The Exile Files: Modern Liberated

The Exile Files: Modern Liberated

I forgot how good it felt to cast Karn Liberated

This past weekend began at FNM, with a mad search for a modern deck to use for the Las Vegas GPT that the store would be holding the very next day. My work makes it very awkward for me to properly prepare for an event, especially right now because I currently do not own my own deck. So when I found out that I had the Saturday off, I was worried I wasn’t going to be able find a deck in time. Thankfully, I have an amazing group of friends.

I ended up having quite the selection of decks to choose from, from the Turpo Turns deck that I top 4’d the last GPT with, to Abzan CoCo or G/B Tron. After a small amount of play testing with both the Tron deck and Abzan CoCo, and finding out that my friend with the Turns deck was out of town, I decided on playing the Tron deck because it was the one I was most familiar with. I have previous experience with Tron, having both played the old G/R version when eye of Uginwas legal, to mono Blue Tron back when dig through time was legal. The allure of the turn 3 Karn Liberated or the turn 4 Ulamog, The Ceaseless Hunger was too much to pass up. Why try and play fair in a world of death’s shadow and Gifts Storm?

Here is the List that my friend Korie lent me for the event:

Mainboard (60)
Spellskite
Wurmcoil Engine
Worldbreaker
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
Karn Liberated
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
Ancient Stirrings
Sylvan Scrying
Collective Brutality
Fatal Push
Chromatic Star
Chromatic Sphere
Expedition Map
Oblivion Stone
Llanowar Wastes
Forest
Blooming Marsh
Ghost Quarter
Sanctum of Ugin
Urza's Mine
Urza's Powerplant
Urza's Tower
Sideboard (15)
Ratchet Bomb
Thragtusk
Warping Wail
Chalice of the Void
Nature's Claim
Spellskite
Relic of Progenitus

A note about the sideboard, It was the one that Korie had at the time, I feel like if you were trying to optimize the list, the ideal sideboard would look something like this:

(15)
Warping wail
Crucible of Worlds
Thoughtseize
Nature’s Claim
Duress
Thragtusk
Relic of Progenitus

The Crucible should be good with so many fulminator mages running around as well as being a good way to slowly strip mine your opponents lands with Ghost Quarter. The targeted discard is for the storm and Ad Nauseam matchups, as well as being a way to hit troublesome hate that opponents will be bringing in after board, such as Stony Silence or Blood moon. The Spellskites and chalice of the voids aren’t as relevant without infect being as played since the banning of Gitaxian Probe.

I awoke Saturday morning not feeling the best about my choice for the event. After a night of goldfishing draws I was Mulliganing a lot and just not being able to turn three Tron as often as I’d like. Before the event started I was playtesting games of Proxy Death Shadow Jund against My friend Quinn’s UW control deck and was just getting smashed by the 4 spreading seas and crucible ghost quarter lock. After the pairings went up I felt my chances were even worse. I was paired against Quinn. If he decided to play that UW control deck im not sure Tron could ever beat it. Luckily for me he changed his mind and decided to play UR Gifts storm.

Now Storm should not be a good matchup for tron and I feel like I got very lucky with how the games played out.
I always had the fatal push for either his Baral, Chief of Compliance or Goblin Electromancer. The first game ended when I cast the same Worldbreaker 3 times, the first two times eating 1 of his lands with the cast trigger before he remanded it. When he ran out of remands he also happened to run out of lands to play to replace the ones the Worldbreaker was exiling. Ulamog came down the turn after to eat the final two lands he had remaining and he scooped.

The second game came down to him playing an Goblin Electromancer on two and me having the collective brutality to kill it and take a Gifts Ungiven from his hand. A turn 5 Karn combined with him missing two land drops forced him to go for it early, and after giving him no rituals after he cast his gifts, left him with not enough mana to continue the combo and he scooped it up again. I was very surprised and very happy to win this matchup.

Sideboarding for this matchup:

In: (6)
Warping Wail
Chalice of the Void
Relic of Progenitus

Out: (6)
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
Oblivion Stone
Wurmcoil Engine
Spellskite

Round 2 pairings went up and I was happy to see I was paired against Matt Sutherland, resident Axe Cop cosplayer and somewhat of a rival. We usually have excellent games no matter what format we are playing and unfortunately for me, he usually comes out the victor. He has been championing this sweet Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas thoptor sword combo deck the last couple of modern events, so I was hoping to finally get to play against it. When he cast Mishra’s Bauble into a turn one thought seize, I was very disappointed.

These games were not very close. With all the discard he was able to keep me off of assembling tron until it didn’t matter anymore. Both games kind of played out the same, with me being able to answer the first 3 threats he played then dying to big goyf beat down. In the second game, even after killing 2 deaths shadow’s and cracking a relic of progenitus, he was able to get his goyf back up to a 5/6 the next turn, and 4 turns later I was dead.

Sideboarding for this matchup:

In: (6)
Relic of Progenitus
Thragtusk
Chalice of the Void

Out: (6)
Collective Brutality
Spellskite
Karn, Liberated
Ulamog, The Ceaseless Hunger

I tried to not let the loss get to me, its always a pleasure to play against Matt no matter the outcome. When round 3 pairings went up, I was paired against someone I’ve never seen before. Nicholas seemed kind of upset with how his tournament was going so far and wasn’t into the small talk. He also dropped a Tron land while shuffling, so it looked like I was going to face the mirror, but when the game started and he played an Island, i knew it was going to be a little different.

My hands for both of these games were nuts, natural turn 3 tron having all the pieces in my hand without having to search. he remanded my Karn on turn 3 in the first game but when I drew the second tower and cast Ulamog, he conceded. I made some side boarding mistakes this round but it did not end up mattering because both games just saw me cast Ulamog on turn 4.

Sideboarding for this matchup:
in:
3 Nature’s Claim
2 Relic of Progenitus

Out:
2 Collective Brutality
2 Ugin the Spirit Dragon
1 Karn Silver Golem

Round 4 Pairings go up and i’m paired against Mike Carvalho . Mike ended up borrowing the Abzan CoCo deck that I could have played so I felt pretty confidant about the match up. Infinite life means nothing when we can restart the game with Karn, and Oblivion stone is amazing against all creature decks. Game 1 Mike had a fast start and started beating down with multiple Kitchen Finks, getting me all the way to 3 life before I stabilized with o stone and Ugin.

Game 2 he had multiple Tidehollow Scullers taking o stone and slyvan scrying out of my hand, taking my way to set up early tron. Luckily I drew the missing tron piece and a fatal push for the sculler to get the O stone back and the game was over from there.

Side boarding for this match up:
In:
2 Relic of Progenitus
Out:
2 Worldbreaker

For the final round I was paired against Justin Harkness on UR storm(ohboy) We debated drawing and just hoping we both made it in, but it wasn’t a clear cut, so we played it out. Game one i didn’t have the answer to either two drop creature and Promptly died on turn 3.

Games 2 and 3 I had both relics, answers for the two drop creatures, along with brutality’s and a quick Karn to start picking his hand apart. I still feel like this match up isn’t very good for us but i’m happy that I was able to pull this one out.

Sideboarding for this matchup:

In: (6)
Warping Wail
Chalice of the Void
Relic of Progenitus

Out: (6)
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
Oblivion Stone
Wurmcoil Engine
Spellskite

With a record of 4-1 at the end of swiss, it put me in 2nd place for the start of the top 8. In 7th place and my opponent for the quarter finals, was Chris with Bant Eldrazi. I’m used to seeing Chris at legacy events with his old Team, Team Shows up. They always seemed to perform well but I had never actually played against any of them. It was a pleasure to play against Chris, he was cracking jokes the whole time.

The Bant Eldrazi matchup is based around setting up tron early and trying to get an O Stone or Karn out early enough while trying not to die to reality smashers. Ugin is such a liability in this matchup as its -X doesnt kill anything of theirs except the mana dorks. They have good answers to most of our threats and even if we get an O stone out and wipe their board, they can just reality smasher the turn after to keep the damage up.

Game 1 saw me open with natural tron into Karn on turn 3. Exalted triggers from Noble Hierarch combining with a Matter Reshaper hit me down to 10 life before I was able to wipe the board with an O stone and stabilize with a second copy of Karn. Games 2 and 3 I had some bad mulligans combined with some timely ghost quarters from my opponent that stifled my ability to really get going in either game.

Overall the tournament went much better than I thought it would considering the small amount of time I had to prepare for it. I feel like the black splash out of the 3 popular color choices(red,white and black) for the green based tron decks is the strongest, as it gives you great targeted removal and discard for the fast creature and combo matchups. If I had to recommend a version of tron going forward however, I would recommend the colorless Eldrazi Tron variants that have been doing great at most of the recent big modern tournaments. The smaller creatures still hit hard and let you play a more proactive approach in the more troublesome match ups while not giving up too much end game power.

 

(75)
All Is Dust
Basilisk Collar
Cavern of Souls
Chalice of the Void
Dismember
Eldrazi Temple
Endbringer
Expedition Map
Ghost Quarter
Karn Liberated
Matter Reshaper
Mind Stone
Reality Smasher
Sea Gate Wreckage
Thought-Knot Seer
Urza’s Mine
Urza’s Power Plant
Urza’s Tower
Walking Ballista
Wastes
All Is Dust
Basilisk Collar
Batterskull
Dismember
Pithing Needle
Ratchet Bomb
Relic of Progenitus
Surgical Extraction

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any suggestions for future articles!

 

 

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