So, it’s time for part two of my adventure with Tron in old school. Last time I wrote about my initial thoughts about the problems with Tron so let’s start with a short recap.
The big problem is that Tron takes 12 slots and if you add all the other “must include” mana sources it ends up taking almost all the mana source slots without giving you the ability to play colored spells. And as Tron is unreliable you can’t play over the top expensive spells, so the big question is why we should try to assemble tron instead of just playing Fellwar and Mana Vaults which is much more consistent? I ended up thinking Fireball was the way to go to try make a tron deck viable. The reason for this is that Fireball can be good both with and without Tron assembled. Now let’s see how that has gone.
So, I started by building a deck with waaay to many mana sources as I wanted to play 12 Urza lands, 5 Moxen, Lotus, Sol Ring, Library of Alexandria, Strip Mine, Mishra's Workshop and 4 Mishra’s Factory. After that I needed to add colored sources for my idea to work, that’s when it started to get a little crazy. I started trying to add just 6 sources to have a total of 7 with the mox. I knew that was actually way too few, but with a total of 32 sources that was already at least 2 more sources than I wanted. I decided to go for 4 Volcanic Island and 2 City of Brass so I also could play blue power and not only a couple of Fireballs. I goldfished a bit and as I thought, it was unplayable. I added two more City of Brass and played a whooping 34 mana sources which of course isn’t a good solution. As I wasn’t planning on playing that many colored spells and most of them were late game spells, 9 sources were actually ok. Not good, but ok.
To bring down the total count I did the unthinkable, I cut all four Mishra’s Factory. Maybe not the best idea but let us leave the mana base like this for now and look at how the deck actually could look like. Usually I’d start there but as the mana base is the foundation of this deck and also it’s biggest problem, I needed to start there for this particular brew.
So much mana
So how do we continue this build? My first idea was to try to draw a lot of cards so we could assemble Tron. The cards I tried out were Jalum Tome, Jayemdae Tome and also Sindbad. Sindbad seemed like a good choice as lands are what we want. Maybe then we also could play with more mana sources as mentioned above? I even tried adding Sylvan Library for the Sindbads to work better and give me more chances to draw the Urza lands. But no, that didn’t work at all. The deck didn’t do anything as the lands and card draw took up most slots. And I still weren’t able to assemble Tron that often. So this idea was a no go.
Maybe I could ad Millstones to combo with Sylvan? Then I could also maybe play Field of Dreams... but then I have no use of Tron anymore.
My next plan was to completely skip thinking about assembling Tron and just play a Su-Chi, Triskelion, Fireballs and power. The thing about this idea is that I probably needs Mana Vault or Fellwar Stone for ramping into those creatures. But as said many times before, there isn’t space for more mana sources. But I couldn’t come up with a better idea so I went with this.
So let’s talk about the card choices of my rough sketch.
30 Mana sources
These are described and pictured above. (Forgot the Workshop in the picture)
7 Restricted cards
Ancestral Recall, Time Walk, Timetwister, Recall, Braingeyser, Wheel of Fortune and Chaos Orb. Not much to say about these cards are there? They are good and if you have them, you should play them.
I have no idea why I went for 5 but it seemed like a good number to start on. It should mean that we will draw at least two X-spells each game and as the plan is to burn out the opponent it seemed good. Some playtesting is required to really decide what number is the best. By the way, I went for 4 Fireball and 1 Disintegrate as I love the ability to split up the Fireball.
I started by adding a playset of all the good artifact creatures in the format; Juggernaut, Su-Chi and Triskelion. There are other playable creatures like Dragon Engine and Tetravus but I wanted to try with just the best first and see if I need more after some playtesting. Dragon Engine would be cool as it becomes quite dangerous with Tron assembled but it’s not a great card.
6 Flex slots
This is the part that is least thought through but I started out with 2 Jayemdae Tome, 1 Jalum Tome, 1 Disrupting Scepter and 2 Candelabra of Tawnos. But this quickly changed quite a bit. The Candelabra is only good with Tron as I removed the Factories so those got cut. Too many tomes and the scepter made it hard to activate them all without Tron so I cut the scepter and the Jalum Tome. I could probably add a third Jayemdae Tome but I actually don’t own one more. That left me with 4 slots and I that’s when I realized I didn’t have any removal or protection from flying creatures so I added two Maze of Ith. The other two slots became Copy Artifacts as I do play a couple of blue sources. I’m not sure how reliable it is to cast them early so I don’t know if they are any good. But I’ll try for now. Another card that could be added is Icy Manipulator as it can be a little bit of everything; removal, wincon (with City of Brass), mana denial or you could use it to tap down blockers. But with so many 4-drops I’ll test the Copy Artifacts for now. Maybe we could also splash black for Demonic and Mind Twist as we are playing 5 sources of black mana?
So just what is the plan of the deck as it looks right now? The threats are almost the same as in the classic blue red artifact aggro deck but the plan is quite different. That deck uses Mana Vault to power out an early threat and then can copy it with Copy Artifact to put on massive amounts of pressure early on. This deck however, doesn’t have any Mana Vaults and also play 4 more 4-drop creatures, so the plan is a little bit different. We sacrifice the early game with the plan to put out one threat every turn from turn 3 (we should be able to draw one mox) and onwards. That’s is the reason we play so many creatures and maybe even should play more. I also count the Jayemdae Tome as a threat as it will take over the game if it stays in play.
If the opponent is able to deal with the constant stream of threats we have our late game plan which consists of turning the opponent to ashes with a ball o fire. The longer the game goes on, the greater chance of assembling Tron to be able to cast Fireballs for 10+ damage. That’s why I decided to go with 5 X-spells as drawing two probably should close out the game if it goes long.
The big problem here is of course artifact hate and aggressive decks that kill us before we can get our plan rolling. We are however playing both red and blue which gives us access to BEB and REB against opposing burn, Energy Flux, Serendib Efreets, Shatterstorm and things like that. Also if we decide not to play Copy Artifact we only play 5 blue spells and maybe can think about playing Blood Moon in the sideboard if we think that would be more powerful than the Tron plan in some matchups.
I haven’t yet tested the deck so this is just theory crafting right now but as I see it the above plan is at least in theory viable. Maybe the deck isn’t good and maybe it’s just better to play a more solid mana base with more ramp in the form of Fellwar Stone and also Mishra’s Factory. But who knows, maybe Tron kan steal a couple of games here and there and therefore is worth it.
I’ll sleeve it up and test is, tune it and come back with a part three I think. But we should not expect any miracles from this deck is my gut feeling.
This post was written at the same time as the first post and I have since gotten more ideas on how to build Tron in old school. But this was my first thought process on how to make it viable. The only other viable idea I have heard of is making a Parfait style mono brown deck that can utilize the card draw to draw tron. That is a good idea as those decks often want to plat lots of cards in the same turn and therefore can use the mana and still play relatively inexpensive stuff for when you don't assemble Tron. Maybe I'll write more about that one in the future!