Infinite via Pauper- Tron Part I

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I’m not even going to try to conceal my excitement about this week’s deck. I first started attending Magic tournaments during the first Ravnica block, and IzzeTron was the second competitive Standard deck I ever owned. Seeing this list 4-0 a Pauper Daily made me quite nostalgic:

I almost immediately picked up all the cards I was missing from the deck and started battling. My initial testing has confirmed that the deck is not only sweet, but also competitive.

Playing the Deck

Tron is, of course, a “big mana” deck. The shell here is rather similar to that of Modern Tron decks, though the power level is obviously quite a bit lower. Early turns are spent playing mana-fixing spells and trying to assemble Tron, with the ultimate endgame being to use the same spells that fix our mana to gain an unreasonable quantity of life with Fangren Marauder. Marauder is simply lights out in most games against aggressive decks, particularly Affinity which relies rather heavily on Atog. Form of the Mulldrifter is also featured to help combat more grindy decks in addition to a miser’s Haunted Fengraf to help insure that we ultimately stick a threat. If all else fails, eventually a giant Rolling Thunder solves most problems- namely the problem of your opponent’s life total being greater than zero.

The most impactful decisions while playing the deck tend to be when to crack your Chromatic Things/Maps and knowing what to find with Map. The Map toolbox isn’t terribly expansive, but there’s definitely more to it than just finding a Tron piece that you don’t have. Some games you’ll need to find Shimmering Grotto just to fix your mana and others using it for Smoldering Crater as a four mana Cycle will give you the best chance of winning. Further, with all of these “rocks” it’s important to pay mind to whether you should be using them early to draw cards/fix mana or to save them for when you have an active Fangren Marauder.

Matchups, Strengths and Weaknesses

I’ve only been playing the deck for about a week, but I’ve felt favored against everything aggressive. You can hiccup in the early game and just die, but once Fangren Marauder gets going it’s extremely difficult for them to catch up. Grindy decks also tend to be favorable matchups, as you tend to go bigger than they do. Having blue cards, aka Form of the Mulldrifter is also just a huge trump against monoblack.

The major weakness of the deck is to counterspells. There really aren’t a ton of must counters in the deck, and even having an opponent cast Spellstutter Sprite on your Chromatic Spheres can cause you a lot of problems. Suffice to say, the four Pyroblasts on board are 100% justified. I’ve contemplated having a counter or two in the main to try to combat this problem, but the mana is a bit far on the rough side and they do dilute the deck’s A plan. Were I to decide to play any, they’d almost certainly be Negates, but even then counter heavy decks are likely to be able to double-counter you. Your best bet is to just jam haymakers and hope that they brick before you do.

The mana can also be problematic, but it’s better than it looks. Your best hands also have simply insane mana- that is being able to produce 7 mana with some of it being of any color on turn three. This opening sequence is very often lights out:

Turn 1: Tron Piece- Chromatic Something
Turn 2: Tron Piece- Prophetic Prism
Turn 3: Tron Piece- Fangren Marauder + sac Chromatic Something for five life and your choice of burn, more Chromatic Somethings or Preordain. Throwing an Expedition Map into the mix only slows this sequence down by one turn.

Initial Feedback and Updates

While the deck has been performing admirably thus far, there are a few elements of the initial list that I thought needed improving. For starters, Firebolt feels like more of a sideboard card while Lightning Bolt seems like the better maindeck inclusion. Part of this is that once you’re generating five mana flashing back Firebolt almost always takes a backseat to playing draw spells and Fangren Marauding. More importantly, Lightning Bolt gives you some instant speed interaction with problematic cards like Spellstutter Sprite, Ninja of the Deep Hours and Sage's Row Denizen.

Sea Gate Oracle is a pretty strong card and a mainstay of slower blue decks in Pauper, but the body is often very close to irrelevant, and in a deck that just takes over games as they progress I’m more inclined to play a few copies of something that digs a little deeper. I will recognize that the three toughness body can buy a little bit of time, so rather than cut them entirely I’m currently advocating a 2-2 split between Oracle and Compulsive Research. I’ve also seen people playing Deep Analysis but that one is a little on the slow side for me. Not to mention that Foresee is arguably just better in this style of deck.

The Rolling Thunders are somewhat worse in practice than they appear on paper. Lethal copies are a lot harder to come buy in Tron than they were in Post. I think I like having one for the random blowout factor, but the second copy strikes me as slow/extraneous.

The last change that I would offer to the maindeck is to include an Izzet Boilerworks. The inclusion seems minor, but a dual land that assists in making two land drops goes a long way in a big mana deck. It also gains a bit of value with Compulsive Research and in games when you had to play your Smoldering Crater.

The sideboard had a few head-scratchers in my opinion. The mana can definitely support Circles of Protection, but COP: Green just doesn’t seem like it fits. Green creatures die to red spells and green decks probably already want artifact/enchantment removal against you to mise wins by killing your Prisms. Or they just anticipate the COPs and bring in their Gleeful Sabotages anyway.

The Ancient Grudges didn’t make much sense to me either. The problematic cards out of Affinity are red cards (Atog, Galvanic Blast and Akki Coalflinger) and it doesn’t really solve your actual problems against Spire Golem decks. Maybe I’m missing something, but I wasn’t impressed. I’ve opted to run a couple Hydroblasts instead. It’s good against Affinity, buys time to set up Fangren Marauder against burn decks and is an all-star against Kiln-clops.
All that in mind, this is the list that I’ve been battling with:

Cost of the Deck

If you build my list card for card, the total cost is approximately 32 tickets. As per usual, much of this cost is found in the sideboard in the Blasts. If you want to play Pauper and try out multiple different decks, these will likely always be staples of Pauper sideboards. The rest of the deck has a good amount of dimes, and a few .2-.4 ticket cards (surprisingly a set of Chromatic Spheres runs at about a ticket), but excluding the blasts everything else is maybe 8 tickets. I will note that Rolling Thunder was sold out or low on every Cardbot at the time of this writing and there was only one actual listing for them in the classifieds with few sellers on MTGOlibrary. At just under two tickets, it might be a good spec target.

Anyway, if you’re a fan of the format and own a grip of staples, this deck is dirt cheap and a ton of fun. Join me next week when I found out how viable it is.

Thanks for reading.

-Ryan Overturf
@RyanOverdrive on Twitter

25 thoughts on “Infinite via Pauper- Tron Part I

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