We're clayperce and Moonbar, the moderators of PonzaMTG on Reddit, and we'd like to welcome you to our Ponza deckbuilding primer. We look forward to your questions, comments, and suggestions!

There are a few sub-archetypes, and one may be better than another for your personal playstyle or meta. You don't have to choose now, but you'll want to consider them before you dive in:

  • Traditional Ponza, featuring "all the key ingredients to a Ponza Rotta: The cheese (burn), the meat (big creatures) and the sauce (the land destruction)": Good in almost any meta, but sometimes frustrating due to inconsistency.
  • Monster Ponza, featuring more value Creatures/less removal than Traditional: Good in almost any meta. More consistent than Traditional, but sometimes frustrating due to lack of answers.
  • Eldritch Ponza, featuring Eldritch Evolution and toolbox Creatures. Especially good in a Control-light meta.
  • Robot Ponza (aka Platinum Ponza), featuring Madcap Experiment + Platinum Emperion : Especially good in a Burn-heavy meta.
  • Tribal Ponza, featuring more Dragons, Dinosaurs, or whatever than Traditional: Best for a casual environment.
  • RG Midrange, featuring more value Creatures/less Mana Disruption than Traditional: Best for a casual environment. And it's not really Ponza.

Option 1: Make a copy of this deck, as an untuned starting point.

  • This is the "average" competitive Ponza deck according to (last checked on 1/11/2018), with minor tweaks. For example, sometimes Madcap Experiment makes it into the average deck, but it's useless without Platinum Emperion.
  • Cards marked with an A are HIGHLY recommended ... according to MTGgoldfish (last checked on 1/11/2018), they've been played in all of the recent competitive decks. Everything else is flexible.

Option 2: Pick the most recent competitive deck in the sub-archetype of your choice:

Option 3: Poke around these sites, looking at recent competitive decks until you find a deck you like:

Option 4: Pick one of the recent top finishers from a large tournament:

Except for the cards in the 'Unproven' section, ALL the cards in this deck (including the maybeboard) have seen play in successful Competitive decks. Finding the perfect mix of cards for your playstyle and meta is very tough, but you can honestly build a very good deck with any of them!

Below are some brief comments on the cards. Please let us know if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions!

Most competitive decks play 21 Lands. Some play 22 though, especially with a higher curve or 4x Tireless Tracker.

Played in all competitive decks:



Played in all competitive decks:



Rarely played:

Played in all competitive decks:

Played in all competitive decks:



Rarely played:



Rarely played:

Played in all competitive decks:



Rarely played:

Ponza is constantly evolving and there are a TON of cards which haven't seen play in competitive decks (yet), but might be perfect for your decklist, playstyle, or meta.

Please check out our list of Possible Ponza Tech. And if you try anything from there, please let us know how it works out!

We highly recommend posting your deck in PonzaMTG on Reddit and the Modern Desk Help forum here on T/O, and asking for feedback. It may be helpful to include a short description of your expected meta (if you know it) and any budget constraints.

P.S. If you post on the Advertise your Modern deck thread here on T/O please follow the rules and offer feedback on the deck posted immediately before yours.

Now for the best part: Get some reps in with your deck! You'll quickly learn what works for your meta and playstyle and what doesn't. Please share what you learn with us, here in the comments or in PonzaMTG on Reddit)!

Then go back to Step 3 :-)

Shout-outs to ...

Finally, please +1 Upvote this primer if you found it useful! :-)


Updates Add

We made some changes based on the results from last weekend:

  • Tweaked the maindeck to reflect the new "average" competitive Ponza deck on
  • Changed the sideboard and cards marked with an A (which have been played in all recent competitive decks) to reflect the new card percentages on MTGgoldfish
  • Updated the Traditional, Monster, and Robot Ponza decks in Step 2 Option 2 (the list of most recent competitive decks in each sub-archetype)


What are your thoughts on running Eternal Witness mainboard or side?

January 9, 2018 8:06 p.m.

I've never been inclined to try it in a Traditional or Monster list, because we don't have any intentional ways to feed our graveyard. But I really like it as a one-of somewhere in the 75 of an Eldritch list, to mess with removal- and discard-heavy decks. And of course the random Mill deck >:-)

January 9, 2018 9:26 p.m.

Hey, a lot of work here. I admire your dedication to the archetype.

Consider more Tireless Tracker? She's just consistently good. Tracker is a great way to get ahead with draw as well as growing a big creature after destroying your opponent's lands. 8x Fetch lands is also very good with Tracker. I think Tracker can have much more impact than Huntmaster, Thrun and Command. These cards seem like they're thrown in here only for the purposes of being different. Consider cutting these for more Tracker?

For the sideboard I suggest adding 2x Boil or Choke replacing 2x Abrade to diversify sideboard answers. I don't think you need both Abrade and Ancient Grudge as both are doing the same thing, but Grudge is better at what you need it for, slowing down Affinity.

January 11, 2018 7:22 a.m.

Thanks much! We just really love Ponza, and hope this will help others get going in the archetype.

Like we say in Step 2, this is the "average" competitive Ponza deck according to, so we don't plan to change the numbers until they change irl, based on tournament results. For sideboard, we went with most popular sideboard cards from MTGgoldfish tournament results (though I just noticed we never mention that in the description), so there too, it'll change as more tournaments are added. It's good feedback though ... I'll tweak the description to make that more obvious. It also reminds me that now would probably be a really good time to update the main and sideboard, since the tournaments from last weekend should be included by now.

All that said, I'm with you on more Trackers in the main, especially in a Traditional or Monster list. I'm usually on a Traditional list, where I love 3-4x (here's my personal list in case you're interested). Moonbar has been on an Eldritch list lately, where we can generally get by with fewer.

On sideboard, while I might not recommend Boil or Choke for a "generic" meta, they're great cards for sure and I often run 1-2x Choke in my personal deck. I disagree though that Abrade and Ancient Grudge do the same thing. Sure, Abrade is a worse Lightning Bolt and a worse Ancient Grudge, but it's pretty good at being both, and it's a superb use of limited sideboard slots. I recommend it for any meta with small Creatures or troublesome artifacts (e.g., Aether Vial, Ensnaring Bridge, Shrine of Burning Rage), and highly recommend it for a meta with both (e.g., vs. 5c Humans and Merfolk). By the way, have you looked at Guttural Response? It's another great answer for Blue decks, with the added bonus that it doesn't turn off our Spreading Seas'd lands. :-)

Thanks again and draw well!

January 11, 2018 11:41 a.m.

Interestingly, with the updates from the weekend, we're up to 3x Tireless Tracker in the main. Good call!

January 11, 2018 3:56 p.m.

Why Pia and Kiran Nalaar? I see it in almost every ponza list but I don't understand the card choice, it seems a bit slow to me. I'd rather drop a bigger threat or blow up a land.

January 12, 2018 8:20 p.m.

At their worst, Pia and Kiran Nalaar are a 4/4 for 4 spread across 3 bodies, which makes them essentially a Red Lingering Souls ... a painfully slow clock, but great for blocking. They get better if they stick long enough to use their activated ability, because the threat of an extra 2 damage really complicates Combat math for our opp. And they get even better still with Tireless Tracker or Huntmaster of the Fells  Flip, since they can throw Clues (and Tracker gets the +1/+1 anyways), plus Huntmaster is happy to flip when we use our Mana to throw Artifacts. Also: Affinity pilots seriously hate the card, since it's one of the few things we have that can slow down Etched Champion.

I'm not sure what you mean by "rather drop a bigger threat" ... 4/4 for 4 is pretty much our going rate in RG, and P&K is right there with Chameleon Colossus, Obstinate Baloth, Thrun, the Last Troll, and Huntmaster of the Fells  Flip.

But I can certainly understand wanting different threats, as others may work better for your playstyle and meta. Same with more Land Destruction (or more Removal, or whatever) ... my intent is not to convince you that you should run P&K, just to explain why lots of folks do! :-)

Draw well!

January 12, 2018 10:20 p.m.

Hi guys, excelent work! greetings from Costa Rica, ive been on ponza even before i knew magic players call L-destructions ponza,working on my own with my brew before it started to get popular. I have been witness of the evolution of the deck from fringe to almost Tier2 right now! Ive been doing great with the deck in my country;(although some players on my LGS hate my deck haha) Overall I think we have few bad matchups, and right I think de deck is well positioned in modern. I got a few questions, i need feedback hehe:

What do you guys think about Mefolk Branchwalker? I have been running the full set and they always give me gas, and work very well with Courser and Chandra, we struggle when they kill our mana dork, and we have no T2 play, Branchwalker helps us deal with that problem.

Glorybringer has overthrown Stormbreath for me, is really good against company decks, storm, eldrazi, and many other creature decks.

Wich would you say is out beest plan against death shadow apart from blood moon? i hate to not be able to get rid of those things if they resolve, Acidic slime has proven good for me, but lacks power on offensive.

Thanks again ! btw my record mith my Merfolbranch -Ponza deck is 9-3 by the moment :D

January 13, 2018 12:28 p.m.

What about Molten Rain instead of Stone Rain? Sure, it costs 2 R instead of 1, but the damage could be helpful against tron decks.

January 13, 2018 3:04 p.m.

Thanks so much, and it's great to hear that Ponza is tearing it up in Costa Rica as well as in the US!

I haven't tried Merfolk Branchwalker personally, so I don't have a strong opinion. But I'm frankly not in a huge rush to test it ... dorks die all the time ('Bolt the Bird' has been good advice since Alpha) and I think I'd rather use the slot for a solid three-drop (even if I don't get to it until Turn 3). We'll see though; it'd be great if it (or some other two-drop) starts to see more competitive play! And if it's working for your playstyle and meta, that's AWEWSOME!.

It's a similar story with Stormbreath Dragon ... in my meta, its Protection from White is priceless, but it's a great card, and definitely on the list of Possible Ponza Tech we mention in Step 4. Glad to hear it's working for you!

I've seen two different strategies work vs. Death's Shadow decks. The first aims to use Chameleon Colossus to stop it or Beast Within/Primal Command (targeting opp with Mode 1) to kill it. The second aims to gum the board with chump blockers (from cards like Nissa, Voice of Zendikar, Pia and Kiran Nalaar, or Huntmaster of the Fells  Flip), long enough to shave off the last of their life total. I'm not sure which approach is best in a "generic" meta, but most of the Shadow players in mine pack Temur Battle Rage now, so I prefer the first.

Draw well, and thanks again!

January 14, 2018 8:42 a.m.

It's kind of buried in the list of Possible Ponza Tech we mention in Step 4, but Stone Rain is generally better than Molten Rain. We'd rather use Land Destruction for Basics and Blood Moon for Non-Basics, and setting up on Turn 2 can really constrain our mana for the next few turns. If some Tron variant is a challenge in your meta, I recommend Magus of the Moon or Crumble to Dust instead.

January 14, 2018 8:43 a.m.


100% Competitive

Compare to inventory
Date added 4 months
Last updated 1 minute
Key combos

This deck is Modern legal.

Cards 60
Avg. CMC 3.03
Tokens 3/3 Beast, 1/1 Thopter, Clue, 2/2 Wolf, Chandra
Folders >> Active Decks <<, Modern Decks, Interesting Ideas, Stuff I like or intrested in, Cool Shit, Competitive Ponza, Modern Brews, Primers, Tutorials, and Format Staples, Decks, Favorable Fodder
Top rank #1 on 2018-01-14
Ignored suggestions
Shared with

Revision 13 See all

2 days ago)

-1 Kessig Wolf maybe