Competitive in a Year: Building to Mono Green Tron

Written by Zach Cramer on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Modern

Competitive in a Year: Building to Mono Green Tron

Zach Cramer

Zach is a Northeastern Magic grinder who specializes in eternal formats. When building decks, he has a strong preference to Blue cards, toolboxes and combo decks. With a recent RPTQ finish just short of an invitation, Zach hopes to take his skills to the next level and play on the Pro Tour.

Greetings all! I’m so grateful to hear such positive and extensive feedback on this article series. This series emerged from a passion to get people into Magic and contribute to other players who might not have a local game store to get these ideas and experiences from. To hear so many people picking up even the first guide makes me so happy. With this feedback in mind, I’ve made a couple changes. Firstly, instead of breaking down each deck and the improvements we make, I’m going to structure the series by presenting the budget by decklist and then ending the article with a month by month budget statement. This way, people can return to the article multiple times and see how I’m suggesting how to budget while first time or single time readers can see the changes made to the decks without getting caught up with loose sentences of budget analysis.

Without further ado, here’s where we’re going to start:

Eldrazi Tron was a potent strategy a few years back in Modern. I remember in vivid detail Ben Friedman annihilating my life away and sending me out of Top 8 contention in GP Vegas in 2017. The key to Eldrazi Tron, which you’ll hold near and dear throughout the next year is the value that can be gained by getting ahead of your opponent. Thinking about Standard today, we know the person who gets ahead in mana is often the person taking control of the game. An unchecked Llanowar Elf, Runaway Steam-Kin, or even a flipped Search for Azcanta can pull away from the opponent incredibly quickly as that mana advantage builds itself up. However, when we’re thinking about the Tron lands combining together, it feels a lot more like a Wilderness Reclamation. 1+1+1=7. This is to say combining Tower, Mine and Power Plant gives you access to an immense amount of mana. Eldrazi Temple gives us an additional benefit granting us the ability to ramp out our powerful Eldrazi. This budget deck comes stocked with even more ways to do that in Mind Stone and the scion-making ability of Warping Wail. All of these cards work together to power out early threats to pull us far ahead of our opponents.

A quick note on our sideboard: we had to get creative here as well. Colorless decks aren’t all upside. We don’t have cards that can do everything we need. Chiefly, removing troublesome artifacts and enchantments or even great ways to kill creatures. Our sweeper in our Maindeck: All is Dust while great at being cast off of full tron or multiple Eldrazi Temples, is not great at stemming early aggression. Ratchet Bomb is our utility knife to answer any problem permanent, but, is quite slow.

Month 1:
1 Wurmcoil Engine
1 Cavern of Souls
1 Emrakul, the Promised End
1 Scavenger Grounds
1 Smuggler’s Copter

Month 2 and 3:

4 Chalice of the Void

The key part that our initial budget deck is lacking is Chalice of the Void which will make up our early year purchases. Chalice is incredibly potent right now because of its ability to stop our opponents from casting their early setup spells. Moreover, we want to get early access to Cavern of Souls and Emrakul, the Promised End to solve our Control woes. One hard lesson Eldrazi Tron will teach you is that ramping big can sometimes lose to opponents spending less mana to counter our spells. Playing around counters is tricky but with some smooth maneuvering, I trust that our large creatures will win the day.

Month 4:
4 Eldrazi Mimic
4 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Serum Powder
4 Eternal Scourge
1 Gemstone Cavern
2 Dismember
4 Zhalfirin Void
2 Mutavault

Month 5:
1 Gemstone Caverns
3 Blinkmoth Nexus
1 Wurmcoil Engine

Building from Eldrazi Tron isn’t too hard for us. Once we have our Chalices, we can try to get a lot more aggressive. One thing you’ll learn in the first months of piloting Eldrazi Tron is the power of strong opening hands that feature “natural tron” or multiple Eldrazi Temples. Our next deck is going to take advantage of these powerful opening hands as much as possible:

This deck features even more aggressive starts. We’re trading in our Tron lands for even more aggressive starts with Gemstone Caverns and Simian Spirit Guide. Serum Powder serves as the key enabler for this plan. Serum Powder lets us cut towards more aggressive starts. We can “freely” mulligan hands that don’t have Temples and other accelerants which stems us to an early Eldrazi or an early Chalice of the Void. The key skill that this deck is going to teach us is about mulligans. When we eventually get to Mono Green Tron, we’re going to find ourselves looking at a hands that force us to think critically about whether or not it’s strong enough to keep. The thing about playing powerful decks is that they have a high ceiling but also a low floor. If you’ve played games with Eldrazi Tron, you know that there’s a huge difference between a hand who’s lands are Wastes, Wastes, Wastes versus Tower, Power Plant, Mine. The same thing is true for Colorless Eldrazi and will be true for Mono Green Tron: mulligan hands that don’t give you a substantial chance of doing your powerful thing early.

Month 6 and 7:

3 Leyline of the Void
1 Surgical Extraction

The sideboard here gets a major advantage in “cards that are good when you can mulligan a bunch” in Leyline of the Void. As you’ll see in the appendix below, Leyline makes up the cost of multiple months of budgeting and is not necessary for you to complete Mono Green Tron. Instead, I like the idea of building Eldrazi slightly differently if you skip on Leylines:

This is a decklist I saw this week from notable MTGO grinder Gal Schlesinger or “yamakiller” This abandons our budget for 4 very expensive Horizon Canopy, but, I wanted to share this an option to consider if you’re less interested in the Leyline of the Voids. By the end of Month 12, we should have some money still in savings so if you’d like to move to this, I wanted to grant you the option. The key here is abandoning the Serum Powder plan for a tax-centered plan and a powerful sideboard that addresses all of the things that colorless decks struggle to grasp.

Month 8:
1 Wurmcoil Engine
2 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

Month 9:

1 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
4 Chromatic Star
4 Chromatic Sphere
4 Sylvan Scrying
3 Relic of Progenitus
2 Oblivion Stone
1 Sanctum of Ugin
3 Nature’s Claim

Month 10:
2 Oblivion Stone
2 World Breaker
4 Ancient Stirrings
1 Karn Liberated
3 Thragtusk

Once we get close to Month 10, we’ll be able to make the switch to Mono Green Tron and eventually make our way to the fully tricked out version. A few months back, Autumn Burchett posited that Karn Liberated was not a necessary tool for Tron. Autumn suggested instead we work to play World Breaker in its place. Autumn, in my opinion, was right in that metagame to play World Breaker, but, I’m not certain if that deck would be correct today. However, it does grant us a way to play Tron while we work our way towards expensive Karn Liberated. So here’s their deck.

I made some adaptions to their list cutting the 3rd Ugin, the Field of Ruin and the sideboard Tarmogoyfs. This list crushes Control. All of the Cast triggers in the Eldrazi make it so much easier to beat the UWx decks that were running rampant while Autumn was testing this Tron deck.

Month 11 and 12:
3 Karn Liberated
1 Surgical Extraction

Once we get our Karn Liberated, our Tron deck will look like this:

Cards like Emrakul, the Promised End, additional Relic of Progenius, Thought-Knot Seer or even Ravenous Trap are cards we can consider adding and subtracting based on specific metagames, but, this is Tron in all its glory. In my last article, I really felt like I was able to capture the ways the decks I picked out helped you learn how to think about playing your Tier One strategy: how to play your spells, how to examine your threats and lines of play. This is far less pronounced when looking at decks that are linear. Eldrazi Tron, Colorless Eldrazi and Mono Green Tron are easily defined as “linear decks.” They have a plan and they are looking to execute that plan as quickly as possible. However, unlike what some might say, this is not a strategy that is ‘easy’ to play or does not require skills or relevant decisions. I would counter by saying that miss-sequencing in linear decks can be catastrophic. If you crack a Star or a Sphere at the wrong time you might miss Green mana for your Sylvan Scrying, or if you crack your Expedition Map too early, you might lose out on the tool you need to unlock Tron. Even looking at threat choice or interaction, blowing up a Relic, an Oblivion Stone or spewing off a Karn too early might give your opponent a chance to get back in a game that you had locked up already. Think carefully about mulligans, sequencing cantrips and baubles, and remember to never over sideboard or excessively trim on cards. A critical part in understanding linear decks is knowing which cards you are allowed to cut and trim on after board. I am not a Tron master, but, there are many out there. Do your best to search out mulligan guides or sideboard guides for these decks as you’re learning. They’ll benefit you greatly.

Below, I’ve listed an itemized list of how I scheduled my budget guide for the year. The way I prioritized purchases was to give players access to the “next” deck as quickly as possible. This, like all guides in Magic, is a tool to start with and not strictly adhere to. I hope you this structure makes the guide clearer and easier to follow. As always, sound off in the comments if you have questions, comments, or critiques of the article and the style. I cannot wait to bring you the next one!

Month 1:
1 Wurmcoil Engine
1 Cavern of Souls
1 Emrakul, the Promised End
1 Scavenger Grounds
1 Smuggler’s Copter

Month 2:
2 Chalice of the Void

Month 3:
2 Chalice of the Void

Month 4:
4 Eldrazi Mimic
4 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Serum Powder
4 Eternal Scourge
1 Gemstone Cavern
2 Dismember
4 Zhalfirin Void
2 Mutavault

Month 5:
1 Gemstone Caverns
3 Blinkmoth Nexus
1 Wurmcoil Engine

Month 6:
2 Leyline of the Void

Month 7:
1 Leyline of the Void
1 Surgical Extraction

Month 8:
1 Wurmcoil Engine
2 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

Month 9:
1 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
4 Chromatic Star
4 Chromatic Sphere
4 Sylvan Scrying
3 Relic of Progenitus
2 Oblivion Stone
1 Sanctum of Ugin
3 Nature’s Claim

Month 10:
2 Oblivion Stone
2 World Breaker
4 Ancient Stirrings
1 Karn Liberated
3 Thragtusk
*You can now build Autumn Burchett’s Mono G Tron list from GP Atlanta*

Month 11:
2 Karn Liberated

Month 12:
1 Karn Liberated
1 Surgical Extraction

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