Anything But: Talking Tron

Before we get into this week’s article we’ve got a bit of housekeeping that we’re going to be taking care of real quick! First off, by the time you guys get to read this, we’re going to be underway with Round 3 of JustSin’s Team League, which has been graciously sponsored by MTGO Academy! Don’t forget to check out MTGO Academy’s YouTube page for videos of matches and for my recap of each round. Also tune in on the 16th & 17th on MTGO Academy’s Twitch Channel where we’ll be hosting the finals.

Also, I’m happy to announce that the Academy Showcase for this month will be Pauper 8-man! Since Wizards does not believe that the format is popular (or perhaps profitable) enough, we here at MTGO Academy think this should be remedied, so I’ll be running two 8-man queues that I will stream live on November 10th. I won’t waste a lot of time here, so if you want details click here and follow me on Twitter for the most up-to-date information.

We start off this week’s Competitive Corner with a bit of good news! None of the Daily Events in the past two weeks crashed or didn’t complete! Is it sad that this is something we should be glad about?

We’re now officially a month into our new metagame and things are going to start settling out. In my opinion the last week of this metagame breakdown is perhaps the start of where the solidified metagame will be from here on out. You always have to write off those early weeks, which seemed to suggest that Eye Candy was the deck to beat. The deck seems to have stabilized its spot in the top ten, but definitely wasn’t in the top three. To echo the sentiments that the first two weeks mean nothing, you can see there have been several big changes from last time. Perhaps not too surprising, we have MBC take the top spot after several strong outings including a Daily Event where it accounted for 25% of the decks. The rest of the top three is the same with Affinity and DelverBlue at the top, but where it really gets more interesting is when we move down. Greedy Tron has perhaps had the biggest jump, and perhaps it’s time to start considering bringing back that sideboarded land destruction. We also see popular decks from our first look dropping, such as BorosKitty and DimirTrinket, while Reality Acid is starting to move up slightly. The one note I do want to make is that I’ve decided to rename the previously titled “Fissureless Familiars” into something better: Sage Combo.

Here’s this week’s rogues…

1. UB Control – 13
2. Fissureless Enchants – 12
3. IzzetControl – 11
4. Tortured Reanimator – 9
5. RakBurn – 8
6. Teachings Control – 6
7. Elves – 5
8. Gray Control – 5
9. UB ArtControl – 5
10. BG Trash – 4
11. AzTrinket – 3
12. IzzetTron – 3
13. Infect – 2
14. OrzPest – 1
15. OrzAggro – 1
16. GW Tokens – 1
17. MBA – 1
18. Illusions – 1
19. Red Tron – 1
20. ComboTron – 1

I’m still debating over a better name for our Fissureless Enchants deck, so for now it’ll just have to stay as is. We had a few new decks this week including a mono-red variation of Tron and a deck I’m going to call ComboTron. This one was running a Tron manabase alongside the untap ability of Cloud of Faeries and Snap to generate even more mana for big X-cost finishers. There were a number of other oldies- but-goodies such as Infect, OrzPest, Illusions, and even a return to an attempt on RakBurn. This is a deck that uses a pretty typical burn shell and adds black for things like Blightning, and once it showed up on the Wizards website, it has been played several times since. I do want to make note that while UB Control and Teachings Control are two different decks, consideration should be made to count them similarly when considering the metagame because, while I can watch every replay, if I don’t see a Mystical Teachings played, then I can’t know otherwise, but corrections are made where I can so just take those two with a grain of salt.

Here’s how the undefeated odds are looking…

Again I start with a caution that this will probably not even settle out for another two weeks as, for example, you’ll see that Greedy Tron, which had no undefeated showings last week, had 11 this week. What I also find interesting from this information is that, while you’ll see the overall total for a particular deck may be a significant portion of the metagame, the average number of undefeated showings tops out at 33, which suggests a large variety of decks going undefeated. You’ll see that both DelverBlue and MBC top out on undefeated showings, but it represents only about 20% of their total showings. At the top of the game once again is Sage Combo, which has just over 28% of its showings being 4-0s, something we saw happen when it was running Temporal Fissure as well.

Despite what you might hear, I am human. And like any other human I relish in that moment when I can say, “I told you so”! This would be one of those times, but I’m finding a bit of a bittersweet emotion when talking about Tron these days. In case you missed it a little while back, I had undertaken the experiment of diving into various 8-post decks and tried to see if they would be possible if we were to switch the mana base to Tron. At the end of that article, I wrote this: “I’m fairly certain that we’ll see one become a regular deck. I don’t think it will be anything more than a rogue strategy, but there is a chance that someone might find a solid combo to make it stick.” So I was mostly right… I did believe that it would be at most a rogue strategy, but left it open for that opportunity that someone would find something that held a bit more staying power. As a result I present you with what I like to call, Greedy Tron…

What you’re looking at here is the very first Greedy Tron deck to place in a Daily Event. So you saw earlier this week Avignon himself talking about this deck right here on MTGOAcademy. Didn’t see it? Well before reading on take a few minutes, click here, and go read it so you can get a better understanding as to how the deck came to be. But we’re not here today to break down the deck. Instead I want to talk a bit more about what else has been successfully done with Tron in Pauper.

This wasn’t the first Tron deck to show; in fact, we had seen two other variations on the mana base show a total of four times before Avignon stepped onto the scene and created what may be the best Tron deck in our format. The first two Tron decks to win in a Daily Event after the ban were not very surprising to me; Tron Trinkets (the RG version with a similar focus on the combination of the chromatics and Fangren Marauder) and GreenTron (imagine GreenPost without the post). This is how I expected Tron to be, and when I would later see Simic and Izzet versions, they too would be everything I had expected from my own experiences with the mana base.

In the end, Greedy Tron was just that. Many people have continued to ask me why I titled the deck in this way. The biggest thing about the use of the Tron mana base is the fact that it ultimately produces more colorless mana, not because it ramps heavier than Cloudpost, but because you’re required to use 12 card slots for the mana base instead of eight. You are also required to find three different pieces in order to get the ramp going so it wouldn’t be uncommon for you to find yourself without colored mana until Turns 4 or 5. Based on this I basically declared in that last article that a Tron deck would find it hard to fill out two colors and that it would be impossible beyond that. Not only did Avignon create a deck that would end up laughing at me for saying that, but it would go all the way up to four possible colors when siding in either of the Circles of Protection, and it certainly doesn’t get any greedier than that.

Most current versions of the deck remain mostly the same with the only change being that somewhere along the way, someone traded a single Ulamog’s Crusher for a third Fangren Marauder, and every time I see it I cry a little inside. Those who follow me on Twitter will have seen my discussion of this, and again I found myself limited by 140 characters when I needed much more…

Whenever you take a minute a check those results that Wizards does provide us with and find a player who placed with Greedy Tron, you’ll see that it is exactly, card for card the same as anyone else who ran the deck. I made the Twitter comment after reaching a count of at least ten different players who each had placed with the same deck with the only change being made to the list being -1 +1 somewhere in the sideboard. Now, at first many people saw my complaints and related it entirely to an argument against netdecking, but that’s not really what I’m getting at here. Sure that element does exist in this argument and I’d be stupid to say otherwise, but my bigger issue with the desire of those playing to put a little effort into things and try something new. I won’t even go as far as to “demand” people run something untested just to be different, but when it comes down to it, I don’t feel that people should be blindly copying a list without putting in any consideration into the cards within.

I get it, I do. As Avignon points out there is a very solid core that makes this deck work between the Urza lands, the chromatics, Ancient Stirrings, and Expedition Map. All together this core is going to account for 28 out of 60 cards in your main deck and when something works, you don’t want to question it; you just go with it. I’ve seen any number of decks show up throughout the ages of Magic that I’ve looked at and said, “How the does that win??” However, any time I’ve decided to play a deck I’ve gone through and evaluated each card within that deck before taking it out. For example let’s talk about the use of Khalni Garden. What does this land really provide us that a Forest doesn’t? When you play the land you get a 0/1 token… okay I can see some benefit there because the deck is a bit slow, so a chump block prevents some damage, right, or it can be sac-ed to a Geth’s Verdict? But is it worth trading off for the fact that the land comes into play tapped? Avignon himself said, “Khalni Garden … could arguably be cut.” I’m simply hoping that people don’t just stop here when it comes to Tron. What about a few of the singleton choices? A single Flame Slash? A single Compulsive Research? I’m not saying these choices are wrong. If you do run this deck I at least request that you do in fact, go look at Avignon’s article, posted on MTGO Academy earlier this week, to see what reasoning he employed for his card inclusions.

I know what the response will be here. Many people will disagree with my sentiments, and I’m okay with that. We don’t have to agree to still support and enjoy this game. Feel free to leave such sentiments in the comments below, but know we’ll probably have to agree to disagree. Whether or not people agree with my feelings towards Greedy Tron, I feel as a contributor to the community, it is my job to, at the very least for my own conscience, encourage people to explore some of the other creative things that can be done with the mana base because I think there’s still room for other variants. Let’s take a look at one of the most recent examples…

Right before the bans went into effect the discussion on Tron ventured into the realm of mono-red being strong since it could ramp a little faster and you have access to great X-cc burn spells. This deck doesn’t go down this route, and I’m not sure I would have made the same choices, but that’s what makes it so great. What he has managed to do is put a surprising amount of card draw into a deck where you wouldn’t expect it to be. There are other creative approaches to take when it comes to building Tron decks, including decks like this one…

Since the new bans went into place, reboorn has been one of the first players to really embrace the Tron mana base and be successful with it. This was the first version he ran, although he did run other versions. While the deck does seem clunky in places, I think there are some creative things that should be pointed out. The first would be the use of Glimmerpost in a world without Cloudpost. This choice becomes interesting in a deck that is already pretty heavy on colorless mana sources and provides you with at most 10 life gained. This wasn’t something that only reboorn was trying out, and it didn’t stick, but it was a creative approach to the solution of the missing life gain from before mana bases switched.

The other part I really want to point out is the use of Trinket Mages to compensate for the draw and mana fixing of the deck. Part of the reason that Sea Gate Oracle works so well with this mana base is the ability to pick what you want/need. Trinket Mage acts as a tutor that can find the colored land you need by running artifact lands and finds those important Expedition Maps, which will help fill out your mana engine. This wasn’t the only Tron deck that took advantage of Trinket Mage as we saw a couple Izzet versions that actually utilized red spells in the main.

These are just some of the creative things that can be done with the mana base and I’m sure there will be still more creative things done that I haven’t even considered yet. Just like 8-post I think there can be plenty variations on the mana base, although unfortunately Tron requires quite a few crutches. The metagame might just be settling out, but that just means you now know what decks to attack. So until next week, keep brewing and don’t forget to find me on Twitter @MTGOJustSin for all the latest on the metagame, Academy Showcase, and more!

  1. Putting a singleton of a card into a deck is valid if you can either search for it (lands with Expedition Map) or you have a better option in another card that you already play 4 times but you want redundancy so you also put in the weaker card.

    The second reason is the one Avignon had when adding one more burn and one more card draw spell. The reasoning is solid, the question is if his other early burn (Firebolt) and card draw (Mulldrifter + Oracle) are better in the current meta. I think they are :)

    If his utility lands (Fengraf, Khalni Garden, Quicksand) are good is another question. I like them more when using Crop Rotation.

  2. Black Cats in the sideboard are a joke. Reboorn always puts 4 Black Cats in his sideboard. Also yay for being the only guy to play Illusions! Go me! :)

  3. Dude… with as many players as there are now, EVERY deck is a net deck, unless it’s some piece of crap trying to be different for the sake of not being a net deck.

  4. thanks for reading “disagree” but you clearly entirely missed the point, especially the part where I said “this isn’t an argument on netdecking”

  5. Has anyone considered Halimar Wavewatch in a tron deck? Seems good for stopping early ground assaults, and then it becomes a win condition later in the game.