Pauper: Tron in 60 Seconds

O.K., probably not readable in sixty seconds, but I liked that pun better than Tron with the Wind.

Urza: Industrialist, Venture Capitalist, and Dominaria’s original big money, land owning mogul. He took a page straight from Ray Kroc’s playbook and never looked back. Visit any plane in the multiverse and you’ll find that all too familiar golden upside down arch logo of the Tower, Mine, and Power Plant.

It feels like whenever a Mine opens, it doesn’t take long before there’s a Power Plant and Tower popping up right across the table from you.

Has Urza’s cutthroat expansion pushed some of the other famous mom and pop chains into obscurity? Well, sure. Who doesn’t miss the vibrant flavors of Taco Kormus Bell, ChipotLeyline of Sanctity, or Dairy Queen of the Fae? All casualties of Urza’s cutthroat economic multiversalization.

I hate to support a big corporate giant, but Coca Cola just tastes better when you go through the Urza’s Mine drive through. The fries are pretty deece too… maybe even get a little golden bug toy in the happy meal to make the kiddies happy.

Urza’s: Home of the “Big Mana Mac.”

I can only make so many Urza = McDonald’s parallels. I think I got the good ones in. Let’s talk about UrzaTron in Pauper.

If you are dropping into my column for the first time, welcome.

If you have been following along with the articles or my Twitter (give me a follow @BrianDeMars1, I tweet about MTG all the time), you are probably aware that I’m really high on Pauper right now.

I’ve already spent a lot of words on pro-Pauper platitudes, but the summary is: The format is diverse, the games are fun, and you can assemble decks for cheap. It’s kind of everything a Magic fanboy or girl could hope for.

I’ve been playing my way through the format. Every deck I play is cool. I haven’t played a match (win or lose) that I didn’t enjoy. It’s good clean Magic. Last week I wrote about a Dimir Teachings deck and there was a lot of discussion in the comments about Tron, and so that seemed like the next logical place to drive through.

The RIW regulars helped me pool the cards together and tune up the list for the article. (Thanks, Jono, Dan, and J.D). Nothing helps launch a great format into the realm of amazing like wonderful people to explore it with.

Here’s what I’m working with:

Pauper Tron

Brian DeMars

It doesn’t stray too far from the known baseline but I did end up making some adjustments.

I played the deck in a local tournament yesterday, and I was a little shocked by how powerful it was. I don’t know why I would assume a Tron deck wouldn’t be insane, but forgive me, I did.

The deck wasn’t as clunky as I expected and it was effective at playing “fair mage” even when I didn’t Tron quickly. Once I assembled the three Musketeers? Forget about it.

So, what does this deck actually do and why is it good?

This is not the Modern Tron deck. The goal isn’t to always make turn 3 Tron and cast some card that wins the game like Karn Liberated or Wurmcoil Engine.

The goal is to play good defensive Magic against your opponent. Answer threats with removal or permission, generate card advantage, and eventually dig into Tron. The deck has a lot of gas, which means that once you’ve got tons of mana, you have lots of things to do with the mana.

Most of the deck is geared toward playing “fair” Magic, like the Dimir Teachings deck I wrote about last week.

In fact, the deck utilizes Mystical Teachings to generate card advantage and control the game.

Teachings and Tron is the sweetest pairing since chocolate and peanut butter.

The deck can also blank multiple attack steps thanks to Moment’s Peace while the deck stocks up on land drops and draws cards.

Slowmo fog.

The deck also has a lot of cool late-game combos that can be utilized to lock an opponent out of the game. In almost every case, when playing Tron, you’ll want to completely neutralize your opponent and run them out of options. In that sense, Tron is a pure control deck. Nine out of ten times, you don’t start trying to win until it is clear your opponent cannot win. There are exceptions:

The deck can slam a turn-4 Ulamog’s Crusher or just burn an opponent out with a giant fireball to the face, but that won’t be the way most of your games play out (unless you are very lucky, I suppose!).

The deck also has several cool loop combos that allow you to cast Moment’s Peace from your hand every turn.

Once you have tons of mana you can basically do whatever you want, and many decks cannot win outside of the combat step. Pulse of Murasa is a great way to rebuy slain Mnemonic Walls and put yourself out of burn range.

The card didn’t feel like a common in Time Spiral Block Draft and it doesn’t feel like a common in Pauper either. Sprout Swarm is my preferred win condition in the deck. If your opponent doesn’t have creatures with trample or flying, it is basically another buyback fog. It can protect other creatures from edict effects. It’s an army in a can.

One of the biggest constraints of Pauper is that there are few cards that can “take over a game by themselves.” That type of action is typically reserved for rares. The cards that make a player the monarch can take over a game because they play like planeswalkers. Sprout Swarm is another card that just takes over, which is why I play it. It breaks certain rules of the format by design.

Another nice synergy is that Mnemonic Wall can always get back the Sprout Swarm if it gets countered or Duressed away. Pulse of Murasa can buy back any creature and Mnemonic Wall is a creature that can buy back any spell, so you can always get back anything that you’ve lost along the way.

I also love that it cannot be Hydro or Pyroblasted after sideboard. Sometimes it is easy being green. I hope you made the rainbow connection that I was making a Kermit the Frog reference.

That’s the basics of what Tron is and what it does.

Another neat aspect of Pauper Tron is that the deck feels like it has 10-12 flex spots.

Obviously, the Tron package builds itself but it isn’t even obvious that R/U/G is the best configuration.

I wasn’t super impressed with Flame Slash and cut back to make more room for Electrickery and Lightning Bolt. I felt that the instant speed ability to interact with pump spells and specifically act as a counter to Rancor was important to me.

Pros and cons to both. The biggest downfall of Bolt is that it doesn’t kill Spire Golem or Myr Enforcer. I do have Grudges in the sideboard to help out with the Enforcer issue.

I also realize that Terminate is hard on the mana but I wanted another clean answer to Gurmag Angler, which is one of the most popular (and difficult to deal) monsters in the format. You are able to recur it as many times as you like with the Walls tricks, but you the effect.

There’s nothing more frustrating than having a kill spell that can’t kill what you need it to!

I’ve also been super happy with Crop Rotation.

I don’t want a million copies of Crop Rotation, but the first one is pretty grand. You’ve got to be careful not to get 2-for-1’d by a counterspell.

You can also tutor up Bojuka Bog against exhume or Dredge decks, which is pretty nifty.

The sideboard is a little unrefined but I’m not even sure that’s a bad thing. I’m on a zillion Pyro and Hydroblast.

Pauper is a blast!

In most matchups, Hydroblast and Pyroblast are the best sideboard cards you can have. It’s nice that they destroy enchantments, since random grindy Curses are one way people try to attack slow control decks.

I have an anti-Affinity package:

Shatter their hopes and dreams.

And a fog package:

Hendrix sings about Purple Haze, but I’ve been riffing on Green Haze. To be fair, I’m pretty sure that Hendrix riffed on Green Haze a lot in his day…

I’m either loading up on Blasts, Shattering artifact lands, or fogging decks that attack me.

The main deck is so versatile and powerful that it can out grind almost anything. The key is that you not get “out-nimbled” in the first 5 or 6 turns. If you are at parity 6, 7, or 8 turns into a game, it almost doesn’t matter what you are playing against—you are probably favored on power level of draw steps alone.

After playing around with the deck, my assessment confirms what I expected to find: Tron is easily one of the best decks in Pauper right now. If I were going to play a big Pauper event where I was trying to win and not learn about the format, this is the 75 that I’d sleeve up.

There are other builds of the deck floating around and I’m sure they are good as well.

Also a powerful combo, but there are only so many slots in the deck. I know that I’ll regret my life choices every time I have to tap out for a 6-drop 5/5 and get it calmly, casually Excluded…

I just can’t put myself through that right now. I’d rather just play on my opponent’s turn with Teachings and Sprout Swarm when possible. I’m not saying the deck is bad—it just focuses on a different angle than I choose to push in this particular build.

Final Thoughts

The deck is hard to play well and it takes some practice to get the hang of particularly the endgames because they involve some complicated sequences. If you are jumping in, plan on going to time. I had a match end 1-0 in turns and another end 1-0-1. I’m a little on the slow side when it comes to playing complicated decks I’m unfamiliar with, and I was definitely on the plan of scooping if I caused a draw while learning my slow deck so as not to infuriate anybody for playing a slow deck.

1-0 sounds like I was being a snail, but the game went over 30 turns and was crazy. At one point my opponent had 10 creatures in play that were 5/5 or bigger and fizzled my Capsize on Mnemonic Wall to break up my fog lock. Sprout Swarm single-handedly defeated his army despite me not finding action for many turns in a row. I know I’m giving Sprout Swarm a lot of love. I’m sappy for Saprolings.

Time is a concern with the deck. It’s something that you always has to keep in mind when playing a slow archetype like Tron Control.

I’m obviously on the newer side to competitive Pauper and I realize that Tron Control is the type of deck that a lot of people really like to go deep on.

I build the decks. I test the decks. I tune the decks. And I share what I’ve learned. If you’re a Tron expert, the other readers and I would love to hear about your own discoveries in the comments section, especially if you’ve got an interesting take or piece of tech in the tank. Also, if there are Pauper decks you’d guys like to see featured for next week, I’m open to suggestions in the comments. I’m excited to try something new.

Not even Pauper can stop Urza’s brand. Yeah, the food isn’t super healthy, but who doesn’t love the UrGriddle sandwich? Pancakes for the buns? What a Stroke of Genius! Urza may be a cutthroat entrepreneur and tycoon, but he’s still a wizard in the kitchen.

The rich get richer, but I’m enjoying life as a Pauper.


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