Firstly, hello everyone! I’m the newest addition to the MTGDeckTechs roster and excited to be a part of the team. My name is Emma, I reside in Suffolk, England and have been playing Magic since 2014 – my formats of choice are Modern with a smattering of Commander. In my time playing Magic the Gathering I’ve played many weird and wonderful decks, but usually settle for midrange decks – particular favourites are Abzan (Back in Khans of Tarkir Standard) and most Eldrazi decks in Modern. I’ll be writing Modern on a fortnightly basis with some Commander on the side.
Modern over the last three months or so has been changing and adapting since the unbanning of Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf. Initially a lot of people were concerned for the format given the reputation that both of these cards had prior to their original bannings, with Jace being the primary target. It seemed the reaction was to be quick and aggressive before Jace, the Mindsculptor could ever hit the field. This morphed the format making it very uninteractive, G/W Hexproof triumphed against Jund and R/G Eldrazi was quick to abuse what Bloodbraid Elf can offer in an aggressive shell against these blue Jace control decks. Since the dust has settled and Jace hasn’t made the impact that was first initially feared, 5-colour Humans has risen to be one of the most consistent and powerful decks in the format, not forgetting R/B Hollow One’s rise in popularity since Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan as well. Since the set Ixalan was released, Humans has been putting up wins at Grand Prixs and SCG Opens alike making it the top deck to beat, Unclaimed Territory adding to an already generous mana base and Kitesail Freebooter giving a push in disruption to aid Meddling Mage even more. In reaction to this, decks are shifting towards being more controlling and interactive in order to beat Humans and to some degree B/R Hollow One. So what’s the answer to combat these permanent heavy decks? There are a few decks that can rise to the occasion one being Jeskai Control and the other being Mono-Green Tron.
With Jeskai Control back on the rise once again and Humans on a slight downswing, Mono-Green Tron can prey on Jeskai Control decks. Jeskai Control has very strong one-for-one removal and is good at slowing down aggressive decks with Supreme Verdict whilst tempo-ing out with Snapcaster Mage. Since Dominaria’s release in April, Tron has been disregarded a touch due to the printing of Damping Sphere, which was hailed to be the saving grace for combating Tron and combo-orientated decks. However in practice it’s similar to Blood Moon, slows Tron down but the pressure needs to be consistent to win the game. Deploying a Blood Moon with no pressure isn’t necessarily a free win, and I feel it’s the same with Damping Sphere. You can win through it as much as a Blood Moon as long as you have threats to get through it.
Mono-Green Tron has enough card draw, filter and tutors to deploy threat after threat and eventually Jeskai Control will run out of answers to deal with these, especially Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger which makes counter-magic discouraging at times. However if you choose to play Tron, you want to be sensible and consider other decks whilst having other cards in mind. The format is pretty wide in sets offered so for example I recommended that 5 Forests is where you want to be with the deck. The reasoning for this is due to Ghost Quarter and Field of Ruin being very apparent in the field. Knowing this it’s hard to encourage playing Horizon Canopy or Urza’s Factory at this time. You want a consistent mana base and to deploy your threats regardless of how fair you may have to do it. It’s good to bear in mind that you don’t really want to search for these Forests unless you have no Chromatic Spheres or Chromatic Stars for fixing and you have an Expedition Map in hand. Ideally you want to keep these in deck against heavy Ghost Quarter/Field of Ruin decks so you always have a land to find as it gives you the optimal chance of playing your threats consistently and allows the best filtering of your deck. However with that in mind, I don’t think R/G or B/G Tron are any good right now – although there may be temptation to play R/G Tron with the heavy amount of sweepers it runs to combat Humans and Hollow One decks. As mentioned before, these decks are on a bit of a downswing and it’s just bad against Ghost Quarter/Field of Ruin. If the meta shifts towards these cards not being apparent then it’s a lot more encouraging, however with Jeskai Control (or any other Modern deck with a demanding mana base) coming around again, these cards will still shape Modern for a while to come.
Mono-Green Tron has been putting up some excellent results at recent events such as SCG Louisville Classic late last month.
Mono Green Tron: SCG Modern Classic Louisville – 05/20/2018 – (Connor Sloan – 2nd Place)
Interesting to note in this list that Karn, Scion of Urza made an appearance in this Mono-Green Tron sideboard, but how good is it really? Teferi, Hero of Dominaria has been making waves in Jeskai and U/W Control lists and making more of a home in blue decks than Jace, the Mind Sculptor can right now. In a format which no one could ever have predicted when Jace became unbanned back in February. Without much practice, but logically thinking I don’t think Karn, Scion of Urza is decent in Tron at all.
Reasoning: I feel this is because the threat density is already high and the threats played are always high impact, Karn Liberated exiles something, Ugin, the Spirit Dragon can wipe a board, Wurmcoil Engine can make combat and non-exile removal awkward for your opponent, and so forth. Karn, Scion of Urza becomes a lot better if you can play it earlier than turn 4 especially in the eternal formats, this is backed up by showing up in Mono-Red Prison which won GP Birmingham last month in the hands of Gary Campbell. A format where Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors are used is where Karn really shines as it’s castable as early as turn 2. The counter argument is that in Tron you can play Karn, Scion of Urza as early as turn 3, I feel the impact is quite low and Tron already preys on the midrange decks such as Jund in regards to grinding out the long game, you would want Karn Liberated in most cases. I feel Karn, Scion of Urza has a much better home in Eldrazi Tron and Colourless Eldrazi, where card draw is minimal and the engine can slow down very quickly. In addition Karn seems an excellent addition to Affinity, for similar reasons above but has the ability to essentially make Master of Etherium on a -2.
Another interesting discussion has arisen recently as to what is better currently in Mono-Green Tron, Warping Wail or Spatial Contortion? Connor ran both of these as a 2-of in his sideboard but I don’t feel both are essential, in fact, I think Warping Wail is a tremendously underrated card for what it can do. Warping Wail has great utility and has the potential to blow out certain decks. It counters Scapeshift, Ancient Stirrings, Goblin Lore, Damnation, Collective Brutality and many others. It can also remove some real low-toughness threats and ramp creatures too such as Noble Hierarch, Bloodghast, Dark Confidant, Snapcaster Mage, Steel Overseer and more. Making a Scion isn’t anything remarkable by any means, but it can give you some room to ramp into something bigger. In addition it can just be a 1/1 that can beat down late one but that avenue can be narrow and it’s not what you really want to achieve with this card. This isn’t to say that Spatial Contortion is a bad card but you always want Dismember, as Dismember has a lot more reach in what it can kill. I feel Spatial Contortion has a better home in more colourless aggressive and midrange decks such as Eldrazi Tron and Colourless Eldrazi for example, the ability to pump a Reality Smasher or kill a Matter Reshaper has a lot more value than Mono-Green Tron can offer.
Overall I feel Mono-Green Tron is well situated currently in Modern and I don’t think much tinkering is required unless it’s dependant on your local meta, having 5 Forests is really beneficial and wouldn’t recommend changing this unless your meta is really low on Ghost Quarter and Field of Ruins. In addition if Humans/Hollow One and other permanent heavy decks continue to do well I strongly recommend 4x Oblivion Stone and an All Is Dust or two, coupling this with 2x Ugin, the Spirit Dragon you’re well equipped to deal with these threats on the opposite side of the table.
So what do you think? Do you think Modern will come full circle or do you think Humans and Hollow One will run dominant still? Comment below or on our Twitter @MtGDeckTecks with your thoughts.