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By: The Milk Man, Michael Mulcahy
Jul 03 2014 12:00pm
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  A lot of new players are discouraged from playing the Modern format due to the perception of having a high entry price for competitive cards and decks. Here I present to you a Mono Blue Tron deck that defies that myth.

The deck that I am covering is from mtgo user JVLTMS, whose Mono U Tron deck went 3-1 on the 29th of May 2014 in the Modern Daily event #7143279. At the time JVLTMS went 3-1 with the deck it cost $77.20. A few of the cards have since gone up due to the Modern PTQ season however the deck can still be digitally sleeved up for less than $100.

Here is the deck:


Mono U Tron is a relatively new deck to the Modern scene being pioneered and developed by MTGO user "shoktroopa". It is consistently placed in the top 10 Modern archetypes on mtgo and has very good game against the combo and control decks that dominate the Modern meta. The deck's sideboard is largely dedicated to repairing the weaknesses of the main board plan. Mono U Tron's biggest weakness seems to be against extreme aggro strategies like Zoo and Red Deck Wins.

The decks strength's include:

It is very cheap for a control deck in Modern

- There are multiple cool combos that can be used to win the game

- There are a lot of tempo plays to buy you time until you get the combo pieces you need

- The deck uses really powerful cards like Sundering Titan, Wurmcoil Engine, Mindslaver and Platinum Angel

-The mana base is quite cheap for a Modern deck. The deck primarily uses the Tron lands and Islands, with a few utility lands thrown in for good measure.

-There are a lot of fun and rewarding lines of play that can be taken and different win conditions that can be utilised.

- The deck has strong inevitability. The longer the game goes the better your chances are of winning.

The deck is not all powerful though. It does have its weaknesses:

- Land hate and destruction. Although the deck doesn't need the Tron pieces to win, it is very hard to have a fair fight without them as our spells are usually so much more expensive than our opponent's spells. Cards like Blood Moon are troublesome as we only really have a few select answers if it lands; Repeal and Cyclonic Rift. Other land hate such as Sowing Salt is a must answer with a counter spell. Ghost Quarter and Tectonic Edge in our opponent's main board are going to be troublesome, however we have Squelch out of the sideboard to protect against these effects. Other land hate cards like Molten Rain will have to be answered with counter magic. If land hate is a strong part of your meta game, this is going to be a challenging deck to pilot. In this environment, Crucible of Worlds would be a good sideboard card.

- Extreme Aggro strategies. The faster and more efficient aggro strategies are generally able to get under the Mono Blue Tron deck without having wholesale quantities of luck on our side. Out of the sideboard there are a few options such as; Dismember for removal, Bottle Gnomes as a solid blocker that can also can us some life, Wurmcoil Engine as an amazing blocker that can gain us life, and Aetherize to bounce back attackers.


So how does it work?

Urza's Mine     Urza's Power Plant     Urza's Tower

The deck utilizes the 'Tron' lands to assemble large amounts of mana off of relatively few lands. Mono U Tron also uses Talisman of Dominance to further ramp into larger spells as well as giving access to blue mana for our spells as well as potentially giving us black mana for Dismember out of the sideboard at the cost of only 1 life for the Phyrexian mana rather than the regular 2 life.

The other non-basic lands are also important combo pieces.

Tolaria West     Oboro, Palace in the Clouds     Academy Ruins

Tolaria West is a blue source that dodges Island hate cards like Choke, effects like Islandwalk and the ETB ability of Sundering Titan. It can also be used to tutor another land piece, as land has a converted mana cost of zero and it can also be used to tutor a Pact of Negation. Pact of Negation is interesting in this deck for another reason, but we will get to that later.

Oboro, Palace in the Clouds is another source that creates blue mana, that has the advantages of not being an Island. It can also be bounced back to your hand if need be. For example, this could be handy vs an 8Rack deck to reduce the loss of life from The Rack or Shrieking Affliction. It can also be used to filter for additional blue mana by tapping Oboro, Palace in the Clouds for blue mana, bouncing back to you hand and then playing it again for another blue mana.

Academy Ruins is one of the powerful engines of this deck. I am a little worried about only running one in the deck as it is such an important piece of the combinations. Of course it is easy to tutor for with Expedition Maps and Tolaria West, however if it is destroyed it removes a lot of power from the deck. Here are some of the combinations that you can execute with Academy Ruins:

Academy Ruins     plus     Mindslaver

This is known as the Mindslaver lock. It is a combo that literally locks your opponent out of the game. Many opponents will concede when they see you have the loop, although some will make you go through the motions hoping that you make a mistake that might let them back in the game. It requires you to have an Academy Ruins and enough land to make 12 mana. Play the Mindslaver, activate it and then put it back on top of your library with the Academy Ruins. Rinse and Repeat. It is important to use your opponent's resources wisely or else they may be able to disrupt the combo. One way to ensure this is to tap all of their mana sources after you have wasted any of their spells. You can then repeat this process while slowly beating them down with Treasure Mages, Platinum Angels and Solemn Simulacrums or to close the game out with a Sundering Titan or Wurmcoil Engine.

Academy Ruins     plus     Wurmcoil Engine

Does your opponent have any 'reach' that they can use to get through a Wurmcoil Engine? How about a Wurmcoil Engine that comes back every single turn. This is something that decks like Jund have very few answers to. If you can stop their Scavenging Oozes with counterspells or Dismembers your Infinite Wurmcoil Engines and the tokens they create will eventually beat down your opponent even in the face of all of their removal and Liliana of the Veil.

There are also combinations using Academy Ruins that seem less powerful to the unknowing opponent, but can get you out of a bind if you have some time. An opening hand consisting of an Expedition Map and 1 land and either a Talisman of Dominance or a land that creates blue mana are the 3 pieces that you need for this combination.

Expedition Map     searches for     Academy Ruins    

This means that you can put the Expedition Map back on top of your library in your next upkeep, allowing you to search for your tron pieces. This does take a couple of turns, but it guarantees that you have all of the land pieces that you need and on time.

Platinum Angel     Pact of Negation

Platinum Angel is almost a combo piece on its own. If your opponent doesn't have a way to remove it they cannot win. We also have a lot of ways to protect it. One small combo that can be used with Platinum Angel is with Pact of Negation. Pact of Negation says that you lose the game if you do not pay the 5 mana required in the following upkeep. Platinum Angel's static ability ignores this condition, meaning that we have a bona fide hard counterspell that is free. There aren't many ways that our opponent is able to remove Platinum Angel when we have counterspell back up. If it is met with a Supreme Verdict and we have more than zero life, we can use our Academy Ruins to put it back on top of our library and back on to the field the following turn. 

Where to go from here?

If you wanted to increase the budget and the power of the deck you could include cards like these:

Snapcaster Mage     Oblivion Stone     Spellskite

Snapcaster Mages give a lot of utility. They allow you to reuse instants and sorceries that are in your graveyard. The power behind being able to reuse a counterspell when you do not have one in hand, to reuse a dig spell when you need card draw or to bounce a problematic permanent cannot be underestimated.

Oblivion Stone is a catch all sweeper. With enough time and mana it can be a one sided sweeper. With a natural Tron (Having all of the Urza lands in your hand and/or first draws) as well as playing a Talisman of Dominance,  it can be both cast and cracked as soon as turn 3. Some Mono U Tron lists use Fabricate which synergizes well with this as it can be tutored for.

Spellskite is a powerful sideboard card that will help even the odds against decks that can get under us, or use combat tricks to push damage through like Infect.

There are a few things that I would like to change in my build. Wurmcoil Engine is such a powerful card that I would like to have the option of at least one in the mainboard. It is a card that would be getting boarded in a lot of our matchups anyway. I have decided to take out the Mystical Teachings as I don't feel that they're necessary; I would rather have the answers to threats than a spell that digs for the answers. I have added a pair of Aetherize to the sideboard to buy us more time against the aggressive creature based decks. With Talisman of Dominance in play on turn 2, Aetherize can be cast as early as turn 3. The 3rd Bottle Gnomes is in the sideboard for Burn decks and other aggressive strategies where we want to have more than one in our first 15 cards.



Here are my sideboarding plans for the some of the top decks in the meta:

- Splinter Twin


Talisman of DominanceTalisman of DominanceTalisman of DominanceTalisman of Dominance



Splinter Twin is quite a good match up for Mono U Tron unless our 'meh' draw meets their god hand with the Twin pilot on the play. We have several ways to disrupt their combo other than with counterspells and we are able to bounce their Pestermites or Deceiver Exarchs in response to them playing the Splinter Twin or Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker. Generally their counterspells are far more mana efficient, but we have more mana available. Spells like Mana Leak and Spell Pierce become far less effective once our Tron pieces are assembled. When we are able to play and protect our Platinum Angel the game quickly turns in our favour. I would expect the Twin player to bring in artifact hate and land hate - so use your bounce and counterspells sparingly - a Deceiver Exarch beat down is something that we can certainly bear. Mindslaver lock can be a good win condition to aim for here as they're will be less likely to be able to interrupt it. If the Twin pilot is splashing a third colour I would certainly consider bringing in the Sundering Titan to punish them. 

- Jund


Talisman of DominanceTalisman of DominanceTalisman of DominanceTalisman of DominanceMindslaverPlatinum AngelPlatinum AngelCyclonic RiftThirst for Knowledge


Wurmcoil EngineTreasure MageDismemberDismemberNegateNegateSquelchSquelchTectonic Edge

Mono U Tron possesses a very unique and powerful strategy that it is able to attack Jund with; infinite Wurmcoil Engines. This is 100% the main game plan. A single Platinum Angel is left in as a precaution to cards like Slaughter Games. It is critical to answer Liliana of the Veil and Scavenging Ooze with a combination of bounce and counterspells as soon as possible, as the incremental advantage they gain soon becomes detrimental to us as well as potentially exiling our win con. The plan is to aggressively protect our life total until we can play our Wurmcoil Engine and then begin recycling it with Academy Ruins.

Post board expect them to bring in a lot more hate and we need to be prepared accordingly; more discard in the form of Thoughtseize type spells to remove our counterspells and Fulminator Mages to destroy our lands; this is a must-answer card especially if we have our miser's Academy Ruins in play. Squelch does a nice job of nullifying the abilities from their Planeswalkers as well as their Fulminator Mages and Scavenging Oozes. Even though the Dismembers come in, the Talisman of Dominance comes out as we can't afford to tap out on turn 2 only to take 4 or 5 damage from a Tarmogoyf the following turns as well as 1 damage from the Talisman of Dominance and the 2 Phyrexian mana. We're better off using that turn to remove the Tarmogoyf outright and just take the 4 damage from the Dismember. The second Tectonic Edge comes in to deal with their man lands which can get pretty out of hand. 

- Melira Pod


Talisman of DominanceTalisman of DominanceTalisman of DominanceTalisman of DominancePlatinum AngelMindslaverRepealRepeal


SquelchSquelchAetherizeDismemberDismemberNegateNegateWurmcoil Engine

Melira Pod is not a bad matchup for us as we are able to counterspell and bounce all of their permanents in the early game to stop them from assembling a board state. Platinum Angels and Wurmcoil Engines will be our win conditions in this match. Be mindful of Path to Exile on our few win conditions. Cyclonic Rift is an all-star in this matchup - it makes me want more in the 75. The matchup gets much better for us post board as we can bring in more efficient spells to hate on their combos, while most Pod pilots have few hard counters to our strategy; they lack land and artifact hate. Controlling the board state will be key to winning the match up. Be aware that Abrupt Decay can reduce your blue source by destroying a Talisman of Dominance; this is demonstrated in the videos later. Squelch is unreal in this match up. Most of Melira Pod's creatures are high value creatures that have an activated or triggered ability. Squelch can stop their combo on its own by countering a Murderous Redcaps Persist trigger or a Qasali Pridemage activation to destroy our Platinum Angel. If the Pod player is running 4 or 5 colours for the Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker combos, I would consider bringing in the Sundering Titan as the tempo boost and raw power of this card is very hard to beat. 

- Scapeshift


Cyclonic RiftRepealRepealRepealTalisman of DominanceTalisman of Dominance


Sundering TitanTectonic EdgeSquelchSquelchNegateNegate

Scapeshift is a really good match up for Tron. We generally run more counterspells than they do and when we have our tron pieces available we have more mana to spend. Both of us spend our first few turns assembling our lands. Wait for them to combo off and then fight it. If they're expecting a counter war they will have to wait several turns later to assemble the combo. It should also be noted that as we do not do much damage to our selves they will need to either burn us or play wait until they have 8+ lands anyway before comboing off. Academy Ruins can be used to bait out their counterspells, as we can just put the card from the graveyard back in to our hand the following turn. Sundering Titan is massive in this matchup as both a strong source of inevitability and as a threat that provides a massive tempo swing the turn it enters the battlefield. Your opponent will be hesitant to remove if for further loss of lands. Academy Ruins can ensure that this is recurring combo. The second Tectonic Edge comes in to pressure their colour sources.  Squelch is a good catch all against their fetch lands and Tribe Elders. 

- Burn


Talisman of DominanceTalisman of DominancePlatinum AngelPlatinum AngelPlatinum AngelMindslaverRepealRepealRepeal


Wurmcoil EngineDismemberDismemberBottle GnomesBottle GnomesBottle GnomesNegateNegateTreasure Mage

The matchup against Burn is a very rough game 1 and even more so on the draw. It will take a phenomenal opening hand vs an opponent's bad draws to take game 1 from our opponent with ease. Naturally assembling the Tron lands without having to tutor for them can allow you to do this although we normally need to have blue mana available early to counter spell and bounce as soon as can be done. Post sideboard we lower our curve, bring in more blockers and another Wurmcoil Engine. Finding, playing and protecting our Wurmcoil Engines will be key to winning the matchup. Bottle Gnomes are great for buying time, however I wouldn't rely on the 1/3 to beat down your opponent. Counterspells should be used aggressively to protect our life total and to respond to Skullcracks when we are able to gain life. 

Let's put the deck through its paces in some 2 man queues:

Mono U Tron vs Burn


Mono U Tron vs Scapeshift. Apologies for any jumps or choppiness.



Mono U Tron vs Melira Pod



Mono U Tron vs Second Burn deck


 So there you have it. Four from four against top decks in the meta. Many would argue that Burn is not a tier 1 deck, but it does have good game against the top decks and is both a common and successful deck archetype. More importantly it is an aggressive deck that puts a lot of pressure on Mono U Tron.

Our first match was against a Burn deck and basically game 1 went as expected. We were too slow to stem the bleeding. Games 2 and 3 we were able to aggressively assemble one of our win cons to put the Burn mage on the back foot. 

Our second match was against Scapeshift. Scapeshift has really picked up in popularity since winning at GP Minneapolis at the hands of Jun Young Park. It is a pretty good match up for us in that we are both happy to sit back and assemble our land base before attempting to combo off.

Our third match was a slug fest with Melira Pod. We were able to bash through with more powerful cards and enough bounce and counter spells to disrupt the Pod player's plans.

Our last match was against another Burn deck and the outcome was very similar to the first match up.

There are not many changes that I would make to the deck having now played with it. I was quite happy with the few changes that I had made from JVLTMS's original list. I think it just needs a lot of practice to truly master the little synergies and combos that are within the deck, as well as avoiding the nonbos that can be created. Some of the cards that I would consider including would be an extra Cyclonic Rift for the creature based matchups and another Academy Ruins, possibly in the sideboard to protect our combos.

I hope you have enjoyed reading and watching this spotlight on a budget deck as much as I have enjoyed making it.

- The Milk Man


nice work by Joe Fiorini at Sat, 07/05/2014 - 17:44
Joe Fiorini's picture

This was a good read, very in-depth. I've been playing blue tron for a while. I like the sideboarding guide. I kind of had been just boarding slightly differently each match up until I saw some streams by shoktroopa.
I like how this deck has good match ups against the best decks in modern.