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Taking a look at Tron after Grand Prix Charlotte.

Written by LegitMTG Staff on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Modern

Last week, before the website decided that it was hungry and ate my article, I was going to talk about Red Green Tron. It had been performing quite well for me, earning me many packs and qualifier points. Things have happened since then. The first was the complete domination of the Starcitygames.com Invitational and Open by the big mana deck. The second was the responsive metagame shift just in time for Grand Prix Charlotte.

I’ve not touched the deck since the Grand Prix, and that’s because I have no desire to fight through a metagame filled to the brim with hate. Blood Moon, Fulminator Mage, Sowing Salt, Ghost Quarter, Tectonic Edge, Molten Rain, and Avalanche Riders are all threats to the delicate mana base of the explosive deck. With Charlotte coming to an end I have seen some real weird cards look to take advantage of the mana base of Tron (and I reckon Amulet as well) Boom // Bust has found a home, Restore Balance has popped up a bit, heck I would not be surprised if Wildfire was on some mad brewers mind. I’ve yet to really see Tron respond to the rise of land destruction, and I think there are reasons for that.

The first reason I can think of is the deck, as it is currently designed is pretty dang good. It is super linear, and is designed to have seven mana in play on turn three as often as possible to take full advantage of colorless planeswalkers and dumb artifact creatures. Changing a few things may change how well the deck performs.

The second reason is I think people are stuck to Red as the splash color of the deck. There is good reason for that though. Red gives the deck two important tools to fight the fair decks of the format. Pyroclasm buys the deck time against the super fast decks of the format, and Boil out of the sideboard gives the deck game against the blue decks of the format. Nothing is better than destroying a lot of Islands at instant speed!

So what can be done to fix Tron in the current metagame? I think there are a few things that can be done.

The first that I can think of would be to add Crucible of the Worlds to the main deck. Misers copies are not a thing that I am huge fan of, so I would want at least two copies of the land returning artifact to the deck. However, room for the artifact could be an issue. Not only could this protect your tron from most main deck hate (and I REFUSE to live in a world where maindeck Sowing Salt becomes a thing.) but it could also serve as a way to really put the screws to the mirror match and the greedy multi colored decks of the format with a Ghost Quarter! That would be an easy fix to make.

I think the problem comes from relying on red as the secondary color. Most of the colors have a way to help out with aggressive decks. White can use Path to Exile. Blue can use Echoing Truth, Black gives us targeted removal. Sure we’re missing out on Boil, but Choke can make up for that, or quite possibly Boseiju, Who Shelters All. Rending Volley is another thing that would need to be replaced. From Ali’s list (and it is under this paragraph for reference.) we would only have to replace thirteenth cards!

So what could a Tron play do to combat this?

I suggest getting off the color red. Just let go.

UG Tron is an actual thing in Modern, it’s a fringe deck, much like Mono Blue Tron or the UW Gifts Tron.

Simic Tron would be the easy way to go about things though. I’m not about taking the easy way to things. I even have seem an established list for the deck. It had a little uptick in popularity on MTGO after Fate Reforged came out. Take a look at this monster!

It has a small counterbase. Bounce deals with super fast aggro starts, and when all you can draw is baubles, MARCH OF THE MACHINES ENDS THE GAME! That does look exciting. March of the Machines is not a good enough reason for me to play a deck though, unless of course it’s a dedicated artifact deck, maybe something like the Open the Vaults Tron deck that pops up from time to time. I had to look up what Edge of Autumn did, and outside of cycling it, I’m not really sure why it is taking up valuable sideboard slots.

We could also go Mono Green Tron. That’s a thing in Modern as well. At least it was as of a few weeks ago when I peeped a list for it.

I sadly do not remember who played this list, but it went 3-1 in a Daily when I downloaded it. I’m not entirely sure what purpose the Grove of the Burnwillows serves in the deck. I guess it could be in there to throw the opponent off and maybe make them think that you’re playing the more established Red Green version, but that seems like a waste of thirty tickets to me. It’s more likely a way for the deck to still have a colored source after a Titan. The rest of the deck is just a streamlined Tron deck. Nothing to fancy, and you know it is from before the Sundering of Modern because there is nary a Crucible of Worlds to be found in it.

You could say the same for the Simic list as well, but at least it has counter magic to fall back on.

So we’ve looked at different versions of Tron to maybe find a way to fix it for this metagame. We’ve looked at the original list, a splash blue and a mono green list, and none of them really go deep enough for my liking. We need to go super deep. Deeper than main deck Crucible of Worlds.

The red splash needs to be replaced for white.

If you have not already hit the back button and sworn off Legitmtg.com by now, thanks for sticking around.

White gives us some super options. While we are looking to replace six colored cards in the Pyroclasm and Boil, we have a plethora of things that we can use. Day of Judgment and Wrath of God could be considered, but it seems a bit too slow and a bit too hard to cast. We can just ignore them.

So to replace Pyroclasm, I went deep. Super deep. This is a list of cards that I am considering to use in place of the small creature board wiping sorcery.

Let’s talk about these cards. I know they are all Fog effects. But some of them could fill a pretty important gap.

Angelsong: It cycles. If you’re against a non aggro deck you get a few card out of it, which could go to helping fix the mana, or finding a threat for your opponent to beat.

Dawn Charm: One of the modes counters a spell that targets you. Take that Burn deck! Forget you Thoughtseize! Go away Gitaxian Probe! Would be really useful against the Burn deck though.

Holy Day: The original white Fog. Not fancy enough.

Kami of False Hope: Could be used by the Living End deck as a Demonic Dread target, which makes this more like Kami of False Nope!

Pollen Lullaby: The clash clause should buy us an extra turn, but otherwise just a run of the mill fog.

Safe Passage: Also solid against burn, as it prevents non combat damage as well. This also saves our Planeswalkers from direct damage as well.

Timely Reinforcements: Gives us six life back and three blockers. This seems to be a really powerful card for us.

To me this choice comes down to three cards.

Timely Reinforcements
Dawn Charm
Angelsong

I think Timely Reinforcements is the leader here. The life gain against Burn is fantastic, and the creatures that can pop up against other matchups can be important. Imagine your opponent landing a Liliana, and making you sacrifice a creature. Instead of that juicy Wurmcoil Engine you’re sacrificing a Soldier token!

So we’ve added Crucible of Worlds and Timely Reinforcements to the deck. We’ve taken out Pyroclasm, the set of Grove of the Burnwillows and at least one card, maybe two cards to be named later.

Now we have to figure out what lands we’re going to cast our timely sorcery with. Let’s ignore the comes into play tapped lands (outside of Temple Garden). Stuff like Temple of Plenty would be neat (the Scry would be super.) but gaining a point of life or bouncing another land just seems to put the deck off a turn. Stirring Wildwood would give us another way to win, but it comes into play tapped and requires colored mana to activate. It keeps us from casting our Sylvan Scrying and Ancient Stirrings. That is not a good thing!

Let’s go ahead and take out all of the painlands. Well not all of them. I’m going to keep Horizon Canopy on the list. We can go ahead and take off the lands that have counters. The conditional lands (Thicket, Grove and Bastion) are nice, but rely too much on non tron lands. We need those!

That leaves us with a few choices. Temple Garden and Horizon Canopy are pretty much it. Let’s for a second just assume we’re going to run Timely Reinforcements and not defer back to Angelsong (or just chicken out and go back to red). To me this pushes Horizon Canopy to the top. It helps us get the life value of the sorcery, and when we are done with it, we can use it to draw a new card.

So we now have most of the main deck figured out. We just have to figure out where to put the Crucible of Worlds. While it may not be needed for the long-term, having the artifact in the deck will help us out a ton in a Modern format that has seen Molten Rain and Fulminator Mage become important cogs.

Using Ali’s list as reference, I feel like there are a lot of cards that cannot be touched. The trinkets, the land searchers, the Planeswalkers and the Stones I feel are untouchables. That leaves us looking at Relic and Spellskite as potential replacements. Relic is pretty important, and a trinket to boot, so Spellskite seems like an easy replacement. Maybe the misers copy of Crucible is all we need in the main. Everything else looks so perfect.

Taking a look at the sideboard, we have some replacements to make there. Boil becomes Choke. That was easy enough. The Rending Volleys can become Path to Exile. The land search should not be a big deal, and it deals with more creatures than Volley does. We do miss out on the uncounterable portion of the spell, but with Nature’s Claim and Path coming in against Twin, I would like to think that we would be fine. We’ve moved a Crucible into the main, and with Reinforcements, Thragtusk may be a bit redundant. I still like the idea of Thragtusk, but I’m not married to it with the sorcery in our main. Let’s take those guys out. I mean in the Control match up it’s pretty nice, but we have Emrakul to beat up on that matchup. I also want a Spellskite in the board since we took out the one in the main. It can do work against a lot of matches, and as Ali showed us during the Invitational it can do great stuff against Amulet!

The final two sideboard cards are the deepest I’ll go in this article, so thanks for putting up with me. It came down to three enchantments. One of which I fell in love with thanks to a lot of EDH, but sadly I believe is uncastable in any tron deck outside of the Mono Green list. We’ll not be seeing Privileged Position here.

I know that makes me sad too. It would be great against Sowing Salt, but, it comes into play a turn late from the first Salt, and would take a small miracle to actually cast on turn five anyway.

That leaves me with these two.

Sacred Ground

Terra Eternal

Thanks for making it 2300 words before finally hitting the back button!

There is a case for both of them, but I am going to make the case AGAINST Terra Eternal now. Which would make Sacred Ground the winner by default, which happens to be the best two words in the English language.

Terra Eternal costs three mana. It gives all lands indestructible, which is fairly neat, but works our poorly for us in few cases. The first being Sowing Salt exiles. That makes both enchantments useless against that card. The second being the interaction with Ghost Quarter. With Crucible we can possibly lock our opponents out of the game with the two cards. With Terra Eternal we are giving our opponents free lands, but not actually destroying theirs.

Sacred Ground protects us against everything except Sowing Salt, and that makes it our best option I feel.

If you made it to the end of the article I would like to thank you. Enjoy your weekend, and may it be full of wins!

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