November 11, 2014

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Treasure Tron – By Alex Battistelli

The Modern format has been shaken up in a big way with the release of Khans of Tarkir. We no longer see top 8’s littered with Pod and GBx decks. Instead we’ve seen the rise of UR Delver and Burn, and blue decks seemingly have taken over the format. Now what does this mean for us Tron players? Well, bad things of course. GBx and Pod decks were our best matchups, and now that those decks have fallen in popularity, finding wins as the Tron player is much more difficult. Matchups that used to be favourable, such as UR Delver, are now much more even thanks to the printing of Treasure Cruise.

The Burn matchup was already very unfavourable, and now that they have access to Cruise our chances of coming out on top have greatly decreased. In order to keep up with this new meta, we must adapt our strategy to give ourselves a fighting chance. MODO is overrun with UR Delver and Burn, so if we intend to compete we need to be prepared with main deck options that can push us ahead in the matchup. If Treasure Cruise is the card that gives our opponents the edge, maybe we should take a cruise ourselves!

Treasure Cruise in theory is a very powerful addition to our strategy, and although it is blue we can still cast it very reliably. Chromatic Star and Chromatic Sphere give us access to blue and also fill up our graveyard to fuel delve. Even without a full graveyard, paying the full eight mana for Cruise is not very difficult for a Tron deck to do. We do need to make a slight adjustment to our mana base, and I’ve chose to go with -1 Ghost Quarter and -1 Grove of the Burnwillows and +2 Mana Confluence.

The theory behind Mana Confluence over Yavimaya Coast is simply because Mana Confluence still allows us to cast our Pyroclasms. Not being able to tap painlessly for colourless mana could be relevant, but I believe it’s more important to be able to cast our red cards in addition to Treasure Cruise. Now this list is built for the MTGO metagame, with the full 4 Pyroclasm main deck, and the 4th Wurmcoil Engine over a Karn Liberated. Oblivion Stone is a little too slow for the Delver and Burn matchup, so we’ve cut down to 3. The 4th Karn and 4th Oblivion Stone have been moved to the sideboard.
I’ve opted for only 2 Relic of Progenitus in the main, and while there’s an argument to be made that it’s good against opponents who are taking advantage of delve, there are much better things we could be doing in this slot. Relic shines when Tarmogoyf is running rampant, but right now that is not the case. Cutting Relic allows us to make room for Treasure Cruise and gives us a more powerful late game.
Moving onto the sideboard, we have to be prepared to face decks that are using the other all-star blue card from Khans of Tarkir: Dig Through Time.

Splinter Twin, Scapeshift and UWR Control are all decks that have adopted Dig Through Time. While the UWR can be favourable for us, having access to Dig Through Time has definitely done work to level the playing field. Splinter Twin and Scapeshift of course are relatively bad matchups, with Scapeshift being the worse of the two. We need a card that will help us against all 3 of these decks in our sideboard, such as Defense Grid.

Defense Grid allows us to jam threats on our turn without fear of counterspells. Sticking an early threat against any of these 3 decks is critical and usually adds enough pressure that they cannot catch up - or allows us to put together a significant defense against the combos out of Twin and Scapeshift.
Since Scapeshift is our worst matchup, identifying a plan for post-board games is critical. I’ve found the best strategy is to attack their green sources and try to gain as much life as possible. Trading Post is brought in simply for gaining life.

Generally, if you can get yourself above 36 life the Scapeshift deck has a pretty hard time combo killing you. Between Trading Post and Wurmcoil Engine, boosting your life total significantly isn’t that much of a stretch. Outside of life gain, using Karn Liberated to attack their green sources can slow them down enough that they cannot combo us out before we end the game with a Wurmcoil Engine or Emrakul, The Aeons Torn.
Khans of Tarkir has given us the shake up in Modern that everyone has been asking for. Is adding Treasure Cruise to Gr Tron the correct choice? Only time and testing will tell. Cruise is definitely an extremely powerful card, and every deck that can afford to play it will probably do so. Until next time, I’ll keep jamming Karn Liberateds and Wurmcoil Engines (and now Treasure Cruises) on turn 3. Thanks for reading!