Deep Analysis – Voltron

Deep-Analysis

“Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated”

Another Modern event with another surprise winner.  While Tron hasn’t been as powerful as it once was since the banning of Eye of Ugin, a side effect of Eldrazi Winter, it has had some nice finishes at major events over the past year.

The History and Evolution of Urza Tron in Modern

The deck’s name comes from the use of the Urza lands from the Antiquities expansion.  Each land produces 1 colorless mana by itself but produces either 2 or 3 colorless mana if all 3 lands are in play at once (hence the Tron, short for Voltron, name comes from).

Since the start of the Modern format, Tron variants have been one of the top 5 most played decks in the format.  The deck has evolved several times during the history of Modern format

UW Gifts Tron – Luis Scott-Vargas
4th place – Grand Prix Lincoln 2012 – 02/2012

1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
1 Iona, Shield of Emeria
1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
1 Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre

1 Condescend
4 Gifts Ungiven
4 Path to Exile
4 Remand
1 Repeal
4 Thirst for Knowledge
1 Day of Judgment
1 Timely Reinforcements
1 Unburial Rites
1 Wrath of God
1 Oblivion Ring

4 Azorius Signet
3 Expedition Map
1 Talisman of Progress

4 Celestial Colonnade
1 Eye of Ugin
3 Hallowed Fountain
1 Island
3 Seachrome Coast
1 Tolaria West
4 Urza’s Mine
4 Urza’s Power Plant
4 Urza’s Tower

Sideboard

2 Timely Reinforcements
1 Ethersworn Canonist
1 Wurmcoil Engine
2 Celestial Purge
1 Disenchant
2 Dispel
1 Negate
1 Pact of Negation
2 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Ghostly Prison
1 Rule of Law

The first major version involved Gifts Ungiven which gives you a lot of flexable answers.  The deck is mostly White Blue with a single black card to reanimate a couple of large creatures that mess with your opponent’s plans (Elesh Norn, Grand CenobiteIona, Shield of Emeria).  The deck was could be slow and grindy or it could just use Gifts to put Elesh Norn or Iona and Unburial Rites in the graveyard and then cast the Rites to put its chosen fatty into play.

Another variant that saw some play was a mono U version.  The mono blue version is a slightly slower version than the WU version.  The deck runs more countermagic (Spell Burst, more Condescend) and more copies of Repeal.  The larger drawback with this deck is that has some rougher matchups due to less permanent removal (both targeted removal and sweepers).  Despite this, occationally this version does well in certain environments, like in August of this year when Andrew Wood made Top 16 at an SCG Modern Open:

sundering_titanMono-Blue Tron – Andrew Wood
16th Place at StarCityGames.com Modern Open on 8/13/2016

1 Snapcaster Mage
1 Treasure Mage
2 Wurmcoil Engine
1 Sundering Titan

1 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

2 Spatial Contortion
2 Anticipate
1 Spell Burst
3 Repeal
3 Remand
1 Fabricate
4 Condescend
4 Thirst For Knowledge

4 Expedition Map
2 Chalice of the Void
1 Oblivion Stone
2 Mindslaver

1 Tolaria West
1 Ghost Quarter
1 Academy Ruins
1 Oboro, Palace in the Clouds
2 Gemstone Caverns
7 Island
4 Urza’s Power Plant
4 Urza’s Mine
4 Urza’s Tower

Sideboard
2 Spatial Contortion
1 Dismember
2 Negate
1 Spell Snare
2 Squelch
1 Silent Arbiter
2 Chalice of the Void
1 Platinum Angel
1 Jester’s Cap
2 Hurkyl’s Recall

Most players are more familiar with the Red Green Tron that has been played the most over the last 5 years. Below is Joe Lossett version from earlier this year, post-Eye of Ugin ban:

karnRed Green Tron – Joe Lossett
2nd Place – SCG Modern Open Milwaukee – 04/2016

2 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
2 Spellskite
2 Wurmcoil Engine
2 World Breaker

2 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
4 Karn Liberated

4 Ancient Stirrings
3 Firespout
4 Sylvan Scrying

4 Chromatic Star
3 Oblivion Stone
4 Expedition Map
4 Chromatic Sphere

4 Grove of the Burnwillows
2 Forest
2 Sanctum of Ugin
4 Urza’s Mine
4 Urza’s Tower
4 Urza’s Power Plant

Sideboard
3 Warping Wail
3 Thragtusk
1 Spellskite
4 Nature’s Claim
2 Relic of Progenitus
2 Lightning Bolt

This version is also known as Turbo Tron, because the Red Green version attempts to assemble the 3 different Urza lands as fast as possible through card cycling (Chromatic Star, Chromatic Sphere) and land tutor effects (Sylvan Scrying, Expedition Map).  Ancient Stirrings also pulls double duty by finding our land pieces, control pieces (Spellskite, Oblivion Stone, Ugin, the Spirit Dragon), or can be used to find the finishers (Ulamog, the Ceaseless HungerWurmcoil Engine, World BreakerKarn Liberated)

Some new cards have joined the party (Ugin, World Breaker, Ulamog, the Cessless Hunger) while others have left (Pyroclasm) due to their recent ineffectiveness.  Even with that change, this version of the deck has recently fallen off due to the meta of current Modern for the last 3 months.  Enter Tom Ross who has been on a recent hot streak with some interesting meta calls:

Green White Tron – Tom Ross
SCG Modern Open Columbus – 11/16

2 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
2 World Breaker
1 Spellskite
2 Wurmcoil Engine

2 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
4 Karn Liberated

4 Ancient Stirrings
3 Path to Exile
4 Sylvan Scrying

4 Expedition Map
2 Relic of Progenitus
3 Oblivion Stone
4 Chromatic Sphere
4 Chromatic Star

3 Razorverge Thicket
1 Sanctum of Ugin
1 Ghost Quarter
1 Forest
1 Brushland
4 Urza’s Tower
4 Urza’s Power Plant
4 Urza’s Mine

Sideboard
3 Blessed Alliance
3 Warping Wail
2 Rest in Peace
2 Thragtusk
3 Nature’s Claim
1 Ravenous Trap
1 Ghost Quarter

Once again this week, we have a player bringing in a deck designed to fight the current metagame and taking home the top price because of it.  Below is the breakdown of decks at the start of Day 2:

12 Infect
6 Affinity
4 Dredge
4 Burn
4 Lantern Control
4 Jund
3 Sun and Moon
3 Bant Eldrazi
3 Merfolk
3 Grixis Control
2 Jeskai Flash
2 Zoo
2 Scapeshift
2 Eldrazi Tron
2 Jeskai Aggro
2 Amulet Titan
2 Madcap Moon
1 GW Tron
1 UR Battle Rage
1 Goryo’s Vengeance
1 Death Shadow’s Aggro
1 Bant Spirits
1 Kiki-Chord
1 Mardu
1 Mono-White Martyr
1 Grixis Delver
1 RG Breach
1 Esper Control

Notice that group at the top: Infect, Affinity, Dredge, Burn.  While the Red Green version had some cards to help against Affinity and Burn, they had more particular holes against Infect and the recently resurrected Dredge deck.  This is the reason why Tom made the switch from Red to White.

More Exile Effects

With Dredge begin such a formidable deck, Tom brought in more exile effects to help mitigate Dredge effect.  Beyond the normal Karn and Ugin in the main deck, he had Relic of Progenitus and Path to Exile in the main as well as Rest in Peace AND Ravenous Trap in his sideboard.   He certainly helped his cause.

More Cards Vs. Infect

One of the problem matchups for Tron was Infect.  It had very little ways to interact against it.  Tom has 1 Ghost Quarter main, an extra one in the sideboard, the 3 Path to Exile, and Blessed Alliance.  Blessed Alliance has 2 great modes but the one we are concerned with for Infect is the line ‘sacrifice an attacking creature’.  This makes the match much more workable since they usually are attacking with only 1 creature at a time.  World Breaker also gives the deck away to deal with Inkmoth Nexus.

So what is going to one up the metagame next?

Nicol_Bolas@MTGDecktechs.com

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