Welcome to part 4 of my series on UR Twin, this week I will be talking about the RG Tron matchup. There are at least two other Tron decks out there (mono-blue and UW), but those are nowhere near as popular as the red/green version, so I won’t be covering them.
For the purpose of covering as many variations of your main deck and sideboard as possible, I am using an aggregate deck list, which has more than 75 cards but contains pretty much everything that is commonly played in the archetype.
UR Twin Aggregate List
The chosen week couldn’t be more timely to release this article as Jim Davis just won a significant tournament playing the enemy. You’ll be ready to fight it at your next Modern event.
Game 1 is usually quite straightforward—if you find the combo at any point, you are a huge favorite. Playing a tempo game used to be a cakewalk even if you didn’t combo—a few Remands, Snapcasters, and Cryptic Commands would do the job.
This card changed the matchup enough that you can’t play a long game. The difference between Emrakul at 15 mana and this at 10 is huge. It is inevitable that it will be cast and there’s isn’t much you can do about it pre-sideboard.
Next up is Spellskite. It’s one of their ways to beat you when you’re both on a good draw. Spell Snare is your friend there—it’s not great against their deck in general, as Sylvan Scrying is basically your only other target. Still, the first one is important especially with people running up to 3 Spellskites maindeck these days. Lightning Bolt is mediocre, but combined with Snapcaster Mage it’ll deal with a Spellskite and that’s all you need.
That’s it really—you’ll win in pretty much every other scenario. Just don’t draw terribly, be ready for Spellskite, and get out of game 1 with a lead in the match.
Options are thin, I remember a time when they had 2 Torpor Orb, 4 Nature’s Claim, and 4 Combust. Needless to say I was boarding out at least 1 Splinter Twin and 1 Deceiver Exarch. Nowadays, Modern is so wide open that Tron can’t afford to dedicate so many cards to a single matchup, they’ll have up to 4 Nature’s Claim, 2 Rending Volley, and 1 or 2 Boil.
This is why we are keeping at least 1 Dispel. Nature’s Claim and Boil are justification enough.
Even if I had 3 Ancient Grudges (which I’ve never had), I don’t think I’d board that many. It only really kills Oblivion Stone and Spellskite, so 2 is fine.
I never thought Blood Moon was necessary in this matchup until Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger was printed. Before him, the post-sideboard game would basically be Tron controlling you, never really jamming Wurmcoil Engines and Karn Liberated early or anything, just keeping mana up for Stone and sideboard cards, then eventually they would start casting threats, but that wouldn’t happen until they had 5-6 lands in play. At that point Blood Moon would already be kept in check by Oblivion Stone, and they’d have control over when to blow it up or not, which was kind of annoying. Since Ulamog is now a thing, Blood Moon is a necessity. I’ll do anything to slow it down and Moon accomplishes that.
Keeping some amount of burn between Grim Lavamancer, Electrolyze, and Lightning Bolt is decent. They work hard to keep you off the combo, so having the possibility to burn them out is useful. Be aware: Nature’s Claim targeting their own artifact will get them out of burn range.
Vendilion Clique is an all-star in the matchup. It’s instant speed, clocks, seeks important information such as whether they have Nature’s Claim or Rending Volley for your combo, and cycles away those cards.
Access to Lightning Bolt or some other way to deal 3 is essential for dealing with Karn.
I’m actually unsure if they are supposed to board in Thragtusk since Tron didn’t play that card when most of my testing was done. If they do, then it’s just obvious that you want more Lightning Bolts.
Using Deceiver Exarch and Pestermite to tap down their colored source (Chromatic Star, Chromatic Sphere, and Grove of the Burnwillows) is a good way to deal with Rending Volley and Nature’s Claim. Ancient Grudge, even if underwhelming, can destroy those Chromatic artifacts.
If you happen to draw a 2nd Exarch/Pestermite on a turn you would’ve gone for the combo, be aware that you can cast it in your draw step to tap some of their colored sources so that you can cast your Splinter Twin in peace during your first main phase.