Modern is a deep format with many options available at any given time. A strategy I have been seriously exploring is one of Modern’s most infamous boogeymen:
By Brian DeMars
What is GR UrzaTron?
The reason the deck is called “UrzaTron” is that once you assemble all three Urza lands on the battlefield you receive a significant boost in mana production and can summon gigantic, powerful robots (a la the pieces come together to form Voltron of 80’s cartoon fame).
The deck revolves around quickly finding the three Urza lands to “Tron up” and cast much larger, more robust threats than any other deck in the format. The deck can also nicely leverage its mana advantage through land destruction from a fast Karn Liberated or Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger to severely stunt an opponent’s ability to fight back.
Main Deck Tune-Ups
GR Urza Tron main decks typically share at least 50+ core cards cards in common. What separates one version from another is the critical last ten slots and sideboarding.
I’ve been working on the deck since before the SCG Invitational and my experience has helped shape my current configuration of the deck.
The first important change I made to the deck was to add a second Forest.
Kyle Boggemes has always said the secret to deck tuning is to take an awesome list and immediately add a land. People often push mana bases too far and there is something to be said for having consistently good resources.
In the case of the second Forest, the advantage goes beyond consistency and into the realm of tactical.
Quarter is a commonly played card that is GREAT against Tron. Many decks play multiple copies and being able to fetch up a second basic in a situation where your mana is under assault is critical. The second Forest also gives you a sizable advantage in the mirror where Ghost Quarter recursion is a crucial battle line.
The other change I’m advocating is the exclusion of Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. The biggest reason that I don’t like Emrakul is:
Ulamog may be statistically less powerful than Emrakul but it costs 1/3rd the mana which is significant in close games where you don’t take full control with nine or ten lands in play. I’ve found that in most scenarios where Emrakul would be better than Ulamog I can still win the game with an Ulamog—the same cannot often be said about instances where I can’t cast Emrakul but could cast Ulamog.
I made posts on Facebook and Twitter last week asking whether or not people thought Emrakul was necessary in GR Tron and the overwhelming was response was that the big 15 wasn’t. The vast majority of GR Tron lists still play Emrakul despite the fact that a lot of experienced Tron players commented that it probably doesn’t warrant inclusion. I’m certainly not the first person to cut the card, but I think that will soon become the norm in the future.
I’m currently on 0 Relic of Progenitus although I acknowledge that the card is quite good in certain matchups. I instead prefer to fill up those slots with 2 Pyroclasm and the third Spellskite. My reasoning is that while Relic is a fine card in most situations (because it can cantrip) ‘Skite and Clasm are the BEST cards I can reasonably play against my most difficult matchups: Affinity, Burn, and Infect. The Spellskite is also very helpful against Twin which is a difficult matchup.
Essentially, I’m choosing to cut an average consistent card from the main in order to facilitate playing a couple of bullets against hard matchups that I will commonly face.
Most of the Tron lists that perform well have a tendency to play many of the same cards but in different quantities.
Most GR UrzaTron decks will have these cards in some quantity in the sideboard because they are the best cards against the most problematic matchups (Volley vs. Twin, Claim and Grudge vs. Affinity, and the rest of the Pyros for fast swarmy aggro). These cards also obviously do things against other matchups as well, but these are the reason they always make the cut.
The one card that I play that is maybe a little bit off the radar is Loam. Most people opt for Crucible of Worlds, which is similar to Loam, but has a few advantages in that it doesn’t require our draw step to rebuy and is an artifact for Ancient Stirrings.
I don’t think there is a clear “one is better or worse” but I personally prefer the advantages offered by Loam over Crucible. I love that it is immune to Thoughtseize and opposing artifact hate (which people bring in against us). It is also a big deal that you can get back and replay a Ghost Quarter a full turn faster than with Crucible in the mirror. The other cool thing that Loam does against decks that are going to destroy our lands is find more lands by dredging it back!
Crucible was consistently too slow, and I always wished it was Loam, so I made the switch and have been very happy ever since.
I’ve played GR Tron in the last two local weekly events I’ve attended and have been thoroughly impressed with the deck. I also have been happy with the changes and slight tune-ups that I’ve made so far. There is a reason why so many players are afraid of (a.k.a., hate playing against) Tron and the reason is that the deck is one of the most consistently powerful decks legal in Modern—it goes very big, very fast, a frighteningly high percentage of the time.