(Modern) Eldrazi Tron Primer [Laplasjan]

Who would have thought? Laplasjan, Counters Company aficionado, playing Tron. Hateful Tron. But I’m deceiving myself to a certain extent because this brand of Tron is not as big, green, and smashy as the one I’ve grown to hate.  Here’s how this all started…

There was the time when people were saying “you can play whatever you want in Modern”. Well, that time ended with printing of Arclight Phoenix and Creeping Chill and, eventually, Hogaak, the Arisen Necropolis. In a meta that fast and hostile to creature decks, I just couldn’t play creature based strategies like my beloved Counters Company anymore. After trying several tier decks, I decided to play Eldrazi Tron. Why this one? It is a “midrange-ish” creature deck that could beat UR Phoenix and Mono R Phoenix. Mostly, I wanted to take my revenge. I won a couple of leagues and made top 4 at MCQ at GP Kraków. After a very promising day 1 of GP Bracelona and very bad day 2, I won MCQ in Munich and qualified for the Pro Tour Richmond. Then THE BAN DAY came and everything has changed. No more Faithless Looting or Hogaak, the Arisen Necropolis and with Stoneforge Mystic unbanned, everything was thrown up in the air. This was the best time to try just about anything as the metagame was (and still is) evolving. But my Eldrazi Tron deck kept winning and I just couldn’t abandon it when it served me that well. I reached 18th place in Team GP Ghent (10-4 team record, 11-3 individually) and managed to climb to 1st place in the Trophy Leaderboard on MTGO. So even if the metagame became worse for Eldrazi Tron, I think my results prove that its still a strong choice.

Ok, enough “storytime”. Let’s get to business!  Here’s a look at my version of the deck and sideboard, an explanation of the flex slots, and the general gameplan.


Laplasjan’s Eldrazi Tron [9/2019]

Creatures (16)
Hangarback Walker
Walking Ballista
Matter Reshaper
Thought-Knot Seer
Reality Smasher
Endbringer

Artifacts (10)
Chalice of the Void
Expedition Map
Mind Stone

Spells (4)
Spatial Contortion
Dismember
All is Dust

Planeswalkers (6)
Karn, The Great Creator
Ugin, The Ineffable

Land (24)
Blast Zone
Cavern of Souls
Eldrazi Temple
Radiant Fountain
Sea Gate Wreckage
Urza's Mine
Urza's Power-Plant
Urza's Tower
Wastes
Sideboard (15)
Radiant Fountain
Walking Ballista
Grafdigger's Cage
Relic of Progenitus
Liquimental Coating
Sorcerous Spyglass
Spatial Contortion
Torpor Orb
Dismember
Ensnaring Bridge
Mystic Forge
Mycosynth Lattice
Wurmcoil Engine


Before the bannings many of the mulligan decisions were easier to make. I kept either fast Tron hands, turn 2 Chalice of the Void, or fast Eldrazi mana (Thought-Knot Seer turn 2 or turn 3 into Reality Smasher). With Chalice in hand we could beat a lot of decks in the meta, sometimes even Hogaak. Now it is different. Modern has gotten significantly slower. There is much less focus on one-mana cards and our Tron is not the most powerful high-end in the format. We can either loose to fast Burn draws having Chalice on 1 while on the draw or Mono G Tron or Scapeshift accumulating mana faster. So this deck is not the fastest and not the biggest. Why do I play it over a faster or a bigger deck? Besides the fact that I keep winning somehow? I think that being somewhere in the middle was always a good solution. Just like Jund, Eldrazi Tron can beat fast decks with Chalice and aggressive Eldrazi draws while also having game against midrange and Stoneforge decks with our high end plays. Even in bad matchups (Scapeshift and Mono G Tron), we can either try to go fast with Eldrazi or complete Tron and lock opponents with Karn, the Great Creator.

Speaking of Karn, I would consider this to be the most important part of the deck. In my opinion, Eldrazi Tron is the best deck with Karn, the Great Creator. The option to play a midrange deck with early disruption and a big mana finish (with possibility of Karn, the Great Creator + Mycosynth Lattice lock) is very tempting, powerful and difficult to play against.

So now, what is our plan for Eldrazi Tron in the post-ban meta? Unless we somehow know which deck we are paired against (as this strongly influences our decisions), I keep hands with either good disruption, Chalice of the Void, Thought-Knot Seer and probably some removal or a way to assemble Tron on turn 3 or turn 4. Even land-heavy draws with full Tron are a keep in my opinion. We can bank on drawing into finishers like Karn, the Great Creator and Ugin, the Ineffable as Karn provides many powerful tools from sideboard that can win the game on their own: Ensnaring Bridge, Grafdigger’s Cage, and Torpor Orb.

What is our plan for the sideboard? Can it still be useful when we devote so many slots to Karn package? I think that the strength of our plan is not to sideboard in the most powerful cards but to cut the bad ones from our main. For example (which I will elaborate on later in the sideboarding section) against Humans, we side in a real bomb: Torpor Orb. But besides that, we have Dismember, Spatial Contortion, Sorcerous Spyglass and Walking Ballista. Mediocore, right? Just two removal spells. But we need to side out 4 Chalice of the Void and 1 Reality Smasher. Chalice is a dead card in the match-up and we need to get it out of our decks for games 2 and 3.

Card Choices

For my first few matches with Elrazi Tron I just picked somebody’s 75 from the internet. For my first MCQ I barely tuned it, and it was fine. Everybody needs a starting point.  After 2,000+ matches with the deck I’ve tuned it to the version posted above.  

Creatures (16)

  • 1 Hangarback Walker
  • 2 Walking Ballista
  • 4 Matter Reshaper
  • 4 Thought-Knot Seer
  • 4 Reality Smasher
  • 1 Endbringer

Others (20)

  • 4 Chalice of the Void
  • 4 Expedition Map
  • 1 Mind Stone
  • 1 Mind Stone
  • 1 Spatial Contortion
  • 2 Dismember
  • 4 Karn, The Great Creator
  • 1 Ugin, The Ineffable
  • 1 Ugin, The Ineffable
  • 1 All is Dust

Land (24)

  • 2 Blast Zone
  • 1 Cavern of Souls
  • 4 Eldrazi Temple
  • 1 Radiant Fountain
  • 1 Sea Gate Wreckage
  • 4 Urza’s Mine
  • 4 Urza’s Power-Plant
  • 4 Urza’s Tower
  • 2 Wastes
  • 1 Wastes

Sideboard (15)

  • 1 Radiant Fountain
  • 1 Walking Ballista
  • 1 Grafdigger’s Cage
  • 1 Relic of Progenitus
  • 2 Relic of Progenitus
  • 1 Liquimental Coating
  • 1 Sorcerous Spyglass 
  • 1 Spatial Contortion
  • 1 Torpor Orb
  • 1 Dismember
  • 1 Ensnaring Bridge
  • 1 Mystic Forge
  • 1 Mycosynth Lattice
  • 1 Wurmcoil Engine

The cards in red are cards that I would consider untouchable. We cannot play 3 Urza’s Tower, for example, to play around Surgical Extraction ;P. The rest of the deck (green cards) — 7 maindeck and 8 sideboard cards — are customizable. But not by much. For example: a single copy of Spatial Contortion is my preferable choice. When UR Phoenix was around the third Dismember was necessary to kill Thing in the Ice. Now, when we play against Burn and Stonefroge Mystic decks, a removal spell that kills creature with 3 toughness or less is usually enough. Moreover, it gives us slight advantage in match-ups against aggressive decks where life loss from multiple Dismembers adds up. Don’t forget that Spatial Contortion is a pump spell. I won games with that mode multiple times. I think we need 3 copies of spot removal in the main but the third one can easily be either Dismember, Spatial Contortion, or Warping Wail. I’m not a big fan of Wail.  Its versatility is tempting but I never felt impressed by that card.

A singleton Hangarback Walker is probably my favourite addition to the core of the deck. This provides at least two blockers early in the game against Burn, is a nice mana sink, and is very effective in the late game. This card does it all. Of course, there are cards that beat it badly — Path to Exile, Teferi, Time Reveler, and Spell Queller — but I like its versatility. It helps against many grindy and aggressive decks. If you don’t like it, a third Walking Ballista will do just fine.

The second copy of Ugin, the Ineffable is my pet card choice. This card is a bit expensive but we pay for quality.  Ugin provides card advantage, ramp, and removal — he does it all, really. Its perfect against Jund and it always helps to diversify threats against UW. I tried to play two copies of All is Dust but this spell is even more expensive and it is rather situational. A second copy of Endbringer is also perfectly fine but I like the addition of a threat that cannot be “killed” by Path to Exile or Dismember.

The Manabase

The manabase is quite stacked but we have some decisions to make. I used to play 2 Ghost Quarters, but dropped them after MCQ in GP Krakow. I did not experience a single match where I could use them properly. There was no Mono G Tron in metagame at the time but, even in this match-up, wasting one of our lands to slow our opponent down by one turn is usually not good enough anyway. Unless we have Tron on our own, we cannot afford to loose lands — our deck is quite mana hungry. Moreover, one more turn give us very little unless we have very a strong board since a single Wurmcoil Engine or Oblivion Stone from the other side of the battlefield can close the game.

Against UW Control, where Ghost Quarter could shine (killing Celestial Collonade and other utility lands), it was also bad. UW is not playing Search for Azcanta anymore and, for Collonade, we already have Dismembers which are otherwise rather useless.

I think that 2 basic lands are necessary due to the amount of Field of Ruin, Path to Exile, and Assassin’s Trophy we are likely to see. The other two choices are Sea Gate Wreckage and Radiant Fountain. I want to have a powerful lategame option which Sea Gate provides. Also, the Burn match-up used to be difficult and I want some edge here so I’ve included lifegain in Radiant Fountain. I’m playing the third basic to be sure I get my lands against UW Control but I used to trim it for another Fountain when the meta-game was full of burn.

Sideboard

Everybody knows that the Karn wish package takes some space in the sideboard. But how many slots does it really take? In my opinion, approximately 8. Mycosynth Lattice and Liquimental Coating are the cards that can play only with Karn on board and synergize perfectly with him. Those cards should always stay in the sideboard. Don’t touch them! 😛 One copy of Walking Ballista in sideboard is important as a finisher, removal, or just blocker to keep Karn alive. Grafdigger’s Cage and another piece of graveyard hate like Relic of Progenitus are also mandatory for me. I could see Tormod’s Crypt here.

Sorcerous Spyglass is a permanent answer to Planeswalkers and creatures with problematic abilities. I played Pithing Needle in this slot but it works poorly with Chalice of the Void which is often set to X=1. Ensnaring Bridge is our safety plan. If things go south we can hide behind the Bridge and wait for better times. Don’t touch that card either! It belongs to the sideboard. Wurmcoil Engine does not have any specific synergy with Karn but it is so good against decks like Jund, Mardu Midrange, Stoneforge decks, and in the mirror that we just have to play it. The upside is too high to pass up on.

As far as the remainder of your board goes, you can customize it accordingly to your preferences and meta-game. I chose to play 2 more copies of Relic of Progenitus as this is effective graveyard hate and an important part of my post-board plan against Jund. The second copy of Radiant Fountain is included for more lifegain against Burn and other aggressive decks. Spatial Contortion and Dismember are the rest of my removal spells. I play 5 removal spells: 3 in the main and 2 in the side, mixing them when necessary. Again, Warping Wail is another good option. Torpor Orb is my hate choice for decks like Humans and Whirza. I can see this card feeling weak when the metagame changes. Right now I keep it around because it is such a low cost for such high upside. Sometimes it can just win a game. Mystic Forge is our best card advantage. If left unchecked it can just run away with the game. I’ve tried to maindeck it and, in slower meta full of UW Control, I could see myself maindecking one Forge again.

Sideboarding Plan

4c Whirza

In my opinion, 4c Whirza is currently the best deck in Modern no matter which version we are talking about. This deck has a fast and consistent combo with a good midrange plan that includes Urza, High Lord Artificer and lock pieces like Ensnaring Bridge, Damping Sphere, and Grafdigger’s Cage (sometimes in the main). This deck is difficult to beat as we have to cover many angles of both attack and defense. Karn, the Great Creator is absolutely key in this match-up. I rarely manage to win by fast aggression but it is possible with turn 2 Thought-Knot Seer into a Reality Smasher or two. Dismember is a key to remove Urza or Sai, Master Thopterist before they run away with the game. Chalice of the Void for X=0 is important as we can get under quite a few of their cards on the first turn of the game. Chalice for X=1 is also good but sadly our turn 2 might be too slow. Do not underestimate Topor Orb as sideboard option. It shuts off the Thopter Foundry/Sword of Meek combo and stops Urza from making a token (which usually beats any of our Eldrazi in combat). Use Karn carefully as we want to get Mycosynth Lattice as soon as possible because of opposing Pithing Needle and Sorcerous Spyglass. We also don’t want to get Karn killed by Galvanic Blast or attacked to death by thopters. Sometimes its right to just plus on Karn as it is vital to shut off all their artifact activations. Finding the right balance is very difficult and requires a lot of practice.

In

  • 3 Relic of Progenitus
  • 1 Sorcerous Spyglass
  • 1 Torpor Orb
  • 1 Dismember

Out

  • 1 Hangarback Walker
  • 2 Walking Ballista
  • 1 Spatial Contortion
  • 2 Matter Reshaper

5c Humans

This match-up is tricky but if we draw the right half of our deck (Karn, the Great Creator, Ugin, the Ineffable and defensive creatures like Matter Reshaper) we are good. They usually don’t have maindeck answer for Ensnaring Bridge (sometimes singleton Deputy of Detention) so we might steal a game by landing Karn. However, the other half of the deck rarely gives us a win (Chalice of the Void, Reality Smasher, Endbringer). We are unlikely to win via ground aggression. Both Reflector Mage and Mantis Rider race this plan very effectively. Post-board, Torpor Orb is the real deal. If we play that card, we usually win. Our deck is more resilient to Damping Sphere and Gaddock Teeg than Mono G Tron so the Humans sideboard is a bit weaker against us. Sometimes it is better to save removal for Mantis Rider as we don’t have too many removal spells to begin with and this flying human is the thing that kills me most often here.

In

  • 1 Radiant Fountain
  • 1 Walking Ballista
  • 1 Sorcerous Spyglass
  • 1 Spatial Contortion
  • 1 Torpor Orb
  • 1 Dismember

Out

  • 1 Cavern of Souls
  • 4 Chalice of the Void
  • 1 Reality Smasher

Burn

This match-up is more difficult than many people think. I’ve been killed by Burn on turn three many times. Burn got a lot of consistency with the latest printing of Canopy lands (Sunbaked Canyon and Fiery Islet). Moreover, Skewer the Critics gave them a 3 mana deal 3 damage spell which costs….1 mana. This is bad news for our Chalice of the Void strategy. A couple months ago when Mono R Prowess/Phoenix was the burn deck, Chalice was a win in game 1 and close to win in games 2 and 3. Now things got more complicated. This is where the inclusion of Radiant Fountain and Hangarback Walker came from. I tried out Dragon’s Claw but it was too slow (on the draw especially) and became a frequent victim to the artifact hate they already boarded in. Radiant Fountain gives us 2 life without a drawback and it does not require any mana (speed is the key factor here). Hangarback Walker, on the other hand, gives us at least two blockers that we can land on turn 2. If we survive the early stage of the game, keeping life above 3 or 6, we are likely to win. It is often effective to ‘plus’ Karn, the Great Creator the turn you land it to threaten Mycosynth Lattice lock the turn after that with Karn at safe 4 loyalty. Eldrazi draws are much better in this match than Tron draws. When cast on turn 2, Matter Reshaper is quite good, while Thought-Knot Seer is fantastic. Post-board, consider playing Chalice of the Void for X=2 rather than X=1. It shuts off more spells that deal direct damage and also stops the most popular artifact hate in Smash to Smitereens.

In

  • 1 Radiant Fountain
  • 1 Walking Ballista
  • 1 Sorcerous Spyglass
  • 1 Spatial Contortion
  • 1 Wurmcoil Engine

Out

  • 1 Cavern of Souls
  • 2 Dismember
  • 1 Endbringer
  • 1 All is Dust

Dredge

Graveyard decks are not what they used to be but that doesn’t mean we can cut all the graveyard hate and feel safe. I’m still playing 3 copies of Relic of Progenitus and 1 copy of Grafdigger’s Cage. This is usually enough. I split them this way because I want to have a good sideboard plan against Jund but I also like Cage against Collected Company decks and Neoform. Of course, the more Relics we play, the better they get. One can get us another after we clear the graveyards but I think 3 is enough, at least for now. In this match-up, creature-heavy draws are not too good as we rarely can race slower Dredge draws. Mulligan aggressively as midrange hands often lose while good 5 card hand with multiple hate or fast Tron can often do the job.

In

  • 1 Radiant Fountain
  • 1 Grafdigger’s Cage
  • 3 Relic of Progenitus
  • 1 Wurmcoil Engine

Out

  • 1 Cavern of Souls
  • 1 Spatial Contortion
  • 2 Dismember
  • 2 Walking Ballista

Eldrazi Tron

In the mirror there are so many dead cards (like Chalice of the Void, All is Dust). There is no middle ground. Whoever gets Tron first usually wins. The exception is either fast Eldrazi draw – early Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher or an unanswered turn 3 Karn, the Great Creator. Post-board, cut all the bad staff and put in anything that has nonzero value. Even Relic of Progenitus‘s redraw function is better than Chalice of the Void. Mulligan aggressively. You can sometimes win with mediocore midrange draw, but any reasonable draw like turn 4 Tron through double Expedition Map will easily beat it.

In

  • 1 Radiant Fountain
  • 1 Sorcerous Spyglass
  • 1 Spatial Contortion
  • 1 Dismember
  • 1 Mystic Forge
  • 1 Wurmcoil Engine

Out

  • 1 Cavern of Souls
  • 4 Chalice of the Void
  • 1 All is Dust

Grixis Shadow

This match-up, surprisingly, used to be easier with 4 copies of Leyline of the Void in the sideboard. This card was a dead draw in the late game, but its raw power in the opening hand was unreal. Shadow just couldn’t handle that. Without it, things are a bit more complicated. Pre-board, Chalice of the Void for X=1 is usually game over. We have plenty of very scary cards: Blast Zone, Karn, the Great Creator into Ensnaring Bridge, All is Dust, Reality Smasher, and Walking Ballista when our opponent goes too low with life. The only limiting factor is time. Grixis Shadow can kill us with Temur Battle Rage very quickly using their disruption plan (discard spells and Stubborn Denial) as back-up. Keep fast hands and play as many spells each turn as you can. Matter Reshaper and Hangarback Walker shine in this match-up giving us the time we need. Post-board, crack Relic of Progenitus to stop opposing Gurmag Anglers. Plenty of artifact hate coming from sideboard can stop us from locking the game but we have many cards that can steal the game, too, like All is Dust, Wurmcoil Engine, or Karn, the Great Creator. Generally speaking, the late game belongs to us. We just have to survive early turns.

In

  • 1 Radiant Fountain
  • 3 Relic of Progenitus
  • 1 Dismember
  • 1 Wurmcoil Engine

Out

  • 1 Wastes
  • 2 Walking Ballista
  • 1 Spatial Contortion
  • 1 Endbringer
  • 1 Ugin, the Ineffable

Jund

This match-up is not as good for us as for Mono G Tron (which crushes Jund) but it is still very good. Chalice of the Void is bad here as the Jund mana curve is quite widely spread and they have many spells that destroy Chalice anyways. That said, Ensnaring Bridge is not a reliable lock for the same reasons. We have other stars in this match-up: Relic of Progenitus, Mystic Forge, Wurmcoil Engine. Even Matter Reshaper and the aforementioned Hangarback Walker can spoil Jund’s plans. Walking Ballista is a trap card as we can finish Liliana of the Veil or Dark Confidant but usually it is just a two-mana 1/1 that pumps Tarmogoyf. Don’t get tricked if you win the game with Ballista once or twice. In this match-up its place is in the sideboard.

In

  • 1 Radiant Fountain
  • 3 Relic of Progenitus
  • 1 Spatial Contortion
  • 1 Dismember
  • 1 Mystic Forge
  • 1 Wurmcoil Engine

Out

  • 1 Cavern of Souls
  • 4 Chalice of the Void
  • 2 Walking Ballista
  • 1 Mind Stone

Mono G Tron

We are the smaller cousin and this is a problem. Only fast Eldrazi hands or turn 3 Tron will win this match-up. Chalice of the Void can steal some games by stopping opposing cantripping with one-mana artifacts. Mulligan aggressively and keep playing through the very end of the game. Even if we are far behind on board we can still win the game with a topdecked Karn, the Great Creator to set up the Mycosynth Lattice lock.

In

  • 1 Radiant Fountain
  • 1 Walking Ballista
  • 1 Sorcerous Spyglass
  • 1 Spatial Contortion

Out

  • 1 Cavern of Souls
  • 1 Hangarback Walker
  • 1 Dismember
  • 1 All is Dust

Scapeshift

This is the single worst match-up for us (I don’t consider Neoform as real deck in Modern :P). These games are difficult pre-board. Post-board, Damping Sphere can slow us down to death while we barely have cards to side in. Fast Eldrazi draws are the best here. Early Tron with Karn, the Great Creator also can do the job. Avoid midrange or mediocre hands. They lead only to depressing failures. But cheer up — our deck is powerful enough that its good draws can beat any opponent. Scapeshift is nothing different.

In

  • 1 Radiant Fountain
  • 1 Walking Ballista
  • 1 Sorcerous Spyglass
  • 1 Spatial Contortion

Out

  • 1 Cavern of Souls
  • 1 Hangarback Walker
  • 1 Dismember
  • 1 Endbringer

UW Control

Here we have to clarify what version of UW we are playing against. Against Stoneforge Mystic decks with potential Spell Queller we want as much removal as possible. However, against the full Control version of UW with big Planeswalkers and Cryptic Command we want only Dismember (probably just 2 copies). The biggest problem is that both versions can play Stoneforge and Queller. The question is how many of those is our opponent actually playing. Consider cutting Chalice of the Void on the draw as cards like Teferi, Time Reveler, Spell Queller, and Detention Sphere answer them in a very painful way. Besides that, assembling Tron is very difficult for UW to deal with. Remember that they have Karn-lock in mind always and will keep up counter magic to deal with it. Spells like Karn, the Great Creator and Liquimental Coating are must-answer threats for them. Use this advantage to push some other devastating spells through. Against the creature-oriented version you might consider playing Torpor Orb. When resolved, this cards stops Snapcaster Mage, Stoneforge Mystic, and Spell Queller.

In

  • 1-2 Relic of Progenitus
  • 1 Sorcerous Spyglass
  • 0-1 Spatial Contortion
  • 0-1 Torpor Orb
  • 0-1 Dismember
  • 1 Mystic Forge

Out

  • 1 Chalice of the Void
  • 1 Hangarback Walker
  • 1 Walking Ballista
  • 1 Mind Stone
  • 0-1 Matter Reshaper
  • 0-1 Endbringer

Well, that’s all for now. I hope I have covered some aspects of Eldrazi Tron deck, its sideboard plans and position in modern. Let me know whether this articles was or wasn’t helpful for you 😉

Note from the editor: Wojtek (Laplasjan) appears on episode 163 of the Modern Meta-Call podcast to talk about Eldrazi Tron.  Listen to that here.

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