Oldschool Tron

In early 1994, the Antiquities expansion provided us with a peculiar set of lands.

The Urza lands were the only cards in the set apart from Strip Mine that didn't have the word "artifact" printed on them anywhere, and they were the first Magic cards that explicitly referenced other non-basic cards.

I said other.

Uh, that's not a specific other card. Also that one got errata.

Come on, that's an art reference, not a rules reference.

Hey, that one wasn't in stores until a couple of months later.

Ok dammit, point taken.

So, the Urza lands were the first cards that blatantly asked you to play them together, can I say that without interrupting myself? That "the whole is greater than the sum of the parts"; or "a system is never the sum of its parts; it’s the product of their interaction"; or "1+1+1=7"*; or similar wisdom attributed to Aristotle, Ackoff, or some flawed mathematician was first explicitly introduced with the Urzatron. 

The "Tron" name is not a misguided acronym for "ToweR, pOwer plant, miNe"; nor is it referencing the classic 1982 movie. Rather it's a reference to the early 80s super robot anime Beast King GoLion which was re-cut and rebranded as Voltron for the US audience in a slightly later 80s. The series is superficially about five pilots who command five robot lions which can combine to form a giant mech called Voltron.

Can't say I really followed the series back in the days. I was always more of a Hyper Combat Unit Dangaioh kinda guy. And I honestly didn't find the Rick & Morty episode that spectacular either. But Voltron surely gave us a good pop-cultural expression for that Aristotle quote - if something is greater than the sum of the parts, it's a 'tron. Combine five robot lions to a supermech; get Voltron. Combine three colorless lands to seven; get Urzatron.


So I wanted to try it out. Urzatron is a very powerful deck in the Modern format, but in Oldschool it has been almost alarmingly absent, in particular in formats where Mishra's Workshop is restricted. One part is the challenge assembling the Tron, another is the somewhat lacking payoff. But let's see what we can do.


We'll play all twelve Urzatron lands, so what should the rest of the mana base look like? There are some options of course, but probably we want to play 4 Mishra's Factory, a Strip Mine, a Mishra's Workshop, and a Library of Alexandria. And if we do we're already up to 19 colorless sources. We are hence kinda limited to cards that cost at most one colored mana; spells like Transmute Artifact and Argivian Archaeologist get sketchy with so many colorless sources. So we could go for e.g. red with spells like Fireball and Wheel of Fortune; or blue with stuff like Sage of Lat-Nam and the Power cards. Or - and this is not really an "or" - we could go full colorless. 

Of course we go full colorless.

At this point it seems no more than fair to play a bunch of restricted mana sources.

This is almost like a reverse budget deck; instead of building a good deck cheaply, we're building a horribly expensive deck with a kinda mediocre game plan. 

...and since we don't have to spend all our land drops on getting fancy mana for colorful spells, we also have the option to play a bunch of sweet utility lands.

How does a Desert tap for mana while an Oasis doesn't?

I'm already liking this. Now let's dive into the potential creature roster.

Ooh, Shapeshifter!

Antiquities was really a good set for this archetype. While we're lacking a bit on the low end, the midrange and late game drops are spectacular. In particular - if our goal is to spike the archetype - I think we should play a good number of these guys:

Top16 summons

Ok, so what do we have for card advantage?

Books and sticks.

This is a very good book deck, as we tend to have a lot of mana but few cards in hand around the mid to late game.

When it comes to other utility cards, there are four which I think we absolutely want in our 75.

Candelabra is just a perfect fit for the archetype; not only does it generate absurd amounts of mana when Tron is assembled, we also play loads of utility lands that benefit from it. Nevinyrral's Disk may not be that important in the main deck, but post board we need a way to beat cards like Energy Flux. Tawnos's Coffin is solid removal by itself, but in particular get amazing when we play 6-8 Trisklavi. Chaos Orb is Chaos Orb.

In addition to these four headliners, we have loads of interesting options.

These are well worth considering.

These make slightly less sense, but could surely still make the cut. Token generators like The Hive or Serpent Generator are also viable options.

We end up around here for our v1.0:

Oldschool Tron.

After some goldfishing, minor tweaks were made. One Jalum Tome and one Book of Rass moved to the sideboard to make room for maindeck Rocket Launcher and Disrupting Scepter, and the 4:2 Su-Chi / Clay Statue split was changed to 3:3 to make the Disks a bit better. Time to take it for a swing.

SOLID like maintainable Java code.

And people just love playing against the deck!

When it was time to run the gauntlet at a tournament I found myself boarding in Fountain of Youth and Aladdin's Ring every game, so they should probably start maindeck. The gathering of choice was LepreCon 7, a wonderful 34-player tournament in Karlstad which I hadn't visited since LepreCon 2.

Everyone likes to play against Tron!

In all seriousness my opponents actually seemed to enjoy facing the deck. There were perhaps minor frustration when someone realized that their Fellwar Stones were full blanks in the matchup, or when they tried to get damage past a Maze of Ith when I had Candelabra in play, but in general people tend to appreciate getting burned out by Aladdin's Ring or taking 21 from a Triskelion/Tawno's Coffin Combo.

All in all I ended up 3rd in the swiss at a 4-1 record, before getting run over by The Deck in the quarterfinals.


It think it's possible for Tron to beat The Deck, but it is likely one of its worst matchups. I really can't complain though, UrzaTron preformed amiably and LepreCon was a beautiful gathering. I'll surely revisit this deck, in particular if I find myself at an Atlantic Rules tournament in the future. Four Workshops and access to Ring of Renewal looks pretty gas...

David's Tron from the 2021 Atlantic Winter Derby.

'Til next time!


*There was an opportunity for a bad joke here, tailored for the nerds who are both into early 1994 Magic expansions and binary calculations, where we note that in fact 1 1 1 = 7. 


  1. haha i wasnt all 100 in that pic :P i was a bit sick if u remember =) haha actually this was my most fun game during the whole day! even if it dosent look like it :) ty for showing up though! see ya this weekend at next epic tournament at montebello :D

    1. Haha, yeah I recall of course, but your expression was so on point that I just couldn't help myself ;P

      See you in a couple of days!

  2. Thanks. These old-school non-tier 1 deck techs and photos are really cool. Would you ever consider your take on the Mana Vortex-Land Equilibrium deck in the current Swedish meta?

    1. Thanks man! :) Yeah, Mana Vortex is on my bucket list of decks for sure, the thing holding me back is mostly that I lack a lot of the cards... Though both Vortex and Land Equilibrium have gone down quite a bit from their 2021 highs, so I might be able to pick them up in the not too distant future.

  3. Hi MG! I have got also a Tron deck. But it runs 4 Colours for sindibad+Sylva, demonic, fireball.. Alladin's Ring surely is a main deck choice.
    Great to hear, your version is even competitive 🙂

  4. Nice write up and congrats on the result… and thanks for the shout out on my deck list. I actually think you do ok against The Deck with my version… 8 books and 3 scepters post board is pretty overwhelming, meaning I actually don’t think they win all the long games. The real problem is burn… hence all the towers in my board but maybe fountain of youth is better.

  5. *2023 = 7 // No Wonder!

  6. no colossus? sweet with so many mazes

  7. on the topic of no mana from oasis; I was pondering how to make a bunch of nonplayed lands see play by adding a add mana errata. So Oasis would generate W. City of Shadows would produce B, Safe Haven G, Island of Wak-Wak U and red...hmm.. Desert?

  8. I've played a number of builds, with one build I went all in on the regenerating artifact creatures combo with berserk! I played Fastbond/Sylvan/Sindbad in almost all of my builds as well.


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