Tron Is Modern’s Perfect Metagame Choice

Is this Tron’s moment in Modern? GerryT examines recent developments in ramp-based Tron and Eldrazi Tron!

Wurmcoil Engine, illustrated by Raymond Swanland

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I didn’t think there would come a day when I would be advocating for Tron as the hero of Modern, but here we are. 

Cards like Yorion, Sky Nomad and Lurrus of the Dream-Den have completely overtaken Modern. With such a large card pool, the deck-building restrictions are inconsequential and their effects are powerful enough to warp the entire format. 

Thankfully, Mono-Green Tron can slay these interloping companions. Maybe this is cheating, since some versions of Tron technically have a companion of their own, but there are very few decks that are strong against both Yorion, Sky Nomad and Lurrus of the Dream-Den.

I guess the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a companion is a… bad guy with a companion?

Tron is poor against burn-based aggro, anything that goldfishes on Turn 3 or 4, and combo decks. Yorion midrange decks were already popular, so once the Lurrus Boros Burn decks slanted toward midrange, it became Tron’s time to shine. Despite Yorion adopting a Scapeshift combo kill, Tron is still a favorite. 

Any sort of clock alongside disruption is difficult to overcome because the game is lost before Tron gets to start doing its thing. Lurrus started as a home for Delver of Secrets and Death’s Shadow but were largely pushed out because of the Prowess versions. Even Blood Moon is rarely played anymore because of Arcum’s Astrolabe

Tron excels against slower decks that tend to play to the battlefield. Any sort of midrange deck, deck that relies on creatures to deal the bulk of their damage, or deck that wins in a long game can’t stand up to Tron’s power.

Initially, Lurrus ushered in a new wave of Burn decks, which pushed Tron even further out of Modern. Since then, those decks have cut the Lava Spikes for disruption and card advantage. In a world where the red aggressive decks are focused on creature-based damage and lack reach, Tron is in a much better spot. Additionally, Rakdos and Gruul typically struggle against Tron in general due to a lack of disruption.

Modern is incredibly soft to Tron at the moment and it even won the most recent Modern Super Qualifier on Magic Online. 

Everything is coming up Ugin!

I don’t necessarily agree with everything about this decklist but that might only be how divergent this list is from the norm. Rather than focus on assembling Tron as quickly as possible, this deck has a variety of options in cheaper threats.  

Only two copies of Karn Liberated strikes me as odd considering the proliferation of Yorion decks in the format. Karn is typically one of the strongest cards against opposing midrange decks but it’s not like you’re lacking in good options for those matchups, nor do I think those matchups suffer. 

Karn Liberated Golos, Tireless Pilgrim

Golos, Tireless Pilgrim has been in and out of Tron decks since its release. It doesn’t fit the ideal curve, but in games where you’re facing disruption, it’s certainly a powerful card to have. It can reassemble Tron against land destruction, is a sizable body, and can be a huge threat by finding Sanctum of Ugin or Cascading Cataracts. If you’re planning on playing a longer game, Golos is one of the strongest cards you could play.

The mix of large Eldrazi seems fine to me but it leads me to believe this deck hasn’t been fully tuned. I understand Emrakul and Ulamog but has playing Kozilek ever actually been correct? Maybe there’s concern for Slaughter Games out of the Five-Color Niv-Mizzet decks? Only one person can know for sure.

All Is Dust is questionable but does provide another clean answer to the Yorion decks that tend to flood the battlefield with permanents. You need a sweeper and Oblivion Stone isn’t ideal with this permanent-heavy version of Tron. 

All Is Dust Walking Ballista

The complete absence of Walking Ballista might be alarming but it doesn’t line up well against Monastery Swiftspear and is only good once you’ve assembled Tron. Thought-Knot Seer, Golos, and Karn will be stronger cards on average.

However, I’m not sold on Karn, the Great Creator. In theory, the versatility seems nice. You get Ensnaring Bridge for creature decks, whichever large threat you want, copious amounts of graveyard hate, and various forms of combo hate like Trinisphere. Sadly, those options tend to be narrow and not always effective. 

For example, it’s difficult for Ensnaring Bridge to shut down Monastery Swiftspear and the plethora of smaller creatures that have flooded Modern thanks to Lurrus of the Dream-Den. Karn does have the added upside of shutting down opposing Mishra’s Bauble activations, effectively neutering your opponent’s Lurrus engine.

Karn, the Great Creator Jegantha, the Wellspring

Is Jegantha, the Wellspring worth it? I would normally say no because the opportunity cost is non-zero. In this case, sideboard space has been cannibalized by Karn, the Great Creator, so what’s the harm in devoting one more sideboard slot to Jegantha? 

Truthfully, all Tron really needs out of its sideboard is a few Disenchants and hate for its most popular bad matchup. Nature’s Claim and Weather the Storm (sort of) provide that. Spot removal, Veil of Summer, and Thragtusk help in certain situations but they’re mostly a luxury.

On average, how many games will you cast Jegantha and have it matter? I’d wager that number is low, but if you don’t value the sideboard slot, you might as well play the companion. All the cool kids are doing it.

Considering where most of the red Lurrus decks are trending, I don’t agree with playing Weather the Storm in the sideboard. A pile of lifegain is lights-out against pure Burn decks but doesn’t do much against the midrange-leaning versions (which are far more prevalent). They’ll either beat you with disruption or large prowess creatures and Weather the Storm doesn’t stop either of those. You’re much better off keeping any of the maindeck cards.

Some Tron variants have been splashing red for Lightning Bolt, Pyroclasm, or Firespout. That’s a fine direction to go, plus you get access to Grove of the Burnwillows, which could help against Death’s Shadow.

Lightning Bolt Pyroclasm Firespout

This is a metagame where maindeck Relic of Progenitus would be solid but it comes with a caveat. Tron is well-positioned against Lurrus and Yorion decks already and doesn’t need the graveyard hate. Saving on sideboard slots could be relevant but this version of Tron is threat-dense for a reason. 

I see the potential merit behind each of the odd choices in the above decklist but it’s too early to say whether those changes are the result of a galaxy brain. The PTQ win could be a result of Tron being so strong that it didn’t matter. Time will tell. 

Eldrazi Tron might be the stronger Tron variant, thanks to its spot removal, early blockers, and Chalice of the Void. As Lurrus of the Dream-Den forces decks to become more streamlined, Chalice of the Void goes from solid role-player to potential lock piece. 

Some versions of Eldrazi Tron have been playing Simian Spirit Guide and Gemstone Caverns to enable faster Chalice of the Voids and Thought-Knot Seers, which I’m down with. 

Chalice of the Void is appealing but Eldrazi Tron doesn’t have the same appeal that traditional Tron does. Instead of banking on inevitability to carry you in many matchups, you’ll have to actually kill your opponents. Even though it has a reasonable top-end, Eldrazi Tron doesn’t have the staying power of Mono-Green Tron, which is why I’d start there first. 

Adding Simian Spirit Guide into the mix doesn’t make that any better, but if I were registering Eldrazi Tron, I wouldn’t want to be a bad Tron deck. I’d focus on the aspects that make Eldrazi Tron a better choice and that will probably involve fast Chalice of the Voids or Thought-Knot Seers. There are some decks that don’t particularly care about maximizing consistency and Eldrazi Tron is one of them.

Having blockers and a lower mana curve can help against the Lurrus decks but I prefer the bigger plan against anything with Yorion. Their decks contain a multitude of ways to stay alive and interact and that can mean they’re able to deal with Eldrazi Tron’s threats. They don’t have the same luxury against Mono-Green. Eldrazi Tron’s plan isn’t bad against Yorion but it could be better.

No matter how you choose to utilize your Tron lands, you’ll be able to enjoy positive matchups throughout the majority of the format. If Lurrus and Yorion don’t go anywhere, Tron will likely enjoy a lengthy period of domination. 

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