TriscuitTron In Post-Planar Chaos Standard

Standard is a wide-open field right now, but many if not most of the Tier 1 decks are powered by the trifecta of the Power Plant, Mine and Tower; the mighty Urzatron. With the release of Planar Chaos, every deck gets a few new trinkets to toy with. The Tron-based decks are no exception. But who gets the best toys? You could make an argument for my personal favorite of the Trons, TriscuitTron.

MartyrTron, PickleTron, U/W Tron, IzzetTron…see a common theme developing here? Standard is a wide-open field right now, but many if not most of the Tier 1 decks are powered by the trifecta of the Power Plant, Mine and Tower; the mighty Urzatron.

With the release of Planar Chaos, every deck gets a few new trinkets to toy with. The Tron-based decks are no exception. But who gets the best toys? You could make an argument for my personal favorite of the Trons, TriscuitTron.

For those living under a rock these past few months, TriscuitTron is a Japanese creation built around the firm lock of Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir and Spell Burst, and oodles of Tron mana, winning with Teferi, Factory tokens or a recursive Triskelavus. Not one but two players ran TriscuitTron in the final eight of Worlds, with Ogura’s version earning him second place. It’s not the easiest deck to play, but I’ve been having great fun tossing it around online.

The question now is, what additions are available for the deck from Planar Chaos?

Aeon Chronicler: This isn’t a bad mid-to-late game card; if you’ve got the Tron assembled, you set this up to be a one-sided Howling Mine for several turns, then come into play as for free as a fairly large beastie, backed up with countermagic, as Ben Bleiweiss suggested. It’s a narrow card but if it has a home, it’d be here.

Body Double: This might be surprisingly playable against Reanimator decks… if they’re still being played much these days. Are they, outside of Dredge or the nigh-impossible to find Solar decks?

Dismal Failure: I love the discard element and the throwback to Dismiss, but in all honesty, the better four-mana hard counter in Standard right now is Rewind.

Dear God, I never thought I’d write that sentence.

Wistful Thinking: Arguably, this could be the poor man’s Persecute. I’d rather play with the actual Persecute than a shadow of the original, though.

Venarian Glimmer: In U/x Tron decks, this could serve the same purpose that Mana Short served in Tog decks of yore and Gigadrowse currently serves in Dragonstorm: an end of turn effect versus countermagic to force through a key spell during then next main phase. If creature-based strategies are headed for the wayside, then this might be worth running as a singleton in the main to be hunted up with Mystical Teachings.

Clearly, there’s some interesting Blue Planar Chaos cards that can be slid into TriscuitTron. But what about the White portion?

After all, you need White for Wrath of God and… and…


There’s a Black Wrath now, and the deck already splashed Dimir Signet to utilize the flashback on Mystical Teachings… why not replace White with Black? Why not ditch White completely?

After Wrath, the only White cards you’d lose are Circle of Protection: Red, Return to Dust, and Faith’s Fetters. Maybe Disenchant. The addition of Black, however, gives the deck a much larger pool of good cards to choose from; you’re trading in a Swiss army knife for a three-deep toolbox. I’m not sure you really need White at all.

This, aspiring writers, is known as foreshadowing.

In addition to Persecute from Ninth Edition, look at what Planar Chaos would provide to a U/B build:

Extirpate: If certain Internet auction sites are to be believed, the two most lusted after cards from Planar Chaos are Damnation and Extirpate. Damnation I can understand. But Extirpate? One of these cards saves you from beatdown and wipes the board clean. The other has no impact on cards in play. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good card… just not “break the bank” good.

That said, there’s enough decks out there using recursive strategies (the mirror, Dralnu du Louvre, MartyrTron) that this is worth a slot or two.

For those interested, extirpate means “to utterly destroy or exterminate.” Personally, I think it sounds a bit too much like twiterpated, which means something else entirely, but the logofascist in me appreciates the arcane verbiage.

Enslave: You mean I can steal your best creature, and you take extra damage for it? I’d buy that for a dollar! Or maybe four for a dollar.

If the more versatile Confiscate isn’t seeing play in TriscuitTron, however, I don’t see why this would.

Imp’s Mischief: I like the fact that Black now has a Misdirection, and it’s reasonably costed to boot.

As long as there are hellbent Demonfires you need to worry about, unfortunately, Commandeer is the better “schwing!” card. But Imp’s Mischief isn’t that bad. Really. It will see some play, perhaps more in Block than in Standard, but it will find homes in some decks.

Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth: Unfortunately, Urborg plus the ‘Tron does not provide you with a bajillion Black mana, it provides a single Black or multiple colorless mana, but not both, so my dream of monstrously fueled Consume Spirits goes out the window. Another beautiful theory slain by an ugly fact.

Now, if one is putting together a U/B TriscuitTron deck, rather than U/W, you should go with a darker cracker in the nomenclature. WheatThinsTron, perhaps? PumpernickelTron?

Who am I kidding? It’ll just end up being U/B TriscuitTron.

The singleton Sudden Death is there primarily to be anti-Teferi defense, and Dralnu is no fan of it either, and the graveyard matters enough in Standard to merit a single searchable copy of Extirpate as well.

Yes, there’s no Spell Snare in the main anymore. I just haven’t seen seeing as many two-mana spells as I used to, so I moved them to the sideboard. And two copies just felt… strange. Could I be wrong? Quite certainly. But this is why we test.

Evacuation was an addition to combat those persistent enough to seek victory via the red zone, as it combos nicely, very very nicely, with Persecute.

Enough talk; how does this deck perform? I started the testing with Mono-Green Aggro, and the matchup was not as one-sided as I thought it was going to be. MGA does not roll over and die to a timely Damnation, not when there are twelve hasty critters (in addition to Groundshaker, my list included Timbermare and Giant Solifuge) on its honor roll. On the bright side, Green can’t just throw burn at your face following a Groundbreaker attack to bring you down to four. On the less than bright side, Groundbreaker plus Evolution Charm equals frowny face if you have no countermagic in hand.

After sideboarding and bringing in the Persecute/Evacuation engine the games were, again, closer than I thought. If anything, the matchup is pretty darn close to even, slightly favoring U/B Tron and I was left wishing for a Hibernation.

That definitely wasn’t what I was hoping for.

What about the Boros matchup? Well, this is where laughing at Faith’s Fetters comes back to bite me in the butt. Most of my Swamp-powered toolbox is pretty much worthless against what Boros has. The Evacuation / Persecute combo doesn’t have the same punch, since Boros can throw burn to the dome far better than MGA can.

Losing both the lifegain from Fetters and a stall card in Circle of Protection: Red turns a fairly favorable matchup into one that’s pretty much unwinnable, both pre- and post-sideboarding. What’s worse than “Unfavorable?” “Hopeless”? “Autoloss”? “LOL UR DECK SUX”?

Wonderful. I’ve created a deck that scoops to a Sacred Foundry. Me am sad.

Nonetheless, there are still other decks to test against. Control, for instance. Now, as much as I love exciting Tron-on-Tron action (and what heterosexual American male doesn’t?), I threw my updated creation against the popular Dralnu du Louvre deck, for the sake of what sanity I have remaining.

This matchup revolved around who got Teferi into play first. Whoever did so first, almost always won. These games unfolded a lot like classic Tog versus Tog matchups, playing Draw-Go until somebody went for it and a counter war ensued. While Dralnu has the advantage of a not-so-shaky manabase, Tron can produce more mana to punch through Mana Leaks and Rune Snags, more card drawing (albeit most of it at sorcery speed) and has the backup plan of a Triskelavus that’s very hard to get rid of. A timely Sudden Death, too, can kill any creature Dralnu plays. After sideboarding, the battle goes from “Who can resolve Teferi first?” to “Who can resolve Persecute first?” which, thankfully speeds things up just a scosh.

I would call this matchup favorable for U/B TriscuitTron, but these games required a lot of brainpower and close-to-flawless play. My head still hurts from those sessions. Or maybe that was all the martinis last night. I’m not 100% sure.

What about combo? The best representative of the combo archetype is Dragonstorm. Just about the only representative of that is Dragonstorm, actually, so that makes my testing choice early.

Pre-sideboarding, the matchup is in Dragonstorm’s favor (see the Worlds coverage of the final match between Ogura and Mihara). If Dragonstorm is going off on turn 4, it’s going off on turn 4 and there isn’t a whole lot you can do about it, counters or no counters – it’s a Forrest Gump combo deck that a monkey could run and still do pretty well with. Put it in the hands of a master, and it gets worse.

Post-sideboard, you do have perhaps the two cards that Dragonstorm fears the most; Persecute and Trickbind, and Venarian Glimmer is an excellent riposte to Ignorant Bliss, Dragonstorm’s anti-Persecute defense.

That being said… Dragonstorm is as Dragonstorm does. Trickbind helps. Extirpate helps. Persecute is a big help, resolve it and you generally win. Still after ten or so games, Dragonstorm had a nasty habit of pulling out games because of its sheer resiliency. I’d call the matchup even at best, and probably still skewed slightly towards Dragonstorm after sideboarding. You need everything to go right to beat Dragonstorm, while Dragonstorm just needs to do what it always does.

I freely admit this is not the biggest statistical sample, nor the most promising. I’d have loved to tried the deck against Soggy Pickles or another Tron deck, however, I had a pressing appointment to watch paint dry, and I was hard up for playtesters running those particular decks.

Four decks, with one fairly good matchup, two so-so and one dead-before-you-even-start. If you’re looking for an article with the sub-theme of “this deck beats everything!”… you’ve come to the wrong place.

What went wrong? One of the problems with U/B TriscuitTron, I’ve found, is the mana – it’s shaky. Running both the full Tron and trying to get triple Blue and double Black is stretching the manabase to the screaming in pain point. And it really wants seven Dimir Signets. All seven Signets in the U/W version produced Blue, with the three Dimir Signets powering the flashback on Mystical Teachings. To have seven Blue-producing Signets in U/B, three will produce a useless off-color of mana unless you wanted to splash that color for something else. I toyed around with Coldsteel Heart and even Fellwar Stones, but they don’t do the trick. You simply have to have seven Blue-producing Signets. Dreadship Reef can help to alleviate the colored mana problem, but the new storage lands don’t come online as fast as you’d like.

The biggest problem, however, is simply that White is better than Black – at least in TriscuitTron. Fetters, Wrath and CoP: Red are so intrinsically critical against the Boros, Zoo, and other beatdown matchups that removing them, even for what seem like theoretically stronger cards in a different color, cripple the deck.

That being said, if – and this is a big, big, Polar Kraken big if – Boros-style beatdown decks truly are scared out of Standard by the presence of double Wraths, and the metagame skews towards being very combo and control-heavy, then this deck might be worth tightening up further. In the likely event Boros sticks around, however, I’d have to call this one a flawed failure; not a truly Bad™ deck by any stretch of the imagination, but one that better minds than mine, perhaps, can tune successfully.

Until next time,

Dave Meddish