon Nikitama, Normal Summon Aratama, and they'd drop Effect Veiler on Aratama. I'd then proceed to overlay into an Xyz Monster and its effect would go off without a hitch because my opponent no longer had Effect Veiler.

The same concept holds true for Cloudians. People don't like surprises, and I've watched many players waste Torrential Tributes, Effect Veilers, and Solemn Warnings against the worst of the Cloudians. Hey, I guess wasting your trap card's easier than reading, right? Should your opponent waste resources on Cloudians - which they will - your Agent combos are a lot safer. Imagine the look on your opponent's face when they Effect Veiler a Cloudian - Cirrostratus only to have Master Hyperion hit the board and destroy everything.

Conversely, even without the Cloudians your deck does things differently than regular ol' Agents. Most people aren't expecting Earth to search Hyperion, and they won't see a Masked Chameleon into Black Rose Dragon play coming in the slightest. Sure, this build can occasionally draw some awkward hands, but your average hands are arguably harder to beat than a regular Agent deck's average hands, just because there's more variety in card choices.

Wiggle Room
Like with all most we write about here on TCGplayer, there's definitely room for personal tech choices. You'll notice I've picked Solemn Warning as my only trap card, as opposed to something like Treacherous Trap Hole or Royal Decree. I found Solemn Warning to be most beneficial to me because the only real out to it is Seven Tools of the Bandit. Treacherous Trap Hole's chainable to Mystical Space Typhoon, but it targets the monsters it wants to destroy: a big issue against the likes of Bujingi Turtle, Leo, the Keeper of the Sacred Tree, Machina Fortress, and many more. If I'm only playing one trap I want it to be the best trap available, and I strongly believe that Solemn Warning is the best generic trap card right now.

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Tragoedia is also a choice that you might not agree with me on. I like it because it buys you some time with awful hands full of mismatched cards, but some players would rather see more proactive cards such as Dark Hole, Upstart Goblin, or Pot of Duality. In addition, not everyone will love Zeradias, Herald of Heaven. It's without a doubt better than Terraforming, but you might just not want to play either. For me, it's another way to get an extra Fairy in the graveyard and it helps your Rank 4 capabilities, but feel free to replace it with your own tech pick.

So there you have it. Would I take this to a Regional Qualifier? Well, maybe, but that's only because I have my invite. Realistically this would probably work better at a local level. Bujins are a real problem deck, as are some faster OTK strategies, but against a bunch of different lower power strategies that tend to frequent the local scene you might be able to pull out a 1st Place finish. At the end of the day, Chaos Agents builds are more likely to get you wins in longer tournaments, but Cloudians are just so cool that I couldn't resist. What do you think about Agent Cloudians? Have any secret tech card that you want to share? Let me know in the Comment section below!

-Doug Zeeff

Article Aftermath #45