Mono Blue Tron, Mono Best Tron – What, how, and why?
Hello my fellow nerds. Today I want to try and spotlight the beautiful disaster that is Mono Blue Tron. Mono Blue Artifact-Shenanigans is my all-time favorite deck, and I feel that it is criminally underplayed and underrated. I am going to attempt to break down the deck and inform those uninitiated to "The Cult of Condescend", "The Tribe of Thirst for Knowledge", and "Oh Shit, My Opponent is Playing an Aggressive Deck".
What is Mono Blue Tron?
Mono Blue Tron is a confused love child of a combo deck and a control deck. Unlike it's inbred cousin, Gx Tron, U Tron does NOT aim to assemble tron as fast as possible. Instead, the deck aims to cycle and stall the game until it is able to assemble tron, usually turns 4-7. Once tron is assembled, the deck has a versatile package of win conditions which will be explained later in this write-up.
How is Mono Blue Tron built and played?
There are many different flavors and variations of U Tron, and the deck has a fairly large card pool to choose and mold your deck from. Firstly, let's take a look at commonly played mainboard cards from each different module of the deck:
Counterspells (6-8 Cards)
Can-Trips (4-6 Cards)
Removal/Psuedo-Removal (1-3 Cards)
All is Dust
Win Conditions (5-6 Cards)
Epiphany at the Drownyard
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
"Value" Cards (4-8 Cards)
Chalice of the Void
Talisman of Dominance
Tutors (6-8 Cards)
Lands (23-24 Cards)
Oboro, Palace in the Clouds
Minamo, School at Water's Edge
Urza's Power Plant
Boseiju, Who Shelters All
Other than a few fringe cards here and there, these are the cards that have composed most U Tron lists in recent times. Now, I will break down my current list, and the card choices at each slot.
horizon44's U Tron 2: Electric Boogaloo:
- 4 Condescend
This card is one of the main reasons to play the deck. In the early game, it is usually Mana Leak with a scry 2 on it. In the late game, It's "Counter target spell unless its controller pays ten thousand." But seriously, late game its 1U Counterspell that scrys for 2. Amazing. The scry is insanely relevant when trying to find Tron, or look for a win-con once Tron is assembled. Honestly, I can't think of a theoretically better counterspell for this deck without being absurdly overpowered. This card is the signature card of Mono U Tron. ALWAYS play 4 of them, no questions.
- 3 Remand
Remand is a great tempo card. It is a mediocre counterspell with a can-trip on it that doesn't require double blue, which is very tough for this deck to handle in the early turns. Remand is usually used to cycle for tron pieces or protect a casted win condition. Most lists play anywhere from 1-4. I definitely think at least 2 is where you want to be when playing U Tron.
- 2 Spatial Contortion
I'm going to be as honest and unbiased as possible in this description of the deck. So here is the first hard place. This is a bad card, especially when compared relatively to other removal cards in modern. I am not happy to be playing this card, but being a mono blue control deck, we really don't have too many other options. I don't like seeing this card, but you will be happy when you draw it in a lot of cases. 2-3 mainboard between this card and dismember is required.
- 2 Repeal
Not sure this card should be considered "removal", but when played alongside counterspells, it can act as so. I personally love this card. It buys us time and helps us cycle into needed pieces. It can also be used as value to save a targeted permanent we control, or bounce snapcaster allowing us to get even more value in a grindfest. Can be quite annoying when you're staring down a manland. Solid card. I would play 1-3 in any given list.
- 1 Oblivion Stone
One of the cards that allows us to catch up while on the back foot. This card is the bane of many decks existence. Enjoy the look of terror in midrange players eyes when you resolve o-stone with mana open to pop it. Amazing card that has a great deal of synergy with the rest of the deck. Insanely clunky in multiples, so I would play 1-2 in any list.
- 1 Cyclonic Rift
You might be thinking "wut?" and I certainly was for quite sometime, but after watching /u/pierakor play the card for awhile I am convinced that it is a main-stay in the deck as a 1-of strictly. Again, this is another card that allows us to turn the game around while on the back-foot. It also can be recurred with either snapcaster mage or torrential gearhulk (you can pay the overload cost when casting the card with gearhulk). Also sometimes it can allow you to inefficiently remove a problematic permanent your opponent has resolved while you were tapped out by allowing you to bounce the card and hold up a counterspell for when they attempt to recast it.
- 4 Thirst for Knowledge
Again, one of the main reasons to play this deck. A great way to cycle through your deck for whatever you are looking for. Great source of card advantage against grindy decks. All around great card. drawing 3 for 3 mana at instant speed is nothing to scoff at. Play 4 or hit the door, homie.
- 1 Anticipate
Meh. Nothing special. Decent way to search for an answer at instant speed. Consider it the un-athletic, overlooked little brother of highschool-football-allstar older brother, Thirst for Knowledge.
- 2 Chalice of the Void
Again, not certain this card belongs in the value section of this write-up, but if your opponent is sitting with 5 1-drops in hand staring down a chalice on 1, I would consider that value. This is one of the biggest things that helps us in aggro, our toughest match-ups. On one, chalice only cuts off map in my list, unless we're repealing or condescending for 0. Don't be afraid to play it on higher mana in some cases. We can always repeal or destroy it to get around it when we need to go for the win. Might be worth it to cut your opponent off of Lingering souls and then repealing chalice later when we need to fabricate for the win condition.
- 1 Snapcaster Mage
Amazing card as a 1 of in this deck. Can be very clunky in multiples so I wouldn't play more than one. Let's us recast parts of our slim removal suite, search another time with a cantrip, counter another problem card when were empty on counterspells, etc. Can also turn off our opponents removal to a certain extent when we have snap to get back whatever they take. In other words, Snap is the secret security hired to guard President Condescend with his life. Thank you for your service, Tiago.
- 2 Solemn Simulacrum
Not the best card in the list, but personally, my favorite card we are playing. Solemn is an absurd amount of value, usually resulting in a 3 for one in our favor. Can be used to chump with little repercussion when we are drawing from the death of our sad friend. Also useful because it can help us find a blue source. I am much more likely to keep a hand with no blue sources if I have colorless interaction and a solemn in hand. Used to be 2 Thought-Knot Seer, but Solemn has much more synergy with the deck and also can help us in our worse match-ups.
- 4 Expedition Map
Helps us find lands when we need them. Simple as that. I would always play 4, but some lists have been playing 3 recently.
- 2 Fabricate
Started as 2 treasure mage. However, I found that more often than not I was more interested in grabbing low cmc artifacts than a 2/2 body, especially after adding solemn to my mainboard. Can grab a wincon when we don't have one, can grab an answer or map when we need it. Much more flexible than treasure mage, which is why I am playing it instead. I would always play 2-3 tutors outside of expedition map, in a combination of fabricate and treasure mage as your preference desires.
- 1 Mindslaver
Oh Mindslaver, my dear old friend. Mindslaver in combination with Academy Ruins gives our deck an inevitable combo. Not just any infinite combo, but an infinite combo that allows us to take all of our opponents turns for the rest of the game. Mindslaver is one of the hardest locks in the history of magic, and after a single iteration is completed there is literally no way your opponent can get out of it. That is unless you kill yourself with your opponents cards, which is entirely up to you.
- 1 Batterskull
Beefy lifelinker that can take over the game against certain decks. Tutorable, versatile, and resilient. With enough open mana our opponent won't be able to remove batterskull from our arsenal. When playing a Tron deck, it is common to have that much mana.
- 1 Platinum Angel
I sincerely do not like this card. I don't like seeing it in 90% of situations where I draw it. However, there are times when it is lights-out for your opponent. A lot of modern decks have become so linear and un-interactive that they do not have a mainboard answer to Platinum Angel. Even if they do, you have counters to back it up. I really don't like this card, but lord /u/pierakor insists on this card being a main-stay in the deck. He is a much better player than I am, especially with U Tron, so I keep this one in on his regards.
- 1 Torrential Gearhulk
I love this card in this deck. There are alot of X cards that don't work with it, but recurring Gearhulk to the top of your library and casting yet another Thirst For Knowledge feels great. This card takes a lot of opponents by surprise. Can recur a decent amount of other spells as well. If you don't like Gearhulk in the context of my list, you can certainly swap it out for another wincon that you prefer playing.
- 1 Wurmcoil Engine
Game over against a lot of decks. Not as resilient as Batterskull, but beefier and badder. It's fun watching Grixis and Jund players launch 90 cards to completely remove a Wurmcoil only for you to tap 3 lands and put it back on top of your library. Round 2, anyone? Id always play 1-2
- 1 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
Oh Eugene, how I wish you were an artifact. Win the turn now or in a few turns is great text on a card, and that's basically what Eugene reads. I would certainly be playing more than 1 if he was an artifact, but sadly, only one fits into this list.
- 1 Epiphany at the Drownyard
This card is absurd in this deck. Casting it for 4 cards is usually great, casting it for 12 cards is game over. A versatile draw card with little downside as we can put any artifacts put in our yard on top with ruins, or cast any spells discarded with snap or gearhulk.
- 12 Tron Lands
I don't think I need a description for this one. 4 of each. No exceptions.
- 1 Ghost Quarter
Can get rid of a problem land our opponent has, can find a blue source for us. 1 of as it is tutorable by expedition map.
- 1 Oboro, Palace in the Clouds
Blue source that doesn't have a problem with choke or boil. Can use a trick to produce double blue by tapping it for mana then returning to your hand and replaying. Can also return it if it get's targeted by land removal.
- 1 Gemstone Caverns
This deck struggles on the draw. Gemstone Caverns allows us to be on the play when we are on the draw. Being able to condescend, remand, or spatial contortion on our second turn on the draw can be crucial against fast decks. 1 in the main, 1 in the side. I consider this mandatory.
- 1 Academy Ruins
Part of the combo and allows us to recur whatever artifacts we put into our yard. Enables a lot of synergy and tricks in the deck. 1-2 is mandatory.
- 8 Islands
When was the last time you played a modern deck with 8 basic lands? (shut up mono w/mono b players..) Seriously though, one of the most appealing parts of playing Mono U Tron is how smooth the mana base is. 6-9 Islands in any list.
- 2 Chalice of the Void
Amazing against affinity on the play and aggro decks in general. Versatile card.
- 2 Filigree Familiar
Another way to help out against fast aggressive decks. Bonus point if you get sad robot and his dog out at the same time.
- 3 Spreading Seas
Manlands and lands in general can be problematic for our deck. Spreading Seas is a great way to negate manlands and remove problematic lands from our opponents arsenal. Can also be used if we are desperate for a blue source.
- 2 Dismember
Kill the goyf and the eldrazi dudes. Kill problem creatures. Kill kill kill. Lose a bunch of life in the process 😦
- 1 Dispel
Great against control decks and combo decks.
- 2 Hurkyl's Recall
Great against artifact decks, especially affinity.
- 1 Negate
Same as dispel.
1 Spatial Contortion
1 Gemstone Caverns
Why play Mono U Tron?
I will be honest. U Tron is certainly not the best, or most consistent deck in modern. It struggles against aggro decks pretty hard, and can lose to itself at times. However, I have never played a deck in modern more fun or skill-testing than U Tron. I love this deck to death, and if your meta is filled with mid-range and control decks, you should certainly consider putting it together. The deck is tier 3 at best, but in my heart, it's the only tier 1 deck on the map.
Well, that's my novel. If anything, I hope you enjoyed reading this write-up on my all time favorite deck. I certainly enjoyed typing it up. Tune into /u/pierakor for U-Tron games on Twitch or YouTube. Also, feel free to ask any questions about the deck, or share your own lists as well. I could talk about U Tron all day!
Have a wonderful night everyone, may your condescends always be for the perfect amount, and may you always draw natural tron with a blue source and interaction and a win con to back it up. 🙂