When I did the Budget Mono-Black Control Brew Off, the Black Urzatron submissions really jumped off the page at me.
Something about Mono-Black Tron just feels right. It feels correct thematically in a way that is compelling enough for me to act just based on the emotion and flavor.
I’ve always identified strongly as a black mage, maybe more than the other colors. I felt that as a Wizard at Hogwarts I would have been in the Slytherin house. I didn’t see this as good or bad—but ambition and sacrifice felt central to my identity, and that’s what the so called “dark arts” are all about.
While red is about emotional immediacy, black is about controlled sacrifice for delayed gratification. Control feels natural and pulling ahead with big mana feels the most black.
In the past we had Cabal Coffers—slow but insurmountable black mana from the Swamps.
Since Nykthos has come out, a lot of people have tried to use this land as the salvation of Mono-Black Control. I personally feel that the card has too many hoops to jump through. Doesn’t feel right.
But then we have the Urzatron, and something just clicks. Not strategically, but thematically. Buckets of mana for a black deck is appropriate. The question now is how to take advantage of this strategically.
This is a bit backwards. Most of the time I start with some kind of combo or exciting interaction, but this time it’s about the Magic.
So what are the advantages of Mono-Black Tron over any other kind of Tron deck? What does black offer? What makes black especially good at assembling and using the Urzatron? We go searching for answers.
Early Game Features
First let’s consider the early game. You can start with the finish and work backwards, or you can start from the beginning and work forward. Either way works, but I am always most interested in the first couple of turns.
First and most importantly I have selected discard. This is maybe black’s strongest weapon. These cards are good in any matchups and every opponent is susceptible to the disruption.
However, discard is at its best in a Tron deck. You can make good use of the extra time and pull out your opponent’s best defenses. Countermagic hits the graveyard—great.
Black also offers great options for creature removal—it’s another thing black does best. While other Tron strategies need to wait for Tron to come online for a big sweeper or use a small burn spell, black can easily take care of an under-costed Gurmag Angler as the game develops.
Moving on to the midgame you should be aware that you aren’t especially likely to hit Tron early. If you do—great—but you don’t have Sylvan Scrying or Ancient Stirrings to dig. You could tap into Beseech the Queen, but it’s slow. So instead you should be prepared to play a game without Urzatron.
Even without Urzatron, Talisman into Solemn into Wurmcoil is a winning line, especially when backed up by discard and removal. No Tron necessary.
Read the Bones and Damnation are additional no-Tron-necessary value options to pull ahead. Damnation is great at clearing the board, and Read the Bones is one of my favorite Magic cards to cast—works great here!
Late Game Features
What makes black more special than the other colors? What can black do with buckets of mana that the other colors can’t?
For me it’s all about Diabolic Revelation. This is the most unique X-Spell in the game of Magic and the most unbeatable when powered by Urzatron.
Diabolic Revelation goes and grabs X of anything—removal and discard to seal the game up, and some kind of big creature or planeswalker to finish things off.
Black also provides some big drain life type options. Not as exciting to me as Diabolic Revelation but useful to keep in mind.
Modern Mono-Black Tron
This list is a thematic triumph and also happens to be very competitive. Go check out the video series if you want to see how it plays.
Metagaming with Mono-Black Tron
While white has the strongest “hate” sideboard cards in Modern, black has the weakest. It has no magic archetype-killing bullets to shoot with. But, its general answers happen to be good against anything.
More discard is great against anything combo or control. More creature removal is great against anything aggressive. You have graveyard removal and you have more threats.
Even if you don’t have really specific sideboard hate, you can easily adjust your strategy to perform better against whatever deck you match up against.
I highly recommend this list to the Modern black mages. If you’re looking for a control shell and nothing has felt right, try this out. It gives you the thematic feeling and is also extremely competitive.
I hope you find this strategy useful. If not, I hope you find the process of developing this strategy useful. Sometimes emotion is necessary to spark action, and the rationality comes along the way. It’s an unconventional approach but appropriate at times in a fantasy game.