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By: Joe Fiorini, Joseph G Fiorini
Nov 28 2014 1:00pm
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All is Dust

 Welcome, to the Machine...

It's been a long time since my first article, and I feel bad about the lapse in time between then and now. I have meant to write something, as I really enjoyed the process, but honestly I have been selfish with the small amount of magic-related time that I have. I've always chosen to jam a few games, and the writing process never went farther than brainstorming ideas. I did start one article that ended up accidentally deleted. I was frustrated and never rewrote it. It was supposed to be a piece on etiquette, and learning to handle losing. Plenty of Mtgo players have trouble with tilt and saying things in chat that aren't appropriate. I myself have been a real jerk in the past, so I wanted to discuss the issue. Perhaps I will revisit the idea someday soon .
 
Since the last time I wrote anything, my MTGO experience has changed. The switchover of clients coincided with myself switching formats.
Previously, I played a lot of standard. I played only standard, as a matter-of-fact. I did so because standard is "the" format, most pro tours are standard, and I have this fantasy (or maybe pipe-dream) of qualifying for the pro tour a second time.
 

At some point, I realized that I wanted to try an older format, and modern was the most accessible and popular of those formats. In paper, perhaps standard is the format you can always find someone playing, but this is Magic Online, and I can play modern every single day if I want to. Why should I play anything other than a format I absolutely love? This way, I get to play competitively, but I can still play at my leisure. It is seriously awesome. I eventually sold out of my standard cards to buy more modern staples, and I haven't regretted it.

Around the end of summer, I made the plunge into my first modern deck, Mono-Blue Tron.
 
 
 
 Mono-blue Tron is a deck that contains control and combo elements, with lots of Counterspells and end game of Mindslaver recursion via Academy Ruins.
 
I really enjoyed playing the deck, and I won some games in the tournament practice room, but it really was an uphill battle the whole time. I tried adding all sorts of cards to mono blue tron to make it more powerful, such as Emrakul, The Aeons Torn and Karn Liberated. Eventually, I decided that I wanted a new deck to play,  and I settled on Red-Green Tron as it used several of the same cards that I already owned from mono-blue Tron.
 
 
 
Red-Green Karn Tron was my first top-tier deck (I'm not sure if it is or was considered tier one). I absolutely loved playing this deck, and set out to master it.
The most important equation for playing RG Tron
Urza's Tower + Urza's Mine + Urza's Power Plant = Karn Liberated
 
One common saying about modern, is that people should pick a good deck and learn it inside and out. I have heard many a pro player state this, and I took it to heart. I jammed as many games as I could. My schedule rarely lets me play daily events, but I managed to win a ton of 2-mans, and I was in love with casting Karn Liberated.
 
I've never played a deck that could mulligan to four or five cards, and STILL manage to crush a game. That is one of the reasons I will always love this deck. The flip side, as I'm sure any tron players can attest to, you can also have games where an opponent hits that one weak spot in your armor, and the house of cards comes crashing on down. The tron lands can be a major Achilles heel, and if someone hits you with sowing salt, your chances of winning dwindle down to the single digits.
 
Sowing Salt
What a great way to ruin a fun time...
 
Now, I'll briefly go over some of the pros and cons of playing Tron.
 
High-powered cards!
 
Tron has a strange form of card advantage. You see, a Wurmcoil Engine costs six mana. However, you are only "spending" three lands to play it. In this regard, Karn Liberated is your three mana planeswalker, like (Lilliana of The Veil). Both require three tapped mana sources from their owners to be brought into play. So, as long as you have an active tron going, your cards are essentially more mana efficient. If the game goes long, you'll nearly always win with an Emrakul, The Aeons Torn.
Consistent Gameplan
 

Red Green Tron plays four-ofs of most of its cards. This assures that you see the cards you need to see more often. Many of its card choices are redundant, but serve several important functions. Expedition Map, and Sylvan Scrying make sure you hit your Tron lands every game, and fast. They also help you rebuild your UrzaTron if a land gets destroyed. Also, each of these cards acts as access to Emrakul, The Aeons Torn and Wurmcoil Engine. Chromatic Star and Chromatic Sphere serve to help you filter your mana into the colors you may need, and dig through your deck. Once you learn the correct lines of play, you should be able to enact a very consistent and powerful game plan each time you play. In my experience, I maybe had less than 5% of games where I was unable to put all three Urza's lands together.

 
Destroy Everything!
 
Tron plays the control role in nearly all match ups. You are always either casting board wipes, eating cards with Karn Liberated, or dropping huge haymakers like Emrakul, The Aeons Torn. People often ask about how the deck deals with counterspells. Well, If you play smart, you'll be fine. Most decks don't run that many counterspells, and they just can't counter everything if you have your active Tron trio. Even if every card does get countered, well, they can't counter Eye of Ugin or the Emrakul, The Aeons Torn that it fetches. Between Oblivion Stone, Pyroclasm, Karn Liberated exiling cards, and Emrakul's annihilator trigger, your opponent will often be dead without a permanent left in play.
 
Top deck like a champ!
 

Red-Green Tron also is very comfortable living off the top of its deck. Many, many times I was ripping haymakers off the top and closing out games in decisive fashion. Sometimes, you get too many of your Chromatic Stars instead of business, luckily the Eye of Ugin means that you'll find business sooner rather than later. Games where I lost with plenty of mana and no action were very rare. Learning what hands to mulligan or keep can be tricky, but with practice, you'll be surprised how many seemingly unwinnable games end up in your favor.

 
Inevitability!
 

Tron has inevitability in most match ups. You can't counter Emrakul, The Aeons Torn, so they HAVE to kill you before the game goes that long. This is why, coincidentally, that other decks sideboard plan against you is to attack your mana base. Nobody can out-quality you on cards. Short of Path to Exile, there is no good permanent answer to a Wurmcoil Engine. It has been said before that RG Tron has THE BEST late game in modern, and I humbly agree.

Emrakul, The Aeons Torn
He's coming for you...
 
 
THE CONS OF TRON
Avalanche Riders Goblin Guide SkullcrackSplinter Twin
These guys are NOT your friends...
 
Red Green Tron is not without its faults. As I mentioned, the deck is insanely reliant on its mana base, and tends to be crippled completely with a mere Stone Rain.
 
Fast aggro decks can run Tron over. A turn one Goblin Guide can put you very far behind on life, and a timely Skullcrack in response to Wurmcoil Engine's lifelink can spell disaster.
 
Fast combo decks also pose a major threat, and are very difficult to win pre-sideboard. Tron has very few ways to interact at instant speed. Nobody is going to let you Oblivion Stone their Pestermite tokens anyway. O-Stone doesn't do anything to Scapeshift or Ad Nauseam decks. Against those decks, killing their lands with Karn or outright racing with Wurmcoil Engine is your only choice.

Sideboarding
 
Tron's sideboard is there to try and shore up its bad match ups (shockingly obvious). Spellskite is good against Bogles, Infect, Splinter Twin, and even more decks like Burn. Thragtusk helps against any deck that aggressively threatens your life total, and I have brought it in against Jund too, and it worked well. Slaughter Games comes in against combo decks, and destroys Scapeshift and Ad Nauseam (it isn't so good against Splinter Twin decks, though, as they are usually too fast). Grim Poppet is a new card I'm trying to fight decks with lots of x/1's, and I haven't actually tested it yet. Leyline of Sanctity is also a popular choice for fighting Burn. If you do choose to play Tron, I suggest at least trying some of these cards, and see what works, but don't be afraid to test out and adopt your own sweet tech. If you find some awesome card I missed, let me know!
 
In Conclusion...
Wurmcoil EngineSundering Titan
Legion of Doom...
 

I've spent a lot of time learning Red-Green Tron. I would recommend the deck to anyone who wants a competitive deck that  is fun to play and isn't as expensive as some of the other top decks. The downside, Treasure Cruise has changed (or perhaps warped) the modern metagame to the point that Tron isn't really a very good choice. Tron eats Birthing Pod decks and GBx decks like Jund for breakfast. Your Jeskai control decks were also usually a good match-up. Jund and its relatives are nearly extinct, and Birthing Pod is still around, but not as popular as Tron's really bad match-ups, U/R Delver and Burn.

I actually win most of my game ones when facing delver, provided I hit Pyroclasm at the right times. It's the games where I have to fight them, plus Blood Moon, that get very hard. The Delver of Secrets player just needs to apply pressure, hold up Spell Snare or Spell Pierce, and drop Blood Moon, and the game gets nearly unwinnable.
 
Burn was already awful, and now they have Treasure Cruise. Turns out Ancestral Recall is a good magic card...
 

Even though Tron main decks Relic of Progenitus, that is not enough to just make you win. Obviously, it does help, but it takes some smart play on your behalf. I run two Thragtusk in my sideboard, and they come in against Burn AND Delver. Delver is just a glorified burn deck anyway. Thragtusk will gain you the life right away, so Skullcrack shenanigans get trickier for your opponent, and it laughs at Vapor Snag.

In conclusion, Tron is a sweet deck. Try it out, read a primer on it, and buckle your seatbelt if you end up facing one of the 500 Treasure Cruise decks, it gets a little bumpy.
 
Treasure Cruise
What were they thinking???

Next time, I plan on writing about my newest decks. All modern decks, of course. I built Melira Pod, Angel Pod, and just finished Kikki Pod (which I played to a 4-1 record in SLUGAPALOOZA until life stepped in and I had to drop, very, very sad).
 

If you have any questions, especially questions about Tron, let me know. I thought about adding some sections on other match ups, and maybe card interactions, but this isn't an exhaustive primer. I could be persuaded to write more however, so definitely let me know what you think.

 
Until next time, may all your drafts finish without being disconnected, and may you win that online ptq BEFORE the crash,
 
Sincerely yours,
 
Joe Fiorini
Underground Sea
 
Islandswamp on MTGO

 

7 Comments

Another sideboard suggestion by CZML at Fri, 11/28/2014 - 14:48
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4

Contagion Engine might be a bit better against aggressive strategies than Grim Poppet. Engine also gives Loyalty to Karn if that ends up ever being relevant.

RE: Etiquette, I have written by Paul Leicht at Sat, 11/29/2014 - 00:21
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5

RE: Etiquette, I have written a few pieces on that and it is a topic that never goes out of style. Heck my first article on the site (5.5 years ago) was a bit about Magic & Etiquette. Rest assured there are many points of view on it.

When it comes to actual rudeness well that can be handled in a number of ways but typically to save time and effort the offender gets blocked. The preferred method I think would be to reason with the person until an understanding of why they are being like that is reached because it may turn out that they are just venting or have a serious beef with something you did. But if a person is just spewing hate sometimes it's just better to turn off the faucet. Won't fix anything but it will give peace of mind.

As to Tron, your blue tron deck has an anomalous card in Kaijin x3 there. What's the purpose of its inclusion? What do you bring it in against?

I have since sold off my by Joe Fiorini at Sat, 11/29/2014 - 08:50
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I have since sold off my cards for blue tron, and deleted the deck file, so I couldn't remember my exact list. So I took a random list off the internet that seemed close to what I was running. I assume kaijin is supposed to be anti aggro, but i think bottle gnomes would be better.

I has meant to make changes to add the few specific cards that I could remember myself using, but in the end, a stock list is probably ok, as RG Tron was more the focus, U Tron was just an example and jumping off point.

Thanks for reading! I feel like I have a much better handle on using the editor, and my article looked better this time.

P.S. I forgot to add to my article this: "Follow me on twitter: @josephfiorinijr "

Ah that's where you erred. :p by Paul Leicht at Sat, 11/29/2014 - 08:52
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Ah that's where you erred. :p Always keep an archive of any deck list you might want to write about. Because you never know.

Yeah I can think of 4-5 really good alternatives to Kaijin however who knows what Meta it was responding to?

RE-Tilting: If you know you are, you can deal with it. Find a physical act that you can do immediately and swiftly when you start feeling the ire. And perform it. It should be something that requires some energy but doesn't fuel your anger (like pounding the desk/keyboard might.) [For example, stand up and put your arms over your head until you can't get them any higher...] Take a breath and repeat it. And see if you can playing clearer after that.

Anger is chemical in nature so if you do something that changes your biochemistry (such as physical activity) you can deal with your anger and the activity should make it possible for you to get some perspective on what is causing the problem.

I have been known to really lose it, probably much more profoundly than you have (I once threw a deck across the room when after shuffling I received yet another Paris to 3 or so. My opponent kindly asked me to take care of my heart (sincerely). That was a once only affair but it was informative to me as I recognized the inherent immaturity of dealing with frustration that way.)

"Snide" doesn't even come close to describing my tongue when I get going. :) I am not proud of that but my point is don't feel too bad if you all you do is express your ire with pithy words.

The rudeness I've seen has almost always been reportable and I have only done that once I think. Most of the time I am perfectly capable of dishing it out so I accept it when others do too. That said it should not be tolerated, especially if your only offense is being sociable or playing a game.

Keep on writing Joe.

Community. by Joe Fiorini at Sat, 11/29/2014 - 08:55
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you know paul, one of your articles was the very first article I read when I started playing mtgo again (and reading this website again), you talked about playing someone who wished they had a collection as expansive as yours. I really enjoyed that piece.

This community at puremtgo has been really nice for me, I enjoy it very much.

I remember that article and I by Paul Leicht at Sat, 11/29/2014 - 12:56
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I remember that article and I am glad you enjoyed it. The community here is really cool. Even if you don't see eye to eye with some players/writers the beefs never get really bad. Because we all basically share the love of the game and talking/arguing about it.

Now that the meta has shifted by Joe Fiorini at Tue, 12/16/2014 - 19:59
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Now that the meta has shifted back a bit, it might be time to dust off this deck and karn some stuff.