Getting the Most Out of Your Lands - A Guide to Mono-Green Tron
With four copies in the top 8 of GP Lyon last weekend, Tron is back and, although everybody is gunning for those powerful Urza-lands, the deck keeps finding ways through the hate. Will Bloodbraid Elf or Jace change that? This article answers this question and explains the strategy for Mono-Green Tron
Why is Tron So Powerful
Tron is a polarizing deck due to its explosive, unfair nature and its consistent power throughout Modern. It thrives of the powerful Urza-lands, which allows the deck to generate a lot of mana very quickly. With this easily accessible acceleration, Tron can play out huge threats like Karn, Liberated as early as turn 3. Let’s look at a deck and then discuss what makes Mono-green Tron tick.
|5Forest||1Emrakul, the Promised End||4Ancient Stirrings|
|1Ghost Quarter||2Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger||4Sylvan Scrying|
|1Sanctum of Ugin||2Walking Ballista||2Dismember|
|4Urza's Mine||2Wurmcoil Engine||4Karn Liberated|
|4Urza's Power Plant||2Ugin, the Spirit Dragon|
|4Urza's Tower||4Chromatic Sphere|
|1Relic of Progenitus|
|3Nature's Claim||2Relic of Progenitus||2Spatial Contortion|
|1Surgical Extraction||3Thought-Knot Seer||3Thragtusk|
There are two stages of a Tron game. The first task is to get all three Urza lands through cards like Sylvan Scrying and Ancient Stirrings. Chromatic Sphere and Chromatic Star help you to filter all the colorless mana to useful green and, in some cases, black mana while also filtering through your deck for more Tron lands or threats. Sometimes, of course, you even draw the “natural” Tron, meaning drawing all three different lands without searching for any of them. All of these situations, on average, lead to turn 3 or 4 Tron, which is the primary goal of the deck.
How to Mulligan
With that in mind, it is very important to mulligan aggressively, because the deck is nothing without its powerful mana. Therefore, you do mulligan frequently, but remember, you only need 3-4 lands and a powerful card to win the game. Looking for lands is not difficult once the game has started, but a lot of mistakes are made during mulligans. Taking those mulligan decisions can be very hard, but I've figured out some easy rules which apply most of the time.
On the Play:
- Do not keep hands that only have access to two Tron pieces. Ancient Stirrings counts as one piece if you have any two of the other pieces or Sylvan Scrying.
- Do not keep hands that have only one land and no search pieces, even if the hand has chromatic cyclers.
- Keep hands that have access to Tron but no pay-off
On the Draw (or on a mulligan):
- Keep hands that have any two natural Tron pieces
- Keep hands that have one land, one search card, and at least one chromatic cycle piece
While the deck offers you some removal, it is almost never correct to throw any hand away that can make Tron on turn 3 or 4.
Keep in mind the Magic is a game with a high degree of variance and keeping turn three or four Tron won't win every game, but will, ideally, win most of them. Sometimes your opponent will be faster than your Tron and sometimes you won’t find all your pieces. The goal is for those games to be more than compensated by games where you 3 Karn.
To be quite honest, there are not many options to play with. Since the deck devotes a lot of slots to finding the three lands and using the mana they generate, there only a few slots you can change. Those are:
- Relic of Progenitus could be swapped with a 4th Walking Ballista and/or a 3rd Wurmcoil Engine.
- Emrakul, the Promised End is sometimes swapped for World Breaker.
- Ghost Quarter could be swapped for a Field of Ruin
- One Forest could be swapped with a Horizon Canopy
These are flex spots within the deck and should be changed according to the expected metagame, but, all and all, Mono-green Tron is a fairly tight deck with few flex spots. If you expect a lot of Blue-White Control, play Emrakul, the Promised End, if you expect a lot of Ghost Quarters and Fields, play the 5th Forest, and if you expect a lot of Burn, play a 3rd Wurmcoil Engine (or don’t play Tron at all).
The rest of the deck is difficult to justify changing, and you'll find that very few Gx Tron lists change many other cards in the core build.
Regarding the sideboard, I would only consider changing a few cards. The Relic of Progenitus could be swapped with a Grafdigger’s Cage and one Spatial Contortion could be swapped with another Surgical Extraction. If you want to make bad matchups like Storm, Burn and Valakut a bit better, you can switch Surgical Extraction for Leyline of Sanctity. In my experience though, Leylines are poor draws and you can still lose through them.
Why No Black?
Lately, there have been a lot of Tron-lists splashing black for Fatal Push in the main deck and using Collective Brutality and Thoughtseize in the sideboard, especially in US GPs. I don't think it's worth losing the maximum of 5 basic lands, considering the amount of non-basic-land-hate running around. In addition, adding a second color can make producing the right mana when you need it quite difficult. Overall, using black does add some value to the deck, but only it Fatal Push and Collective Brutality are the only available options to fix the problems they fix and currently, this is not the case.
Tron in Jace's Modern
There is no question that Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf will warp the metagame and it's not completely clear what will happen to Tron in the long run (not that its really clear for any deck at the current moment). At first glance Tron seems to profit in formats populated with fair midrange decks. After all, midrange and control are generally good matchups for Tron. In most cases, you don’t care much about your opponent playing cards like Jace or BBE and you're just happy they don't spend the time disrupting you. If those cards become part of a healthy meta game, Tron should expect to do quite well in the format.
But there is a possibility that things won't go Tron's way. If Jace becomes so oppressive to other midrange decks, it could lead to a seriously warped format where the only answers become fast aggro and combo decks. Tron does have a big weakness against hyper aggressive decks like B/R Hollow or Burn. If the deck becomes aggro and combo heavy, it will be very hard for Tron. Moreover, Jace decks may be able to stack their sideboard heavily against Tron in a less varied format. Right now, those decks cannot afford to side a lot of Tron-hate in a format with 30+ viable decks. If Jace reigns completely supreme, those decks might fade and Jace decks can concentrate on problematic matchups like Tron. After all, the format could warp enough that the majority of every fair deck sideboard is anti-Tron, which could turn Tron into another Affinity or Dredge – a deck that cycles from very good to unplayable based on opponent's sideboards.
Tron has stayed relevant for many, many Modern formats and it's unlikely that this will change because of Jace or BBE. It's a fairly safe choice in a format that seems primed for fair decks to take over, and it was still playable in a format where "unfair" decks like storm, Humans, Burn, and Affinity were heavily played. Until things are much clearer, Tron is a fantastic option for those looking to do well at their local tournaments. Also, there is likely going to be a new Karn coming out in Dominaria, which could be another great card for Tron.
If you have any questions or comments, please let me know in the comment section below.
Until then, may the Turn-3-Tron-gods bless you.
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