Many questions about the Modern Mono U Tron deck have already been discussed again and again in the primer. Regular readers however will notice that the same few topics keep coming up despite this. Nobody wants to read 300+ pages to find the information they are looking for and the search function is very unreliable in finding the significant posts. So the Mono U Tron primer like so many others is stuck in a cycle of 5-6 questions repeating endlessly with one questions dropping out and another taking its place every now and then (lately questions like Chalice? Ugin? Talisman? how is our matchup vs fotm?). I intend to answer the most common of these questions here, mostly because I am sick of repeating myself both on my stream and also in the primer. I will try to convey both my own view and a more objective stance in these answers.
Please note that this is a work in progress. Many of these answers will be biased and/or incomplete. I will try to include any feedback you have in future updates.
- 1 Card Choices
- 2 Rejected Cards
- 3 Matchups and Sideboarding
- 3.1 Jund
- 3.2 Grixis Control
- 3.3 Splinter Twin
- 3.4 Gr Tron
- 3.5 Infect
- 3.6 Robots
- 3.7 Merfolk
- 3.8 Scapeshift
- 3.9 Burn
- 3.10 Junk/Abzan
- 3.11 Amulet Bloom
- 3.12 Ad Nauseam
- 3.13 UWR Control
- 3.14 Grixis Delver
- 3.15 BreachTrap
- 3.16 Elves
- 3.17 Grishoalbrand
- 3.18 Death and Taxes
- 3.19 Hatebears
- 3.20 Best Tron
- 3.21 UR Storm
- 3.22 BW Tokens
- 4 Special Questions
- 5 Acknowledgments
1 Card Choices
1.1 Talisman/Signet vs Lands
The question is whether to run Talisman of Dominance (rarely replaced with Dimir Signet) or lands. I think this is currently the decisive deckbuilding decision to make which has more implications later on for your deck. A typical shoktroopa style mana base looks somewhat like this:
|Lands (23, 9 blue) (23)|
4 Urza’s Mine
4 Urza’s Tower
4 Urza’s Powerplant
1 Academy Ruins
1 Oboro, Palace in the Clouds
1 Tectonic Edge
Nonland sources (7)
3 Talisman of Dominance
4 Expediton Map
|Lands (25, 10 blue) (25)|
4 Urza’s Mine
4 Urza’s Tower
4 Urza’s Powerplant
1 Academy Ruins
1 Oboro, Palace in the Clouds
1 Ghost Quarter
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Nonland sources (4)
4 Expediton Map
Pros for shoktroopa style:
- ramping/curving (e.g. turn2 Talisman, turn3 Solemn Simulacrum, turn4 Wurmcoil Engine)
- discard fodder for Thirst for Knowledge
- blue source safe from Sundering Titan, Boil, Choke, etc
Cons for shoktroopa style:
- 1 land, 1 Talisman hands are not keepable, while 2 land hands with a blue source usually are
- weak to Stony Silence which usually means Talisman is boarded out vs white decks
- boarding Talisman out disrupts the relation between curve and manabase unless you board in lands or cut high cmc spells
- sometimes you lose a blue source to artifact hate (it might be your only blue source!)
Pros for cbg style:
- less mulligans
- no sideboarding headache or postboard problems with curve against white
- access to 1 spell land and 1 more slot for a spell
Cons for cbg style:
- no turn2 Talisman ramp which means some spells are worse (Solemn Simulacrum, Gifts Ungiven)
- lower artifact count which makes Thirst for Knowledge weaker
- fewer blue sources which are safe from Titan, Boil, Choke, …
I personally favour the cbg style right now because I find it easier to deal with its disadvantages. The lower artifact count can be fixed by playing other cheap artifacts like Chalice of the Void main. Not being able to ramp usually leads to cutting the clunky 4cmc spells in favour of cheaper early game spells, which don’t need the ramp. Your mana will be weaker to certain cards and stronger against others, so the third disadvantage is really a symmetrical one. You start to care more about Boil and Choke and less about Ancient Grudge, Shattering Spree, Stony Silence, …
1.2 Solemn Simulacrum
Sad Robot refers to Solemn Simulacrum, a card which used to be played very heavily but has fallen out of favour for some. I really love this card and the value it generates but currently I can’t bring myself to play it. Spending 4 mana sorcery speed is a big deal and I feel like you mostly don’t want to play Solemn unless you have more than enough mana anyway or you play him really fast into a dry board (imagine playing him turn3 vs scapeshift, you are unlikely to lose while you are tapped out). Usually this card is still played as a 1- or 2-of in shoktroopa style lists, however cbg style lists tend to cut him.
1.3 Chalice of the Void
Chalice of the Void is a very good card in this deck because pretty much every other deck plays more 1cmc spells than we do. More importantly it’s also these very cheap spells which tend to gives us trouble because they are tough to Remand/Condescend. Now you might be concerned about the nombo with Expedition Map but there is several things to consider. Postboard you won’t be playing a lot of Chalice and Maps at the same time. If you want to play a game with Chalice on 1 it is naturally a good decision to board out some Maps. Furthermore even if a Map gets stuck in our hand it is not useless, as it can still be used as discard fodder for Thirst for Knowledge. Now the worst case scenario we are turning 4 of our spells into blanks, however at the same time we are usually turning at least twice that many of our opponents spells into blanks! Among them cards with a very high impact like Path to Exile, Nature’s Claim, Dispel, Inquisition, Thoughtseize, … and then there is decks which are build around an insanely low curve like Burn, Infect, Bogles, … against these decks a Chalice on 1 will often win the game by itself.
In cbg style lists Chalice is often played mainboard to increase the artifact count and just because it’s good. Shoktroopa style lists sometimes play a few in the sideboard.
Due to the nature of our own curve Chalice is mostly played on 0, 1 or 4. Against a bunch of decks having a Chalice can completely lock the opponent out of the game (e.g. Scapeshift+Chalice=4). Quite a few decks cannot deal with Chalice on 1 and Engine/Angel.
1.4 Tectonic Edge vs Ghost Quarter
Mono U Tron usually runs either 1 Tectonic Edge or 1 Ghost Quarter to deal with man lands and spell lands like Gavony Township, Tron, Academy Ruins, Bojesu, … Let’s see what the (dis)advantages of each are:
Pros for Tec Edge:
- both are down exactly 1 land, which usually matters less to you since you have more mana through Tron
- opponent cannot “fix” his mana base by getting a 3rd color basic (imagine UWR being stuck on UR and getting a plains)
- better in the mid and late game
Cons for Tec Edge:
- opponent needs to have 4 lands, good opponents can play around it by staying at 3 lands (affinity, infect)
- you need an addtional colorless mana for the activation
- cannot target basics (rather insignificant really)
- cannot be used as a blue source (also very small impact)
Pros for Ghost Quarter:
- can be used no matter how many lands the opponent has
- no mana required to activate
- can target basics (but really why would you?)
- after Boil or some other land destruction on your only blue source you can use Ghost Quarter on one of your other lands to get an Island
- better against Affinity, Infect and Inkmoth Nexus in general
Cons for Ghost Quarter:
- you are down 1 land compared to your opponent
- opponent can get any basic, making it easier for them to have access to all colors
- weaker vs scapeshift
The really important thing in my opinion is being online always vs being online only after the opponent has 4 lands and being down a land vs not being down a land. From what I can tell more people play Ghost Quarter right now because of Inkmoth Nexus in Infect and Affinity and I do not have a convincing argument against this. I’ve tested both cards for some time now and I think they are both playable and roughly the same powerlevel for this deck. Some games you will lose if you play a Ghost Quarter over Tectonic Edge and vice versa.
1.5 Ugin the Spirit Dragon
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon is an amazing card which is worshipped like no other (except for maybe Mindslaver) by some Mono U Tron players. And to understand why you only need to resolve Ugin once and see how he can completely dominate a game. Usually when Ugin comes into play you will -X to clear the board, after which you are still left with a planeswalker of decent size. If your opponent tries to commit new creatures to the board you can either pick them off one by one with the +2 or just -X again and again every other turn. It will be pretty much impossible for your opponent to establish any kind of presence on the board while Ugin lives. If you manage to get Ugin to 10 (which is really not as hard as it looks) an ultimate will usually win the game by itself. Most often you end up putting down a bunch of Tron lands + a Mindslaver (sometimes through Treasure Mage) + Expedition Map/Academy Ruins leading to an instant lock. Still there are many Mono U Tron players who don’t play this card and the reasoning is usually:
- cannot be tutored for (except with gifts which is another issue altogether)
- cannot be recurred with Ruins
- more expensive than a 2nd Oblivion Stone
- weak against man lands, affinity, twin, …
These are valid concerns but in my personal opinion Ugin is too good to not play him. You don’t really need to tutor him. The tutoring still works exactly as before you can tutor up Angel/Engine/Titan/Slaver(/Batterskull) when you need to, however Ugin you can only draw into. When you do draw into Ugin, it is usually a huge blowout like we only know it from Sundering Titan vs 3-color decks. I believe while Ugin is very good and very fun it is not mandatory to play him. He is good but not necessary.
Batterskull competes with Wurmcoil Engine for the same slot in this deck: lifelinker, stabilizer, win con. Wurmcoil Engine was first and is still the favourite for many people. A few reasons why Wurmcoil Engine might be better (quoted from MTG-Fan):
However there are some good qualities too. The most important thing to consider is Path to Exile, the best answer versus Wurmcoil Engine, doesn’t really do anything against Batterskull. Batterskull is generally very resilient to removal as long as you have 8+ mana and while it is true that bouncing and replaying takes time and mana your opponent is basically trading removal spells for tempo which is a good trade for us as long as we don’t die immediately.
Something that is too often ignored (I was guilty of this for a time) is the ability to equip Batterskull for 5. Especially when you already have a creature in play that doesn’t have summoning sickness it’s a great idea to equip Batterskull on that creature and swing rather than bounce replay. Having a Titan or Angel equiped with Batterskull is insane. A Snappy/Treasure Mage/Solemn riding the ‘skull is still way better than a 4/4 germ.
Batterskull costs only 5 mana compared to Wurmcoil Engine 6 mana. This can be great because you might be able to play Batterskull earlier against decks like Zoo where you want the stabilizer asap but it also means you cannot tutor for it with Treasure Mage. If you want to be able to tutor for Batterskull you can play Fabricate, which has a few other advantages like tutoring Chalice, Map, Ostone, Jester’s Cap, Spellskite and being able to flashback it with Snappy.
Even when we ignore the cmc and removal it’s not obvious which card performs better on the board. In a stabilizing/lifelinker role Batterskull can sometimes be better because of vigilance allowing you to attack and block gaining 8 life each turn. In similiar situation it’s sometimes a real headache whether you want to attack with your Engine because you might die to your opponents swing if he has Snap+Bolt in your end step. The advantage for Batterskull only gets bigger if we can equip on another creature. Still there is again also an argument for Wurmcoil Engine being the better stabilizer. Consider a Primeval Titan, 4/5 Tarmogoyf or just any creature that can block a Batterskull for days. The deathtouch on Engine is very good vs double blocking, stopping your opponent from just swinging with their biggest dude every turn and generally a great thing to have. Trading an Engine with one of your opponents big dudes is usually a good play considering we get tokens and have Academy Ruins. Compare that to chump blocking with your germ every turn, it may buy you some time but you have to spend 8 mana each turn to keep your board state while your opponent is most likely still developing his board further.
One last thing which you have to consider is Stony Silence. It doesn’t completely turn Batterskull into a blank since you still have the ETB trigger but it seriously weakens it. I still believe in playing Batterskull vs white, you just have to keep this card in mind and bounce it at some point.
1.7 Value Gifts
Most people think about UW tron and reanimating Elesh Norn or Iona when they see Gifts Ungiven. That’s not at all what you want to do with Gifts Ungiven in Mono U Tron. Instead you can use Gifts as a value engine to get card advantage and to some degree tutoring. Imagine you are playing vs combo or control and you are in dire need of a counter: Gifts into Remand, Condescend, Negate, Snapcaster Mage. Or against midrange/aggro you are dead on board: Gifts into Aetherize, Oblivion Stone, Cyclonic Rift, Snapcaster. Or you are looking to end the game so you get Mindslaver, Expedition Map (to get Academy Ruins), Ugin, Noxious Revival. Gifts Ungiven gives you an insane amount of options and it’s just a great blue card in pretty much every part of the game. Cards like Snapcaster, Crucible of the Worlds and Noxious Revival help you maximize the effectiveness of Gifts Ungiven, but adding these cards will dilute the core of your deck. So you have to make a choice how deep you want to go with Gifts. The most conservative approach as seen by Shoktroopa is to just add 1-2 Gifts Ungiven to a stock list. When I played Gifts I went a little bit further playing 2 Gifts, 1 Noxious main and 1 Crucible side and making several changes to other cards in the main and side to get more out of my Gifts. In my personal opinion playing with value Gifts is a lot of fun but most likely not as strong as a streamlined “normal” version of Mono U Tron. At 4cmc Gifts is rather expensive for modern, especially if we keep in mind that Gifts does not have an immediate impact most of the time. With Gifts you will eventually generate an advantage but sometimes it’ll just be too slow or too clunky.
If you do want to try Gifts you should keep some things in mind:
You want to build your deck in such a way that you have different cards doing the same thing, e.g. Batterskull/Wurmcoil Engine, O-Stone/Ugin, Cyclonic Rift/Aetherize/Aetherspouts/Hibernation. This way if you are in need of a lifelinker, a wipe or a bounce you have several targets for your Gifts and you can make sure that you end up with at least 1 answer to your problem. Most notably I would play some 1-of counters (Mana Leak, Swan Song, Pact of Negation, Negate) in the 75 so you can Gifts into 4 different counters. Having at least 3 answers against midrange “dead on board” situations is also important (like Aetherize, Silent Arbiter, lifelinker, wipe). Snow-Covered Island also falls in this category, to make it easier to get a blue source.
Snapcaster is a decent card in Mono U Tron but usually not considered a core part of the deck which is irreplacable. However if you play Gifts the value of Snapcaster increases a lot and you should play at least one. Another card which has a great synergy with Gifts is Noxious Revival as a blank 4th Gifts target. Crucible enables you to get lands very aggressively, like going for Tower, Crucible, Mine, Map. Buried Ruins is another possibility. There are probably more cards with either flashback or other graveyard interaction which you could use with Gifts.
4cmc is quite a lot in a format like modern. If you play Talisman you will be able to play Gifts on turn3 at least sometimes, and that one turn is going to be the difference between stabilizing in time and dying often enough.
Here is one example deck list.
1.8 Mana Leak vs Remand
When I started out building the deck I was on a tight budget and replaced expensive cards like Remand with cheaper alternatives like Mana Leak. Back then I argued that the budget version of Mono U Tron wasn’t that much worse than the “real” version. So at firs I only considered Mana Leak to be a budget alternative to Remand but recently some people started to replace their main Remands with Mana Leaks because Remand is so bad vs very cheap spells and aggro decks in general. Who hasn’t been in this situation: you have an engine in play, your opponent casts path and your only counter is Remand.
Mana Leak is definitely a playable spell and in an aggro-heavy meta I believe playing Mana Leak over Remand is the correct decision, which is pretty obvious if you think about how many matchups we board out Remands (basically every aggro matchup). The really tough question is how aggro-heavy does your meta need to be? I’ve personally not felt the need to play Mana Leak in the mtgo meta but I might try a split soon to give Mana Leak a try. I hesitate to make the change because Remand, Repeal and Condescends digging ability are an important component of this deck. Often I only end up assembling tron or finding my answer because of the digging on those cards.
2 Rejected Cards
We all know how good Karn Liberated can be because of RG tron. So why not give Karn a try in Mono U Tron? Well RG tron is really a completely different deck with a completely different gameplan. RG tron plays so many cards dedicated to assembling tron they can pretty consistently have tron by turn 3-4. Furthermore they play 4 Karns plus ways to find him so a turn 3-4 Karn is quite likely. In comparison Mono U Tron takes more time to assemble tron and to find Karn. So while Karn can be expected turn 3-4 in RG tron it’s much more likely we assemble tron by turn 6-7 but then we’d still need to be lucky and find Karn. Karn on turn 3 wins the game, Karn on turn 7? Well if you are lucky he might still win you the game but too often your opponent just won’t care. Against creature decks you’d probably end up exiling one creature and then lose your Karn. Against combo you might lose the next turn. Against control Karn might actually be great even on turn 7 but control is neither popular nor a problem for us.
Karn is only great if you play him early – something that we cannot consistently do.
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn is the biggest, baddest thing there is in Magic. Emrakul is inevitability. Emrakul is unconditional. Emrakul will punish any deck that gives you enough time to play him. Those are the reasons Emmy is usually a 1-of in RG Tron. If the opponent takes too long RG tron will eventually just “oops I win” with Emrakul. Add the synergy with Eye of Ugin as both a tutor and enabler and it makes a lot of sense to play him in RG Tron. So why not play it in Mono U Tron? Because we already have an unconditional and (somewhat) inevitable win condition: Mindslaver lock. Mindslaver lock just fits better into our deck. We can tutor for Mindslaver with the same cards that let us tutor our other stuff, however tutoring for Emmy would be awkward for our mana base. Emrakul will often be an expensive dead card in your hand while Mindslaver is cheaper and can be used earlier not as a lock-win but to disrupt our opponent significantly. Both Mindslaver lock and Emrakul will almost certainly win you the game if they happen although there will be some games you won’t be able to win with Emrakul but you could win with Mindslaver and vice versa.
Thanks to Thomas Pendergast there are now a bunch of new U Tron players running around playing a 1-of Kozilek, Butcher of Truth main. I have to admit that I never tried Kozilek or any other Eldrazi side or main board but I feel pretty confident in my assessment especially after I saw Thomas reasoning for playing Kozi and how fast he abandoned the idea. Thomas reasoning to play Kozi main as far as I understand it was:
- there was mill in his local meta
- just giving it a try because why not
- it’s not a bad card. it’s not unplayable
And I think those are pretty good reasons. I love to try out crazy stuff myself (e.g. Culling Scales) but it’s kind of unfortunate that one of the best finishes and therefore one of the most popular deck lists isn’t a completely solid list. Especially since there are surely people who believe the reason Thomas was able to perform so well compared to other U Tron pilots is that Kozilek.
Kozi is definitely playable, for 10 he will at very least draw 4 even if he is countered/removed. If he is not countered/removed it’s a really fast clock. That being said I am pretty sure a Kozi is just worse than any other staple threat you could play in that slot (Mindslaver, Ugin, Titan, Angel, Engine, Bskull). Kozi is a nombo with Academy Ruins and you cannot tutor for it. I could see Kozi as a sideboard card which is good vs control because draw 4 even if he gets countered is so huge. But do we really need a sideboard card specifically for control? One at 10 cmc? I doubt it.
2.4 Steel Hellkite
Steel Hellkite used to be played before my time. I never really gave it a shot because in my opinion he is just too slow and doesn’t have enough impact right away. Most likely he will be removed before you can use the ability, he’ll be blocked or his ability won’t matter. Sure his ability can be blowout but Ugin seems superior in the role of blowing up the board. I can’t find any reason to play him over any of the other threats.
2.5 Ratchet Bomb
I used to play Ratched Bomb a long time ago and I remember it being too slow pretty much all the time. Even in a best case scenario when you play it turn 2 you can’t blow up your opponents 2 drops before turn 4. At that point I’d rather stall with a Silent Arbiter on turn 4. I can see how this card can be good vs elves and tokens but against any other deck it seems to slow. Imagine putting a couple of counters on this only to lose it to Abrupt Decay.
2.6 Reality Shift
Reality Shift is one of the cards which are sometimes discussed as alternatives for Dismember. The other ones are usually Psionic Blast and Pongify. All of these are just worse than Dismember in my opinion. They cost too much mana or leave behind a body, which is significant since we usually die to creatures attacking us. A 3/3 from Pongify is definitely a bigger problem than a 2/2 which Treasure Mage can trade with but the 2/2 might be turned face up. I don’t see a reason to play any of these over Dismember, if you are worried about the life cost of Dismember you can try playing an Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth or Dimir Signets.
2.7 Staff of Nin
I love Staff of Nin and tested it extensively with surprisingly good results. My twitch chat actually started to call it “Staff of Win” because it performed so good. The ping ability can be helpful to keep Planeswalker at low loyalty, kill some creatures or having a clock but the real reason to play this card is obviously the draw. Some games Staff of Nin will be insane but in these games your opponent is kind of durdling around doing nothing for a lot of turns. In any other game it doesn’t have enough impact and it’s too slow. The amount of creatures that you can kill with Staff is really not that big. The card draw is nice and will surely eventually at some time win you the game. But it doesn’t have an impact right away and that’s really the reason the card is not good enough imo. Every single threat we play has to have an impact right away.
- Wurmcoil Engine, Batterskull, Platinum Angel = instantly stabilize the board (quite often at least)
- Mindslaver = oops I win or at least disrupt the enemy quite a bit
- Sundering Titan = oops I win against some decks or at least a big guy which takes down one land
- Ugin = instantly stabilize the board, respectable clock since -10 wins the game
So sadly while I love the card I don’t think it should be in any Mono U Tron decklist. It is fun and it is almost borderline playable but in the end I’d play an extra copy of any other threat over Staff. There is no matchup where I’d want a staff except control/grindy attrition which is really not a concern.
2.8 Trading Post
Trading Post is a really fun value engine that has a lot of interesting uses like saccing your Engine in response to Path. Sadly it is really slow and doesn’t impact the game fast enough to be playable imo. When I tested this card I never played it despite having it in my hand quite often. Every single time I choose to ignore it and do something else with my mana, which is a pretty good indicator the card does not deserve the slot.
3 Matchups and Sideboarding
Good cards: Wurmcoil Engine, Solemn Simulacrum, Thirst for Knowledge. To a lesser degree also Sundering Titan, Mindslaver, Ugin, Repeal, Remand, Condescend. Yes that’s almost all of our cards!
Bad cards: Chalice of the Void
Good sideboard cards: Pithing Needle, Squelch and Dismember (?)
Jund games can be very tough sometimes especially when they are all in on creature beats. However we are usually well equipped to deal with their game plan. They try to win a grindy attrition battle but sadly for them that’s not a good plan against us. First of all we have ways to generate a lot of card advantage with Thirst for Knowledge. Secondly even if both players are hellbent which is what the Jund player wants to achieve we have the scarier topdecks. If you topdeck an Engine, Ugin, Mindslaver or Sundering Titan they probably lose the game. On the other hand we have plenty of answers for their stuff.
3.2 Grixis Control
Good cards: Wurmcoil Engine, Dismember and Negate to take care of their creatures and spells (Commands, Molten Rain, Sowing Salt, …)
Bad cards: Ugin (-7 to clear the board?), Platinum Angel, Spell Burst, Repeal
Control is usually a great matchup for us because we end up with way more mana and bigger/better threats in the end. Sideboarding against Grixis Control is a little bit awkward because a lot of our cards can be awesome or garbage. Remand is pretty good vs delve creatures and Commands but bad against the rest. Chalice on 1 definitely has an impact but it’s not going to win the game by itself like it does versus some other decks. It’s also weak vs KolaCommand.
I personally keep my Remands and 2 main Chalice in, I don’t board in any additional Chalice though.
3.3 Splinter Twin
Twin is a combo deck we are well equipped to deal with. Between our counters, bounce and Dismember you should be able to stop them from achieving a combo win most of the time. I’ve had more problems against RUG and Grixis Twin because they will attack you from several different angles. UR Twin is more all in on the combo although they can still win with Bolt-Snap-Bolt. Try to get 2 blue sources as soon as possible and never tap out (unless their EOT).
3.4 Gr Tron
Gr Tron is often times seen as the “better” Tron deck however the direct matchup should be favourable for us. They will try to slam Karn Liberated as soon as turn 3. Karn is absolutely insane and will probably destroy two lands so it is very important to use Remand, Condescend and Negate to stop Karn. After countering a threat or two they usually lose their momentum and have to get more Tron lands + Eye of Ugin to get back into the game. If you take too long you will eventually lose to Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. I believe it is usually better to use your land destruction early for a Tron land rather than waiting for Eye of Ugin. Somewhat counterintuitively Chalice on 1 is very good against GR Tron. It doesn’t really deal with Karn or Emrakul but it shuts down so a lot of cards (Map, Stirrings, Eggs, Nature’s Claim) and considerably cripples them. You cannot however just tap out for chalice and hope for the best – you always need to have the counter ready for Karn! Post-board you also have to look out for Boil. If you play Jester’s Cap or Surgical Extraction you can take away all their Urza’s Tower (or Mine/Powerplant) or just take Emrakul/Karn, which is usually game winnings.
Infect is fast, often too fast but this matchup is definitely not unwinnable. Platinum Angel is very good especially game 1. Chalice on 1 will shut down most of their deck but they can still win with Become Immense or Wild Defiance. If you have a Repeal or Dismember try to use it when they are tapped out to avoid getting blown out by Vines of the Vastwood or Apostle’s Blessing.
Robots (often times referred to as Affinity) is a very fast deck with very little interaction. Their most important cards are Cranial Plating, Steel Overseer, Master of Etherium, Inkmoth Nexus and Arcbound Ravager. If you manage to counter/remove/stop these cards you will most likely win. On the draw a Chalice on 0 will do a lot of work and probably win you the game. Chalice on 2 is also extremely powerful.
Merfolk is in my opinion the worst matchup. They are fast, they can disrupt your lands with Spreading Seas and they use Aether Vial and Cavern of Souls to blank our Remand and Condescend. Additionally they can deal with an early Angel or Engine because of Islandwalk and Vapor Snag. Your best bet is to get a fast boardwipe (Ugin or O-Stone). Merfolk Assassin, Ratchet Bomb and Engineered Explosives have been discussed as possible sb options against Merfolk but I doubt it’s worth running them considering how unpopular Merfolk is. Every deck has a really shitty matchup and this is ours.
There are a lot of ways to combat Scapeshift. Game 1 you basically have to win the counter war over Scapeshift and then Mindslaver or Sundering Titan them. Post-board you get a lot more options with Spellskite, Lifelinker and destruction of Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle. If two out of these three things happen you will most likely win! Scapeshift can usually shoot up to 36 damage (2 Valakut, 6 Mountains). However if they play a Valakut and you manage to destroy it the amount of damage they can do decreases to 24ish (1 Valakut, 8 Mountains). Spellskite will also decrease the damage they can do by redirecting the Valakut triggers both for blue mana and 2 life. If you have both a Spellskite and destroyed a Valakut you probably win. Similiarly if you have either a Spellskite or a Valakut destroyed and you get an early lifelinker you will probably reach a life total they cannot reach. Jester’s Cap gives you another angle of attack winning you the game for just 6 mana. Just take both Valakuts or three Mountains.
Burn used to be an okay-ish matchup for me but they seem to have transitioned into a list which looks more like a small Naya Zoo. I find it harder to deal with lots of small creatures compared to lots of cheap burn spells. Chalice on 1 and Chalice on 2 can do a lot of work but they might be too late or just die to artifact hate. If they have an Eidolon of the Great Revel you probably lose. Getting an early Lifelinker or Angel is almost your only way to win.
3.11 Amulet Bloom
A weird matchup for sure. Sometimes they have the nuts and you have almost no chance but they are not that consistent. Chalice on 0 is pretty good to make them even less consistent but it doesn’t stop Hive Mind combo kill. Squelch has been pretty good for me as well, both to stop Tolaria West and the utility lands activiation. Your plan is pretty much what you always try to do: use your counter and bounce to delay them as much as possible. Mindslaver is quite strong and even a single activation can often be lethal through the proper use of Tolaria West and Pacts.
3.12 Ad Nauseam
Good cards: Chalice, Counters, Jester’s Cap
Bad cards: Angel, Ugin
This deck tries to draw the whole library by first casting Angel’s Grace or Phyrexian Unlife and then Ad Nauseam. Their finisher is usually Lightning Storm. There is almost nothing you can do after they’ve drawn their library because they play Simian Spirit Guides, Pact of Negation, Slaughter Pact and Echoing Truth, so you need to fight them before they resolve Ad Nauseam.
You can try to Remand Lotus Bloom and Repeal Pentad Prism to slow them down. Chalice on 1 and 3 are very good against Angel’s Grace and Phyrexian Unlife. Chalice on 0 hits their pacts and will make winning a counter war a lot easier. Jester’s Cap is probably you strongest card and will win you the game unless they have Lightning Storm in their hand.
3.13 UWR Control
Matchup: extremely favourable
This deck is usually so slow that we just win by default. It does help to know how to properly play a control mirror. If they ever tap out you should try to punish them for it by resolving something important like Thirst for Knowledge or a threat. You should never tap out unless in their EOT or for something amazing like a Mindslaver activation.
Matchup: slightly favourable
Good cards: Chalice, Counters, Relic, Surgical Extraction
Bad Cards: Repeal, Ugin, Angel
This matchup is kind of hit and miss. Sometimes they have an insanely fast hand and you can’t deal with that but usually they have a hard time against the huge number of counter spells we play. Chalice on 2 shuts down a huge chunk of their deck.
3.18 Death and Taxes
Death and Taxes is one of the worst matchups. Due to Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Strip Mines you will have mana problems and your counter, bounce and draw spells will be rather inefficient. If you do manage to resolve a threat they have a lot of ways to deal with them: Flickerwisp and Path to Exile. Your best bet is to secure land drops and hope to outlast their hate.
3.20 Best Tron
Most of your threats are garbage in this matchup. It is possible to have natural tron and get a fast Engine on the field, but most likely that line of play will just run into Remand. You are far more likely going to win with Mindslaver, which makes Academy Ruins one of the most important cards in this match. You should try to save your land destruction for the opponents Ruins and protect your Ruins as best as you can. In the early game you just want to play a standard control game: don’t tap out, hit your land drops, counter your opponents important spells and punish your opponent for tapping out by resolving something important yourself. Squelch is amazing against Mindslaver, Map, land destruction and even Academy Ruins activation. Use Jester’s Cap to either keep your opponent of tron or take win cons + Academy Ruins. Chalice on 1 is good if you don’t run 1cmc counters but your opponent does.