10Tix Modern League: Winning and Notable Deck Lists

We started this event way back at the beginning of October and it has only just wrapped up. I have learned my lesson and will never run a big double-elimination event like that again; from here on out it is Swiss and cuts to Top 8, all the way. What I may do again, however, is run a 10Tix Modern event.

The format was super interesting and varied and a nice assortment of lists managed to perform well. We’ll probably return to it again for a future event, though for the very next event I have my eyes set on Penny Dreadful. I’m not sure when we’ll get that up and running, but keep an eye out, probably in February.

On to the good stuff now, though. Here are the best-performing and coolest lists from our 10Tix Modern league event. Prizes for this event were provided by the ever-awesome Cardhoarder. Please consider buying stuff from them either through their site or bots to thank them for all the PRE support they provide.

Winning List: UB Control by Mabus_77

[d]
Creatures
3 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
1 Frost Titan
1 Kozilek, the Great Distortion

Spells
2 Black Sun’s Zenith
1 Consume the Meek
3 Delay
2 Go for the Throat
4 Mystical Teachings
2 Repeal
3 Rewind
4 Rune Snag
1 Slaughter Pact
1 Sudden Death
2 Think Twice
2 Tribute to Hunger

Artifacts
1 Spine of Ish Sah

Land
6 Island
3 Swamp
4 Temple of Deceit
3 Dimir Aqueduct
4 Dreadship Reef
3 Underground River
4 Drowned Catacomb

Sideboard
2 Cancel
1 Consume the Meek
4 Disfigure
2 Dispel
2 Doom Blade
1 Haunting Hymn
1 Soul Spike
1 Sudden Death
1 Tribute to Hunger
[/d]

> > Buy this list on Cardhoarder.

Mabus_77 took this list undefeated in six matches to the final. Littlefield came up out of the loser’s bracket and beat Mabus in the first match, but wasn’t able to get the back-to-back match wins he needed to secure victory. In the end, this UB Control list went 7-1 and took first place.

Price-wise this deck came in at $8.56 when submitted on October 5, though it has risen to $13.55 today. Still affordable by any means.


2nd Place List: Soul Sisters by Littlefield

[d]
Creatures
4 Ajani’s Pridemate
4 Hanweir Militia Captain
4 Lone Rider
2 Serra Avenger
4 Soul Warden
4 Soul’s Attendant
4 Squadron Hawk
4 Suture Priest

Enchantments
1 Honor of the Pure

Spells
3 Blessed Alliance
3 Brave the Elements
2 Path to Exile
2 Sunlance

Land
19 Plains

Sideboard
1 Borrowed Grace
1 Brave the Elements
2 Circle of Protection: Green
1 Divine Offering
2 Honor of the Pure
4 Kor Firewalker
2 Revoke Existence
2 Timely Reinforcements
[/d]

> > Buy this list on Cardhoarder.

There were a lot of strong white lists in the event, but Littlefield managed to pilot this Soul Sisters version all the way into a solid second place. After losing his third match, he fought his way through to the finals, taking the first match against Mabus_77 but not being able to attain the back-to-back match wins he needed to secure first place. In the end the list went a very respectable 10-2.

White lists are great for budgets, which may be why we saw so many crop up in this event. This list weighed in at $8.65 and is actually priced slightly cheaper today at $8.52, with over half of that blown on the 2x [c]Path to Exile[/c]s.

Our fourth place list, finishing 5-2 and piloted by Michelle_Wong, was also Mono White, though eschewed the sisters for a more aggressive package.


3rd Place List: Mono U Tron by Playm4ker

[d]
Creatures
3 Conduit of Ruin
1 Drowner of Hope
1 Bane of Bala Ged
1 Mage-Ring Responder
1 Platinum Angel
1 Ulamog’s Crusher
1 Desolation Twin

Spells
1 Anticipate
3 Condescend
1 Fabricate
4 Mana Leak
1 Reality Shift
2 Repeal
1 Sleight of Hand
3 Spatial Contortion
1 Spell Burst
1 Summary Dismissal
3 Thirst for Knowledge

Artifacts
4 Expedition Map
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Mindslaver

Lands
1 Academy Ruins
2 Blighted Cataract
1 Ghost Quarter
8 Island
4 Urza’s Mine
4 Urza’s Power Plant
4 Urza’s Tower

Sideboard
1 Aetherize
1 Dispel
1 Fabricate
2 Icy Blast
3 Negate
1 Orbs of Warding
1 Ratchet Bomb
1 Spatial Contortion
1 Tormod’s Crypt
3 Vapor Snag
[/d]

> > Buy this list on Cardhoarder.

I love U Tron in Modern so I was really happy to see Playm4ker do well with this list. Undefeated in its first five matches, this deck fell from grace only at the end, but still finished a respectable 5-2.

This deck snuck in at exactly $10 when submitted, though due to recent bannings the price has skyrocketed today to just under $30. Still an affordable list for the format and such a fun archetype to play.


5th Place Lists: UG Infect and Elves

Tied for fifth place we find two mostly green lists, Infect piloted by Bibbob ($12) to a 5-2 finish and Elves piloted by Nate316 ($18) which finished 4-2.

7th Place Lists: Stompy and WW

Nickdebe and Yokai_ round out the top 8 with their lists. Nickdebe piloted Mono Green Stompy ($14) to a 4-2 finish while Yokai_ took yet another aggressive White list ($11) through to a 6-2 finish.

All the red lists placed out of the top 8, though a handful did make the top 16, along with a few more control lists, mainly in UB and UW, and another elves list.

A deck of one’s own

Since the format necessitated people submitting their deck lists ahead of time, I had to opt out of playing this event, since it would hardly seem fair if I knew ahead of time what cards each of my opponents would be playing.

Even so I had a lot of fun testing the format, and put together a handful of lists. Of them, had I had the chance to play, I probably would have run this UB Pack Rats list with [c]Training Grounds[/c].

I love brewing Modern on a budget and received a lot of great comments from our participants as well. I hope everyone had fun, and will keep an eye out for our next event, which will likely launch sometime in February. All events are free to enter and feature prize support from Cardhoarder.

Modern Jank – Troll Worship (Also totally NOT a rant about the bans)

Hello! Some of you may remember me from about three years now of making the occasional video and writing an article here and there. If you like rogue, semi-stupid decks and sarcastic commentary, then you might like what I write. If you don’t, there is always the back button. Or, you could pull an Internet and pointlessly bash me in the comments. To each their own.

Anyway, I was going to write an article about the new banned list. But let’s be honest – that topic has been beaten to death. Literally every major Magic YouTube channel and / or website has done a piece about the fact that the Amulet Bloom deck is dead (like we didn’t see that one coming), and that the [c]Splinter Twin[/c] banning was uncalled for. I will not subject you to an article’s worth of words about the bans; you can look at Binkabi’s video here if you want more detailed content on that.

I will, however, subject you to this minor rant. Whatever the “Evil Gestapo” at Wizards of the Coast do with the Modern banned list does not matter. While I can agree that their motives for banning [c]Splinter Twin[/c] seem ulterior, why waste time trying to figure them out? It could be monetary, it could be for a little spice in the format, or it could be for publicity. Who cares? Unless you invested a lot in Twin, and are very sad that you have lost your money slash favorite deck, there is ONLY one reason to be mad. That reason is that Red Green Tron is about to be a major nuisance. It yanks my chain that one of the very few decks capable of keeping Tron in check is gone. POOF!

Boromir Beat RG Tron

Tron destroys midrange and has a good matchup against control and weenie decks. Combo archetypes, Twin in particular, are Tron’s nightmare matchups, as it has little to no meaningful interaction in the first game and even post-board. Sure, Wizards, just take away our best respite from the wrecking ball of Modern decks. We all love getting [c]Karn Liberated[/c] to death and having our heads relieved of their eyeballs and ears via [c]Wurmcoil Engine[/c]. Hell, it’s like Wizards knew that Tron would dominate after the Twin banning. So much so that they printed that [c]Crumble to Dust[/c] card.

The following is a real and unscripted conversation that took place in Wizards of the Coast’s R&D Department sometime before the 18th of January.

Dude 1: “Hey man, we want to ban Splinter Twin in Modern.”
Dude 2: “Oh yeah that’s a nice mix up. All those Twin players are gonna be super butthurt!”
Dude 1: “I know right? Hey at least I play R/G Tron. I hate the Twin Matchup, but I fear that now that it’s out of the way EVERYONE will want to play Tron!”
Dude 2: “Yo we could totally research and develop a card to make the Tron mirror interesting…”
Dude 1: “So you mean… A functional reprint of [c]Sowing Salt[/c] that can be found with [c]Ancient Stirrings[/c] and that is easier on the Tron manabase?”
Dude 2: “Umm I was thinking something like an Eldrazi that could [c]Crucible of Worlds[/c] so that there would be like some forced [c]Ghost Quarter[/c] interaction or something… But that card would be too busted and I’m lazy so that works too!”

In that matchup, it will be whichever player resolves that [c]Crumble to Dust[/c] first that will probably win. Imagine the days in Legacy when [c]Mental Misstep[/c] was legal… Aka my worst nightmares. Half of your meta will be the Urza Abomination, and since your Twin deck is no longer useful, you’ll probably just end up playing Tron with the rest of them. Assuming you were a Twin player, that is.

(Insert great segue here)

And this is why I choose to play brews and decks that are fun yet still maintain a decent win ratio. There’s a good chance that your deck will be completely shafted by some mildly senseless ban. Plus you will be that “one guy” playing your jank brew. You will be adored or hated based on that brew. In this read, I will share with you my take on a deck that is so Troll it’s not even funny. The deck is called Troll Worship for two reasons. One – it literally worships trolling your opponent by stopping them from winning. Two – it plays the cards [c]Troll Ascetic[/c] and [c]Worship[/c].

Is it cheap? By Modern standards, it’s not too hard on the pocket. Does it win? The deck has a The Rock-y feel, meaning it has few “bad” matchups and mostly okay to good ones. Is it stupid, janky, and sure to make some opponents pull their hair out as you remain at one life until they die? Oh, absolutely. Let me hit you up with my list before delving into the intricacies of Troll Worship.

[d title=”Troll Worship 2K16 (Modern)”]
Creatures
3 Geist of Saint Traft
4 Birds of Paradise
2 Sylvan Caryatid
2 Avacyn’s Pilgrim
4 Qasali Pridemage
4 Troll Ascetic
1 Thrun, the Last Troll
1 Knight of the Reliquary
Instants
4 Path to Exile
2 Spell Pierce
1 Spell Snare
Other Spells
3 Worship
2 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
4 Spectral Flight
Lands
4 Windswept Heath
2 Flooded Strand
1 Wooded Foothills
2 Forest
1 Plains
1 Island
1 Gavony Township
2 Breeding Pool
2 Temple Garden
3 Ghost Quarter
1 Hallowed Fountain
3 Razorverge Thicket
Sideboard
2 Rest in Peace
2 Stony Silence
2 Dispel
3 Surgical Extraction
3 Kor Firewalker
2 Pithing Needle
1 Thrun, the Last Troll
[/d]

The Big Picture

At base, this is a fairly aggressive Bant Midrange deck that tries to resolve the card [c]Worship[/c] with a creature in play in order to soft lock the game against most decks. Being one of the most resilient creature types in Magic, with both Hexproof and Regeneration, trolls play very well with Worship as they can be near-impossible to get off the board. Other hexproof creatures, most notably [c]Geist of Saint Traft[/c], are included to ensure a high density of threats that also make great targets for equipment or enchantments. Some spot removal and utility spells will round out the typical Troll Worship deck.

The Mana

With a top-end of four on the mana curve, this deck likes mana dork acceleration in concert with plenty of lands to be able to cast spells on time or a turn early. Such cards are easy in Bant colors, with the three dorks of choice being [c]Noble Hierarch[/c], [c]Birds of Paradise[/c], and [c]Sylvan Caryatid[/c]. Optimally, the deck plays eight because it almost always wants one in the opening hand. I’ve seen some people play nine to ensure a turn one or two mana creature, but this is up to personal preference. Hierarch is obviously the best of the three. Exalted in an aggressive deck cannot be undervalued. The only reason it is not in this particular list is that budget is a concern. If you have Hierarchs, play them over Caryatid. The dryad is nice in that it has Hexproof, which has better synergy with Worship, but the extra mana can slow the curve and detract from the speed of the deck. In this list I have opted for a 2/2 split between the plant and [c]Avacyn’s Pilgrim[/c]. Pilgrim is the best 1-mana replacement for Hierarch, and contributes to better turn 2 plays than Caryatid, even though it is more likely to bite the dust.

Other than the accelerants, the land base shown is not bad on the wallet and will consistently provide all colors of mana. The new Khans reprint fetches go for surprisingly little, and as a primarily two color deck, only five shock lands are needed. The four basics are a great hedge against [c]Blood Moon[/c], work well against opposing [c]Path to Exile[/c]s, and most importantly do not affect consistency like they might in more color-intensive decks. [c]Razorverge Thicket[/c] is an all-star which allows the deck to save a fetch and not take any damage to cast a turn 1 mana dork. [c]Gavony Township[/c] is a bullet land that helps mitigate stall-outs and add relevance to our smaller creatures. Most importantly, [c]Ghost Quarter[/c] is one of the few main deck ways this deck has to interact with Tron. Do not fear Quartering early; if anything, it will help you race and try to win before an O-Stone can come down. This will be discussed further in the sideboard and matchup analysis.

The Creatures

As discussed, the deck runs a nice helping of mana acceleration creatures to make things faster and smoother. But what to do with it? Well, in a deck that plays with [c]Worship[/c], we want to play a number of creatures that are both threatening and resilient, the first of which is [c]Geist of Saint Traft[/c]. Good ol’ GST is insanely good right now. With fewer [c]Remand[/c]s being played, and most conventional removal being worthless, Geist is a card that can and will end games on its own. Even with hexproof, the 2/2 will be swinging into the red zone pretty often, and with only 2 toughness, he is not liable to survive all of the action. For this, we need those trolls that I mentioned earlier. You know, the ones that leave unintelligible garbage comments all over the internet insulting people. Those trolls.

troll ascetic art

[c]Troll Ascetic[/c] is our main man for this sort of activity. The “moderators” [c]Path to Exile[/c] and [c]Lightning Bolt[/c] cannot target our mischievous friend, and he shrugs off the beatings he would receive in combat with a simple “u mad?” for {1}{G}. Costing only 3, Ascetic is the best troll for the deck. “But what about [c]Witchstalker[/c]?” This is honestly a metagame call. If you expect a lot of Grixis control-style decks, against which Witchstalker is an inescapable threat, then it can certainly replace Ascetic. When faced with *cough* [c]Oblivion Stone[/c] and the like, the regeneration ability is significantly more valuable. In general, four trolls will not cut it. We want at least one more, just for good measure… And that’s when big poppa Thrun comes in.

[c]Thrun, the Last Troll[/c] will be the dude to survive everything. It is hard to say that he is strictly better than Ascetic, despite being uncounterable, because he can be cast at turn three at the earliest. When it comes down to it, speed trumps all. Remember that even though the deck is slightly higher curved than most aggro decks, it still wants to be attacking with its creatures on time and trying to get ahead just enough so that Worship seals up the game. Thrun is great in combo matchups, and it’s a good idea to play another in the sideboard. In the matchups where he is good, he is really good. Otherwise, he can be a hard to kill 4/4 for 4 at worst. Not too bad, right?

For value dudes, {G}/{w}/{u} has a lot of good options. For this list, I have opted to play 4 [c]Qasali Pridemage[/c] in the maindeck. It’s decent against Tron and Affinity, can remove a troublesome [c]Blood Moon[/c] or [c]AEther Vial[/c], and in a similar manner to Thrun, there are not really any downsides to playing it. In most matchups it is just a reasonably-costed beater that works well with other creatures. If you do not like QPM, there are many other options. [c]Voice of Resurgence[/c], [c]Kitchen Finks[/c], and [c]Scavenging Ooze[/c] come immediately to mind. This is also a relatively budget deck, and Pridemage is the cheapest of the bunch. I have also opted for a 1-of [c]Knight of the Reliquary[/c], which is not a necessary inclusion. Some people like to use a playset, which allows for the use of more “value” lands, but just the one is fine. In particular, it finds [c]Gavony Township[/c] and Ghost Quarter, and some sideboard lands such as [c]Bojuka Bog[/c]. Knight can also be a huge threat in the mid to late game, especially with fetch lands in the deck. Again, this is a flex slot so take your pick. You’re playing the creature colors, so it’s tough to go wrong.

The Support

Let’s think about this for a second. We have a lot of hexproof creatures. We have good mana. Let’s throw some pants on those dudes and go to town! [c]Spectral Flight[/c] is a severely underrated card in Modern. It is a cheap and very effective way to make a creature powerful and evasive. The operative word in that statement is “cheap.” Both in price and mana cost, Flight blows the Swords of X and Y out of the water. For only two mana, the creature that it enchants gets the same boost to power and toughness, and a form of evasion. Swords do the same thing for five mana, except their evasion is color-specific, and they have an upside when combat damage is dealt, and they stick around when the equipped creature dies. This is a bit of a toss-up. For budget reasons, this list runs Flight, but in some matchups, the Swords are just better. In fast matchups, Spectral Flight is better. It’s honestly up to the pilot.

Elspeth art

In addition to the pants for our hexproof guys, this deck does well with the tailor herself – [c]Elspeth, Knight-Errant[/c]. Every single one of her abilities is relevant. She can stitch up some nice Khakis to get GST into the red zone without dying, make a dude to turn on Worship, or make us [c]Wrath of God[/c] – proof. Most lists that run her run three copies, but I have opted for two here. This is to make a little bit of room for some extra interaction. Four [c]Path to Exile[/c] are very important removal spells that deal with threats before we can land a Worship. I have also opted for three 1-mana counterspells. The two [c]Spell Pierce[/c] and one [c]Spell Snare[/c] serve as a way to interact with the opponent in the early turns and disrupt their game plan without having to hold up more than a little bit of mana for something like [c]Remand[/c]. Pierce counters early Lilianas or Karns that we might have trouble dealing with otherwise, and Snare handles [c]Tarmogoyf[/c], [c]Bitterblossom[/c], [c]Spellskite[/c], [c]Atarka’s Command[/c]… Basically all relevant two-drops. It’s a pretty darn good card.

Also a quick note about the card [c]Worship[/c] itself – it states that DAMAGE cannot reduce your life total to lower than one. Loss of life effects can still kill you. Keep this in mind! While not common, occasionally you may run into something like a [c]Bloodchief Ascension[/c] deck that can drain you even with Worship on the table.

Sideboarding and Matchups

This section will be pretty short and will cover basically two decks – Infect and Tron. Our game against most other decks is pretty strong. Game 1 against Burn is just fine once we land a Worship, but in game two, [c]Destructive Revelry[/c] means that a [c]Kor Firewalker[/c] or two is nice to shore things up. Jund and Junk present little to effectively disrupt the deck and their creatures aren’t a big deal. Infect is a serious problem deck. Worship does nothing to stop poison counters, so short of playing a few copies of [c]Melira, Sylvok Outcast[/c] in the sideboard, the best thing to do is play a few more Spell Pierce. Tron is potentially even worse. Game one, Ghost Quarter is our only way to interact profitably. Quarter early and often, and try to cast Knight of the Reliquary quickly to tutor up more Quarters. Post-board, [c]Pithing Needle[/c] shuts down planeswalkers, and [c]Stony Silence[/c] makes [c]Oblivion Stone[/c], [c]Expedition Map[/c], and [c]Relic of Progenitus[/c] worthless. Most importantly, [c]Surgical Extraction[/c] in concert with [c]Ghost Quarter[/c] stops tron outright. They might still be able to cast something like [c]Wurmcoil Engine[/c] in later turns, but without the fast mana, R/G Tron gets considerably worse. They will likely never resolve [c]Ugin, the Spirit Dragon[/c] if you’ve taken them off of their lands.

The board that I have laid out is pretty bad. Any and every sideboard should be metagame dependent, and tweaked to what you need it to do. If no one plays Tron at your LGS, or you do not expect to see a lot of Burn in the two-mans for whatever reason, change up the game plan.

Adding Money and What You Can Do

The great part about Troll Worship is that it is a highly customizable deck based on what you want to play and how much money you have. If you want to play with more copies of [c]Knight of the Reliquary[/c] and [c]Voice of Resurgence[/c], go for it. Have a playset of Noble Hierarch already? Cut those Pilgrims. If you want to play [c]Misty Rainforest[/c] in lieu of the Foothills and Strands, that is just fine. Besides adding money, you can also change the deck’s game plan entirely. While an aggro deck at heart, [c]Worship[/c] is a great defensive card. It is feasible to play more a controlling Troll Worship deck that runs not only more copies of Worship, but also cards like [c]Oblivion Ring[/c] and [c]Bant Charm[/c]. [c]Sylvan Caryatid[/c] is much better in this type of strategy. If you want to be even more aggressive, cut another Worship and some counterspells to play more creatures.

It’s up to you what you do with the archetype. Whether you play a budget version, or a tricked out, KOTR-package infused monstrosity, you are sure to enjoy trolling your opponents with this deck. I hope you have enjoyed reading about it, and maybe you’ll consider picking up a list that works for you. If you have any questions, feel free to drop me an email at [email protected] I will get back to you ASAP.

Thanks for reading, and see you in future articles and videos!

Peyton Tracey

MagicGatheringStrat2 on MTGO
MagicGatheringStrat. on Cockatrice
@MGSPeyton

Mono U Tron FAQ

Introduction

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.

If you want to see me play the deck check out our stream and this youtube playlist. You can contact me on MTGO (pierakor), twitter, reddit and mtgsalvation.

1 Card Choices

1.1 Talisman/Signet vs Lands

The question is whether to run [c]Talisman of Dominance[/c] (rarely replaced with [c]Dimir Signet[/c]) 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:
[d title=”Shoktroopa style”]
Lands (23, 9 blue)

8 Island

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

3 Talisman of Dominance

4 Expediton Map[/d]

The alternative cbgirardo style mana base cuts the Talismans for 2 more lands, usually 1 [c]Island[/c] and 1 spell land like [c]Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth[/c], [c]Tolaria West[/c] or [c]Cavern of Souls[/c].
[d title=”Cbgirardo style”]
Lands (25, 10 blue)

9 Island

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 Expediton Map[/d]

Pros for shoktroopa style:

  • ramping/curving (e.g. turn2 Talisman, turn3 [c]Solemn Simulacrum[/c], turn4 [c]Wurmcoil Engine[/c])
  • discard fodder for [c]Thirst for Knowledge[/c]
  • blue source safe from [c]Sundering Titan[/c], [c]Boil[/c], [c]Choke[/c], 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 [c]Stony Silence[/c] 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 ([c]Solemn Simulacrum[/c], [c]Gifts Ungiven[/c])
  • lower artifact count which makes [c]Thirst for Knowledge[/c] 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 [c]Chalice of the Void[/c] 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 [c]Boil[/c] and [c]Choke[/c] and less about [c]Ancient Grudge[/c], [c]Shattering Spree[/c], [c]Stony Silence[/c], …

1.2 Solemn Simulacrum

Sad Robot refers to [card]Solemn Simulacrum[/card], 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

[card]Chalice of the Void[/card] 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 [c]Remand[/c]/[c]Condescend[/c]. Now you might be concerned about the nombo with [c]Expedition Map[/c] 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 [c]Thirst for Knowledge[/c]. 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 [c]Path to Exile[/c], [c]Nature’s Claim[/c], [c]Dispel[/c], Inquisition, [c]Thoughtseize[/c], … 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 [c]Tectonic Edge[/c] or 1 [c]Ghost Quarter[/c] to deal with man lands and spell lands like [c]Gavony Township[/c], Tron, [c]Academy Ruins[/c], 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 [c]Boil[/c] 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 [c]Inkmoth Nexus[/c] 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 [c]Ghost Quarter[/c] right now because of [c]Inkmoth Nexus[/c] 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 [c]Ghost Quarter[/c] over [c]Tectonic Edge[/c] and vice versa.

1.5 Ugin the Spirit Dragon

[c]Ugin, the Spirit Dragon[/c] is an amazing card which is worshipped like no other (except for maybe [c]Mindslaver[/c]) 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 [c]Treasure Mage[/c]) + [c]Expedition Map[/c]/[c]Academy Ruins[/c] 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 [c]Oblivion Stone[/c]
  • 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.

1.6 Batterskull

[c]Batterskull[/c] competes with [c]Wurmcoil Engine[/c] for the same slot in this deck: lifelinker, stabilizer, win con. [c]Wurmcoil Engine[/c] was first and is still the favourite for many people. A few reasons why [c]Wurmcoil Engine[/c] might be better (quoted from MTG-Fan):

– Most decks can deal with the Germ token very easily. Yes, you can bounce the Batterskull back to hand and replay it then, BUT if they abrupt decay or liliana or whatever your Germ token, and you bounce and replay, you’ve just spent THIRTEEN mana for a 4/4 lifelink vigilance guy. If you had Wurmcoil in that situation, Decay doesn’t touch it and Lili edict is just bad vs. it.

– A 4/4 lifelink vigilance is solid vs. aggro but it’s still just a 4/4 body in the end. Against a combo or control deck, that’s a slower clock. For 1 more mana you could have 6/6 instead of 4/4. And against Tarmogoyf decks and the like, a 4/5 tarmogoyf kills a Germ token with ease, whereas no matter how big a Tarmogoyf is it’s always dying to Wurmcoil.

However there are some good qualities too. The most important thing to consider is [c]Path to Exile[/c], the best answer versus [c]Wurmcoil Engine[/c], doesn’t really do anything against [c]Batterskull[/c]. [c]Batterskull[/c] 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 [c]Batterskull[/c] for 5. Especially when you already have a creature in play that doesn’t have summoning sickness it’s a great idea to equip [c]Batterskull[/c] on that creature and swing rather than bounce replay. Having a Titan or Angel equiped with [c]Batterskull[/c] is insane. A Snappy/Treasure Mage/Solemn riding the ‘skull is still way better than a 4/4 germ.

[c]Batterskull[/c] costs only 5 mana compared to [c]Wurmcoil Engine[/c] 6 mana. This can be great because you might be able to play [c]Batterskull[/c] earlier against decks like Zoo where you want the stabilizer asap but it also means you cannot tutor for it with [c]Treasure Mage[/c]. If you want to be able to tutor for [c]Batterskull[/c] you can play [c]Fabricate[/c], which has a few other advantages like tutoring Chalice, Map, Ostone, [c]Jester’s Cap[/c], 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 [c]Batterskull[/c] 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 [c]Primeval Titan[/c], 4/5 [c]Tarmogoyf[/c] 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 [c]Stony Silence[/c]. 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 [c]Gifts Ungiven[/c]. 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 [c]Remand[/c], [c]Condescend[/c], [c]Negate[/c], [c]Snapcaster Mage[/c]. Or against midrange/aggro you are dead on board: Gifts into [c]Aetherize[/c], [c]Oblivion Stone[/c], [c]Cyclonic Rift[/c], Snapcaster. Or you are looking to end the game so you get [c]Mindslaver[/c], [c]Expedition Map[/c] (to get [c]Academy Ruins[/c]), Ugin, [c]Noxious Revival[/c]. 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, [c]Crucible of the Worlds[/c] and [c]Noxious Revival[/c] 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:

Redundancy:
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 ([c]Mana Leak[/c], [c]Swan Song[/c], [c]Pact of Negation[/c], [c]Negate[/c]) 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, [c]Silent Arbiter[/c], lifelinker, wipe). Snow-Covered Island also falls in this category, to make it easier to get a blue source.

Gifts synergy:
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. [c]Buried Ruins[/c] is another possibility. There are probably more cards with either flashback or other graveyard interaction which you could use with Gifts.

Ramping:
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 [c]Remand[/c] with cheaper alternatives like [c]Mana Leak[/c]. 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

2.1 Karn

We all know how good [c]Karn Liberated[/c] 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.

2.2 Emrakul

[c]Emrakul, the Aeons Torn[/c] 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 [c]Eye of Ugin[/c] 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: [c]Mindslaver[/c] 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.

2.3 Kozilek

Thanks to Thomas Pendergast there are now a bunch of new U Tron players running around playing a 1-of [c]Kozilek, Butcher of Truth[/c] 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. [c]Culling Scales[/c]) 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

[c]Steel Hellkite[/c] 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 [c]Ratched Bomb[/c] 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 [c]Silent Arbiter[/c] 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 [c]Abrupt Decay[/c].

2.6 Reality Shift

[c]Reality Shift[/c] is one of the cards which are sometimes discussed as alternatives for [c]Dismember[/c]. The other ones are usually [c]Psionic Blast[/c] and [c]Pongify[/c]. 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 [c]Treasure Mage[/c] 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 [c]Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth[/c] or [c]Dimir Signet[/c]s.

2.7 Staff of Nin

I love [c]Staff of Nin[/c] 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.

  • [c]Wurmcoil Engine[/c], [c]Batterskull[/c], [c]Platinum Angel[/c] = instantly stabilize the board (quite often at least)
  • [c]Mindslaver[/c] = oops I win or at least disrupt the enemy quite a bit
  • [c]Sundering Titan[/c] = 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

[c]Trading Post[/c] 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

3.1 Jund

Matchup: favourable
Good cards: [c]Wurmcoil Engine[/c], [c]Solemn Simulacrum[/c], [c]Thirst for Knowledge[/c]. To a lesser degree also [c]Sundering Titan[/c], [c]Mindslaver[/c], Ugin, [c]Repeal[/c], [c]Remand[/c], [c]Condescend[/c]. Yes that’s almost all of our cards!
Bad cards: [c]Chalice of the Void[/c]
Good sideboard cards: [c]Pithing Needle[/c], [c]Squelch[/c] and [c]Dismember[/c] (?)

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

Matchup: favourable
Good cards: [c]Wurmcoil Engine[/c], [c]Dismember[/c] and [c]Negate[/c] to take care of their creatures and spells (Commands, [c]Molten Rain[/c], [c]Sowing Salt[/c], …)
Bad cards: Ugin (-7 to clear the board?), [c]Platinum Angel[/c], [c]Spell Burst[/c], [c]Repeal[/c]

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. [c]Remand[/c] 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

Matchup: favourable
Good cards: [c]Dismember[/c], Counters, [c]Spellskite[/c]
Bad cards: Chalice, Ugin, [c]Repeal[/c] (to some extent)

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

Matchup: favourable
Good cards: Chalice, [c]Pithing Needle[/c], [c]Squelch[/c], Counters, [c]Jester’s Cap[/c]
Bad cards: [c]Batterskull[/c], [c]Platinum Angel[/c], [c]Repeal[/c], Ugin, [c]Sundering Titan[/c]

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 [c]Karn Liberated[/c] as soon as turn 3. Karn is absolutely insane and will probably destroy two lands so it is very important to use [c]Remand[/c], [c]Condescend[/c] and [c]Negate[/c] to stop Karn. After countering a threat or two they usually lose their momentum and have to get more Tron lands + [c]Eye of Ugin[/c] to get back into the game. If you take too long you will eventually lose to [c]Emrakul, the Aeons Torn[/c]. 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 [c]Boil[/c]. If you play [c]Jester’s Cap[/c] or [c]Surgical Extraction[/c] you can take away all their Urza’s Tower (or Mine/Powerplant) or just take Emrakul/Karn, which is usually game winnings.

3.5 Infect

Matchup: unfavourable
Good cards: [c]Platinum Angel[/c], [c]Repeal[/c], [c]Dismember[/c], [c]Chalice of the Void[/c], [c]Spellskite[/c], [c]Pithing Needle[/c]
Bad cards: [c]Remand[/c], Ugin, [c]Sundering Titan[/c]

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 [c]Become Immense[/c] or [c]Wild Defiance[/c]. If you have a Repeal or Dismember try to use it when they are tapped out to avoid getting blown out by [c]Vines of the Vastwood[/c] or [c]Apostle’s Blessing[/c].

3.6 Robots

Matchup: unfavourable
Good cards: [c]Dismember[/c], [c]Hurkyl’s Recall[/c], Chalice (play), [c]Aetherize[/c], [c]Platinum Angel[/c]
Bad cards: [c]Remand[/c], Ugin, [c]Sundering Titan[/c]

Robots (often times referred to as Affinity) is a very fast deck with very little interaction. Their most important cards are [c]Cranial Plating[/c], [c]Steel Overseer[/c], [c]Master of Etherium[/c], [c]Inkmoth Nexus[/c] and [c]Arcbound Ravager[/c]. 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.

3.7 Merfolk

Matchup: extremely unfavourable
Good cards: [c]Dismember[/c], Ugin, [c]Oblivion Stone[/c], [c]Aetherize[/c]
Bad cards: [c]Remand[/c], [c]Sundering Titan[/c]

Merfolk is in my opinion the worst matchup. They are fast, they can disrupt your lands with [c]Spreading Seas[/c] and they use [c]Aether Vial[/c] and [c]Cavern of Souls[/c] to blank our [c]Remand[/c] and [c]Condescend[/c]. Additionally they can deal with an early Angel or Engine because of Islandwalk and [c]Vapor Snag[/c]. Your best bet is to get a fast boardwipe (Ugin or O-Stone). [c]Merfolk Assassin[/c], [c]Ratchet Bomb[/c] and [c]Engineered Explosives[/c] 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.

3.8 Scapeshift

Matchup: favourable
Good cards: [c]Sundering Titan[/c], Counters, [c]Jester’s Cap[/c], [c]Spellskite[/c], [c]Tectonic Edge[/c], Lifelinker
Bad cards: Repeal, Ugin, Angel

There are a lot of ways to combat [c]Scapeshift[/c]. 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 [c]Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle[/c]. 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.

3.9 Burn

Matchup: unfavourable
Good cards: Chalice, Counters, [c]Spellskite[/c], [c]Bottle Gnomes[/c]
Bad cards: [c]Sundering Titan[/c], Ugin, [c]Remand[/c]

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 [c]Eidolon of the Great Revel[/c] you probably lose. Getting an early Lifelinker or Angel is almost your only way to win.

3.10 Junk/Abzan

There is a junk deck? Analysis coming soon.

3.11 Amulet Bloom

Matchup: even (???)
Good cards: Chalice, [c]Pithing Needle[/c], [c]Jester’s Cap[/c]
Bad cards: [c]Sundering Titan[/c]

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 [c]Hive Mind[/c] combo kill. [c]Squelch[/c] 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

Matchup: favourable
Good cards: Chalice, Counters, [c]Jester’s Cap[/c]
Bad cards: Angel, Ugin

This deck tries to draw the whole library by first casting [c]Angel’s Grace[/c] or [c]Phyrexian Unlife[/c] and then [c]Ad Nauseam[/c]. Their finisher is usually [c]Lightning Storm[/c]. There is almost nothing you can do after they’ve drawn their library because they play [c]Simian Spirit Guides[/c], [c]Pact of Negation[/c], [c]Slaughter Pact[/c] and [c]Echoing Truth[/c], so you need to fight them before they resolve Ad Nauseam.
You can try to Remand [c]Lotus Bloom[/c] and Repeal [c]Pentad Prism[/c] 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. [c]Jester’s Cap[/c] 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.

3.14 Grixis Delver

TODO

3.15 BreachTrap

TODO

3.16 Elves

TODO

3.17 Grishoalbrand

Matchup: slightly favourable
Good cards: Chalice, Counters, Relic, [c]Surgical Extraction[/c]
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

Matchup: extremely unfavourable
Good cards: [c]Dismember[/c], [c]Repeal[/c] (vs Vial and tokens), [c]Pithing Needle[/c], [c]Squelch[/c]
Bad Cards: Chalice, [c]Remand[/c], [c]Expedition Map[/c], Tutors, [c]Sundering Titan[/c]

Death and Taxes is one of the worst matchups. Due to [c]Thalia, Guardian of Thraben[/c] and [c]Strip Mine[/c]s 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: [c]Flickerwisp[/c] and [c]Path to Exile[/c]. Your best bet is to secure land drops and hope to outlast their hate.

3.19 Hatebears

TODO, for now see above D+T

3.20 Best Tron

Matchup: even
Good cards: [c]Squelch[/c], Counters, [c]Jester’s Cap[/c], [c]Mindslaver[/c]
Bad Cards: [c]Repeal[/c], Ugin, Angel, [c]Batterskull[/c], [c]Sundering Titan[/c]

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 [c]Academy Ruins[/c] 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.

3.21 UR Storm

3.22 BW Tokens

4 Special Questions

4.1 Is this deck better than RG Tron

RG tron is a different deck with a different gameplan. Their gameplan is to assemble tron as soon as possible then drop a Karn or Engine. They have inevitability with Emrakul and Eye of Ugin. In contrast we spend the early game playing a control game, delaying and disrupting our opponent as much as possible. RG tron is very linear: just chain eggs and land/colorless tutoring and then drop Karn. Mono U Tron is a control deck and very interactive: choose the important targets for counter and bounce spells.
RG Tron has different good and bad matchups than Mono U Tron. There have been some (big) events where U Tron placed significantly higher than RG tron. In some metas U Tron will be the “better” deck and vice versa. The matchup RG tron vs U tron should be slightly favourable for U tron.

4.2 Is this deck better than UW Tron

TODO

4.3 Is this deck better than UG Tron

TODO

4.4 Don’t you just die to Blood Moon?

No, well usually not. Sometimes they will have Blood Moon just when you got Tron and that will buy them enough time to win. However far more often we can just ignore Blood Moon and play our normal early control game with Remand, Repeal, Condescend, Thirst, etc. The game plan is to buy time, hit land drops and eventually you will have all tron pieces on the board and bounce the Blood Moon. Then it’s usually game over for the opponent. Does this mean that Blood Moon is bad vs U Tron? No, it is not but people seriously overestimate what it can do. They are used to Blood Moon winning the game by itself vs RG Tron and Amulet Bloom which is not at all the case against us. As a U Tron player you should be more worried about Sowing Salt, Choke and Boil than Blood Moon. Quite often I’ve found that Blood Moon was more crippling to my opponent than it was to me (I’ve seen affinity players bring in Blood Moon…)

4.5 How much is this deck? How does a budget list look like?

I’m going to use online prices as I play exclusively online and paper prices are different in NA/EU. A “normal” Mono U Tron list usually costs about 100-200 tix. By replacing some of the expensive cards with budget alternatives you can get that price down to 50tix. The first list I played was actually 35 tix but the core cards of the deck have become more expensive since.

One example for a budget list is this list.

You can probably save 20-30% of the online price displayed on mtggoldfish if you buy at the correct bots, use discount codes etc. If you want to improve upon this budget list you can get some of these cards:

[c]Oblivion Stone[/c] instead of [c]Perilous Vault[/c]
[c]Remand[/c] instead of [c]Mana Leak[/c]
[c]Dismember[/c] for the sideboard
[c]Chalice of the Void[/c] or [c]Spellskite[/c]
[c]Snapcaster Mage[/c]

5 Acknowledgments

I’d like to thank some people for a lot of different reasons. First of all the people watching my streams and youtube videos without you I would’ve probably quit MTGO by now. Everybody in the primer even if we disagree so often. Everybody here at MGS but especially Dan, Brennon, Sam, Bava and Farf. BlippyTheSlug, LongTimeGone and Kumagoro for the PREs which are a big reason I got hooked on MTGO and was able to extend my collection. You, the person who read this and hopefully learned something ;)