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By: olaw, Oliver Law
Feb 13 2013 11:21am
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Hello!

Welcome to another edition of Becoming A Modern Man!  In this article I will be looking at a rather interesting Mono-Blue Tron deck that plays some of the most powerful artifacts in Modern.   The deck recently won a Modern Premier event piloted by shoktroopa.  Here's the list:

Mono-Blue Tron
1st Place Decklist by shoktroopa Modern Premier #4965298 on 02/04/2013
Creatures
1 Platinum Angel
3 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Sundering Titan
4 Treasure Mage
2 Wurmcoil Engine
11 cards

Other Spells
4 Condescend
4 Expedition Map
2 Mindslaver
1 Oblivion Stone
4 Remand
3 Repeal
1 Spell Burst
3 Talisman of Progress
4 Thirst for Knowledge
26 cards
 
Lands
1 Academy Ruins
8 Island
1 Oboro, Palace in the Clouds
1 Tectonic Edge
4 Urza's Mine
4 Urza's Power Plant
4 Urza's Tower
23 cards

Platinum Angel


DECK TECH

Creatures

Treasure Mage
Treasure Mage
Treasure Mage can tutor up any of your big finishers.  Treasure Mage is very useful for finding the card you want when you want it.

Solemn Simulacrum
Solemn Simulacrum
I have mixed feelings about Solemn in this deck.  Turn 4 is kind of a long time in Modern and so Solemn can often be a bit slow for what is usually a chump blocker.  Conversely, Solemn is a nice way to ramp you up if you haven't managed to put Tron together and a good way of thinning your deck after that.  I would like to play Grand Architect in this spot as I think it would work as a powerful accelerator, but sadly the UU in the cost means it's not really viable along with Tron.

Wurmcoil Engine
Wurmcoil Engine
The 6th Titan, Wurmcoil Engine is a serious threat whether it comes down on Turn 3 or later in the game.  Ideally, it comes down on Turn 3 and starts tearing up the opponent but sometimes you have to settle for it coming down a little later.  Wurmcoil is a little weak to Path to Exile but otherwise very difficult to handle for most opponents.  This is usually my win-condition of choice.

Platinum Angel
Platinum Angel
Platinum Angel is an interesting inclusion.  Although it can be somewhat fragile, it can also be game winning if your opponent can't find an answer to it.  At the very least, it can usually buy you some extra turns while your opponent digs for an appropriate answer.

Sundering Titan
Sundering Titan
Sundering Titan is a massive body but he also loves destroying greedy manabases.  As Ravnica duals have two basic land types you can often blow up a good amount of an opponent's manabase with Titan.  Your opponent is then left to deal with a 7/10 while also trying to build back their resources.  A tough task!  Also, there's the added disadvantage that it you happen to kill Sundering Titan then he'll just blow up your lands again, he's kind of spiteful like that.

Artifacts

Mindslaver
Mindslaver
Mindslaver is one of the most unique effects in Magic.  Being able to take over an opponent's turn is really crazy and a lot of fun.  Trying to cause as much havoc as possible while playing your opponent's turn is a tactical perspective that is rarely seen in Magic.  Having to think tactically about what the worst thing you could do with the board state can be a real challenge but it's very fun.

Having said all that I would still considering cutting one Mindslaver from the deck.  The fact is sometimes Mindslaver feels a bit redundant as all you can do is tap your opponent's lands and pass back to yourself.  As the deck doesn't run a lot of creatures, forcing your opponent to attack into your blocks doesn't happen that often.  I still think there should be one Mindslaver in the deck, particularly as you can lock your opponent out of the game alongside Academy Ruins, but I would consider cutting the second.

Oblivion Stone
Oblivion Stone
Oblivion Stone is a great sweeper in a deck that would otherwise have difficulty playing a sweeper.  Not only does the Stone blow up pretty much everything on the board, you can also protect your own permanents with fate counters.  The Stone is a little slow but particularly when combined with Academy Ruins it can be game-breaking.

Expedition Map
Expedition Map
Expedition Map helps you find your Tron pieces or can find your lone Academy Ruins if you've already managed to set up Tron.

Talisman of Progress
Talisman of Progress
As there isn't any reason to make white mana in this deck, you could use any other blue talisman.  Also, I'm not sure whether a talisman or a signet, such as Azorius Signet, is to be preferred.  The signets have the advantage of not making you lose 1 life to use them for coloured mana but they can't make mana independently, so there's a choice to be made there.  Not sure which one is correct.

Counterspells

Condescend
Condescend
Condescend is our first X counterspell.  Condescend is a great counter as it not only allows you to counter but it also lets you set up your deck by Scrying for 2.  Scrying can be particularly useful when you are looking for Tron pieces.

Spell Burst
Spell Burst
Spell Burst is great once you have Tron online as it's quite possible to lock your opponent out of the game by simply countering every spell they play and paying the buyback on Spell Burst.

Remand
Remand
Remand is a very useful card for slowing your opponent's tempo and digging you that bit deeper into the deck.  Buying time and taking your opponent into the long game are things this deck really wants to do.

Lands

Urza's MineUrza's Power PlantUrza's Tower
The UrzaTron
Of course, it isn't Tron without the UrzaTron pieces.  The Mine, Power Plant and Tower when united provide you with 7 mana which is enough to play almost everything in the deck (barring Sundering Titan).

Academy Ruins
Academy Ruins
Academy Ruins is very awesome if you can get it online as it allows you to put your best artifact creature back on top of your deck to play it again.  Alternatively, you can get back an Oblivion Stone to get another board wipe against your opponent.  Finally, you can bring back Mindslaver which provided you have enough mana can create an infinite loop in which your opponent never gets to have control of their turn again.

Sideboard

DismemberSpell PierceSpellskiteRelic of ProgenitusTrickbindPithing Needle

  • Dismember gives the deck some much needed removal out of the board.  The only real problem with using Dismember is that against very aggressive decks it may just have the effect of killing you quicker.  However, it useful to get rid of troublesome creatures.  Aven Mindcensor can be a particularly annoying card for this deck as it limits your Expedition Map and Treasure Mage searches.
  • Spell Pierce gives you some additional countermagic, which can be useful when creatures aren't your primary concern.
  • Spellskite will take a bullet for any one of your artifacts and is also a decent blocker against aggro decks.  The deck is fairly resistant to artifact destruction with cards like Wurmcoil Engine and Sundering Titan but a lot weaker to cards like Path to Exile, which is pretty much the worst thing that can happen to your Wurmcoil.
  • Relic of Progenitus is nice against any deck using the graveyard as a resource, be it by using Deathrite Shaman, Snapcaster Mage, Persist creatures or otherwise.  Relic is always a useful card to have in your sideboard.
  • Trickbind is an interesting card that I've rarely seen in sideboards.  Perhaps that's because it's rather complicated.  Trickbind can do a variety of different things including counter the Storm ability on a Grapeshot or Empty the Warrens or counter a Birthing Pod activation.  It can buy you an extra turn against Splinter Twin or a Kiki combo.  I believe it can even counter the activation of fetchlands.  The problem I have with Trickbind is that I'm not sure where exactly it shines as a sideboard card.  Worth having a mess around with I think.
  • Pithing Needle fulfills a similar role to Trickbind in that it can turn off a specific card, be it Birthing Pod, Kiki-Jiki, Inkmoth Nexus or what have you.

COST
There are some expensive cards in this deck but as I already owned Remands, Spellskites and Wurmcoil Engines I managed to put this together fairly cheaply.  At the very least you don't have to shell out for the Zendikar Fetchlands to play this deck.  There's still quite a pricetag but as Modern decks go this is pretty reasonable.

Main Deck

2 x Wurmcoil Engine= 16.28
1 x Oblivion Stone= 11.07
4 x Remand= 10.32
2 x Mindslaver= 4.80
4 x Condescend= 3.20
3 x Solemn Simulacrum= 2.73
1 x Sundering Titan= 2.03
1 x Academy Ruins= 1.86
4 x Thirst for Knowledge= 1.00
1 x Oboro, Palace in the Clouds= 0.91
1 x Platinum Angel= 0.44
4 x Urza's Mine= 0.44
4 x Urza's Tower= 0.40
4 x Expedition Map= 0.32
3 x Talisman of Progress= 0.30
4 x Urza's Power Plant= 0.28
1 x Tectonic Edge= 0.25
3 x Repeal= 0.24
4 x Treasure Mage= 0.16
1 x Spell Burst= 0.05
Total: 57.08 tix

Sideboard

2 x Spellskite= 14.86
3 x Dismember= 3.12
2 x Trickbind= 0.82
3 x Spell Pierce= 0.24
3 x Pithing Needle= 0.18
2 x Relic of Progenitus= 0.16
Total: 19.38 tix

Grand Total: 76.46 tix

GAMEPLAY


My first matchup is against a Merfolk deck. Our deck doesn't generally have a great matchup against aggressive tribal strategies but Merfolk isn't the fastest tribal deck and we can get around most of their countermagic if we get Tron online.  Wurmcoil Engine is great against Tribal decks as the life gain generally sets them back too far too recover from.  My opponent managed to get around that Game 1, thanks to Lord of Atlantis but in the next two games they succumbed to the power of the Wurmcoil Engine.


My second matchup is against Kiki-Pod.  In my experience this matchup is pretty good.  You definitely have to be wary of the combo but otherwise Kiki-Pod tends to give you the kind of time you need to set yourself up.  From there you can use your counters and superior mana generating capabilities to control the game.  This matchup gets even better after sideboard as you can bring in your Pithing Needles and Trickbinds, as well as your Dismembers for their Angels.


My third matchup is against Elemental Combo, a deck I've covered in a previous article.  This deck varies a little from the build I used as it uses Death's Shadow rather than Kiln Fiend and plays Thoughtseize to ensure it loses enough life to make Death's Shadow big.  This matchup was very tough as the deck is very fast and there are only limited ways in which our deck can interact with it.  I've found the Infect matchup to be similarly unfavourable.

CONCLUSION
Mono-Blue Tron is a fun and interesting deck.  The deck plays a very good long game but can suffer a little in the early game against fast aggressive starts.  I'm not really convinced that this deck is better than the more staple RG Tron deck, which is better at setting up Tron, has better ways to deal with early pressure such as Pyroclasm and goes over the top using Eldrazi rather than the comparatively less game-ending Platinum Angel and Sundering Titan.  Having said that, Mono-Blue Tron does have its upsides such as having countermagic, which means you're less vulnerable to opposing combo decks.  Mono-Blue Tron is also a little less reliant on putting Tron together as you can hardcast everything in the deck without necessarily putting Tron together, a much more difficult feat with Emrakul or Ulamog.  The final advantage is that Mono-Blue Tron is much cheaper than RG Tron as you don't have to splash out for Karn Liberated, Grove of the Burnwillows and the Eldrazi.

That's all I've got for this edition of Becoming A Modern Man!  If you're eager for more then please check back over my previous articles.  Unfortunately, it's exam time for me and so I might not be able to provide you with a new article for a short while.  However, I still have plenty of Modern decks that I want to try out so I doubt I'll be gone too long.  Until next time!

Thanks for reading,

Oliver Law (olaw on MTGO)

17 Comments

Dare I ask but....can this by KaraZorEl at Wed, 02/13/2013 - 12:05
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Dare I ask but....can this deck run Omniscience and Enter the Infinite?

I suppose it could. Sadly, by olaw at Wed, 02/13/2013 - 12:12
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I suppose it could. Sadly, the heavy blue requirement in both cards means that they still aren't easy to cast once you've assembled Tron. However, if you were going to go for it this might be a good shell to work with.

What I don't get is why the by Kumagoro42 at Thu, 02/14/2013 - 09:42
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What I don't get is why the deck doesn't run Karn Liberated? At some point you have to tap out to play the big creatures, and when you untap, you're more able to defend Karn than a green build is.

I like the idea of calling Wurmcoil the 6th Titan. Of course this means Consecrated Sphinx is the 5th, right? :)

Yeah, when I was playing the by olaw at Thu, 02/14/2013 - 10:01
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Yeah, when I was playing the deck I kind of wished I could just drop a Karn Liberated. As I didn't design the deck I don't really know the reason he wasn't included. Sadly, I don't own any Karns so I can't try it out but its certainly something I would want to experiment with if I did. I agree that there isn't any obvious reason not to play Karn.

Not a fan of old Frosty, Kuma? Haha.

I suspect that was a budget by Kumagoro42 at Thu, 02/14/2013 - 10:58
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I suspect that was a budget build by design, which means, more kudos to him for having been able to win a premier event with it. He possibly got good matchups, but he had to be a skilled player for sure, the build is all focused on countermagic, there's only a singleton Oblivion Stone to permanently solve situations where your permission wasn't effective, and you can't even tutor that up with Treasure Mage. I suspect a lot of times his battleplan was landing a Platinum Angel and controlling the game afterwards.
I also don't get Oboro, Palace in the Clouds. What's that for? Only to turn a colorless mana into blue in a turn where you didn't drop a land?

At this point, what would you replace to accomodate 3-4 Karn?

Re: Frost Titan. It's the only Titan whose effects aren't permanent. All the others put stuff on your board, or remove stuff from the opponent board, which isn't undone even if they're immediately dispatched. Same's true for Wurmcoil (if not instantly exiled) and Consecrate (if not killed the next upkeep after you dropped her.) I'd say Armada Wurm too, as far as 6-mana finishers go, but it's less versatile.

On the other hand Frost Titan by Paul Leicht at Thu, 02/14/2013 - 11:32
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On the other hand Frost Titan can just win games since it locks a defender or mana or what have you down while it is in play and attacking. I agree that it isn't as incrementally good as Primeval but I think it is at least on par with Inferno.

Inferno means the instant, by Kumagoro42 at Thu, 02/14/2013 - 12:06
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Inferno means the instant, irremediable death of so many crucial things (Deathrite Shaman, Confidant, Delver, Lavamancer, Vendilion Clique, Sower of Temptation, 3 flying tokens, what-have-you, up to Boros Reckoner) that it ends up being more tactical than Frost could ever be, even not counting the case where they're both immediately answered. Stopping one thing for one turn is just not comparable. Plus, empty board, late game: drop Frost, tap one land, next turn swing for 6; drop Inferno, deal 3 damage, next turn swing for 15. Not the same sport. :)

Budget does make the most by olaw at Thu, 02/14/2013 - 11:42
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Budget does make the most sense for cutting Karn. As someone who often views the results of the MTGO Modern events quite often I've seen the name shoktroopa on quite a few occasions, usually (if not always) playing some fairly unconventional Tron deck. So, seems like he (or she for all I know) is pretty skilled at playing the deck.

My guess with Oboro is just that it's a blue source that you don't have to blow up if you drop a Sundering Titan, beyond that and the situation you mentioned it does do a whole lot. That's probably the reason I forgot to mention it in the deck tech, oops! :/

In terms of Karn replacements, I think I would cut at least 1 Mindslaver as I mentioned in the article. I just don't think it's always impactful as I'd like. I guess it's probably worth keeping 1 in there just because of the lock with Academy Ruins though. After that I would consider cutting a Treasure Mage (as it can't find Karn) or perhaps a Solemn (as it tends to be a little slow). Perhaps controversially I wouldn't mind cutting Platinum Angel either. It has its moments but I never really feel safe sitting behind an Angel.

Re Frost Titan: I agree he was the worst Titan and not an amazing finisher.

Had a bit of a think about by KaraZorEl at Thu, 02/14/2013 - 10:51
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Had a bit of a think about it. Chromatic Sphere?

I ran into a version of this by olaw at Thu, 02/14/2013 - 13:09
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I ran into a version of this deck using Chromatic Sphere. Seems like it worked ok. I wouldn't mind running Chromatic Sphere but I'm not entirely sure what I would cut for it.

Something I have been toying by sergnotsurge at Mon, 02/18/2013 - 13:25
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Something I have been toying around with as well is to run Prophetic Prism. Maybe over the amulet. It is mainly serving the same purpose. You dont get to ramp up but it allows to cantrip. My experience has been that I dont need the ramp but the color fixing. Just a thought.

That's certainly another by olaw at Mon, 02/18/2013 - 14:23
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That's certainly another option. Doesn't sound like a bad idea. I have to say one of my main problems with the deck is that even when you have turn 3 Tron you will usually want to play a blue mana source before turn 3 so you can use Repeal, Condescend etc. This means you either have to play a Talisman or play an Island and settle for the slower Turn 4 Tron. Not devastating but definitely annoying.

Hmmm by sergnotsurge at Wed, 02/13/2013 - 17:00
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I can see Trcikbind being useful for the triggered ability of Eldrazis. I see people replacing it with the 4cc card that counters activated abilities and cantrips, forget the name. I played with the idea of running duplicant. Guy seems really good to eat away certain threats. Depends how the meta shapes. I have played with playing a number of Trinket Mages in the SB to dig for the maps and hate cards. I think the deck is great but the hate is really high. I have thought about replacing the talisman for prophetic prism to cantrip further into the deck.

Thanks for the by olaw at Thu, 02/14/2013 - 05:47
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Thanks for the comment!

Eldrazi triggers are another possible use for Trickbind, though if an Eldrazi is dropping on the other side of the board you're probably in a pretty bad way already.

I'm guessing you mean Squelch which is 2 mana. I've seen that being used too.

Duplicant is a decent shout, though it is quite matchup dependent. Against some decks he's kind of a dud. Trinket Mage is also another interesting suggestion for searching out Expedition Maps etc. However, I don't think I'd be too happy running Treasure Mages and Trinket Mages at the same time. If you can find the right balance it could work though.

I once ran a tron with 4 by Kumagoro42 at Thu, 02/14/2013 - 09:43
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5

I once ran a tron with 4 Sundering Titans in a 4-round Modern PRE. I faced: RDW, Soul Sisters, MB Zombie, Soul Sisters (something similar happened when I decided to run a monored build with maindeck Blood Moons. I'm not the luckiest guy with these meta-calls.)

By the way, Sundering really likes Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, which makes him able to kill lands without basic types. Granted, in my green build it was easier to find the singleton copy of that (of course it only happened when I was facing Zombies.)

Yeah, he's not all that great by olaw at Thu, 02/14/2013 - 09:50
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Yeah, he's not all that great against some decks. However, he tends to be pretty awesome against Birthing Pod, Zoo decks etc.

Yeah, I had the Urborg interaction come up when I was playing against an Infect deck. I played Sundering Titan and blew up their Inkmoth Nexus which was pretty devastating for them. It's a nice interaction though I'm not sure how easy it would be to fit it in this deck.

I've been thinking and trying by springeralready at Tue, 12/10/2013 - 15:32
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I've been thinking and trying to tinker up ideas, but thought a solid gameplay might be to get out a {spine of ish sah} and {possessed portal}. Even a wurmcoil into the portal gives me three things to sac into the portal and can keep recurring if you have the ruins on board. And what about running {tolaria west} or splashing in {breeding pool} to play {ancient stirrings} or {sylvan scrying}? Also, is {vedalken shackles} valid sideboard? I just feel like I want more from the mono blue deck, and wonder about portal in it or the rg version.