A well-known principle of constructed deck building is that a deck has 75 cards and not 60. The sideboard can modify the way your deck works, change your game plan and even give you access to different versions of your deck, some better suited to obliterate the current competition. Sideboards, and maindecks, should obviously be tuned according to the metagame, so you have to do your homework and figure out what decks will be the most popular, while having a plan to beat everything, even if a victory is sometimes unlikely. A thorough preparation pays off.

I love to be prepared before tournaments. On the spot, I try to make the best decision in the time frame that I have. However, if I can in advance imagine what could be the situations or problems I will encounter, I can better and more methodically figure out what would be the best way to handle them. Preparation can pay off a lot in Modern, as the metagame is already well defined and you have to find a way to beat the main and established archetypes. You can devise in advance sideboard plans and then test them in a match so you see if they work or not. Talking with my teammates, and arguing about why a card had to come in or another had to leave the main deck, was key to my success. I could just sideboard in one minute following a plan decided in advance, instead of trying to take into account all the relevant factors to find out what I should be doing, right in the middle of a match.

I had two small sheets of paper, with lists of sideboard plans for each match-up. Obviously, they were not set in stone and depending on what I saw in the actual deck of the opponent I was ready to change them, but overall, I knew very well what I was supposed to be doing. In Modern, making sure you are playing a solid deck is easy, as you can just netdeck a deck that has produced results. However, sideboarding can be tricky and demands a comprehensive understanding of what is useful, what is not good enough, what is the opponent’s game plan post-board, and what your game plan should be post-board. It is especially important if your deck contains a lot of reactive cards that seek to interact with your opponent, like in Eldrazi Tron.

Match-ups will be sorted as favourable, slighty favourable, even, slightly unfavourable, unfavourable. However, you should take these classifications with a pinch of salt as I may not have played enough games versus certain archetypes to have a representative sample. Also, some tuned versions of the archetype and its sideboard could change that classification, for example a Grixis Control with 4 Kolaghan’s Command and 4 Fulminator Mage post-board would be a lot harder to beat.

These classifications suppose that two players are of a similar skill level. The games can be long, and there are a lot of small decisions to be taken, so even if the match-up is slightly unfavourable, you may outplay them. Your opponents have to play really tight, as your deck can be explosive if unchecked, and the fact that it is still rogue gives you some extra win percentage points.

Match-ups that are considered unfavourable may become favourable if you have the right cards, so you need to get a bit lucky to win and mulligan more aggressively if you judge that your hand does not do enough early to stop their game plans.

The great thing is that Eldrazi Tron mulligans extremely well, as the scry ability can get you one turn closer to Tron. A strong hand of 5 cards with Tron can roll over opponents, so do not be afraid to mull.

One advantage that you can have is that Eldrazi Tron is still under the radar, and your opponents may not have played against it often, or at all. Sideboarding will be harder for them and they may side in cards speculating that they are useful, when in fact, they do not do much. For example, some opponents may bring in Stony Silence and while it is true that it stops Expedition Map, it does not do much against the rest of your deck. Instead, these decks should probably try to aggro you out instead of siding in cards that may disrupt your game plan but slow their clock down.

Here is the decklist, as a reminder:

The decks are divided amongst loose categories, and some decks could fit in more than one. That will allow me to give some general guidelines about all the match-ups in the category. We will see first, aggro decks, then, in the next article, midrange decks, graveyard decks, control decks, combo decks and Eldrazi decks.

Aggro Decks

You are usually not the beatdown and you will have to sustain a ton of pressure early. Eliminate their creatures, trade yours with theirs if possible, put your Chalices early and you should be fine. Post-board, you have a lot more creature removal to manage their aggressive starts (Spatial Contortion, Ratchet Bomb) and you will start to drop five or six drops while they are still drawing minuscule creatures. You lower your curve so you can interact with them right from the start. You cut some of your more expensive creatures and become more control, making sure to stop their assault and then beat them with some of your small Eldrazis.

Affinity (unfavourable)

On the Play


Pithing NeedlePithing NeedleSpatial ContortionSpatial ContortionSpatial Contortion
Ratchet BombRatchet BombWarping Wail


Ulamog, the Ceaseless HungerKozilek, the Great DistortionAll Is DustSpellskiteSpellskite
Matter ReshaperMatter ReshaperMatter Reshaper

On the Draw


Pithing NeedlePithing NeedleSpatial ContortionSpatial ContortionSpatial Contortion
Ratchet BombRatchet BombBasilisk CollarWarping WailKarn Liberated


Chalice of the VoidChalice of the VoidKozilek, the Great DistortionAll Is DustSpellskite
SpellskiteMatter ReshaperMatter ReshaperMatter ReshaperMatter Reshaper

Of all the aggro decks, this is your worst match-up. You cannot race them; their threats are flying and can deal tons of damage in a few turns.

Play Chalice for 0 on the play, then for 2 if you survive until then. Matter Reshaper does not pressure them enough and cannot block their flying robots, so you can cut them.

Your curve is lower so you can sometimes afford to get a Ghost Quarter early instead of a Tron piece to deal with their Nexuses. Play Pithing Needle as soon as you can and name Cranial Plating unless you have information leading you to choose another card.

Pithing Needle targets in order of importance: Cranial Plating, Arcbound Ravager and Steel Overseer, Inkmoth Nexus.

Bogles (favourable)


All Is DustAll Is DustRatchet BombRatchet BombBasilisk Collar
Warping Wail


Ulamog, the Ceaseless HungerKozilek, the Great DistortionEndbringerEndbringerEndbringer
Reality Smasher

Chalice or Spellskite are often too much for that deck to handle, and we side in All Is Dust and Ratchet Bomb, which are also very efficient. If the opponent has a Spider Umbra on a Slippery Bogle or a Gladecover Scout, your Ratchet Bomb will not get rid of the creature as it will regenerate even if the aura and the creature are destroyed at the same time. Your Warping Wails can deal with their Kor Spiritdancer, provide you with chump blockers as long as their creatures do not have trample, or accelerate you into All Is Dust, which is usually enough to win.

Infect (favourable)


Pithing NeedlePithing NeedleSpatial ContortionSpatial ContortionSpatial Contortion
Ratchet BombRatchet BombWarping Wail


Ulamog, the Ceaseless HungerKozilek, the Great DistortionAll Is DustBatterskullBatterskull
Reality SmasherReality SmasherEndbringer

This match-up is to your advantage: you have plenty of spot removals (3 Dismember, 3 Spatial Contortion, 4 Warping Wail, 2 Ratchet Bomb), additional ways to deal with Inkmoth Nexus (Pithing Needle and Ghost Quarter), even a pinger (Endbringer), hateful Spellskite and a way to neutralize half their deck (Chalice). It is not impossible to lose, but if you are cautious and you remove their infect creatures as soon as you can, any of your kill conditions will do the trick afterward.

Pithing Needle targets: Inkmoth Nexus, Pendlehaven.

Burn (slighty favourable)


Basilisk CollarSpatial ContortionSpatial ContortionSpatial ContortionRatchet Bomb
Ratchet BombWarping Wail


Ulamog, the Ceaseless HungerKozilek, the Great DistortionAll Is DustDismemberDismember

You have to mulligan aggressively to make sure you can survive the first few turns. Pretty much any hand with 2 mana and a Chalice is a keep. Playing two Chalices lock them out of the game, unless you are low enough on life to die from Rift Bolt. Do not hesitate after a Thought-Knot Seer to use a Ghost Quarter on their white or green source if their hand is filled with cards of one of those colors. Stomping Ground is usually the target post board as to stop them from playing Destructive Revelry. Basilisk Collar and Batterskull get you out of burn range.

Death’s Shadow (unfavourable)


Ratchet BombRatchet BombAll Is DustSpatial ContortionSpatial Contortion
Spatial Contortion


Ulamog, the Ceaseless HungerKozilek, the Great DistortionWarping WailWarping WailWarping Wail
Reality Smasher

This deck is often too fast, an early Chalice or Spellskite give you some game. All Is Dust is usually too slow, but if you get it on turn 3 it will probably give you victory. If they go for the Tarmogoyf, and Hooting Mandrils postboard, All Is Dust is still useful. Their Thoughtseizes can disrupt your plan and their Gitaxian Probes give them all the information they need to set the Death’s ShadowTemur Battle Rage finish.

UR Kiln Fiend Prowess (slightly favourable)


Spatial ContortionSpatial ContortionSpatial ContortionBasilisk CollarRatchet Bomb
Ratchet BombAll Is DustWarping Wail


Ulamog, the Ceaseless HungerKozilek, the Great DistortionEndbringerEndbringerEndbringer
Reality SmasherReality SmasherBatterskull

This match-up is a lot better than Suicide Zoo, as you have plenty of spot removals for all of their targets. Warping Wail is golden in this match-up, as it kills most of their creatures. You are obviously in the control position, so destroy all their creatures at every opportunity you have got.

Merfolk (slighty favourable)


Ratchet BombRatchet BombSpatial ContortionSpatial ContortionSpatial Contortion
All Is DustAll Is DustPithing NeedlePithing NeedleBasilisk Collar


Chalice of the VoidChalice of the VoidChalice of the VoidChalice of the VoidSpellskite
SpellskiteWarping WailWarping WailKozilek, the Great DistortionUlamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

Chalice is not great against Aether Vial and Cavern of Souls, so it is cut. Spreading Seas can slow you down, and you have to play accordingly. That may mean to play other lands instead of Eldrazi Temple if you cannot use it for two mana, and it may mean to fetch the Temple instead of Tron pieces so you are less vulnerable. Also, do not sacrifice your Ratchet Bomb too hastily; leaving it at 2 when they just have a 2 drop creature is often a good idea. You can also remove their Spreading Seas with Ratchet Bomb at 2. Their usual way to beat you is attacking you with several islandwalk merfolks, so if you can deal with their Lord of Atlantis and their Master of the Pearl Trident you should be fine. Again, if you manage to survive until you play All Is Dust, you will usually win.

Some versions side in Tectonic Edge and Sea’s Claim postboard. If that is the case, you are going to have a bad time.

Pithing Needle targets: Aether Vial, Mutavault.

Elves (slighty favourable)


Ratchet BombRatchet BombAll Is DustAll Is DustSpatial Contortion
Spatial ContortionSpatial ContortionPithing NeedlePithing Needle


SpellskiteSpellskiteBatterskullBatterskullKozilek, the Great Distortion
Chalice of the VoidChalice of the VoidChalice of the VoidChalice of the Void

Chalice for 1 can slow them down considerably, if the opponent does not draw Cavern of Souls. Still, they are cut post-board as they are unreliable. Elvish Archdruid and Ezuri, Renegade Leader are your worst enemies, so make sure you remove them. Your game plan is to survive until you cast All Is Dust. You are not the aggressor, so do not try to race them unless they have a really slow start. Also, do not walk into Collected Company or Chord of Calling, the deck can at the end of turn get Ezuri and on their turn Overrun you for lethal with mana produced by the Elvish Archdruid or Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. Play your Pithing Needle early and name Ezuri or put your Ratchet Bomb at 1 to clean all their mana elves. You have plenty of ways to stop them, you just need to be cautious.

Pithing Needle targets: Ezuri, Renegade Leader

Grixis Delver (favourable)


Spatial ContortionSpatial ContortionSpatial ContortionWarping WailRatchet Bomb
Ratchet BombRelic of ProgenitusRelic of ProgenitusRelic of Progenitus


Ulamog, the Ceaseless HungerKozilek, the Great DistortionAll Is DustEndbringerEndbringer

Dispose of their early Delvers or Young Pyromancers, empty their graveyards to stop Snapcaster Mage, Tasigur and Gurmag Angler, and stop half their deck with Chalice. You want to survive the early game so you have to lower your curve. Technically Aggro-Control thanks to their counterspells, their discards and their spot removals, you really need cards to play early in your starting hand. You cut your high-drops as you would lose too much tempo playing an Endbringer that gets Terminated, or an All Is Dust that gets Mana Leaked. The great thing is that you have plenty of answers for their threats.

As you can see, sideboarding is quite straightforward, we have several high impact cards that are usually very useful or not that much, and postboard the deck becomes extremely tuned to beat specific strategies. As long as you know what to play around, and you know what hands to mulligan, you will enjoy the fact that you seem to always have a chance to win. So many more match-ups are left to cover, and it will be done in the second part of this article.