Your opponent plays T1: Urza’s Tower and Expedition Map. You’ve almost got to assume that this player is on GR Tron because if you don’t, a T3 Karn will hurt that much more. What do you do? Go on the offensive, flood the board and hope to overwhelm, use discard spells like Thoughtseize in hopes of dismantling the army of threats in their hand, activate your Ghost Quarters before they can assemble Tron?
For a deck that relies on a quick 7 mana to play ‘unfair’ cards early on, this could hurt. When you pack a surprisingly offensive mid-range strategy, this can be the perfect diversion to unleash Thought-Knot Seer or Reality Smasher and go to town.
These two are quickly becoming my favorite cards in Modern. Thought-Knot Seer is a sizeable body paired with one of the best discard mechanics around. Not to mention, the card is a significant road block against aggressive creature based decks that previously troubled Tron players. A 4/4 that can steal an Atarka’s Command from the hand of a zoo/burn opponent, for example, automatically outclasses an army of Wild Nacatl, Kird Ape, or Goblin Guide. While Smasher can serve the same purpose (roadblock), it’s poised to protect itself against that last bit of burn needed to finish it off after combat. And that’s to say nothing about their ability to get offensive…
The Mono Green “Smasher” Tron (as I am calling it) is an amalgamation of colorless Eldratron decks and ‘go big’ GR Tron decks and provides a variety of play lines that allow it to stand its ground against a wider array of opponents.
Let me start by saying that I did not create this list. A user named MrKurosaki (see recent finishes on MTGtop8) 5-0’ed two consecutive leagues with a very similar one. I’ve made some minor tweaks (which I will explain later) but generally, Kurosaki’s concoction is in tact.
Let’s start by addressing the challenge to playing this sort of deck…
Imagine that you draw this opening hand…
I think we can all agree on T1: Urza’s Tower >> Expedition Map. But what land do we search for with the Expedition Map?
Now, obviously, there are a lot of factors that weigh into that decision. What is my opponent on? What did I draw on my second turn?
If we draw a non-tron land on our second turn, we have to make a decision which route we will go with the Expedition tutor based on the line we want to run. Obviously, grabbing an Eldrazi temple can power out a T3: Thought-Knot Seer and potentially, a T4: Reality Smasher. The alternative is to grab another tron land in hopes of one day getting to cast Karn or Ugin and delaying our Eldrazi plan by one turn. This is VERY SIGNIFICANT. Especially when a Thought-Knot Seer is involved in the decision. The difference by one turn is even more impactful when Thought-Knot Seer could potentially discard a necessary combo piece (ie-Become Immense) for a quick win your opponent.
If you don’t have all the information, this decision becomes quite difficult. Fortunately, an experienced Modern player would be quite familiar with the 50 most common deck archetypes in the format and can make a decision here that can change their course of play drastically. While this is part of the challenge to this deck, it’s also the beauty of it.
Let’s dig into some of the key differences between this deck and its RG brethren…
0 Oblivion Stone, 0 Pyroclasm
In the Mono Green variant, we trade these mass removal pieces for midrange creatures that block opposing threats. We’ll include a few one-for-one removal pieces (Spatial Contortion, Warping Wail) to deal with some early attackers and then drop one of the aforementioned midrange eldrazi as a roadblock.
1 Sanctum of Ugin, 1 World Breaker
With additional 4 colorless-producing lands in the Eldrazi Temples we run, we can’t afford too many non-green sources. We’ve got room for just one Sanctum that is searchable by Expedition Map and Sylvan Scrying. When we’re low on threats and are top decking land tutors, grabbing a Sanctum allows us to turn one good topdeck on a subsequent turn into two.
I’ve included one World Breaker in the place of a fourth Karn Liberated that MrKurosaki ran. This gives us some variety when we are searching for a colorless creature via Sanctum of Ugin (which cannot grab a Karn). Additionally, this is a bigtime threat that can be cast using a manabase construced of Eldrazi Temples if you end up going that route. World Breaker’s recursion ability is key if it somehow ends up in the graveyard.
This deck can work around Blood Moon…just not when all of your colorless mana sources are non-basics. Sometimes you’ve got to grab a wastes with Expedition Map in order to cast one of the many Eldrazi spells with colorless in their cost.
3 Warping Wail, 2 Spatial Contortion in the 75
I maintain that these two cards were the best thing that happened to Tron variants since Ugin. At first I was skeptical about the two Warping Wail in the maindeck but the more I played, the more I realized how every one of the three functions was live in nearly every match. Let’s look at each…
- The exile choice works well against many of the difficult match ups. It can remove an infect creature at the end of a turn it was cast (or at least draw out a Mutagenic Growth that would otherwise be used to kill you). It can also kill an affinity creature attacking with a Cranial Plating attached. Often times that creature is a Vault Skirge and no matter how ridiculously large its power is, it’s most often just a 1 toughness creature.
- Counter target sorcery spell deals with Thoughtseize and Inquisition quite well. I can also think of a number of 3-cost land destruction spells that might otherwise crush us. If we are untapped and threatening to tutor out the third tron land via Expedition Map, we can use the untapped colorless mana to counter our opponent’s Molten Rain.
- I’ve used the 1/1 scion as a surprise chump blocker on a number of occasions but often times that one extra mana comes in handy when you are hoping to play something big the next turn.
As far as Spatial Contortion goes, it’s great for the same reason as Warping Wail is…it fits perfectly in our curve. Often times we want to play colorless lands for the first two turns and our opponent assumes that this means we’ve got nothing to play during their turn. Spatial Contortion comes out of nowhere and deals with some nasty aggressive creatures when they are least expecting it. I’ve even used this as a Lightning Bolt before when an unblocked Thought-Knot Seer is attacking an opponent at 7 life.
1 Kozilek, The Great Distortion
I’ve grown to love this guy here. Obviously, refilling your hand is great. I like his counterspell activation even better. When we run as many one-drops as we do, this can fend off all the pesky Path to Exiles your opponents have been holding and stop all of the Lightning Bolts that are poised to pick off your last little bit of health.
1 Seal of Primordium in Sideboard
While Kurosaki’s sideboard and mine differ quite a bit, this is one piece I’ve kept. Chalice of the Void set to 1 can be crushing. When your only early artifact removal is Nature’s Claim, you run into a dead end. Additionally, the deck may want to crack some of the Chromatic eggs early to dig. This means that we’ve got a green mana floating during our mainphase. Casting the Seal of Primordium on your turn allows you to have the disenchant option at the ready for opposing Blood Moon so that you don’t have to spend your big payoff turn removing the Blood Moon and can instead be doing something degenerate that makes your opponent cry (see Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger).
I’ve played this deck in three leagues so far (4-1, 3-2, 4-1) and have found some of the most difficult matches to be Ad Nauseum, Bant Eldrazi, and Infect. Not a surprise but certainly not unwinnable either… Games against decks like Lantern Control are laughably easy as we’ve got plenty of eggs to offset their ‘lock’ and lots of ways to deal with Ensnaring Bridge. I’ve even played a few games against an interesting BW control deck running Smallpox and Rain of Tears. Typically, this would be really scary but somehow I even won a game where my opponent cast three Smallpox and one Rain of Tears. Thank you Warping Wail! Generally, agro is not bad and Thought-Knot Seer does great work against burn.
Let me just leave you with this one glorious moment to spark your interest in giving this one a shot…
Thanks for reading. Comments are always appreciated!