Hello everyone! My name is Michael Rapp, a Boston area grinder who loves Modern and midrange decks. Some of you may know me from my other Grixis Death’s Shadow articles, or my recent Modern Grand Prix win in Toronto. Hopefully I will get the chance to get to know many more of you going forward! I am excited to continue my string of matchup spotlights here on Hipsters of the Coast.

Let’s jump into this week’s matchup: Grixis Death’s Shadow vs. Tron. As usual I’ve made a couple tweaks to my Grixis Death’s Shadow deck. Here is the list:

Grixis Death's Shadow

Creatures (16)
Death’s Shadow
Street Wraith
Gurmag Angler
Snapcaster Mage
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy

Spells (27)
Stubborn Denial
Fatal Push
Thought Scour
Temur Battle Rage
Inquisition of Kozilek
Serum Visions
Mishra's Bauble

Land (17)
Bloodstained Mire
Polluted Delta
Scalding Tarn
Watery grave
Blood Crypt
Steam Vents
Sideboard (15)
Surgical Extraction
Liliana, the Last Hope
Kolaghan's Command
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
Disdainful Stroke
Spell Snare
Ceremonious Rejection
Lightning Bolt
Engineered Explosives

Key Cards: Game One

Expedition Map and Sylvan Scrying enable our opponent’s plan of assembling Tron. When casting a discard spell, consider taking one of these if their hand seems land light. Causing them to stumble on mana is powerful.

Tron’s non-creature payoffs come in the form of the two big planeswalkers: Karn Liberated and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. Either of these resolving is likely game over, but we have a couple proactive answers. Thoughtseize should take these if we aren’t attacking their enablers, and Stubborn Denial gets pointed right at these guys.

Turns out Wurmcoil Engine and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger are also game over a large chunk of the time. Stubborn Denial don’t work here, so we have to lean on Thoughtseize or win the game before they resolve.

Our best cards in game one are Thoughtseize, Death’s Shadow, Stubborn Denial, and Temur Battle Rage.


I suggest sideboarding like this:

+1 Lightning Bolt
+1 Ceremonious Rejection
+2 Disdainful Stroke
+1 Abrade
+1 Kolaghan’s Command
-4 Fatal Push
-2 Dismember

The opponent will still have all of their key cards from game one in their post board configuration.

I see players bring in Thought-Knot Seer as something that will block early and possibly steal a Temur Battle Rage from our hand. All in all, it’s more annoying than problematic, but has the possibility of changing your clock.

Thragtusk is similar to Thought-Knot Seer: mostly just a speed bump that buys the opponent a turn or two. In the context of Tron however, that can be enough time to stick a game ending threat.

Emrakul, the Promised End doesn’t seem quite stock yet, and it doesn’t seem to come in all the time yet. But if your opponent casts this card, is it a huge disaster. Strongly consider Thoughtseizing this card whenever possible.

Playing the Games

In game one we don’t have the sheer volume of answers that we do in sideboard games, so we need to be as aggressive as possible. Hands that can produce a turn two threat are at a premium, and even better if they have disruption. Our Thoughtseizes need to either target their enablers if it looks like they are going to stumble, or their creatures as we have no good answers to them in game one. Stubborn Denial can counter enablers in the same scenarios, but will likely end up targeting Oblivion Stone or the planeswalkers. Temur Battle Rage will likely provide you a lot of wins, so if you can keep it on a cantrip I suggest it.

After sideboarding we have a lot more relevant interaction and fewer dead cards, so I believe we are favored in these games. Ceremonious Rejection and Disdainful Stroke take some pressure off of Thoughtseize and Stubborn Denial. Having three ways to counter their creatures provides us with a lot of breathing room.

Ultimately we still can’t play a long game with them. We want to be the Delver deck that sticks an early threat and counters the opponent’s two or three relevant spells before we win. Once we cut all of our clunky removal, we have to rely on our creatures outsizing theirs, and Temur Battle Rage to push through.


Overall I think the Tron matchup is pretty close to 50/50. Game one can be tough with a bunch of blank removal spells, but the matchup feels favorable after sideboarding. The decision whether to attack their enablers or payoffs is something that you have to decide in each individual game, and sometimes comes down to playing percentages. As with everything, this matchup gets easier with experience. I suggest working on it with a trusted Tron player if you feel uncomfortable with it.

As always I am more than happy to answer any questions or listen to any feedback.  You can find me on Twitter. Until next week, this has been The Rapport.

Michael Rapp is a Boston-area grinder who started playing competitively in 2014. Loves Modern but plays everything. His favorite card is Thoughtseize has a soft spot for Tarmogoyf. GP Toronto 2019 Champion. Always happy to answer questions or just chat on Twitter or Facebook.

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