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Magic the Gathering: Urza Tron Decks
This article is about a Magic the Gathering deck type that has gone under many names and been very popular: Tron (or Urza tron) is based on three nonbasic lands: Urza's Mine, Urza's Power Plant, and Urza's Tower. On their own, each of these lands taps for one colorless mana. But if you get all three urza lands in play, Urza's Mine and Urza's Power Plant produce 2 colorless mana each and Urza's Tower produces three. As a brief illustration of Tron's power: say you have five lands out: one Mountain, three Urza lands plus an additional Urza's Tower. This gives you 10 colorless mana plus one red. Anyone familiar with red will note that a fireball (or other X spell) is capable of doing 10 damage with only five lands out. While this is an overly convenient example, it is not unusual when playing tron to have 15 to 20 mana at your disposal and (sometimes more for multiplayer games). If you build your Tron deck correctly, that mana advantage should win you the game. (I can't recall any losses my tron deck has suffered once tron is out.) Moreover this effect can scale up in a multiplayer, so one can have a competitive dueling tron and a multiplayer tron deck all in the same package. This hub will be discussing the workings of a well constructed urza tron deck.
Mtg Urzatron, Step One: Finding the Urzalands
The massive mana that comes with assembling tron comes at great price. It means you have to devote a considerable portion of your deck to getting tron on the board. There are four basic ways to ensure getting tron: land find, draw/scry, deck thinning, and delay.
- Land Find: The easiest way to get tron out is to search your library directly for one of its uzralands. This is what green does best. You must make sure, however, that the card can draw nonbasic lands. Check out Sylvan Scrying, Crop Rotation, and Reap and Sow. .
- Drawing/Scrying: Drawing is a less direct but easy to understand strategy: if you draw enough cards, you will find your lands. Scrying is drawing's lesser know partner. When you scry you look at cards on the top of your library (The number of cards is specified by the number. Scry 3 lets you look at the top three). Then it lets you put them back in any order on the top or bottom. While scrying may not actually draw you extra cards, it is often allows you to cycle through your deck much quicker. In tron's case you're not looking so much to draw cards as you are to find the right ones.
- Deck Thinng: Deck thinning is also simple to explain. You load up your deck with cards you can get rid of quickly and easily. These cards include fetch lands, cycling, and cantrips. A fetch land is a land you sacrifice to "fetch" another land in its place. This basically "removes" a land from your deck. (Unfortunately fetch lands can't draw nonbasic lands like the Urzas.) Cycling is simple. If a card cycles it will say so, and list the cycling cost (often 2). Pay the cycling cost and the card is discarded and you draw a new card removing a card from your deck.. Cantrips are spells with piddly effects but that let you draw a card after you play them. In each case (fetch lands, cycling, cantrips) you pay a small cost to effectively remove a card from your deck. On some level, playing with four fetch lands means your deck is going to run more like a 56 card deck than a 60 card deck (though there is a price for deck thinning)
- Stalling Every turn you draw a card. So for each turn you live, you have another chance of pulling the urza land you're looking for. General stalling tactics include removal, counter magic, tough blockers, or mass control spells (like Meekstone, Ensnaring Bridge, etc.) While stalling is not the most effective tactic on its own, all tron decks should stall. There's a simple reason why. You cannot half commit yourself to tron. You need to run 4 urza's mines, 4 uzra's power plants, and 4 uzra's towers. Since all these lands produce colorless mana, you run into the risk of not drawing into the colors you play. Why would anyone do that without the great reward of tron on the other side of the bargain? Moreover, why would you want your win conditions to not take advantage of tron? If you can play a winning card without the mana tron provides, why play tron at all? The answer to these questions is this, if you're playing tron, you should expect to win by getting all three uzra lands out, and that the extra mana provided is what will propel you to winning games. Hence tron should stall until the uzra land's are assembled. This stalling will allow greater opportunities for land find, deck thinning, and drawing/scrying
Mtg Urzatron Step Two: taking advantage of your urza lands
So you've set your deck to stall and run land find, card draw, and deck thinning. This takes care of half your tron build (that is, getting tron out). What are tron's best win conditions? Since you can expect a variation of of anywhere from 10 to 20+ mana, you want cards that work at any range from say 10-25. It goes without saying then that the most flexible and desirable cards will have an X in their casting cost. Whether I have 10 or 16 mana, I can cast a 9 or 15 point X spell. The most obvious X spells are direct damage cards like fireball that become hideously lethal once tron is out. But burn spells the only candidates. Putting X 1/1 tokens in play, drawing X cards, putting X cards of the from my opponents library into the graveyard, etc. are also effective. In fact, you might spend some time to reconsider your crap box for X spells because unplayable X spells are often effective in urza tron. Also consider cards with activated abiliites that don't require tapping. While you're at it though, don't forget the rather uncreative big fattie, especially if it has flying.
Without further ado, here is my blue/red urza tron deck, with notes. Check Gatherer for unfamiliar cards.
Blue Spells Blue Creatures Lands 4 Miscalculation 3 Cryptic Annelid 4 Terramorphic Expanse 4 Memory Lapse Red Creatures 4 Island 4 Repeal 2 Bogardan Rager 2 Mountain 2 Mystic Speculation Artifacts 4 Urza's Mine 2 Spell Burst 4 Izzet Signet 4 Urza's Power Plant 2 Dimir Signets 4 Urza's Tower 3 Wall of Spears
This deck is based off one that won a worldwide standard tournament when standard was Ravnica/Time Spiral/9th edition. I made some modifications (pauper modifications) the most important being Bogardan Ragers as a replacement for Bogardan Hellkites, which saves me $20, and the Rager does work). I also updated it with Future Sight, which had great scrying.
Notes: 1) notice Repeal, which has an X cost and is a cantrip 2) Spell Burst is another X spell: a buyback counterspell! This will grind the other player to a halt if urza tron is out 3) 3 Cryptic Annelid and Mystic Speculation. There is a lot of scry in this deck. Cryptic Annelid can give you the access to seven cards (if you scry all six cards to the bottom). Mystic Speculation is king here. I do not know of any card that can run through a deck as cheaply and effectively (both in casting cost and money) as Mystic Speculation. Plus, if you get a bad draw you should be able to avoid a mulligan if necessary. 4) The Signets: The signets are among the best artifact mana you can hope for with tron. The only cost two and they give you access to two colors. Note the use of Dimir Signet's to cover the heavy blue commitment. 5) Terramorphic Expanse, for deck thinning
Mono White Urzatron: Rebels.
As stated previously, urza tron decks need a flexible scale (such as X spells) to take full advantage of the amount of mana available. One set of cards for which this poses no problem are the rebels from the Masques block (and their follow up in the Time Spiral block). Certain rebels were capable of bringing other rebels straight from the deck rather than casting them via your hand. The only problem was that the rebels that could do this weren't very strong and the cost for this ability was expensive (typically a converted 3 mana cost rebel was able to bring a four cost rebel out for five mana). But with the urzatron lands out you could conceivably be pulling out 3 rebels a turn.
So here's the outlook. Both tron and rebels are slow, but neither slow each other down. They both take a bit of commitment but because rebel abilities are generally colorless they work well with tron. But all the power of tron and all the power of rebels comes out in the following card, Mirror Entity. Because it is a changeling, it is also a rebel and can be grabbed by other rebels. It's ability not only has an X symbol, it doesn't require tapping. That means it can be grabbed during an opponent's attack to pump your creatures, and can easily be grabbed during your turn if that's optimal. And one wouldn't want to forget that snatching a rebel from your library thins your deck.
So here's my mono white urzatron rebel tron deck:
White Creatures White Spells Lands 3 Mirror Entity 4 Paths to Exile 4 Terramorphic Expanse 4 Deviant Vanguard 4 Oblivion Rings 8 Plains 3 Ballista Squad 4 Holy Day 4 Urza's Power Plant 3 Aven Riftwatcher 3 Honor of the Pure 4 Urza's Mine 3 Deviant Falcon 4 Urza's Tower 2 Ramosian Sergeant 3 Ramosian Revivalist 2 Ramosian Captain 2 Lin Savvi
Notes: This deck might need some artifact mana, given the urzaland's ability to only produce colorless mana. Barring this mana weakness, and perhaps the difficulty in facing fast and aggressive decks, monowhite urzatron has some great properties, specifically that it's damn near removal proof (and since the Ramosian Revivalist can snatch rebels from the graveyard, monowhite urzatron rebels can recover from global removal) and uncounterable. If a player tries to remove a rebel, it can easily tap for a new rebel straight from the deck that can't be countered. Moreover, the power of urza tron is in the urza lands, which players rarely have the resources to remove. (Though land destruction kills urza tron). Once you start en masse searching for rebels the game ought to be yours.
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