So there’s still a PTQ left and I thought it would be good to do a match up and sideboarding analysis for the UW Wurmcoil Tron deck that qualified me in Cambridge. I’ll try and cover what’s good for the other decks too so if you’re looking for some tips on how to beat the Tron deck then hopefully there’s something for you here too.
For reference here’s the decklist I played and will be talking about:
4 Urza’s Tower
4 Urza’s Mine
4 Urza’s Power Plant
4 Celestial Colonnade
3 Seachrome Coast
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Eye of Ugin
1 Snow-Covered Island
1 Tolaria West
3 Expedition Map
4 Path to Exile
4 Azorius Signet
1 Talisman of Progress
1 Timely Reinforcements
1 Oblivion Ring
4 Thirst for Knowledge
4 Gifts Ungiven
1 Unburial Rites
3 Wurmcoil Engine
1 Iona, Shield of Emeria
1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
1 Ulamog, The Infinite Gyre
1 Tectonic Edge
1 Celestial Purge
1 Torpor Orb
1 Mindbreak Trap
1 Ghostly Prison
1 Ethersworn Canonist
1 Rule of Law
1 Pact of Negation
1 Grafdiggers Cage
2 Timely Reinforcements
I know my list is different in that I play 3 Wurmcoil in lieu of the more standard Wrath of God, Day of Judgment and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn so I’ll try and say where I think which is better and how it changes the match ups.
This is definitely a match up where the Wurmcoils are better as it gives you a creature that can fight an active Liliana of the veil. Like most match ups with the Tron deck, the longer the game goes the more favourable you are to win so do whatever you can to stay alive – for example Oblivion Ringing a Tarmogoyf or Dark Confidant rather than keeping it in case they have Liliana. I generally like to leave Remand up t2 over making a Signet here since the Gifts plan isn’t that powerful against them and you just want to slow them down rather than speeding yourself up. If you can survive and assemble Tron then eventually your card draw and more powerful top end will get them.
+2 Timely Reinforcements +1 Tectonic Edge +1 Celestial Purge
-1 Island -1 Repeal -1 Talisman of Progress -1 Condescend
After board I bring in more Timely’s as they’re really good at keeping you alive. Don’t be afraid to just make guys with the first one – sometimes their lands and Confident will have damaged them more than you and you don’t want to wait to get too far behind on the board. They’re especially good against Bob since it stops them attacking and the two spares trade nicely with a Bloodbraid Elf. Lastly they keep Liliana in check and allow you to Gifts up a big monster much easier without getting edicted.
Boarding with Jund against Tron obviously depends on what your sideboard is but I’m not a huge fan of bringing in graveyard hate. The Unburial Rites plan already isn’t that great since they have removal for Elesh and can usually just attack into an Iona and bolt to finish her off. Jund charm is too much mana to leave up and Spellbombs and Relics have to be in play first so the Tron player just wont gifts for the Unburial Rites. Surgical Extraction is the exception if you play it, as the Tron player can’t know its coming and basically has no way to stop it and responding to their Rites by removing the target is a huge game winning blow out.
This is probably the one match up where the Wrath effects might be better but even that is pretty draw dependant. A turn 3 or 4 Wurm can be pretty hard for them to race and him being an artifact is a good answer to Etched Champion. That said if they just have flyers and you don’t get an early Tron then he can be a bit slow.
Similarly to Jund you just need to use your spells stay alive and affinity is generally quicker than Jund; that said, you do have a massive trump in Elesh Norn who basically kills their entire team and is only removable by 2 burn spells.
+2 Timely Reinforcements +1 Disenchant +1 Negate +1 Ghostly Prison
-4 Remand -1 Iona
After board you have a few more Timely’s to gain life and block Memnites and Master of Etheriums but they’re not as good as other match ups since a lot of affinity’s guys fly. The Disenchant should be pretty obvious and the Negate is since their best weapon is Cranial Plating, and also so you have some sort of answer to being burned out. The Ghostly Prison isn’t actually that great since they can just Plate up a man and pay to attack, but if you get it early it does slow them down which is all you can really ask for. Its good against being swarmed by man lands, which can be difficult to deal with.
Boarding with Affinity I’m much more of a fan of bringing in Relic of Progenitus than I would be with Jund since you have a faster clock and are much more vulnerable to Elesh Norn. I’m really not a fan of the Blood Moon + Ancient Grudge plan since it basically doesn’t work that often in my experience. You end up having to remove threats for cards that only work if you draw them together and they don’t draw the right answers. Moon and no Grudge versus a single Signet means the Tron player is fine and they generally play a few basics and Maps to find them. Blood Moon also turns off your own man lands which leaves you quite threat light.
This match up is basically somewhere between Jund and Affinity in terms of speed and plays out very similarly – keep you life total high and overpower them in the late game. They generally have Paths so your Wurms aren’t that exciting but they’re also a little threat light themselves and a well placed Path on their first monster can often be enough to get you to the late game.
+2 Timely Reinforcements +2 Dispel +1 Negate
-4 Remands -1 Condescend
After board, Timely Reinforcements is amazing against them, giving you both guys to trade, chump or race with and a nice life boost. The counters are mainly for Path and protecting your guys but also work for just stopping you being burnt out by Lightning Bolts and Lightning Helix‘s.
Game 1 is pretty bad, you only have Remands as counters and they’re generally pretty fast. Your only real hope is to reanimate Iona and they’ve often Gitaxian Probed you to see if you can Gifts it up so know whether they have to try and go for it or not. In my limited experience playing the deck its often a good idea to keep Probes until slightly later so you not what you’re up against rather than just burning them on t1, but obviously not if you’re missing land drops etc.
+1 Negate +2 Dispel +1 Ethersworn Canonist +1 Rule of Law +1 Celestial Purge +1 Disenchant +1 Pact of Negation +1 Mindbreak Trap +1 Grafdiggers Cage
-4 Path to Exile -1 Repeal -1 Ulamog -2 Wurmcoil -1 Timely Reinforcements -1 Oblivion Ring
Here you upgrade all the anti creature things to counters or things that stop Ascension or Past in Flames. If you can stick an early Rule of Law or Canonist then they’re relatively easy to protect if you’re careful about Giftsing and Thirsting in their end step. Don’t make a Rule of Law then make a Signet and get it Echoing Truthed when you cant counter. If they board into Splinter Twin then a lot of the cards are still good but obviously bring in Torpor Orb and Ghostly Prison if there’s a game 3. Elesh Norn stays in so you have an answer to Empty the Warrens but try not to draw her if you can.
This match up is very similar to Ascension but your Paths are actual spells instead of total blanks which makes a huge difference. Game 1 still isn’t great for you though, since you have no real counter magic but if you can get down an Iona they don’t usually have a main deck answer.
+1 Negate +2 Dispel +1 Torpor Orb +1 Ghostly Prison +1 Celestial Purge +1Disenchant +1 Pact of Negation +1 Mindbreak Trap
-1 Ulamog -1 Elesh Norn -3 Wurmcoil -1 Repeal -1 Oblivion Ring -1 Timely Reinforcements -1 Talisman of Progress
After board this match up becomes much better as you have real counter spells and a couple of trumps to their combo. They basically have to try and combo off first so don’t be afraid to play the waiting game, eventually you’ll have enough mana to attack with Colonnades and still cast all your spells. This means that they’re usually a load of mana down when they try and combo and you should be able to stop them. Also you run more card draw than them so should be able to find more counters. Expect to win quite a few games 2-1 having lost game 1.
If you’re looking for a good card to beat Tron with Splinter Twin then maybe consider Defence Grid – someone boarded it against me online and slipped it under my counter spells leaving me basically defenceless. As long as you can combo before they can reanimate Iona (since you’ll be turning off your counter spells too) or assemble lots of Tron pieces (so they can pay for the Grid) it’s not a bad sideboard option.
This match up is pretty good for you as both Iona on green and Elesh Norn are pretty massive against them. If they have a Birthing Pod active then go for Elesh as most lists don’t have any 3 drops that survive her and all their creatures that kill her cost 4 or 5 (Phyrexian Metamorph, Shriekmaw, Nekratal etc.) If they do gain infinite life then you can still win by stopping their combo and recycling your graveyard with Ulamog. This is one spot where having the Emrakul helps since it doesn’t matter how many cards are in librarys as you always have a second Eldrazi to discard. That said Elesh does such a good job of shutting them down that you’ve time to discard Ulamog to Thirst before casting him and annihilating their board.
+1 Torpor Orb +1 Grafdigger’s Cage +1 Negate
-1 Timely Reinforcements -2 Wurmcoils
After board nothing much changes to be honest. You have a couple of trumps to their combo which is nice and Cage also shuts down Pod and Chord of Calling. They’re probably going to try and go aggro against you so maybe what I’m boarding out is wrong but they’re a pretty slow aggro deck and Elesh and Iona can come down pretty fast and shut them out.
This is one of the bad match ups for sure, but having 3 Wurmcoils here really helps you to apply some pressure. Raven’s Crime is very bad for you and there’s not a huge lot you can do about it. Bear in mind that you’re forced into being the aggro deck here so don’t be afraid to just throw out your monsters and attack with your Colonnades as often as possible.
+1 Grafdiggers Cage +1 Celestial Purge +2 Timely Reinforcements
Remands can be good early but once they get Crime going they’re basically dead cards, so they come out. Again be aggressive with your monsters and spells and try to win quickly before they can set up their engine. Sadly Cage doesn’t stop Life From the Loam, although it does stop Crime, so if you draw that then you can play a more normal longer game.
If you can get Tron assembled for a turn or 2 it probably wont last since they have Ghost Quarter to break it up. All in all a pretty bad match up so if its popular where you are it might be worth tweaking the sideboard to compensate. Relic works much like Cage but actually deals with Loam too so is definitely one option but I prefer Chalice of the Void. Set on 2 it stops Confident, Loam, Tarmogoyf and importantly Ancient Grudge which should be enough to seal them out the game. Plus you can find it with Expedition Map by searching for Tolaria West and transmuting it for the Chalice.
Generally in the mirror whoever gets the Tron first wins as the mana advantage is huge. The reanimate Iona on white plan is pretty decent as they only have 1 Repeal to find to answer her and she hits pretty hard. Personally I prefer the Wurmcoil here as they allow you to put more pressure on early, even if they do give them a target for their Paths. That’s fine though as it gives you more lands and means they have less dead cards to discard to Thirst (not to mention that he’s an artifact for thirst too if you need him to be). Emrakul would be nice but generally I’ve found that the games are over before that as one player Trons, finds Ulamog and destroys the other players Tron; at which point how you winbecomes pretty arbitrary.
+2 Dispel +1 Tectonic Edge +1 Pact of Negation +1 Mindbreak Trap +1 Negate
-1 Timely Reinforcements -1 Oblivion Ring -1 Repeal -2 Path to Exile
After board you have a Tectonic Edge which, if they don’t, is a huge deal. Generally whoever assembles Tron first still wins as both players will have just traded up their bad removal for good counter spells so just counter their card drawing and make your land drops and you’ll be fine.
This match up is very similar to UW Tron so I wont go into too much detail. Generally I think they have a slight edge game 1 as their Through the Breach Emrakul “combo” is harder to disrupt with Remands than your Gifts unburial “combo” but they have to have Emrakul otherwise Path just ruins their day.
After boarding you’re playing similar decks but you generally have slightly more counters and card draw since you’re not playing 5 mana spells that put creatures into play so you should be fine.
Hopefully that covers the major match ups that you should face playing Modern at the moment. If there’s any deck that I haven’t covered let me know and I’ll try to answer questions in the comments.