This past weekend was the first big tournament we had for the year. It happened to be a Modern event and it was the biggest Open in history with over one thousand players. I had initially planned on playing some Splinter Twin variant but I felt like it wasn't a deck I could just pick up and pilot to great success. So at the very last minute I turned to old faithful and handed in my R/G Tron decklist. It had served me well last year at the SCG Invitational getting me a nice first place finish, so why not take it out for another spin? Well, that's what I ended up doing.
I went undefeated on Day 1 and only lost one match on Day 2 to Amulet Bloom. That same person ended up winning the whole event. After all the swiss rounds were over, I was sitting comfortably in first place. In the Top 8 I played against a favorable matchup but still ended up losing to finish in fifth place. It was extremely bittersweet as I really wanted that victory, but we always have next time!
Today I want to talk about R/G Tron for people that want to play the deck or want to know why I played the cards I did. I'll be going over all the cards, what they do, and why I picked what I did. I will also talk about where to go from here, because I would make some changes to the list. Without further ado, here's my Tron list.
So the list is pretty stock except for the exclusion of Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and Relic of Progenitus in the maindeck. Relic of Progenitus not main isn't unheard of but Emrakul is. There have been whisperings of Emrakul no longer being needed in Tron and this weekend really proved to be the case. Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger is the real deal folks and it's all you need at the top of your curve in this deck. Ulamog's cast trigger is back breaking. Exiling your opponent's two best permanents is usually good enough for people to concede, and if Ulamog sticks around the game is all but over. Trust me, I know how hard it is to take Emrakul out of the deck after you've won countless games from the spaghetti Eldrazi, but I believe it to be correct. Since she's been gone I haven't looked back. Now let's go over the deck. I'll explain what each card does in the deck and explain how some interact differently against the different decks in Modern.
Spellskite: Not all Tron decks run this card in the maindeck anymore. I, however, really like it since it shores up some awful matchups in Burn, Infect, Twin, and, to a lesser extent, Amulet Bloom. Against Burn decks it's simply a creature that eats up some damage by blocking and usually eating a burn spell or two. Against Infect Spellskite does a lot of heavily lifting by blocking infect creatures and eating up all the pump spells. As long as the Infect player doesn't have Twisted Image, you're good to go. Twin is usually a bad matchup for Tron but with the help of Ulamog, and more importantly Spellskite, we can stop them from killing us with the combo. Spellskite can usually live long enough to hopefully get the game to go long enough that you can cast Ulamog and eat some of your opponent's red sources. Last but not least we have Amulet Bloom. Spellskite may not seem great here but it stops the Primeval Titans from getting haste or double strike from Slayer's Stronghold and Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion. Spellskite basically just buys you time, but time is all you need in Tron. Nobody has a better late game than you.
Wurmcoil Engine: This artifact creature has been called "the sixth titan" and for good reason. Basically Wurmcoil is the artifact titan that rounds out the titan cycle. Against nonwhite decks Wurmcoil is extremely hard to deal with, yet alone Remove it. Against decks like Jund, Sultai, and Grixis a single Wurmcoil Engine can end the game. If it doesn't then it will usually buy you enough time to do your other big and busted things. Some people shave some number of Wurmcoil Engines. I personally would not go below having three in the seventy-five.
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger: Daddy is home, he's angry, and he's been drinking. We've talked a bit about Ulamog already so I won't go into much more detail. Ulamog is basically the reason why Tron has gotten so much better. He is such a strong card and has made twin actually not that bad to play against anymore. People not being able to deal with his cast trigger is amazing and works extremely well. I would pack at least two in any R/G Tron list.
Karn Liberated: This is why the deck exists. Without this card R/G Tron wouldn't exist. Karn costs a convenient seven mana which is exactly what Urzatron will generate when you have all three lands out. All R/G Tron lists need four of this bad boy.
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon: Ugin is an All Is Dust that hangs around for the after party. He's a bro that won't leave you hanging. I used to run two Ugin, but I've found Oblivion Stone to be overall better, especially against my bad matchups. So I'd rather have four O Stones and one Ugin instead of three O Stones and two Ugin. This could change depending on the meta, but O Stone is extremely crucial against decks like Splinter Twin and Affinity where Ugin doesn't do anything in those matchups.
Forest: Nothing crazy here, but I just wanted to mention that it might be correct to run two forests in this deck just to battle Ghost Quarters. I haven't pulled the gun on that yet, but it is an option.
Ghost Quarter: Speaking of Ghost Quarter! This card is very good at dealing with pesky lands like Inkmoth Nexus, Desolate Lighthouse, bounce land (like Simic Growth Chamber), and even Tron lands. Make sure you activate this card at your opponent's draw step against things like Amulet Bloom and Tron so that they have the potential to draw their basic land and in turn you'll turn your Ghost Quarter into a Strip Mine. I don't ever see myself playing less than two. It just does so much against the big decks of the format.
Eye of Ugin: This card makes your Expedition Maps and Sylvan Scrying kill people. Eye of Ugin can tutor up a creature that will kill your opponent in Wurmcoil Engine or Ulamog and it can tutor up a defense creature if need be in the form of Spellskite.
Chromatic Sphere: A cantrip that allows you to cast Sylvan Scrying off just Tron lands on turn two. A thing to note here is that Sphere doesn't trigger when it hits the graveyard. The draw part happens automatically as part of being a mana ability so it happens instantly. This really matters against decks like Lantern Control where you can use it to draw the top card of your library without them being able to mill it.
Chromatic Star: Very similar to Sphere except this one won't draw that card instantly; instead it goes on the stack. That being said, this one is safe to tap out for since if your opponent kills it you'll still get to draw a card since the draw clause triggers when it goes to the graveyard.
Expedition Map: If you have two Tron pieces in your hand and an Expedition Map you're on your way to assembling Tron on turn three and dropping a fatty. Try not to play this card into artifact destruction if you can help it. Having this thing blown up when you could've easily just played it when you had three mana and been safe from artifact destruction is frustrating to say the least.
Oblivion Stone: One of the best board wipes in this deck. I like it more than Ugin because you can actually use it before assembling Tron. Playing four Oblivion Stones also makes Blood Moon not at all scary anymore. In fact, I don't ever really care about Blood Moon when my opponent plays it against me. The only time you should have to worry is when a Splinter Twin deck plays it against you since they can still combo you and kill you. Other decks that play Blood Moon are usually slowed down just like we are. Again, all Tron needs is time, so if your opponent doesn't have any pressure, you're still in good shape.
Ancient Stirrings: Basically a green Peer Through Depths. This card hits everything we want it to hit from lands to bombs. In some decks it will even get your Crumble to Dust. When Oath is released it will also get you Kozilek's Return.
Pyroclasm: The other three "wrath" cards alongside Oblivion Stone. Pyroclasm keeps the small creature decks like Affinity, Merfolk, Elves, Company, Infect, Soul Sisters, and Chord decks at bay as you do your thing and cast Karn and other fatties.
Sylvan Scrying: Just a tutor that helps you get Tron, Ghost Quarter, or an Eye of Ugin if you need to get threats. A fantastic card here.
Now the Sideboard of Tron can vary a lot, so let's talk about my sideboard and what I ran.
Relic of Progenitus: The best graveyard hate card we have access to. Since I didn't run it maindeck I wanted a couple in the board.
Spellskite: Remember how I said Spellskite makes your bad matchups better? My friend Jarryd recommended running the full four in the seventy-five and I wasn't disappointed in doing so in this tournament. Spellskite is a great little creature!
Thragtusk: Some Tron decks don't run this card but would rather run Feed the Clan. I prefer Thragtusk just because it can kill my opponent and it's good in other matchups besides Burn like Jund and even the Mirror Match. Thragtusk can act like a mini Wurmcoil Engine against some decks. Even against Abzan it performs better than Wurmcoil Engine sometimes since, if Path to Exiled, it will still trigger unlike Wurmcoil Engine.
Nature's Claim: I would never run less than four. Card is too good not to and we don't much care what our opponent's life total is. We're gonna kill them with big dumb things anyway.
Rending Volley: A great card against Splinter Twin and Merfolk. I think two is correct but I honestly could see just running one, especially if you already have some Spellskites.
Firespout: Wanted this for the small creature decks. It also got Wild Nacatl which is why I had two here instead of one and another Pyroclasm.
Pithing Needle: Another card suggested by Jarryd when I told him I had an open slot in my board. This card was great and I should've ran more. Fantastic way to stop opposing Ghost Quarters and Fulminator Mages. Even if your opponent has Kolaghan's Command, if they cast that before casting mage, then that may be all the time you need to assemble Tron and get a fatty into play.
Well that's it for the decklist but like I said I would make some changes. This is what I would play if I had to play the deck tomorrow.
Only difference is that I've added another forest over an Ulamog in the maindeck just because I believe the hate for Tron should be going up since Bloom recently won and Tron is doing well. In the board I have gone up to three Pithing Needle like a mentioned because I don't want to deal with casting Life from the Loam or Crucible of Worlds to save my lands. I'd rather cast this one mana spell that protects my lands from whatever hate card, be it Ghost Quarter or Fulminator Mage. You could go the route of adding Life from the Loam or Crucible of Worlds in order to combat the Mirror Match or Bloom better, but adding a third Ghost Quarter might prove equally as useful if not more so. However, if you're set in stone on a way to recur your lands, I would go with Life from the Loam since it is Thoughtseize, Abrupt Decay, Ancient Grudge, and Kolaghan's Command proof. You do lose your draw step, but that's a small price to pay to have your land recursion spell so resilient.
Modern is shaping up to be a lot of player's favorite format and for good reason: it's a blast to play and so many decks are viable.
Thank you for reading!
Until next time ladies and gentlemen,