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Budget Magic: $93 (20 tix) Modern Trading Post Tron


Pyeri peivi, Budget Magic lovers! It's that time again. This week, we are heading to Modern for a deck I'm super excited about: Trading Post Tron! As I was working on the budget deck for this week, it struck me that it had been a while since we'd playing a good old-fashioned lock deck, so I decided that we needed to rectify the situation, immediately. After a bit of brewing, we ended up with a Tron deck featuring one of my favorite lock pieces: Possessed Portal. That said, we aren't really a Possessed Portal deck; we are a Trading Post deck that looks to Vindicate the opponent out of the game with Spine of Ish Sah, before eventually hard-locking our opponent behind Possessed Portal!

Let's get to the videos; then, I'll talk more about Trading Post Tron. A quick reminder: if you enjoy the Budget Magic series and the other video content on MTGGoldfish, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish YouTube Channel to keep up on all the latest and greatest.

Trading Post Tron: Deck Tech

Trading Post Tron vs. Mono-White Emeria

Trading Post Tron vs. GR Eldrazi

Trading Post Tron vs. Grixis Delver

Trading Post Tron vs. UW Control

Trading Post Tron vs. Allies

The Deck

The basic idea of Trading Post Tron is simple: we assemble Tron, make a ton of mana, and play huge, expensive artifacts to close out the game. However, we are more along the lines of Mono-Blue Tron than GR Tron. Instead of playing a ton of Chromatic Spheres and Chromatic Stars to put together Tron as quickly as possible, we play a relatively fair game of Magic with card draw and counterspells while we are waiting to get Tron online, and then look to take over the game once we have the huge mana advantage that Tron generates. 

The Mana

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It might seem strange to start off a deck tech by talking about the lands, but in a Tron deck, the lands are among the most important cards in the deck. We play a lot of really expensive cards, so if we never assemble Tron, there's a very realistic chance that we never cast anything that matters. However, as I mentioned a minute ago, we aren't necessarily looking to get Tron on Turn 3. In fact, it's often better to get an Island on the battlefield first so we can cast our counterspells or Thirst for Knowledge, but over the course of a long game, we really need Tron to win in a reasonable amount of time.

Expedition Map is mostly in the deck to find whatever Tron land we happen to be missing, but in the late game, we can use it to find our one copy of Academy Ruins for the Mindslaver lock (more on this in a minute). If we already have Tron, it's often better to leave Expedition Map sitting on the battlefield, just in case our opponent finds a Ghost Quarter, Tectonic Edge, or Spreading Seas to take us off Tron; then, we can use Expedition Map to find whatever piece our opponent destroyed. 

The Lock

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After we assemble Tron, our first goal is to get our lock online. Trading Post is almost an artifact planeswalker that gives us a ton of different options for a low cost. Most of the time, we use either the first or last option. Being able to discard a card to gain four life helps us stabilize against aggressive decks, and since our deck is really good at generating card advantage, we usually have something sitting around to discard. Our deck has all of the inevitability in just about any matchup; it's just a matter of living long enough to get to the end game, and while four life a turn might not seem like all that much, it does a pretty effective job of keeping us alive. Meanwhile, being able to sacrifice an artifact to draw a card lets us combo off with Spine of Ish Sah

Spine of Ish Sah is a really expensive artifact Vindicate that comes back to our hand whenever it dies. In conjunction with Trading Post, it becomes 8 mana, draw a card and destroy any permanent. The basic idea of the deck is that we do this every turn, sometimes twice a turn, depending on how many Tron lands we have on the battlefield, and slowly whittle down our opponent's resources until we are in a position where we can win the game. 

Possessed Portal is our hard lock. Not only does it keep both players from drawing cards, but it slowly eats away resources until there is nothing left. The card is written like it's symmetrical and hurts both players equally, but we have multiple ways of breaking symmetry, which means our opponent is losing two permanents each turn (one on our end step, another on theirs) while we are losing nothing.

So, how do we break the symmetry of Possessed Portal? First off, we can sacrifice Spine of Ish Sah to Possessed Portal, and since Spine of Ish Sah returns to our hand, we can cast it again, destroy another one of our opponent's permanents, and then sacrifice it again to Possessed Portal the next time. Basically, Spine of Ish Sah is a free sacrifice every turn. Second, we can start making Goat tokens with Trading Post to sacrifice. The end result is that we lose nothing, while our opponent loses everything—literally everything. No cards in hand, no cards on the battlefield. Once we get to this point, we can simply sacrifice Possessed Portal to itself and go about winning the game. If our opponent somehow draws their way out of the nothingness, we can always use Trading Post, Buried Ruins, or Academy Ruins to get back the Possessed Portal and start the process all over again. 

The Finishers

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Since we are planning to get our opponent to zero cards in hand or on the battlefield, we can win the game in any number of ways. First, we have Treasure Mage, whose main purpose is to search out our combo pieces but will close out the game eventually by attacking, 2 damage at a time. Staff of Nin keeps us churning through our deck by allowing us to draw an extra card every turn, plus we can use it to ping our opponent to death, 1 damage at a time (which has to be one of the most tilting ways to die). Speaking of tilting, we can also control all of our opponent's turns with Mindslaver and Academy Ruins. Once we have the Mindslaver lock in place, we can win with our Treasure Mage or Staff of Nin, or eventually mill our opponent to death. Since we are putting Mindslaver on the top of our deck every turn, our library isn't getting any smaller, so we simply keep taking control of our opponent's turn, drawing their card for the turn, and passing the turn. Then, 30 or 40 turns later, we win when they draw from an empty library. 

The problem with Trading Post Tron is all of our methods for winning the game are incredibly slow, which is especially troubling on Magic Online, where we are racing against a chess clock. Hopefully, an opponent with no cards in hand and no permanents on the battlefield will just scoop up the game and save us the hassle, but this isn't always the case. I ran a poll on my Twitter asking people if they would scoop to the Mindslaver lock, and with over 1,000 votes, 35% said yes, 24% said sometimes, and 41% said no. Either way, if you decide to play this deck on Magic Online, make sure to keep a close eye on the clock—in our matches, we actually ran out of time in a winning position more often that we lost, so play quickly and  make sure to find a way to actually close out the game once you get in a dominant position. 

Defense

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One of the downsides of any budget Tron deck is that we don't have access to Oblivion Stone as a wrath. As a result, we get to play some really interesting cards to help keep us alive. Meishin, the Mind Cage is essentially a permanent Fog in our deck, since we are really good at keeping our hand full of cards. We played a game against Eldrazi where we locked a board full of World Breakers, Thought-Knot Seers, and Reality Smashers out of the game. Meanwhile, Ward of Bones is really powerful when we can play it early off Tron. Imagine an opponent playing a Turn 2 Wall of Omens while we untap on Turn 3, play our third Tron land, and stick a Ward of Bones. Our opponent can't playing any more creatures, and they can't play many more lands. Meanwhile, we have 7 mana, so we can cast pretty much anything in our deck. Eventually, we'll find our Staff of Nin to close out the game. 

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Condescend, Spell Burst, and Repeal take advantage of the fact that our deck generates a ton of mana. While all three cards are powerful, in a normal deck they have the drawback of only being able to hit things with low converted mana costs, but in our deck, it's completely reasonable to counter or bounce expensive things like Wurmcoil Engine. Condescend and Repeal also help us keep digging through out deck to find missing Tron pieces, lock pieces, or finishers. Meanwhile, if we have enough mana, Spell Burst can do a pretty good imitation of Forbid by allowing us to counter a spell every single turn thanks to Buyback

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In a deck with a ton of artifacts, Thirst for Knowledge is the best card draw spell in Modern. It digs us three deep to find missing Tron pieces, keeps our hand full for Meishin, the Mind Cage, and helps us find counterspells for protection. Plus, we can use it to discard an expensive artifact (like Mindslaver or Possessed Portal) in the early game, knowing that we can get it back later with Trading Post, Buried Ruin, or Academy Ruins.

Ultra-Budget Trading Post Tron

The ultra-budget build of Trading Post Tron only really matters in the paper world, since the online version is already so cheap (the changes only save 2 tix on Magic Online but nearly $40 in paper). So, if you are building on Magic Online, you might as well play the version in the videos. The main change to the ultra-budget build is that we cut Academy Ruins, which means we also need to cut the Mindslaver. In their place, we turn to some big artifact creatures to close out the game. Myr Battlesphere (which, come to think of it, might have been a good option for the build in the videos, since it could help us close out the game faster) is pretty sweet because it can win even with a Meishin, the Mind Cage on the battlefield by tapping the Myr tokens it creates, and Inkwell Leviathan is almost impossible to kill thanks to Shroud. Otherwise, we make a few slight changes to the sideboard, but the ultra-budget build is essentially the same as in the videos, just without the Mindslaver lock. 

Non-Budget Mono-Blue Tron

Yes, I know there's no Trading Post and no Possessed Portal lock in Mono-U Tron, but hear me out. One of the things I really like about Trading Post Tron is that many of the cards can be used in Mono-U Tron, which is a legitimate deck in Modern. In fact, out of the $93 paper price tag, about $65 of it are going toward Academy Ruins, Tron lands, Thirst for Knowledge, Condescend, and other cards that are played in Mono-U Tron. So, over the course of time, you can add in some Wurmcoil Engines, an Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, and maybe some random Eldrazi, and eventually you'll have full-on Mono-U Tron and Trading Post Tron, so you'll be able to pick and choose which one you want to play! Feel like going for the flawless victory? Run your Trading Posts and Spine of Ish Sahs! Want to beat face? Throw in some Wurmcoil Engines! The point is, while the non-budget version is quite a bit different from the version we played in the videos, it gives you a good path to upgrade into a tier deck for Modern.

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. I'm really not sure how to break down the performance of the deck. We only died to our opponent once (in a tight three-game match to Grixis Delver), but we only actually killed our opponent twice (against Allies and Mono-White Emeria). In the other two games, we simply ran out of time. Against UW Control, we were up 1-0 in the match and 100% to win game two thanks to the Mindslaver lock, but the "mill our opponent out with Mindslaver" plan was simply too slow. Meanwhile, against GR Eldrazi, we won game two with just 45 seconds left on the clock—not nearly enough to even attempt to win game three. 

As such, it's possible we need a more efficient way to close out the game. Trading Post Tron did a great job of locking out our opponents and putting us in a winning position, but it struggled to actually finish the game in a reasonable amount of time. 

As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive, or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.

 

 


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