[Modern] Getting on my Light Cycle

Hi everybody, and welcome back to another Modern article here on Strictly Average MTG. My apologies again for the delay. Real life has taken me away from writing, but I have been able to find some balance to get back to writing articles. Balance is a real key in not only building, but playing your deck. Prior to today, Modern as a whole would be viewed as out of balance with the dominance of Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis. However, as long as you stay balanced with your choice of deck, as well as your play, you can navigate through the metagame.

When Modern Horizons was released I planned to play Azorius Control with Force of Negation as, to me, everything else seemed in flux. Knowing the archetypes of the format would remain the same regardless if their name changed (Whir of Invention decks added Urza, Lord High Artificer, and graveyards went from Dredge to Hogaak as examples) I thought it would have been a good choice. However after some frustrating defeats with the deck, and Wizards of the Coast only banning Bridge From Below prior to today, I decided to play a deck that I have not played since before War of the Spark was released.

That deck is Tron.


A deck name that not only reminds me of the movie, but also one that has been around for a long, long time thanks to some lands released over a decade after the movie was in theaters.

Being reprinted in Eighth Edition the trio of Urza lands have been a mainstay in deck building through a large part of the history of Magic: the Gathering. Originally used to power out Triskelion in the early days of the game, as well as when the construct was reprinted in Mirrodin, these lands were also used with the following cards:

Once Modern became a format in 2011 the Urza lands started to find homes in decks once again as there were several flavors of this deck. For instance your opponent could be playing a lot of blue cards and use Mindslaver against you, along with Academy Ruins to buy the artifact back to use again. Those decks sometimes splashed white in order to add some control elements, along with Gifts Ungiven to find Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite plus Unburial Rites on the opponent’s end step. There were of course builds that were similar to the ones we have now, using Karn Liberated, and Wurmcoil Engine.  Those decks were more Gruul-based, running cards like Grove of the Burnwillows, and Pyroclasm along with Ancient Grudge in the sideboard to combat some of the more difficult matchups.

While the deck has evolved over time one thing remains true to this day:

1+1+1 = 7.

Let’s take a look at where the deck is now.

Mono Green Tron

Creatures (5)
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
Wurmcoil Engine
Walking Ballista

Planeswalkers (10)
Karn Liberated
Karn, the Great Creator
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

Artifacts (18)
Chromatic Sphere
Chromatic Star
Expedition Map
Oblivion Stone
Relic of Progenitus

Sorcery (8)
Sylvan Library
Ancient Stirrings
Lands (19)
Urza’s Mine
Urza’s Power Plant
Urza’s Tower
Blast Zone
Ghost Quarter
Sanctum of Ugin

Sideboard (15)
Nature’s Claim
Spatial Contortion
Emrakul, the Promised End
Mycosynth Lattice
Crucible of Worlds
Ensnaring Bridge
Grafdigger’s Cage
Tormod’s Crypt
Walking Ballista

How the deck works

This deck, being one of the best Big Mana decks in Modern, has been a consistent representative of the format since its inception. You want to spend your early turns playing cards such as Ancient Stirrings, Expedition Map, Chromatic Sphere, Chromatic Star, and/or Sylvan Scrying to assemble the three Urza lands and have seven mana on turn three.

Now that you have seven colorless mana, what do you do with it?

  • Cards such as Oblivion Ring, and Wurmcoil Engine help you survive against fast aggro decks. Don’t be afraid of losing your permanents in order to clear the board. Aggro decks often times will have most of their threats on the board, giving you the opportunity to turn the tide with a large threat of your own.
  • While Karn Liberated has been an inclusion in these decks for a long time sometimes it’s just a removal spell on turn three, and that’s ok. Unlike a card such as Detention Sphere, or Oblivion Ring, cards exiled with Karn remain exiled even if he is destroyed.
  • Karn, the Great Creator is one of the most recent additions to this deck. While the creatures are fine sometimes you can feel a bit light on threats. Having this card allows you to play more of a prison strategy. You can find cards from your sideboard such as Trinisphere, Crucible of Worlds (to play your destroyed utility lands), and Mycosynth Lattice to lock your opponent out of the game. Keep in mind that Karn can still be destroyed so you either want to have a back one in your hand, or make sure the board is cleared.

Along with Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger this version of Tron is here to stay, packing powerful big mana spells that would normally not be played in other decks. Except Karn, the Great Creator. He seems to be the bacon of Modern as he can go into anything.

While the sideboard is meant to interact with disrupting permanents, remove opposing creatures, and gain some life, there are other cards to consider for play.

Other sideboard options

Liquimetal Coating, along with Karn, the Great Creator‘s +1 ability allows you to destroy opposing lands. Couple this with Ghost Quarter, and Crucible of Worlds, and your opponent will not be able to play the game as they will not have any lands.

How often have you said to yourself: “If I had just one more turn”? With this card you can bypass unwanted lands, or spells that are not needed, and play the next card. At the very least this is essentially +1 cards in your hand, and at the worst you lose a life at the end of your opponent’s turn to cycle away your next draw. Imagine if this is in play, you draw something you don’t want, yet the next card is an Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. Sure this may feel extremely hopeful, however by the time this is in play you have already cycled through a lot of your deck, or have searched it for several lands (or have been forced to by your opponent), and now your deck should produce better options than a land when you draw a card. Keep in mind this card is partially immune to Stony Silence as only the bottom part of the text is affected by it.

So why would I want to play Kozilek, the Great Distortion? Well you get to draw cards, counter spells, and attack without being blocked? Cards like Path To Exile are in many decks in the format, and discarding a card such as Chromatic Star to counter that spell does not result in a counterspell back from the opponent. Also in a format where fetchlands are available twelve damage is nearly lethal on it’s own. More than likely you have tapped out to play this card; be careful when doing so, but if you have success with it share your thoughts in the comments.

In conclusion

Mono Green Tron has been one of the most balanced decks for nearly a decade (yes, Modern has been a format for almost a decade), and with the London Mulligan in place it is showing no signs of stopping. The more colorless cards that are printed though the more they could find a home in this so hopefully nothing absurd will be given to us to make this deck cause Modern to go (further) out of balanced, but only time will tell.

While the London Mulligan has helped assemble the Urza lands by turn three for many games it is not happening 100% of the time. Be mindful when you mulligan, and watch what the opponent plays so you can either counter that move or play around it. The benefit of this deck is nearly every card that powers the deck runs four copies. This will provide you some inevitability against decks who are either trying to slow you down with Damping Sphere, or Field of Ruin.

So what do you all think? I know some people don’t like playing against this deck, but if you do enjoy playing it what comments do you have? Have you played other versions of Tron that you would want to share? Leave a comment below, and follow me on both Facebook as well as Twitter.

Next time I will dive into my thoughts on Magic: the Gathering’s most popular format.

Until then…



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