We Have Urza At Home: A Mono-Green Tron Primer

Simic Urza seems to have taken over Modern, with multiple excellent records at events. Since the release of Modern Horizons and Throne of Eldraine, decks with Urza, High Lord Artificer seem to have become the consensus answer to “What is the best deck?” However, the Urza-themed deck I’m interested in foregoes the blue Artificer for the best lands in Modern — Urza’s Mine, Urza’s Tower, and Urza’s Power Plant.

Mono-Green Tron is the most consistent and powerful fast-mana deck in Modern and has gained a huge number of new tools in 2019. I’m going to go through every possible card choice that one could feasibly want to play in their Tron deck and explain all the applications of every card in detail, including some lesser-known tips and tricks. Whether you’re new to Modern or you’re the most experienced Magic player, I expect something here to be of use to you.

Lands and Enablers

These three lands are the defining cards of the Tron archetype, often referred to as the “Tron lands” (Tron being an homage to the animated franchise Voltron, where multiple smaller robots were combined to form one big robot). The main strategy of the deck is to get one of each of these out on the battlefield as fast as possible (“assembling Tron”), which gives access to seven mana and allows you to beat your opponents with sheer power. You have to run four of each of these, no question.

Your primary source of green mana. You want at least three of these, and more likely four or five. You need basic lands to play through Blood Moon, because that card is extremely good against Tron, and there’s only really one other green-producing land worth considering. I recommend playing an equal split of Snow-Covered and regular basic lands in case one of them gets hit by Surgical Extraction or Unmoored Ego.

This land is a useful piece of tech as a green mana source that also allows you to convert mana into a free card later in the game. It also taps for black mana, which is useful if you’re running Dismember, but this isn’t going to come up very often and only saves you one life. Running one has merit as a tutor target to minimise your dead draws in the late game. I wouldn’t go for more than one (even with Crucible of Worlds in the wishboard) since you can tutor it, and would err on the side of caution when Blood Moon is more popular.

Ghost Quarter’s your main tool for the mirror match. Turning off your opponent’s Tron gives you a chance to catch up if you’re going second. It’s also helpful against creature lands, Field of Ruin, and a whole slew of other cards in Amulet Tian. Knowing how many basic lands each deck tends to run lets you use this as pure land destruction in the right matchups, especially if you create Crucible of Worlds with Karn, the Great Creator. Ghost Quarter can also destroy your own land if you need to get a Forest. I always want at least one copy; consider running two in a Tron-heavy metagame.

One of many tools this deck picked up in 2019, Blast Zone is a fantastic, land-based answer to a lot of problematic permanents. As a tutor target, it can be used to deal with cheap creatures from aggressive decks like Burn, Humans, and Death’s Shadow. It deals with hexproof when you play against the sorry soul still playing Bogles. You can also use the wealth of mana this deck has available to charge it up to three or four against the many decks now running a plethora of planeswalkers and deal with them before they become too much of a problem. 

One thing to note is that Blast Zone enters with zero counters if Blood Moon is on the battlefield. This matters if you destroy Blood Moon afterwards, because then the Blast Zone can destroy creature tokens (which Blood Moon decks often generate with cards like Goblin Rabblemaster). I lean towards running one of these in most lists (but prioritize Ghost Quarter) and consider two if it is particularly powerful in the metagame.

A powerful tool, Sanctum of Ugin lets you convert your land tutors into threat tutors. Sadly it can only get colorless creatures — so no planeswalkers or Thragtusk — but you can gear your deck to support Sanctum quite easily. You don’t want to run more than one of these, and I could see running none in a deck without enough colorless creatures. Bear in mind that it is a cast trigger and you need to announce you are sacrificing it before passing priority.

One of the main reasons the deck wants green mana, Ancient Stirrings adds a massive consistency boost, being able to grab almost every card in your deck. Tron makes the most of the best cantrip in Modern and is incredible in every way. Run four, always, but consider sideboarding it out when you sideboard in non-colorless cards. The only issue with Ancient Stirrings is you can’t cast it off of a Tron land on your first turn.

Another reason to run green, Sylvan Scrying lets you grab whatever land you need for two mana, which is the most efficient way of doing so in Modern. The only issue is the colored mana requirement, but this can be overcome with your eggs — Chromatic Sphere and Chromatic Star. In fact, a very common play pattern is something along the lines of:

Turn 1: Tron land, egg.

Turn 2: Tron land, crack egg, Sylvan Scrying for your third Tron land.

Turn 3: Tron land, spend seven colorless mana on something.

That is a powerful and consistent play pattern.

Sylvan Scrying is a powerful land tutor, but you can forego the colored mana cost entirely by spending an additional mana for Expedition Map. It enables another Turn 3 Tron play pattern by casting the Map on Turn 1 and getting your missing land on Turn 2. Like Sylvan Scrying, it can also get your various utility lands, and very occasionally, you can animate one of these with Karn, the Great Creator’s +1 ability. Run four, every time.

These eggs are almost functionally identical. The only difference is that you can use Star to convert your sideboard copies of Nature’s Claim into four extra life without foregoing the card draw. These are your sources of green mana outside of your lands — you can also crack an egg for black for Dismember. Run four of each. Some players cut a Sphere for Relic of Progenitus, but that card has fallen out of favour recently.

The new kid on the block. Once can find all your lands and all your creatures. As long as you have 21 or more targets, you will have a 90% hit rate. Theoretically, Once seems very good. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing with your seven mana as long as you’re doing something, and Once increases your chances of doing something. Being an instant is more relevant than you might think, because you can cast it in your opponent’s end step while holding up your instant speed sideboard cards. There is no consensus yet as to whether or not Once Upon a Time is the right way to go in this deck — I don’t think you can realistically run twelve green cards in the main deck, so some number of Ancient Stirrings, Sylvan Scrying, and/or Once Upon a Time need to be cut. I’d probably shy away from running four in most lists, but any other number seems reasonable — and what you cut from your list for them depends on what threats you are running.

Big Mana Payoffs

The infamous Tron payoff, Karn Liberated is a fairly simple card (except the third ability). Almost every time you cast him on Turn 3, minus three him to get rid of a land or your opponent’s most problematic permanent. Always target your opponent with the plus ability, except in two circumstances — the turn before activating the third ability to start the next game with a powerful permanent, or to reduce your hand size for an Ensnaring Bridge. The third ability only really comes up in games where you are about to lose — often against decks pressuring your life total. When you restart the game with a few permanents, you will rarely lose from there. I’d run four in every list, but I have seen Autumn Burchett play four World Breaker and one Karn when control decks and counterspells were more prevalent.

2019’s biggest boon for Tron, not close. This card is absurd, and I never want to play Tron without four copies ever again. The static ability acts as incidental artifact hate in the maindeck, but is messed up when paired with Mycosynth Lattice — effectively ending the game by stopping your opponent from tapping their lands for mana once the Lattice has resolved. (Make sure you account for any mana your opponent floats in response to the Lattice — either to prepare for instant speed artifact hate or to move to a different phase so they can’t counter other spells.) However, you don’t run any Lattices in the maindeck. You run exactly one in the sideboard along with a selection of other artifacts. 

Karn’s minus two ability gives you a toolbox of effects in your wishboard that can deal with a wide variety of situations, and your large supply of colorless mana ensures you can cast them. Don’t forget Karn can grab from exile too — Path to Exile puts your Wurmcoil Engine in your wishboard, so to speak. The plus one ability on Karn is also quite useful — not only does it let you animate your artifacts to use them as blockers, but you can also kill opposing zero-mana, noncreature artifacts with it or turn artifacts into creatures so they are targetable by creature removal. 

Eight mana is a lot more than seven in this deck. It requires four lands rather than three, which is a big difference in Modern. However, Ugin is such an absurd piece of technology that it’s worth including, and usually at two copies (though zero to one is also respectable in certain lists, especially those running Once Upon a Time). All of his abilities are fairly self-explanatory and he will almost always be able to exile all colored permanents and survive (the common exceptions being Griselbrand and Gurmag Angler). Ugin is also an easy card to sideboard out against colorless-heavy decks.

Be wary of Triad of Fates! A more widespread answer to problematic permanents, Oblivion Stone can kill anything at instant speed — a powerful effect that is not difficult to use if you can access three plus five colorless mana — and it so happens that this deck is very good at doing that. The fate counter ability won’t be that useful, but can save one of your planeswalkers or keep a Wurmcoil Engine alive. I would run anywhere from one to four copies of this card — fewer in Once Upon a Time lists because Once can’t pick it up. It’s also a reasonable thing to have in your wishboard — you can sideboard one copy out if you need the space in your maindeck or want access to a Stone with your Karn, the Great Creator.

Your primary creature threat, this card is the Jund and aggro killer. The rate on this card is absurd, and at only six mana, this can be cast on Turn 3 and shut down plenty of decks entirely. Usually, one combat with this card is enough to win a game against any creature-based deck, and the fact that it splits into two if you kill it is abusable with cards like Oblivion Stone and even Nature’s Claim in the right context (gaining you four more life). The card is a little weak to Path to Exile, but that’s not avoidable, and the upside is so high. It doesn’t trigger Sanctum of Ugin, but can be grabbed by it, so I always run at least one (likely two or three, four in metagames where it is particularly busted, or in Once Upon a Time lists) and consider it as a wish target in game one or after sideboarding, similarly to Oblivion Stone.

A relatively unusual card, Emrakul, the Promised End is a powerful and unique threat that often ends the game upon resolution, and sometimes even when it doesn’t resolve, due to the cast trigger. A 13/13 flying trampler is enough to close out most games, and the protection from instants means the card is very hard to kill once it has resolved. Really only sweeper effects or planeswalkers will deal with it, and the cast trigger will often let you get rid of those. Utilising the cast trigger correctly is hard, but is so contextually dependent that it is hard to give insight there. Frankly, it often doesn’t matter as you will usually win the game anyway. 

The cost reduction is also quite relevant, with your deck running creatures, artifacts, sorceries, lands and planeswalkers, sometimes running instants, and even occasionally running a tribal card (All is Dust). It’s also nice that it both triggers and gets grabbed by Sanctum of Ugin, which is another boon to this already great card. I’d run one in every 75, and likely in the maindeck.

Ten mana on Turn 4 is quite a lot, but can be achieved with Turn 3 Tron followed by a second Urza’s Tower. When this happens, you will often win the game. Ulamog is quite the finisher and although it will still die to Path to Exile, it will often spell the end for your opponent. The fact that it exiles twenty cards is rarely relevant since two hits will usually kill your opponent, but it is a nice bonus if they have a lot of chump blockers. I would run at least one, perhaps two, in every list, considering that it also triggers and gets grabbed by Sanctum of Ugin. The only exception would be in a super aggressive metagame where you need more Thragtusks and Wurmcoil Engines and less expensive win conditions, where I think zero could be acceptable.

Walking Ballista is another colorless creature that acts as a win condition, but also is incredibly versatile — it’s a reasonable Turn 2 play against some aggro decks as a 1/1 blocker that pings something, as well as being a late-game mana sink. The real attraction to Walking Ballista is as a win condition that can be wished for by Karn (either directly from the sideboard or after being exiled — bear in mind that if you remove all the counters from it in response to a Path to Exile, it won’t get exiled and you won’t get the land). It can also kill artifacts combined with Karn, the Great Creator’s plus ability — removing opposing artifacts or your own Ensnaring Bridge to swing for lethal damage. Run one in every wishboard, and consider some number in the maindeck (at least one as a Sanctum target is a common inclusion).

Technically a Sanctum target due to its devoid ability, World Breaker is a high power creature that can deal with most problematic noncreature permanents and blocks basically everything relevant in the metagame. However, I think it is less good than it used to be with the rise of two recent three-mana planeswalkers (Oko, Thief of Crowns and Teferi, Time Raveler) that can deal with it quite easily. It is very hard to efficiently use the built-in buyback effect, but it’s a nice bonus, and a good thing to threaten your opponent with. I think there are metagames where one copy is good. I think more can be justified (especially when Cryptic Command is popular, like it is currently, as the cast trigger will win you games), but would generally not run this card.

This is a green card worth maindecking and sideboarding. It’s very good against Burn (in fact, multiple maindeck copies massively increase the chance of winning that matchup) but less good as an actual threat, and doesn’t work with your Sanctum. You can Turn 3 this relatively consistently by playing and cracking an egg to get your green mana — and the leaves the battlefield trigger does count when this card is hit by Path to Exile. Run up to three in your 75. Four is excessive outside of a heavily defined metagame (which, outside of a local event, is not something one should expect when playing Modern). 

Other Tech

A very recent (and somewhat questionable) piece of tech is using the head honcho of recent Standard to grab yourself the land you need, and sometimes running Cascading Cataracts as a method of using Golos’s activated ability. The style points for casting a Karn and an Ugin for free with that will get you a lot of internet clout, but I’m very skeptical about the viability of having to run a mediocre land in a deck with plenty of land options (though both of these cards get picked up by Once Upon a Time). 

I am however warming up to the idea of running a Golos in the wishboard — an idea championed by the brilliant Dominic Harvey at the recent StarCityGames Open to an impressive top sixteen finish — to grab with Karn when you want a land tutor that also acts as a 3/5 blocker. That’s a very relevant stat line in Modern that blocks most creatures on the ground. You can also hit your Cascading Cataracts with a Ghost Quarter and search for a Forest without losing a land due to the hardly relevant indestructible keyword. I would run zero copies of Golos main, maybe one in the sideboard, and a maximum of one copy of the Cataracts (probably only in the maindeck if you have a sideboard Golos, and even then I’m skeptical).

The primary single-target removal spell you want to run in your main deck, Dismember is a useful tool that can be cast with colorless mana by paying four life — an expensive cost, but it is sometimes necessary to kill a threat before they overwhelm you. You can also access black mana in a few ways: Nurturing Peatland, Chromatic Star/Sphere, or an active Mycosynth Lattice will let you reduce the damage your Dismember is dealing you and can be the difference between a win and a loss. However, Dismember is a little dire against Burn (one of your worst matchups) and so I’d bear that in mind if expecting a lot of Burn. Run zero to three in the maindeck, and zero to three in the sideboard.

It’s funny how much “draw a card” can make a card go from being a bad sideboard answer to being a maindeckable cantrip with upside, and that’s just what Relic is in this deck. Although the deck may be tight for space, including at least one Relic in your maindeck gives you an answer to graveyard strategies while also giving you something that is easy to sideboard out in matchups where it is not very relevant. It also works like a charm with Karn, the Great Creator. Karn can grab cards from exile, which means you can use your Relic to either be a graveyard hate piece for multiple turns in a row (buying it back immediately after using its ability) or allowing you to rebuy any cards that are in your graveyard by exiling them and grabbing them with Karn. I would generally only want one in the maindeck these days, and maybe one in the sideboard — but one could make the case for more copies in a graveyard-heavy metagame.

An actual seven mana sweeper that can be cast on Turn 3, this is a good card when hyper-aggressive, permanent-based decks (except for those based on colorless cards) are popular. However, this is less versatile than Oblivion Stone, and cannot be cast over multiple turns. It is also worth noting that it is a tribal card, so it powers up opposing Tarmogoyfs while cheapening your Emrakul. Don’t ignore this important fact. I wouldn’t run this card anymore, especially not alongside Thragtusk.

Included for completion’s sake, the other big colorless planeswalker printed in 2019 just doesn’t quite cut it in Tron. In Eldrazi Tron the card lets you make the most of its static ability, but here the card is just a single-target removal spell (and doesn’t even trigger Sanctum of Ugin). Don’t play this card.

Karn Wishboard

If you are running Karn, the Great Creator (which you should be) you have to run one copy of this card in your wishboard. It is your cleanest and most effective win condition bar none and is why Karn is as good as he is. The card ends the game. The only ways in Modern that your opponent could generate mana is with something like Simian Spirit Guide — and that’s unlikely to get them back in the game (though I have seen two of those plus an Abrade before). Its colorless-granting rider is not very relevant but does stop the Modern Horizons cycle of Force cards being cast for their alternate costs (the other cards in your hand are colorless). It also fixes your mana perfectly, and is another way to activate Golos’ ability.

This innocuous trinket is incredible with Karn, the Great Creator, since it lets you turn off the activated abilities of any permanent (often a land) on your opponent’s battlefield, frequently in their upkeep. It can also be used to animate noncreature, nonartifact permanents by turning them into artifacts and then using Karn’s plus ability. This is another sure inclusion in your wishboard, every time.

There are four cards I would never leave home without having in my wishboard — Mycosynth Lattice, Liquimetal Coating, Walking Ballista, and Ensnaring Bridge. This three-mana artifact completely blanks creature-based aggressive decks. It can be cast on Turn 3 with a Karn, and can be followed up by a turn four Lattice. This is a common play pattern, with the Bridge sometimes being replaced with a different hate card. Always run one in your wishboard.

A useful combo hate card, Trinisphere is good against decks that run lots of cheap spells (like Storm or Burn) or are starved on mana (like Death’s Shadow). I think this is a good candidate for most wishboards but would like to draw attention to the untapped clause since it is very important. Against a few decks, your opponent will be able to tap it down (with cards like Twiddle or Deceiver Exarch) but it is worth noting that if you animate and attack with your Trinisphere using Karn, then you turn off the ability. However, you can use this to your advantage to play a bunch of cheap spells in a turn where you don’t need the taxing effect.

A good source of hexproof, Witchbane Orb lets you avoid being targeted by a wide range of effects — notably Thoughtseize, Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, and burn spells. The curse rider will only come up against a mill deck foolishly running Fraying Sanity, and you’re probably dead to mill anyway. I would run this most of the time for the option, but it’s not totally necessary.

Weaker than Witchbane Orb due to costing five mana. When you only have eight mana to spend on turn four, you can’t cast this after casting Karn. Its advantage is that it has the other ability, which makes it better against Empty the Warrens in Storm and very little else. I would generally run Witchbane Orb over this.

Extremely useful toolbox item that can turn off various cards, especially planeswalkers. The information taken from looking at your opponent’s hand is useful in a multitude of ways, not just for the sake of knowing what to name with the Spyglass. Be wary that the effect is symmetrical. I would run this in most sideboards.

Sorcerous Spyglass that costs one less without the information part. The choice between this and Spyglass is fairly elementary. You will generally have access to spare mana, so I’d lean towards Spyglass because the information can be valuable.

A third and final activated ability hate card that can’t stop lands but also acts as a small creature. Revoker is a neat little consideration that I don’t mind, but generally prefer Sorcerous Spyglass unless the 2/1 body is really relevant for some reason.

A weird source of card advantage that can’t cast green spells, this is a lot better in a deck with a larger quantity of cheap colorless cards. I’m not particularly interested in this at the moment, and I don’t expect that to change unless the deck can find colorless replacements for its green cards in the future.

Graveyard hate that costs no mana is worth noting, especially as it can be used with Karn when you don’t have Tron. I prefer Relic of Progenitus in a lot of cases, and would consider both in a graveyard heavy metagame, but like I have previously stated.

Solemn is a nice way to wish for card advantage or a green source. If you have space for it, it’s fine but not particularly exciting. I wouldn’t run it.

Great against go-wide decks because it acts as an Ensnaring Bridge without requiring a small hand. However, the four mana is prohibitive and I would not run this in normal circumstances — Bridge is just better.

A reasonable answer to Mill and Burn, Elixir is tech I learned from the brilliant Andrew Elenbogen. Five life is a lot (especially on Turn 3) and doubling your library size may give you enough time to win against Mill. I do like this as a wish target, and would consider it if you are finding trouble surviving long enough against aggressive decks and Mill.

A bit of a weird one. Ratchet Bomb is an excellent answer to tokens, but I think it suffers from Blast Zone’s existence — that card kind of replaces the Bomb outside of the tokens situation. I’d shy away from this card for that reason.

A very powerful card, Crucible helps against land destruction and also turns some of your lands (Nurturing Peatland, Sanctum of Ugin, Ghost Quarter) into engines that can grind out longer games. I like this in a more grindy metagame, but would shy away from it otherwise.

If Neobrand is good, I’d run this and sideboard it in after game one as something to heavily mulligan for, because it also acts as good graveyard hate that can be wished for by Karn. It also is great against Collected Company and other green toolbox decks. However, unless people stop playing Force of Negation, I don’t think Neobrand is good, so I would drop this in favour of other graveyard hate.

When Humans were good I would never leave home witout one of these in the sideboard. This card is incredible against that deck, essentially winning you the game. It also turns off a few other notable creatures (Primeval Titan, Thought-Knot Seer and Snapcaster Mage) and is worth considering as an extra hedge if those cards are popular. However, I do not think this is the time, and would only really consider it if Humans (or another deck with lots of enter the battlefield triggers) are popular.

If you want to wish for hard removal, Spine is an option, but it’s so expensive that I’d rather put something else in this slot. I’m not sure what cards you need to remove that you won’t have an answer for if you have that much spare mana.

Similar to the static ability of Teferi, Time Raveler, this can allow you to force in additional threats against an interaction-heavy deck. However, I would generally rather just wish for something more impactful. It’s a no from me.

When Chalice is good, it wins the game, and I like this in the wishboard when decks that it beats are popular. However, this counters at least sixteen spells in your main deck and thus I would only consider it if it is that good against a certain strategy (for example, if Death’s Shadow is super popular).

A weird one, this is a huge source of lifegain when tacked onto the right creature, but it really shines in a deck with multiple copies of Walking Ballista, which is deadly when equipped with Basilisk Collar. I would only run this in a wishboard with at least two Ballista in the main and one in the wishboard.

Sideboard

A great hedge against Burn while also helping against Thoughtseize and Mill. This is a very good answer and I would be happy to run it in multiples. Run zero or three.

Everyone’s favourite black Leyline. This is a consideration for graveyard-heavy metagames, but I would avoid it for Relic of Progenitus unless there’s a clear best deck that it beats.

This card is easy to cast in Tron, but I am not sure when you want this. If I have the mana to cast a four mana spell, I would rather make a Karn, unless I really want a blocker (and I would often prefer Wurmcoil Engine). I can see metagames where this is really good, and could see a version of Tron maindecking this and also running Once Upon a Time. Run zero most of the time, but I could see any number in the right metagame.

Green got its own Cryptic Command in Core Set 2020 and it costs one mana. This card is absurd and versatile, acting as a counterspell against blue and black decks aiming to deal with your plan while also acting as a Silence-style effect when you really need to force through a threat. I would run one to three of these in every single Tron sideboard, and would consider a fourth.

The best version of Disenchant in Modern, this card being so cheap lets you kill something without taking an entire turn off. This is very good against random problematic permanents like an opposing Sorcerous Spyglass or Blood Moon, while also having the hidden mode of gaining you four life by sacrificing an artifact — a crucial mode that makes this worth considering siding in against Burn on top of being able to hit Eidolon of the Great Revel. Run at least two. More is very respectable.

If you want cheap life gain, this is it. You’re almost always going to gain at least six life from this, nine in most cases, and you can sequence your cheap spells well to gain even more life in the right circumstance. I can understand playing one or two of these, but I would err on the side of caution of running more copies since life gain will only get you so far.

An inefficient removal spell that doesn’t cost life. If you really can’t run Dismember for whatever reason, this is an option. I wouldn’t recommend this except for in particularly creature heavy metagames. The amount of powerful X/4 creatures (such as Urza) is a lot higher than it used to be.

A very versatile but low power level card, Warping Wail is a neat little piece of tech that can occasionally win a game that you had no business winning — such as by countering a Scapeshift or killing a Thing in the Ice that is about to transform. There’s also the cool play of casting this on Turn 2, making a Scion, and having eight mana on Turn 3. I would only run one or two of these, and I don’t think Modern is at a place where this is any good.

Mulligans and Sequencing

Mulligans are probably the most difficult problems to solve when playing Tron. There are a few rules that one must always follow:

  1. Keep every hand that gives you Turn 3 Tron, and mulligan aggressively with a focus on this.
  2. Never keep a hand that doesn’t give you at least Turn 4 Tron.
  3. Only mulligan for specific hate cards if you cannot win the game without them.

If you follow these rules, I expect you’ll mulligan mostly correctly, but it is also worth considering keeping hands with more lands in matchups with lots of land destruction, and remembering what cards you put on the bottom of your library when you mulligan until you have shuffled in that game again.

Sequencing in Tron can be a little complicated, but generally, it isn’t too hard. Casting Ancient Stirrings before tutoring for a land (in almost every case) and playing Tron lands you are less afraid of being destroyed (or that your opponent is aware of) first are the two main things to consider, but casting creature threats when your opponent is tapped out (due to Force of Negation) is another thing to consider.

Matchups and Sideboarding

Due to the nature of the format, it is impossible to cover every archetype. However, most of the principles you need to sideboard against anything are:

  1. Sideboarding out the threats that line up badly in a given matchup (such as Karn Liberated against Humans where killing one thing will not solve much).
  2. Shaving on copies of your green cards when bringing in green sideboard cards so your mana is not too stretched.
  3. Sideboarding out interaction that doesn’t work against your opponent’s deck.

Simic Urza

Oko, Thief of Crowns has made this Urza deck the deck to beat in Modern — and, I think for a variety of reasons, you are primed to beat it. Oko’s +1 ability can turn your utility artifacts (Expedition Map, Oblivion Stone and most of your Karn Toolbox) into Elks, but having 3/3 creatures to protect your big planeswalkers can be game-changing. Karn, the Great Creator is also clearly extremely good here, turning off a lot of their deck and making Emry somewhat mediocre. They will likely bring in Damping Spheres to beat you, so keep that in mind!

Good sideboard cards: Nature’s Claim, Dismember, Veil of Summer

Cards to sideboard out: Thragtusk, Wurmcoil Engine, Relic of Progenitus, one Oblivion Stone

Burn

This matchup is a lot better than people make it out to be. You’re not favoured, but you have a reasonable chance, especially if you go first. Witchbane Orb and Ensnaring Bridge are your friends, and siding out threats that you are unlikely to cast (Emrakul and Karn Liberated) is a sensible decision.

Good sideboard cards: Weather the Storm, Nature’s Claim, Thragtusk, Spatial Contortion

Cards to sideboard out: Emrakul, the Promised End, Relic of Progenitus, Oblivion Stone, Dismember, Karn Liberated

Jund

Assassin’s Trophy is very good against you, but it often seems like it is delaying the inevitable in this matchup. Your deck is designed to prey on midrange decks, and many of your threats are very hard for them to answer (including Wurmcoil Engine). They will often sideboard Fulminator Mage in against you, which can cause problems but is not that impactful. I would keep larger and slightly worse hands in this matchup (but still toss away anything that doesn’t have Tron by turn four) as card advantage can prove vital.

Good sideboard cards: Veil of Summer

Cards to sideboard out: one copy of Oblivion Stone, Relic of Progenitus, one copy of Sylvan Scrying

Tron

The Tron mirror match is sadly one of the least fun mirror matches out there, and is all about the dice roll. You can get lucky and Ghost Quarter away an opposing Tron land, but generally the player who goes first in game one will win this match.

Good sideboard cards: Nature’s Claim

Amulet Titan

A hard matchup, Amulet is in the category of decks that go off faster than you and thus is somewhat difficult to beat, especially with the new lists increasing consistency with Once Upon a Time. Despite this, your plan is the same — just get Tron online and use your threats to win the game. A well-timed Ghost Quarter can go a long way towards winning this matchup, but this is one of many examples of boats sailing past each other in the night in Modern, where the two decks are just doing their own thing, and whoever succeeds first wins. You don’t really have any good sideboard cards for the matchup (your creature removal is okay but none of it hits the namesake Titan). Don’t fall into the trap of thinking Nature’s Claim is worth it to kill the Amulet itself.

Azorius Control

This matchup is extremely good for you and is improved by the number of threats with cast triggers in your deck. Emrakul, the Promised End is game over for them, as you should be able to expend all their resources in one turn by that point. The Stoneforge Mystic versions of the deck are better against you but even they will struggle, as your Karns line up well against their threats. Just do your thing, play around Force of Negation where possible, and you should be fine.

Good sideboard cards: Veil of Summer, Thought-Knot Seer

Cards to sideboard out: Dismember, One copy of Oblivion Stone, Relic of Progenitus, Wurmcoil Engine

Eldrazi Tron

On average you get Tron more quickly than them, and Karn Liberated is great. You should be fine most of the time.

Good sideboard cards: Dismember

Cards to sideboard out: Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, All is Dust

Dredge

Dredge is a lot less powerful without Faithless Looting, but it can still provide a fast clock that can overrun you if you stumble. They also pack artifact hate in the form of Shenanigans and sometimes have Ghost Quarter, which, with Life from the Loam, gives them endless land destruction. Just execute your plan before they kill you, and use your cards to stay alive. Graveyard hate is very good here and main deck copies of Relic of Progenitus help a great deal.

Good sideboard cards: Relic of Progenitus, Leyline of the Void

Cards to sideboard out: one Oblivion Stone, Walking Ballista, Emrakul, the Promised End

Other Urza Decks

Karn, the Great Creator is the reason I think Tron is favoured here. Oh, and your entire deck and strategy line up well against theirs. Oh, and they don’t often have a great sideboard plan against you. Try and stop their combos, but just Tron them as usual and you’ll be fine. The Paradoxical Ascendancy lists can be fast, but exiling their lands and enablers should deal with them just fine.

Good sideboard cards: Nature’s Claim, Dismember

Cards to sideboard out: one Oblivion Stone, Emrakul, the Promised End, Thragtusk, Wurmcoil Engine

Titanshift

This is a hard one. Now that the old answer of giving yourself hexproof to dodge Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle is less meaningful due to Field of the Dead, your best plan is to try and win before they do; interacting with their plan is not going to do a hell of a lot. Witchbane Orb will likely only give you one extra turn, and often costs a turn to play, so is not the best answer. You can lock them out, but you will need some luck to win this one.

Good sideboard cards: Warping Wail

Cards to sideboard out: one Oblivion Stone

Death’s Shadow

Stubborn Denial is quite good against you, but it doesn’t mean you aren’t favoured here. Their low land count allows you to make the most out of a turn three Karn Liberated, starving them of mana. The Jund Death’s Shadow decks often have a sideboard stacked to beat you, and that usually comes in the form of Fulminator Mage and Alpine Moon. Nature’s Claim is a fine counter to Alpine Moon, but it shouldn’t affect your strategy too much.

Good sideboard cards: Veil of Summer, Dismember, Nature’s Claim

Cards to sideboard out: Relic of Progenitus, One Oblivion Stone, Emrakul, the Promised End, Walking Ballista

Humans

Sometimes you’ll lose to their fast starts, but your deck is well-equipped to beat humans. Oblivion Stone and Ugin are your haymakers here, and clearing their board once is usually game over for them. Bear in mind that Meddling Mage exists and sequence your threats to minimise the effect that will have on you, and remember that Karn, the Great Creator turns off their Aether Vial.

Good sideboard cards: Dismember, Spatial Contortion, Warping Wail

Cards to sideboard out: Relic of Progenitus, Emrakul, the Promised End, Karn Liberated

Infect

Your worst matchup, and one of the most skewed matchups in Modern, your plan should be to get some kill spells, try and execute your plan, and pray they don’t kill you. There’s no clever plan here; you’re in trouble if you get paired up against Infect. Try and dodge this matchup.

Good sideboard cards: Dismember, Spatial Contortion, Warping Wail

Cards to sideboard out: Relic of Progenitus, Emrakul, the Promised End, Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, Thragtusk

Five-Colour Niv-Mizzet

Your deck is favoured. Everything is similar to Jund except I would probably not sideboard anything out since our deck is pretty great against theirs — especially as Karn turns off their Arcum’s Astrolabe, haemorrhaging their already shaky mana base. The Bring to Light versions are a bit scarier since they have access to Crumble to Dust, but I don’t think these decks are generally very good. If you see certain cards that are issues for your deck, one or two sideboard cards could be useful (perhaps a Veil of Summer to hedge against Unmoored Ego). Cutting an Oblivion Stone makes sense to create another wish target, but you’re probably fine as is.

Gifts Storm

This deck has had a recent uptick in popularity now that graveyard hate is a lot less common, and though it’s not a good matchup, it is in no way an unbeatable one. Backbreaking wishboard bullets are aplenty here, with Witchbane Orb, Orbs of Warding, and Trinisphere all slowing the deck down massively while graveyard hate beats the Past in Flames plan. The issue is when they go off on turn three on the play. Without main deck creature removal, there’s little you can do about that in game one. You just need to try and stop them before they kill you. Their copies of Remand are incredible against you.

Good sideboard cards: Dismember, Veil of Summer, Spatial Contortion, Leyline of the Void

Cards to sideboard out: Emrakul, the Promised End, Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, Oblivion Stone

Selesnya Eldrazi

This deck can have some aggressive starts and grinds well, but it’s a midrange deck and suffers from similar problems as other midrange decks against Tron. They often sideboard Damping Sphere, though, so be on the lookout for that and pack accordingly.

Good sideboard cards: Nature’s Claim

Cards to sideboard out: One Oblivion Stone, Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, All is Dust

Decklists

If you’re looking for regular decklists, I have two I would recommend — one that runs Once Upon a Time, and one that doesn’t. The Once list is from Lance Kopp while the other list is from Dominic Harvey — both players used their lists to Top 16 a recent StarCityGames Open. There are multiple ways to build this deck, and the core cards do not change, but the remaining cards can be so many different things that Tron is an adaptable deck to a wide variety of metagames and is going to be a great choice in Modern going forward.

Lance Kopp’s Mono-Green Tron

2 Walking Ballista

2 Wurmcoil Engine

2 Thragtusk

2 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

4 Karn, the Great Creator

4 Karn Liberated

2 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

4 Chromatic Star

4 Chromatic Sphere

4 Expedition Map

1 Relic of Progenitus

1 Oblivion Stone

4 Ancient Stirrings

2 Sylvan Scrying

3 Once Upon a Time

4 Urza’s Mine

4 Urza’s Power Plant

4 Urza’s Tower

4 Forest

2 Blast Zone

1 Sanctum of Ugin

Sideboard

2 Nature’s Claim

2 Veil of Summer

1 Thragtusk

1 Spatial Contortion

1 Weather the Storm

1 Basilisk Collar

1 Ensnaring Bridge

1 Grafdigger’s Cage

1 Mycosynth Lattice

1 Oblivion Stone

1 Pithing Needle

1 Phyrexian Revoker

1 Walking Ballista

Dominic Harvey’s Mono-Green Tron

3 Wurmcoil Engine

3 Thragtusk

1 Emrakul, the Promised End

4 Karn, the Great Creator

4 Karn Liberated

4 Chromatic Star

4 Chromatic Sphere

4 Expedition Map

4 Oblivion Stone

1 Relic of Progenitus

4 Ancient Stirrings

4 Sylvan Scrying

3 Dismember

4 Urza’s Mine

4 Urza’s Power Plant

4 Urza’s Tower

1 Blast Zone

1 Nurturing Peatland

2 Forest

1 Snow-Covered Forest

Sideboard

3 Leyline of Sanctity

3 Nature’s Claim

3 Veil of Summer

1 Golos, Tireless Pilgrim

1 Ensnaring Bridge

1 Liquimetal Coating

1 Mycosynth Lattice

1 Relic of Progenitus

1 Trinisphere

My recent testing has been centered around making Once Upon a Time as good as possible in Modern. Clearly the free cantrip is absurd in Amulet Titan, but grabbing lands for free on turn one has to be the way to go in Tron, right? I wonder if this is the future of Tron.

Once Upon a Tron

4 World Breaker

3 Wurmcoil Engine

1 Emrakul, the Promised End

1 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

1 Walking Ballista

4 Karn, the Great Creator

4 Chromatic Star

4 Chromatic Sphere

4 Expedition Map

3 Oblivion Stone

4 Ancient Stirrings

4 Sylvan Scrying

4 Once Upon a Time

4 Urza’s Tower

4 Urza’s Mine

4 Urza’s Power Plant

2 Snow-Covered Forest

2 Forest

1 Nurturing Peatland

1 Blast Zone

1 Sanctum of Ugin

Sideboard

3 Nature’s Claim

3 Veil of Summer

1 Mycosynth Lattice

1 Liquimetal Coating

1 Ensnaring Bridge

1 Walking Ballista

1 Orbs of Warding

1 Sorcerous Spyglass

1 Trinisphere

1 Oblivion Stone

1 Relic of Progenitus

Notice anything missing? Karn Liberated is a hell of a card, especially on Turn 3, but with Once Upon a Time you want a critical mass of threats that it can grab on top of lands to make your late game a lot better. World Breaker is the perfect replacement. Not only is it castable on Turn 3 with an egg, but it means your Once Upon a Time will almost always grab a threat later in the game. Also, the buyback ability on World Breaker is easier to use with more ways to get extra lands. I tried to fit a Crucible of Worlds in the wishboard, but I am not sure that there is space. The wishboard needs Orbs of Warding to beat the uptick in Storm at the moment, and being able to wish for the fourth Oblivion Stone in game one is key as your deck is slightly slower than regular Tron. The five green sources in the manabase are a concession to the twelve cheap green spells in the maindeck.

Regarding sideboarding, unless a maindeck card is particularly heinous in a given matchup (Wurmcoil Engine against a Path to Exile deck for example), shave cantrips (I often get rid of one of each if siding in Nature’s Claim or Veil of Summer). A different sideboard would be necessary for a Burn-heavy metagame (which I do not expect in large quantities at the moment due to the amount of decks that crush it). 

As you can see, there are near limitless ways of building this deck, and all of them have their own merits. That’s not to go into Eldrazi Tron, Mono-Blue Tron, or even some of the wilder and flashier versions (I’ve seen people cantrip with the recently Pioneer-banned Oath of Nissa so they can cast Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker off of their Tron lands). No matter what I try with Tron, I always seem to come back to using Ancient Stirrings. Tron is the truth, and unless Wizards erroneously ban Urza’s Tower, I think it will be a force in Modern for a very long time.

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