Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Modern Bible of RG Tron chapter two - The Lands

RG Tron is a deck named for its lands, the famous "Urzatron".

Today we will discuss the structure of the lands in your main deck. You do have some options but most of them are written in stone.

You have the power to tutor for your lands with Expedition Map and Sylvan Scrying, which does allow you to play silver-bullet singleton lands for specific reasons. The most common ones will be mentioned here.

Most versions of the deck play 20 lands. I believe that is wrong and will address that in chapter eight. For now, lets stick to the generally acceptable 20 lands.

They are listed here in order of importance.

The Urzatron
4 Urza's Tower
4 Urza's Mine
4 Urza's Power Plant

These twelve lands are the core of your mana base and what your deck is all about. You will naturally play these exact twelve cards. RG Tron enthusiasts often argue about which version of them is the prettiest (I even got a set of foil ones because the ones I were doing videos with were too ugly) but I will leave that discussion to those exact people.

The Eye of Ugin
1 Eye of Ugin
This is not really a land, but you have to spend a land drop to play it. Eye of Ugin is essential as it allows you to fetch your win conditions as well as key defensive creatures such as Spellskite. Do not leave home without it. With eight ways to fetch a land, you will always have this when you need it. It is normally the fourth land you fetch after completing the Urzatron (having one of each Urza land in play).

The Groves of the Burnwillows
4 Grove of the Burnwillows

One of the advantages of playing RG Tron is that you get to play with the best dual land in all of Modern. While your enemies are hurting themselves with their lands (which you can not really capitalize on), dying to Burn because of it, you do not. You will find that you often win duels with very few life points remaining - in fact, Tron is all about almost dying, then stabilizing and then playing a giant haymaker. One of the reason you win those duels instead of losing them is this fantastic land. It gives you the mana you need and when Emrakul or Ulamog comes calling, it does not really matter what their life total is.

Never go below four Grove of the Burnwillows. There is no substitute (although Karplusan Forest is the one people recommend when players keep asking what to do without groves). Your deck will play significantly worse with three Grove of the Burnwillows. I repeat: NEVER go below four. If you can not afford Grove of the Burnwillows, this is not the deck for you.

Hopefully Grove of the Burnwillows will be reprinted in Modern Masters 2015. It is essential to the deck.

Sometimes, it can even be useful that Grove of the Burnwillows give your opponent life, for example when he is playing Death's Shadow.

The Ghost Quarter
1 Ghost Quarter

This has several purposes. First, Ghost Quarter rules the mirror match or fights against the cousin from the countryside; Mono Blue Tron. Secondly, Ghost Quarter stops man-lands, one of the big problems for RG Tron.

If you substitute any other land (such as Tectonic Edge) for this you lose a significant advantage. Tectonic Edge can not break a 3-land Tron, which is all your opponent needs to cast his Karns Liberated and win the game.

The Basic Forest
1 Forest

The basic Forest does a lot for you. It will protect you against Blood Moon, allowing you to cast Nature's Claim. It will allow you to get the benefits of having Path to Exile or Ghost Quarter resolve against you. It is extremely important to play at least one basic Forest.  Due to Blood Moon and your deck being more green than red, Forest is to be preferred over a Mountain.

The land you can actually chose
This is the open land slot. You need the 20th land to be able to play something even when you can not assemble the Urzatron. The exact nature of this 20th land is up to your metagame and your personal preference.

Here are some commonly used options in this land slot

Forest: Having a second basic forest is often useful. Not being able to fetch a basic land after Path to Exile or Ghost Quarter hurts you a lot.
Ghost Quarter: The second Ghost Quarter does little compared to the first but some people really want the second copy.
Tendo Ice Bridge or Llanowar Wastes: One of these two lands if often used to make it easier to cast Slaughter Games if Slaughter Games is in your sideboard.
Cavern of Souls: This is played together with Sundering Titan to enable you to cast the titan in the matchups where he matters the most; Scapeshift and Jeskai Control.
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth: This is also used to enable Slaughter Games and might be better for you if you run Sundering Titan, allowing you to destroy one more land for your opponent in most matchups. As Cavern of Souls is more important than Urborg, this is most commonly played as the 21st land (the whole topic of chapter eight).

Next week, we will talk about the engine, all the little cards that allows you to summon eldrazi and other giant johny monsters to fight for you.

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