Hello there, my name is Thomas Duffy, and I’m a competitive magic grinder based out of Liverpool in the UK. I have been playing magic since the release of Born of the Gods, roughly 5 years ago, and I’ve had the pleasure of playing with the Harlequins team for just over a yeat now, leading me to travel around the world, making great friends on the team and within the magic community.
I have always enjoyed a ramp strategy – casting big flashy spells is exciting, and because of this, a friend said I should “try Tron in Modern”… and when I did, straight away I was hooked, and I’ve been playing variants of it ever since, to several GP Cashes and many wins in smaller events. I’ve wanted to create a comprehensive guide about it for some time now, and thanks to Harlequins, I finally have the chance. At the end of this, I will show my current list and my sideboard guide for the top decks in modern.
Why would you play this deck?
Mono Green Tron is a powerful mainstay of the modern format since its inception. The consistency and sheer power make it an interesting deck to play. Tron spends the early turns searching for the important UrzaLands, allowing it to cast haymakers like Karn Liberated on turn 3 and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger on turn 4 – A pretty big deal in Modern! If you like to cast big, powerful and expensive spells, Tron could likely be the deck for you.
How does it work?
Tron plays like a bit of a weird combo deck, where your combo is UrzaLands, and payoffs. The main objective is to assemble the 3 Urzalands as quickly as possible (A feat made significantly easier now that you can aggressively mulligan to a low number of cards with the London Mulligan) and still win the game with ease, due to your engine, your threats and the overall raw power of your spells. Finding all the Tron pieces should be priority number 1 – your deck is so full of threats, they can always arrive later.
Unsuprisingly, you need to run a playset of each Tron land, usually supplemented with 4 basic forests, acting as the green mana required for powerful tutors like Ancient Stirrings and Sylvan Scrying, while also acting as a safety net against Path to Exile, Ghost Quarter or Field of Ruin. A single Sanctum of Ugin is a stock choice (although 2 can be an option) in order to chain threats. A copy of Ghost Quarter is also stock because of mirror matches, or decks that require some interaction with their manabase. You can also target yourself to fizzle hate cards like Crumble to Dust, or to find important green mana if you have expendable lands.
A single Horizon Canopy sometimes appears as a fifth green source. Playing a deck that revolves around finding colourless lands sometimes means you have a difficult time casting your green spells. The 5th green land (alongside Chromatic artifacts, that do the same one time) helps to mitigate this problem. The fact the two Chromatic artifacts cantrip is super significant – in the early turns they fix for green mana, but in the later game it allows you to dig towards another threat that can end the game. A land like Horizon Canopy also offers a very similar benefit.
There’s a few flexible options you can also play in the Canopy Slot:
The fifth Forest allows for a little more of the resilience described above.
Urza’s Factory can provide board presence in the late game when you’ve run out of threats, as you can find it with your tutor effects.
Geier Reach Sanitarium can provide card advantage and dig towards threats. While it does also help your opponent, your average draw is going to offer a more powerful spell than the opponents in the lategame.
Buried Ruin can return a important threat or even Chromatic artifact to you to help you win the game.
Blast Zone is slowly becoming a staple of the archetype as a tutorable Engineered Explosives. I would recommend playing this in the flex slot at this time.
Mono Green is the default colour for Tron players, as green as a colour allows you to play 8 tutor cards that will fetch you a Tron piece (Expedition Map and Sylvan Scrying) and 4 dig effects that can find Tron pieces or threats in the form of Ancient Stirrings. The Chromatic artifacts (Star and Sphere) also form part of the early game engine – the only differences between the two is Star will always draw a card when it’s put into the graveyard, while Sphere only does so through it’s ability. Chromatic Sphere draws a card as a part of its mana ability, meaning it cannot be interrupted or responded to, while Star draws a card with its triggered ability, giving the opponent the chance to respond. This engine enables Tron on turn 3 or 4 extremely consistently, and allows for quick rebuilding through disruption due to its redundancy.
Karn Liberated is the poster child for this deck – they don’t call him the KarnFather for nothing! The plus ability makes him enter play with a whopping 10 loyalty while immediately getting to work, making Karn hard to deal with and making it likely you get several activations out of his powerful abilites in the following turn. The second ability acts as permanent spot removal, exiling any problem permanent that the opponent controls. Karn on turn three can begin exiling lands, which can often just prevent your opponent from playing magic. Karn’s third ability is not used often, but it can restart a hopeless game in a pitch with some tools in play.
When playing against decks that are able to deal 3 damage to a planeswalker, (Burn, Jeskai Control, Jund etc) you have to be careful with activating his second ability right away, as the Karnfather will often die immediately after to some kind of burn spell. It is often correct to just use the plus abilty, and let your advantage snowball.
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger is your biggest, most poweful endgame card. You can cast it as early as turn 4 if you can pair your UrzaTron with a second Tower. His cast trigger will always exile any two permanents of your choice, meaning it can deal with any problem, or just skewer your opponents mana. This abilty being a cast trigger makes Ulamog a real haymaker vs Control decks, as they cannot interact with it.
A single attack from Ulamog will probably end the game – taking 10 damage and exiling 20 cards from the library represents a point of no return in most cases. If you get Ulamog to attack, take your time and go through the cards you’ve exiled, you’ll gain valuable, free information about the 60 card deck opposite you.
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon serves mainly to clear boards it comes down on, occasionally bolting creatures or opponents with its plus ability when it’s time to win the game. It also reaches its often-game-winning ultimate extremely fast. It is a devastating card that only really loses its luster in match-ups against other colourless decks.
Wurmcoil Engine represents a hard to deal with, stabilising clock. As you spend your early turns assembling Tron, you’ll often take big hits to your life total from the opponent – Wurmcoil helps to recover from that damage and stabilise the game. Against removal heavy opponents, Wurmcoil offers multiple threats in one that quickly swing a race if tokens cannot be dealt with.
Karn, the Great Creator is a new addition to the Tron family, offering the powerful Lattice lock and a variety of other powerful artifacts as tutorable tools out of our sideboard. At this time, the general consensus seems to be that Karn, TGC is better left to Eldrazi Tron, and is not a mainstay in the archetype, but it certainly offers another angle of attack and some powerful game ending artifacts.
Walking Ballista has become a mainstay of the deck due to its broad range of applications. In the early game, you can cast for 2 mana to chump block big creatures and provide removal against mana dorks or value creatures such as Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Dark Confidant.
After assembling Tron, Ballista offers a threat you can turn it into a threat as a 3/3, 4/4 or even 5/5 that can continue to grow in the absence of another threat. Ballista offers removal, and a lot of damage very quickly if left unchecked. If you cast it as a 4/4 or more, it will also trigger Sanctum of Ugin.
Oblivion Stone is your other board clear. Its a reset button that you can press if things get too far out of hand, and it’s great against creature decks, and for buyingyou a lot of time. Sometimes, you even have the time to save powerful permanents you already had in play by putting fate counters on them. Furthermore, the card comes down early enough through both Blood Moon and Dampening Sphere to challenge both those permanents.
Dismember is probably the weakest card in the deck, and doesn’t often see a ton of mainboard play, but having two removal spells can be crucial in a lot of situation, especially since Tron does not pack a lot of early game interaction. At the moment, Relic of Progenitus is a more necessary evil in the world of Hogaak, but Dismember is a powerful tool to have access to in some metagames.
Speaking of Relic of Progenitus, it offers you a source of graveyard hate in the maindeck of tron, also occasionally protecting your lands against Surgical Extraction. If the meta demands graveyard hate, you can use 2-3 relics in your mainboard. In games where you don’t need to attack the graveyard, you will still have the cantrip effect at your disposal, and you can find it when required with Ancient Stirrings.
Nature’s Claim is your MVP – it’s a cheap, green instant for 1 green mana that can be also cast on your own artifacts if you need the life against decks such as Burn. The life gained by your opponent while dealing with these problematic permanents is rarely an issue for Tron.
Thought-Knot Seer offers disruption against Combo and Control decks, something Tron struggles to do otherwise. Having a card that can tear important peices out of your opponents hand while also offering a low-to-the-ground, body with good stats, a fact that is not to be underestimated.
Thragtusk is one of the best midrange cards in the game. It offers a sticky body and plenty of life to buy you the time you need against more aggressive strategies to win, while also being a resilient threat vs removal heavy decks, or exile based removal such as Path to Exile.
Spatial Contortion acts as extra premium creature removal for the matchups where you want that. You can find it with Ancient Stirrings, and even occasionally use it to buff our creatures in cases where you can get in for lethal.
Warping Wail is a versatile sideboard option. It can be removal against problematic 1 toughness creatures, or ramp you into earlier boardclears from Ugin and Oblivion Stone. In a pinch, it even serves as a counter to powerful sorceies like Scapeshift.
Surgical Extraction is occasionally present in the sideboard of Tron, especially in the current mets. This free spell offers an immediate answer to any problematic card in the opponents graveyard, and sometimes you can even target yourself in response to your opponent’s Surgical Extraction then fail to find any additional copies of the targeted card, which saves you from exiling all of the remaining copies in your deck.
In general, the Tron sideboard needs to adapt to the meta around it, and you should build your sideboard based on the decks that you anticipate to face in a particular metagame. If you face a lot of land destruction, cards like Crucible of Worlds, Life from the Loam or Noxious Revival can help you.
You can diversify your board wipes to mess with Meddling Mage by adding All is Dust. Grafdigger’s Cage is a nice addition if Storm or Collected Company decks harass you in the meta.
Even Spellskite can prove to be a great card against burn, targetted removal, or pesky infect/hexproof decks.
That’s all Folks
So this is a brief introduction to the main framework of Tron. I’ll definately be writing some more detailed information and breakdowns of different lists in the future – there’s a lot of buzz surrounding Karn, TGC to keep track of!
If you want to ask any questions, or keep up with me updating Tron personally, please follow me on Twitter @SkaterDante.
A big thanks to my sponser, Harlequins Games, who continue to help me be at the forefront of competitive magic. If you want to check them out, visit www.harlequins-games.co.uk and use code “Turn3Tron” at checkout for 5% off all singles!
Until next time….
May the KarnFarther watch over you!