Monster Tron is a blast from the past. Formerly known as Fangren Tron, originally it was a RUG colored Tron deck, casting expensive creatures from the well-known Urza's Tower, Urza's Power Plant and Urza's Mine land cycle. The deck has now been able to change completely with the inclusion of Boulderbranch Golem.
About Monster Tron
When it was based, most of its threats were colored. Mulldrifter was Blue, Fangren Marauder was green, and Rolling Thunder was Red. It only had a few colorless creatures in it, Ulamog's Crusher being the most rememberable one.
Why does that matter?
- The closer to colorless we become, the easier threats are to cast off the Tron Lands.
- Ancient Stirrings becomes more than just about finding your Tron pieces in the early game.
Looking at the card choices in the Maindeck, we can see how Monster Tron is built to fight the metagame.
Let's start with the obvious. Urza's Tower, Urza's Power Plant and Urza's Mine are the heart of this deck, and the reason we can play the way we play. Getting one of each down by as early as turn 3 can give us access to 7 colorless mana. It also just so happens to be the same cost as Wretched Gryff and Boulderbranch Golem.
In the first few turns, your aim playing this deck is to get these three lands in play and ignore what your opponent is doing.
Crystal Grotto is the best Shimmering Grotto you have access to. In Pauper, you have access to a lot of this style of effect. Cave of Temptation would be the only other I'd consider, however, having some form of card selection in your lands playing a Red/Green deck is a lot more useful than putting two +1/+1 counters on an already large creature at sorcery speed.
Having Bojuka Bog in the list when you are running Expedition Map, and Ancient Stirrings to an extent, means you have much greater access to it than just one copy. If you really need it, you can easily Expedition Map for it. Bojuka Bog as the utility land is well positioned at the moment due to the presence of Tolarian Terror decks and Blood Fountain from Affinity.
Haunted Fengraf is another good utility land to have access to, as it means your Expedition Map gives you access to a threat in the late game. The card has over performed when playing the deck, and I would really like to have access to a second if I could find space for it.
Slagwoods Bridge is a land that sort of stuck out at me first when I saw this list. The more I have played it, the more I have come to this realization. Having your only copies, or both Red and Green being an indestructible source, prevents your opponent from being able to destroy it with Raze, Thermokarst and similar style effects.
That's surprisingly why that's necessary; there are games where it isn't worth it to destroy your Tron lands, and, instead, hitting the colored sources is the best call. Slagwoods Bridge is the best call to mitigate that. Racer's Ring and Rugged Highlands don't give you as much security as the Indestructible land does.
This is the real meat of the deck. Once you have established your lands, casting these threats as early as turn 3 or 4 is how we close out the game.
Boulderbranch Golem is a great new addition for this deck. It is a 7 mana threat that can be played perfectly on curve with Tron active, whilst also having game against one of the best decks in the metagame. Being able to play this off curve as a smaller body is just the icing on the cake. Even if you are struggling to assemble Tron because of Raze or other disruption, Golem is still a reasonable play early on.
Wretched Gryff is another solid threat that can be cast perfectly after assembling Tron. The fact that it replaces itself just means it's never really bad, as it is a decent body and has flying. It also gives you additional games against other decks like Caw Gate and Faeries.
Ulamog's Crusher is still one of the best bombs in pauper. You can cast this on turn 4 and just carry the game from there, as some matchups just won't be able to kill it. Red-based removal will need 2-3 removal spells just to answer it. Currently, most Red decks are Burn-based, and aside from fodder like Kuldotha Rebirth, this is just so much more appealing to end the game against them.
Maelstrom Colossus really shines in Blue-based matchups, and Cascade is really good at getting around Counterspell. Against non-Blue decks, it is still a giant body that can just win the game on the spot by hitting another threat.
Self Assembler is one of the weakest of threats, at least stat wise anyway, but the fact it gives you constant pressure over the next few turns is why it really shines. Also, it is not out of the question to play another threat first, like Boulderbranch Golem, then follow up next turn with Self Assembler, and the second copy you search for.
The card allows you to really be able to go wide and tall very quickly with the amount of mana you can get up to.
Fangren Marauder is a necessary evil, unfortunately, as it gives you access to Boulderbranch Golem 5-8, whilst also being a great card against Affinity. I believe, if Red wasn't everywhere, you could easily put a much stronger threat in here, such as more copies of Ulamog's Crusher.
Chromatic Star & Chromatic Sphere should be basically self-explanatory. They are the best redraws that give you access to colored mana. Energy Refractor is too mana intensive and doesn't line up very well with your play patterns. Additionally, Star and Sphere are really good when combined with Fangren Marauder.
Ancient Stirrings, since the deck has evolved into an almost completely colorless threat package, is incredible. Early game, you can use it to set up, find lands and get Tron activated. Late game, it can be used to find all of your threats. This is a powerful tool to have, as it makes it never a liability to cast.
Since Expedition Map got recently unbanned, it puts this style of Tron back to being playable. Creature-based Tron lists really need Tron as soon as possible, so having access to map and stirrings gives you a lot of redundancy. Having some sweet utility lands is definitely a good choice as well.
Fiery Cannonade is a great catch-all. It's pretty great against Faeries, Bogles, and other go-wide strategies. There will be games in which this is completely dead, or a card that is only good when casting multiples. Overall, this card is a really solid choice to have in your main deck, as it will win just as many games as some of your threats.
The cost of putting this in your main is so low, as it is completely one-sided as it kills zero of your threats. In this deck, it's as close to an overloaded Mizzium Mortars as you can ask for.
Mulligans & Ideal Hand
I'm not going to describe the "Ideal Hand" for this deck as I think any hand with natural Tron is keepable.
However, a hand with 2 Tron pieces and a potential way of getting the 3rd piece is keepable. For example;
This is a perfectly reasonable hand that is strong enough to keep. It has two Urza's land, with the potential of finding the third Urza's land through Chromatic Sphere and Ancient Stirrings. This hand also has threats to follow up from, once the Tron has been assembled.
Let's look at the sideboard options used to tackle the metagame.
Fangren Marauder is a solid card choice when you want to increase your threat count, and also increase your life gain potential. Marauder is great against affinity, as it is another threat that is hard for them to deal with, and they can't execute their gameplan with it still in play. Fangren is also another card that has some game against the red decks. Usually, the card is a bit slow, but, when you can cast it on turn 3, it is a solid option.
Pulse of Murasa is another card that has multiple uses. The first and main reason this is so highly represented in my sideboard is because Raze effects are one of the ways the Mono Red decks will bury you quickly, preventing you from getting Tron active whilst burning you out with Kessig Flamebreather. Pulse is a great way to mitigate that somewhat, by gaining two burn spells worth of life and getting the land they blew up back.
The second reason is that it is great is against decks with a lot of removal, so bringing back a Maelstrom Colossus or other threat is a strong option.
Twin-Silk Spider is a card that has impressed me. Against Faeries and Caw Gate, the card provides two stone walls. It shuts down almost all of their decks and gives you so much time to out-threat them too. The card is a simple, yet solid, option for any green sideboard.
Weather the Storm is one of the best and cheapest card choices to gain so much life so quickly. However, this deck will most likely be holding the card up to gain a large amount of life in response to your opponent's spells, due to every card in your deck being so expensive. Other card options, like Feed the Clan, could be used instead. The main reason I have omitted it from this list is because we need Tron active to cast a creature to trigger Ferocious. This, to me, makes us open to Raze too much in a matchup that will very much have it.
Relic of Progenitus is the cleanest Graveyard hate that, if you have dead cards, you can just bring in to cycle as well. This is mainly just a clean way of keeping Dimir Terrors' graveyard low, but it also has uses against Altar Tron and Familiars, particularly because of the tap ability.
Tranquility is a cheap way to deal with Enchantments, mainly for Bogles, but it does have some uses against Gruul Ponza, as it can mana and color screw them by destroying the Utopia Sprawls and Wild Growths. Serene Heart is a cheaper option, but it only hits auras, so this limits you to having no outs to Journey to Nowhere and Makeshift Munitions out of Boros and Affinity Decks.
Potential Card Choices from LOTR
Cast into the Fire was the breakout card of Paupergeddon, and is set to be a staple card choice in Pauper. It is no different here, as it could, at worst, replace Twin-Silk Spider out of the sideboard as it helps against Caw Gate and Faeries, but is another solid card against Affinity. I could also see it replacing Breath Weapon in the mainboard, if that becomes less relevant moving forward.
Elven Farsight is an interesting card, as I think this is the closest to a Green Preordain we are getting. This has a few uses in a deck like this. Firstly, it can be used to find a creature when you are in need of threats, but it also allows you to control your draws for future turns too. It even gives you some control over your Cascades with Maelstrom Colossus.
However, the card's biggest downfall, to me, is that, unlike Ancient Stirrings, it can't be used very well in the early game to find Tron pieces very well. If you are setting up, your best bet is to use it as an Index to draw the actual card you are needing next turn.
Revive the Shire is an interesting addition to Pauper, as I believe it is the only card in Green to return a permanent. This is useful, as it can return destroyed Tron lands and also threats that have been killed, all whilst making a food. This card, if any, will replace the Pulse of Murasa sideboard slot, and the main reason for this is that it costs one less mana, which is important against Mono Red when they are casting Raze on your lands.
Wizard's Rockets is a really big Terrarion that can help if there is a need to cast multiple colored spells. However, with how few colored spells this list actually runs, it is unlikely it will need this type of effect and the four Chromatic Stars and Spheres will be enough.
Warbeast of Gorgoroth is a colored creature, so it can't be found from Ancient Stirrings. But, this gives you redundancy against removal, as it leaves a body behind. Another thing to note is, if you have two in play, when the amassed token dies, it creates another 4/4. This likely won't come up often, but is something to consider.
The threat side of this is fairly real. A 5 / 7 body would likely need 2-3 Burn spells to kill it, and having reach is really relevant against Faeries and all the Kor Skyfishers that are flying around.
I don't feel like these will tip the deck into a highly competitive list, but these are cards to consider depending on your meta and what you are likely to be against.
The Sideboard Guide
Vs Pinger Burn
Wretched Gryff would be my cut if you were against the other Red deck.
Vs Mono Blue Faeries
Boulderbranch Golem is the weakest threat here, as the lifegain isn’t as important. The spider is great at blocking multiple aerial attackers.
Fairly straightforward replacements here; Cannonade isn’t great against Affinity, Relic Allows you to fight against Blood Fountain and more Marauders stops their game plan.
Vs Dimir Terror
Vs Caw Gate
We go lighter on threats, so we can bring in some great blocking power. The Spider buys you a lot of time when being attacked for 16 with a Squadron Hawk pumped with a Basilisk Gate. You just have to hope you can find it, and keep attacking with your Ulamog's Crushers sooner rather than later.
Overall, this is a fun way to play Tron. Sometimes, there is nothing more fun than putting a big guy into play and putting your opponent on the back foot. With new additions from Brother's War and now other considerations from LOTRs, this deck isn't going anywhere.
Until next time!