Tron decks showcase the most powerful strategy you can play in competitive Pauper. The decks get their namesake from assembling the three colorless lands: Urza’s Mine, Urza’s Power Plant and Urza’s Tower. With those three lands in play, players can generate an obscene amount of mana very quickly, breaking one of the fundamental rules of fair Magic. Fast mana allows a player to deploy multiple threats a turn, leveraging the advantage and breaking through countermagic. Additionally, it allows game-ending haymakers to come down on a quicker schedule, essentially shortening the game. On the other end of this, control strategies often want to make their land drops and eventually overpower opponents, which is something the Urza lands make very easy to do.
Thanks, Urza, for giving us all this mana, and at common.
Ever since the banning of Cloudpost in Pauper, players have drifted towards the Urza lands as a way to play on a different axis. You’re playing a combo deck, ramp deck and control deck all in one. The combo is assembling the three critical lands to create a massive mana advantage, the ramp comes in the same form, along with the large top-end haymakers with the control in the card draw and removal many of these strategies implement. Countermagic is also something often found in the three and four color versions of Tron.
The earliest versions of Tron were either RG or Temur, powering out early Fangren Marauders coupled with Expedition Map and a number of one-mana trinkets that could put the Tron player out of reach, and the 5/5 body isn’t bad. Firebolt and Flame Slash made up the removal, sometimes alongside a copy of Capsize for the long game. Gumming up the ground were Sea Gate Oracles and occasionally something like Maul Splicer, which nullified the effectiveness of edicts quite impressively. Of course the top end consisted of Ulamog’s Crusher and Rolling Thunder, both absolutely backbreaking if allowed to resolve and punch through. Mulldrifter was perhaps the most important piece, however, often being played via tapping two or three lands, the 2/2 flyer could help end games slowly, or block and soak up removal.
You mean to tell me I can cast a Mulldrifter on turn three and have it stick?!
Today’s Tron decks are quite varied. Currently, as of this writing, 4-color Murasa Tron is sitting atop the food chain, holding over 10 percent of the Pauper metagame behind only Dimir Flicker. Being the brewer’s paradise that it is, Pauper Tron decks offer a ton of flexibility in card choices, and even in overall strategy. So what’s your favorite flavor of Tron?
Murasa Tron is a deck that began picking up steam early in 2016. It’s a deck that has evolved over the last year, disappearing from the format while Peregrine Drake ran rampant, and now emerging as the go-to strategy for big mana control fans. While it plays the Tron lands to eventually go over the top, it’s not a deck attempting to assemble Tron the fastest. Instead, Murasa Tron leans on early removal, countermagic and raw card draw to eventually grind an opponent out. The namesake card, Pulse of Murasa not only gains the player a vital six points of life, but in conjunction with Mnemonic Wall, creates a loop that is almost impossible to break out of. The end game for Murasa Tron can vary depending on the pilot. Some opt for some numbers of Rolling Thunder, while others combine the potent X spell with Ulamog’s Crusher to vary angles of attack.
Murasa Tron is a very adaptable deck, which is why you’ll not only see different numbers throughout a list, but different card choices. Some opt for Counterspell, while others play maindeck Moment’s Peace and Lone Missionary. It can change depending on the metagame, which is pivotal to the long-term success of a control deck in Pauper’s ever-shifting landscape. Cards like Mystical Teachings allow the deck to generate additional card advantage and grab silver bullet answers, especially post-board.
One of the oldest, but still most consistent Tron decks available for players to pick from is RUG or Temur Tron. The deck goes for a faster assembly of Tron, going as far as to play four Expedition Map alongside four Ancient Stirrings to grab the needed lands. When compared to Modern versions of Tron, RUG Tron is often brought up, as the Pauper RUG list shares many cards with the RG Tron you find in Modern. The red allows the deck to fight early, aggressive strategies with Firebolt and Flame Slash, as well as the game-ending Rolling Thunder. Blue adds Mulldrifter and Sea Gate Oracle, both of which can be cast early to find Tron pieces, or late to create seemingly endless card advantage while still applying pressure. Fangren Marauder provides not only a quick clock, but a way to gain life and stabilize against more aggressive decks, often making the work done by Boros Tokens or Delver irrelevant.
Ulamog’s Crusher typically will find a home here, and you may even find copies of Pulse of Murasa. While the deck is a Temur deck, it often splashes black and white for impactful cards in certain matchups. Many lists run Chainer's Edict, and have sideboard circle of protections.
A deck that has seen some play before, Mono Green Tron has had a bit of a surge recently. It’s probably the least interactive of the current Tron decks, focused on assembling Tron the fastest and casting expensive creatures and spells far ahead of schedule. Alongside Ancient Stirrings, we find Crop Rotation, a fantastic spell when attempting to assemble Tron, and in finding utility lands such as Haunted Fengraf, Khalni Garden or Sejiri Steppe. Mono Green Tron eschews the early red or black removal for Fierce Empath, which can provide a speedbump and grab a payoff creature such as Fangren Marauder, Ulamog’s Crusher or Accomplished Automaton. Maul Splicer is also a choice that pops up in lists.
One of the notable inclusions for Mono Green Tron that is finding its way into other versions is Wretched Gryff. Not only can Tron decks cast this off of three lands, the ability to cast it for its Emerge cost is huge. The 3/4 body rules the skies, blocking every relevant flyer in the format, and it replaces itself.
And now for the spice. Below are a couple of Tron lists that have seen some play, or have been mentioned either on Reddit or in other Pauper articles. These decks may not be tier one in the Pauper metagame, but can be fantastic starting points for folks looking to play a big mana deck that doesn’t fall into one of the other default Tron lists.
Mono Blue Tron is something that Modern has showcased in the past, however, the Pauper version is considerably different. The manabase is the strength of the deck, allowing you to play Island and actually cast Counterspell effectively. Expedition Maps again find you the necessary Tron pieces while Sea Gate Oracle and Mulldrifter draw you to the payoff cards. In my limited experience with the deck, Capsize and Ulamog’s Crusher are often how you end the game. Capsize takes a considerable amount of time, but is a lock against many decks, and can be absolutely devastating against opposing Tron lists. Wretched Gryff can again be found here, easily costing three mana thanks to Emerge and Sea Gate Oracle, the 3/4 flyer holds down the skies and draws you deeper into the deck. Condescend is great at stopping early threats and the scry cannot be understated. Syncopate is not a replacement.
I love red decks. I also love big mana decks. Mono Red Tron does both. It plays your obvious cards such as Expedition Map and Prophetic Prism, but it also maxes out on the removal. Four copies of Firebolt and Flame Slash make it hard for creature decks to gain a foothold. Harvest Pyre has been seen in UR control builds to combat Gurmag Angler and Arc Lightning can cleanly answer a Kuldotha Rebirth, or take out anything with three toughness or less in a pinch. My favorite part of the deck, however, is in the Kaladesh addition: Self-Assembler. This card allows the deck to grind. A 4/4 is nothing to scoff at, and when you’re trying to slow the game down until you can resolve one or two of the three Rolling Thunders in the deck, Self-Assembler is great. While this list doesn’t showcase it, I would recommend adding Ulamog’s Crusher, as sometimes it just allows you to win the game on turn five.
Tron decks still showcase the highest power level Pauper has to offer. While not often the most consistent decks, and weak to certain strategies, the ability to over the top of everything else, and absolutely crushing every midrange creature deck around, has cemented Tron as a top strategy in the format. Fast mana is unfair, and that alone makes Tron a strategy you should check out.
Thanks for reading, and what’s your favorite flavor of Tron?
- Christopher Oliver/PujolsTheDestroyer on MTGO
Twitter - @CGOliver1989