If you’ve been playing Modern lately, you know that feeling: turn one Urza’s Mine into Expedition Map. Tron decks have been around forever, but they are especially strong in the current Modern metagame. The deck has evolved many times over Modern’s history, jumping around between colors. Tron also can join up with the remnants of the banned Eldrazi deck, giving plenty of options to its pilots.

Tron is the ultimate over-the-top strategy in Modern—go Tron or go home. The deck loves to battle midrange and control decks—any deck named after a shard or wedge is right up their alley. You want to be proactive against the big-mana colorless menace. Modern offers some fearsome colorless spells at huge converted mana costs. Karn Liberated is the marquee card, but you can go in a lot of powerful directions. Cloudpost is banned because that much colorless mana is too good. Some would say the Urzatron lands—Urza’s Mine, Urza’s Tower, and Urza’s Power Plant—are too good as well. I’m not a huge fan of the deck, but it plays an important role in the metagame. Colorless big mana decks are a significant part of Magic’s history, and it’s nice to have that archetype present in Modern.

Traditional Tron

Traditional Tron is a mostly colorless deck, and it uses cantrip artifacts to fix mana for it’s various colored spells. You always see green because Ancient Stirrings is so powerful, and Sylvan Scrying isn’t too bad either. In the past they would often play red for sweepers like Pyroclasm or Kozilek’s Return. The recent addition of Walking Ballista and Fatal Push makes the deck more interactive, and Oblivion Stone can still sweep the board. Black also gives access to discard like Thoughtseize.

I’ve run up against green-black Tron a few times in online leagues lately, and it has impressed me. Here’s a version of the deck from a recent SCG Open.

GB Tron by Jim Davis, 13th @ SCG Charlotte Open

Creatures (6)
Walking Ballista
Wurmcoil Engine
World Breaker
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

Spells (35)
Karn Liberated
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
Ancient Stirrings
Expedition Map
Chromatic Sphere
Chromatic Star
Sylvan Scrying
Fatal Push
Oblivion Stone
Relic of Progenitus
Lands (19)
Urza’s Mine
Urza’s Tower
Urza’s Power Plant
Sanctum of Ugin
Blooming Marsh
Llanowar Wastes
Snow-Covered Forest

Sideboard (15)
Ghost Quarter
Snow-Covered Swamp
Collective Brutality
Thragtusk
Thoughtseize
Nature’s Claim
Seal of Primordium

This deck is better than older iterations of Tron. It does miss Eye of Ugin, but we can’t have a functional Modern format anymore with it legal. Tron rarely does anything before turn three, and that makes it vulnerable to proactive decks that can win on turn three or stall the slower deck for a turn or two. But a few cheap interactive spells have made the deck more resilient. The deck still has a lot of games where it races with Expedition Map to turn three Tron, but when it needs to play some cheap artifacts or Ancient Stirrings on early turns, it now has good ways to interact with leftover bits of mana.

As an Affinity player, Fatal Push is not a card I’m happy to see from Tron. It can kill basically anything, and Etched Champion dies to the rest of their deck. Some Tron decks also play Warping Wail, which also hits a lot of Affinity’s threats. Dismember also shows up, and this deck has Collective Brutality for another versatile piece of interaction. I still enjoy playing the matchup, but in the past the Tron matchup was an all-out race. Now the games require more careful planning to avoid being blown out by a removal spell on turn two. When Tron devotes cards and effort to interact, it slows their gameplan a bit; but we all know Tron just gets there more often than the rest of us would like.

When facing this type of Tron deck, it’s important to win as quickly as you can. Sometimes you win through a resolved Karn Liberated or Wurmcoil Engine, but you really don’t want to find yourself needing to interact in that way. Blowing up an Oblivion Stone—or Expedition Map if you’re lucky—is worth working into your post-board plan, but I don’t like removal or discard against them. Cheap counterspells like Ceremonious Rejection, Spell Pierce, or Stubborn Denial can do some work if you can afford to leave up a blue mana while still going all out aggressive. Stony Silence can frustrate them a bit, potentially keeping them off colored mana, but it’s not the hammer it can be against Affinity.

Knowing that Tron is a relevant presence in Modern means that slower decks have to fear it. Jeskai can play Spreading Seas, and decks with Ghost Quarter or Blood Moon can make Tron squirm a bit. But if you give Tron enough turns, it’s going to play better spells than you can deal with.

Eldrazi Tron

Eldrazi still offer a lot of power in Modern, and they slot easily into a Tron deck. This is more of a midrange strategy, as it’s jamming four copies of Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher. Playing “undercosted” beaters off Tron lands and Eldrazi Temple opens up a few options for Tron. First, they have better use for interaction. Removal feels more on-plan. Second, they can abuse Chalice of the Void. You can wreck a lot of decks in Modern with a Chalice on one or two—Death’s Shadow, Storm, Bogles, Infect—and Eldrazi Tron eschews the cheap artifacts that you can’t cast under your Chalice.

Here’s a solid example from a recent SCG Classic:

Eldrazi Tron by Vince Biamonte, 7th @ SCG Cincinnati Classic

Creatures (20)
Walking Ballista
Matter Reshaper
Reality Smasher
Thought-Knot Seer
Endbringer
Wurmcoil Engine
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

Spells (16)
Karn Liberated
Expedition Map
Chalice of the Void
Warping Wail
All is Dust
Basilisk Collar
Dismember
Lands (24)
Urza’s Mine
Urza’s Tower
Urza’s Power Plant
Eldrazi Temple
Ghost Quarter
Cavern of Souls
Sea Gate Wreckage
Sanctum of Ugin
Wastes

Sideboard (15)
Warping Wail
Dismember
Basilisk Collar
Ratchet Bomb
Relic of Progenitus
Grafdigger’s Cage
Hangarback Walker
Surgical Extraction
Pithing Needle
Sorcerous Spyglass

This deck beats down and can swap between Chalice of the Void and other hate artifacts out of the sideboard to have the best interaction in each matchup. Warping Wail, Dismember, All is Dust, plus Basilisk Collar combined with Walking Ballista and Endbringer lets Eldrazi Tron mow down opposing creatures. The big stuff takes a few turns to set up, but a cheap removal spell here and there can buy them the time to get there.

Playing Chalice of the Void means no Ancient Stirrings, but Eldrazi Tron cares less about generating colored mana. This deck also doesn’t need the card filtering as much either, because it has a greater density of threats and less nonsense like Chromatic Star.

I generally like facing Eldrazi decks when I’m playing Affinity, but the Eldrazi Tron deck can be annoying. You laugh at All is Dust and Endbringer is a little too slow, but a Walking Ballista off the top can ruin your plans. Chalice of the Void isn’t great against Affinity, but Pithing Needle and Ratchet Bomb cause trouble out of the board. Ancient Grudge helps, as do cheap counterspells, since most of what you fear are spells. Ghost Quarter is a real nuisance that many Tron decks play, and it can ruin an Inkmoth Nexus along with opposing Tron lands and many other powerful lands that populate Modern.

Overall, you want to keep the pressure up against Tron decks. Do you hate playing against them? Make them fear you even more. I’ve won a number of post-sideboard games against Tron because they mulliganed into oblivion trying to find a hand to interact with my plan. That’s a great feeling. Put them in tank on their plays each turn. Make them sweat.

Brendan McNamara (MTGO: eestlinc, Twitter: @brendanistan) used to play Magic in the old days. His favorite combo was Armageddon plus Zuran Orb. After running out of money to buy cards and friends who were willing to put up with that combo, he left the game. But like disco, he was bound to come back eventually. Now he’s a lawyer by day and a Dimir agent by night.

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