MB Options - Meta Dependent (1)


Want to destroy lands, cast "unplayable" cards, and have an absolute blast? While piloting a deck named after a deep-friend calzone (source)? Then you will absolutely love RG Ponza!

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and suggestions!

MOVE TOWARDS THE WIN: Arbor Elf, Utopia Sprawl, and Birds of Paradise provide Ramp for mana disruption as early as Turn 2 and fatties as early as Turn 3. Courser of Kruphix is a superb blocker who also provides card filtering and incidental lifegain. Tireless Tracker brings card advantage that can run away with games if unanswered. Chandra, Torch of Defiance can +1 for Impulse Draw, a few extra points of damage, or Ramp. And the synergy between the three is insane.

PREVENT OPPONENT'S WIN-CON: Blood Moon, Stone Rain, Mwonvuli Acid-Moss, and Crumble to Dust prevent opponents from executing their game plan. Chandra, Torch of Defiance's -3 and Inferno Titan's triggered ability provide some spot removal.

WIN-CON: Smash face with fatties, like Inferno Titan, Stormbreath Dragon (7/7 if Monstrous), or Chameleon Colossus (especially if pumped to 8/8 or 16/16).

ALTERNATE WIN-CON: Chandra, Torch of Defiance's Emblem plus a couple low-CMC spells works nicely. Or smash face with Tireless Tracker and a bunch of +1/+1 counters.

GENERAL VALUE: Primal Command is expensive and slow, but offers almost unbelievable versatility: Gain life, kill a Death's Shadow, remove a pesky permanent, nuke a Graveyard, or Tutor just the right Creature.


MAYBEBOARD: As the meta shifts, I will often bring in some combination of these cards ...

I'll expand this section over time, but for now all the good stuff is in the 'Other resources' section or in some of my favorite Ponza decks (so far), here on T/O.

That said, here are a few tidbits and edge cases:

  • Arbor Elf's ability is not a mana ability, so we can't use it to pay costs while casting a spell or while another ability is resolving. This plays out in two specific ways for us: (1) We can use Arbor Elf's ability immediately after revealing Bonfire of the Damned, but not while casting it and (2) We can use Arbor Elf's ability before ticking up Chandra, Torch of Defiance for a card (+1: Exile the top card of your library. You may cast that card. ...), but not during it.
  • Bonfire of the Damned: The CMC is based on the mana cost of , even if you cast it for its Miracle cost. For example, if you cast Bonfire for its Miracle cost and choose X=2, the CMC is 5. Source: Gatherer Ruling #3. This is great vs. cards like Spellstutter Sprite and Spell Queller.
  • Chameleon Colossus: The fact it's a Changeling is relevant vs. Merfolk, Elves, and Slivers since Lord of Atlantis, Elvish Champion, and many Slivers affect it as well.
  • Chandra, Torch of Defiance: Her Emblem is colorless, which is relevant vs. Protection from Red effects (e.g., Story Circle). Watch out though, because her Emblem is not a 'may' effect, which makes it TERRIBLE if your opponent has Leyline of Sanctity in play and there are no Creatures on board.
  • Inferno Titan: Its Attack trigger is not a 'may' effect, which can be troublesome if your opponent has Leyline of Sanctity is in play and there are no other Creatures on board. Though you can always target the Titan itself.
  • Shatterstorm: The card text on Gatherer reads "Destroy all artifacts. They can't be regenerated." This is relevant vs. Welding Jar.

Trinisphere can be tricky, so it gets a section of its own:

  • The card text on Gatherer reads "cast" rather than "play".
  • As a general rule of thumb, when Trinisphere is in play, your opponent has to pay at least to cast a spell.
  • Cost Reducers: Ruling #1 on Gatherer explains that Trinispheres ability is applied after any other cost increases or cost reductions. For example, even if the opponent has Goblin Electromancer on the battlefield, Pyretic Ritual costs .
  • Suspend: Trinisphere does not affect the cost to Suspend a card (because it's not cast), but it does affect it when it comes off Suspend (because the spell is then cast for an alternative cost of nothing). E.g., Ancestral Vision costs to Suspend and when it comes off Suspend. Heh!
  • Phyrexian Mana: Paying Life does not count towards the Trinisphere tax. E.g., Gut Shot costs 2 Life + or . Here's some more info from
  • Delve: Since exiling a card from the Graveyard pays for , Delve does count towards the Trinisphere tax. E.g., Casting Become Immense for five Exiled cards and is the same as paying , so Trinisphere will not apply an additional charge. Here's some more info from

All percentages are on the play and ignore mulligans.

Turn 2 Land Disruption: 55.6%


Turn 2 Threat: 8.4%

Turn 3 6-drop: 4.3%


  • My meta: Casual tournaments (e.g., Friendly and Competitive 5-Match League play on MTGO and tournaments at my LGS) and matches (e.g., the Tournament Practice Room on MTGO and pick-up matches at my LGS)
  • Last update: 11/10/2017


Good Match-ups (so far)

  • 100%: Amulet Titan (7-0)
  • 94%: Esper Control (15-1)
  • 88%: BG Tron (7-1)
  • 86%: UB Control (6-1)
  • 83%: 4c Walkers (5-1), Mono-B Zombies (5-1), RW Prison (5-1)
  • 80%: RG Ponza (12-3)
  • 75%: Mardu Tokens (6-2)
  • 74%: UW Control (25-8-1)
  • 71%: Mono-R Burn (5-2)
  • 70%: BR Aggro (7-3), Grixis Shadow (16-7)
  • 67%: BW Eldrazi and Taxes (8-4), UB Faeries (6-2-1), Jeskai Saheeli (6-3), BW Aristocrats (4-2), RG Tron (4-2)
  • 64%: Abzan (18-10), UR Control (9-5)
  • 63%: Jund (12-7), Jeskai Control (10-6)

Meh Match-ups (so far)

  • 60%: Naya Burn (18-12), BW Tokens (9-5-1), Lantern Control (6-3-1), Bogles (6-4)
  • 57%: Mono-U Tron (8-6), Ad Nauseum (4-3)
  • 56%: Eldrazi Tron (14-11), Mono-G Devotion (5-4)
  • 53%: UB Mill (8-7)
  • 50%: UR Storm (14-14), Titan Shif (11-10-1), GW Hatebears (4-4), Bant Eldrazi (3-3)
  • 48%: RW Burn (16-17)
  • 46%: 8-Rack (6-7)
  • 45%: Dredge (5-6)
  • 44%: Grishoalbrand (4-5), Grixis Control (4-5)
  • 42%: Naya Zoo (5-7)
  • 40%: Grixis Delver (4-6)

Bad Match-ups (so far)

  • 38%: Affinity (9-15), Merfolk (3-5)
  • 36%: Vengevine (5-9)
  • 33%: Mono-W Death and Taxes (5-10), 8-Whack (3-6), Abzan Vizier (2-4), BG Elves (2-4)
  • 27%: Living End (3-8)
  • 20%: Through the Breach (2-8)


Gameplay videos

  • From the SCG Vs. series, a video of Todd Stevens on DJ Wests's Monster Ponza list vs. Brad Nelson on 4c Saheeli. "Wow, I have that in my deck?!? Man, I just have everything in this deck!"
  • Dave Dame's videos (9/29/2017), from NumotGaming. "Wow! That was possibly the most fun I have had in modern in quite some time."
  • Todd Stevens' videos (9/8/2017), from StarCityGames.
  • Paul Cheon's videos (3/8/2017), from ChannelFireball.
  • SaffronOlive's video (8/24/2016), from MTGgoldfish.
  • Corbin Hosler's videos (8/1/2016), from TCGplayer.

Shout-outs to ...

  • Brian Kowal and Adrian Sullivan, who invented the original deck. And Michael Nielsen (aka Spijker) and Matt Mendoza, who made it what it is today.
  • The brewers of my favorite Ponza decks (so far), here on T/O
  • Everyone at r/PonzaMTG and fb/PonzaMTG
  • michael921, as always, for his outstanding ideas and advice

Finally, please +1 Upvote if you like the deck or find the resources to be useful!


After a ton of testing with various Planeswalkers and a bunch of "Monster Ponza" variants, I'm extremely happy with this update. Courser of Kruphix, Tireless Tracker, and Chandra, Torch of Defiance are great on their own and spectacular when together. 3x of each seems to be "just right."

As always, thanks to everyone who's made comments and suggestions so far! They're all archived here or behind the View Archive button below.

Comments View Archive

GeminiSpartanX says... #1

I like the update in general, but I'd like to pick your brain on some of the numbers. I'll start by saying that nobody likes Courser in Ponza lists more than me, but 3 seems like 1 too many. Courser isn't a great threat by itself, so I'd rather have another big threat like Thragtusk or the 3rd Stormbreath. Also, I'd like to know why you've chosen to MD Crumble to Dust over the 4th Acid-Moss or another threat? Finally, I've also been seeing more lists running Bolts in the SB. Which decks are you bringing those in against?

I had a pretty bad testing session last week that's made me worried that Ponza might not get me there in the RPTQ, but it was mostly against Affinity and Counters Company. I'm swapping out a relic in my SB for a Grafdigger's Cage to help out that matchup since I expect to see some number of those decks. I also decided that I should have a 2nd Shatterstorm if I want to beat affinity. Do you side in both Ancient Grudges against Eldrazi Tron, or only 1? I'm hoping to nail down my SB plan and write it out before this weekend is why I'm asking all these questions. Thanks in advance!

November 13, 2017 6:57 a.m.

clayperce says... #2

3x Courser of Kruphix is partly for my Burn match-up and partly for the synergy with Tireless Tracker and Chandra, Torch of Defiance. I struggle with Burn a little, and was surprised to find Courser outperform Kitchen Finks in the match-up ... I think it's partly because Courser is a better blocker, but mostly because nobody is going to waste a Skullcrack or Kolaghan's Command on a Courser. Then I was surprised to find how good Courser was with Chandra and Tracker. Turns out that knowing exactly when to draw (via Clue), Exile (via Chandra), or just let the top card sit there is GREAT. That made me go up to 3x Chandras, which has been great as well, in all kinds of match-ups. Shaving a 5-drop threat though is definitely a bummer, so I could frankly argue it either way.

I went with a Crumble to Dust over a fourth Acid-Moss because I don't need as much Ramp now (partly because of the extra Chandra, and partly because my curve is a little lower). I went Crumble over a Tracker or 4-drop threat because of Tron and Titan Shift. I know that some people argue there's no need for us to make our good match-ups better, but I disagree ... I want maximum win percentage vs. the expected field, and they're a big part of my meta so I think it makes sense. Or maybe I'm just a bad person who loves how demoralizing Crumble can be to Tron and Valakut pilots! :-)

I've always loved Bolt, and sometimes even "pre-board" 1-2x into the main. It's superb vs. Storm and almost any deck with small Creatures (e.g., Hatebears, Abzan Vizier, Affinity, Humans). Any efficient Instant-speed removal will do though ... I like Sudden Shock for example much better against Infect, and it's also solid vs. Abzan Vizier and Affinity (since they can't combo off or Modular in response).

Affinity is my worst Top Tier match-up, so please take my thoughts on it with healthy skepticism. But for them I leave the Moons, pull every bit of LD and maybe some non-flying Creature, and add as many Bolts, Grudges, Abrades, Shatterstorms, and Angers as I can. I've been on 7x pieces of Affinity "forever", which has resulted in a 38% win percentage. Since Affinity has gone up in the meta lately though, I've recently shifted to 9x.

I normally bring in both Grudges vs. E-Tron (especially if I think they have frazzin' Wurmcoil), in favor of a Courser and a Tracker.

Good luck (and good skill)!

November 13, 2017 1:51 p.m.

Cragon18 says... #3

This looks like the deck that I played against with my Colossus deck? If so then lucky for me it looks as if it ran really slow for you that day. I certainly didn't see much or your ramp or land destruction. I also didn't deserve to win that second game either... Anyway, cool deck! Cheers!

December 6, 2017 8:42 a.m.

clayperce says... #4

Yeah, this is my current "default" build ... the list I was playing the other day had more removal in the main (which is great vs. Humans and others, but lousy vs. you) and a higher curve (I had pulled out all the Stone Rain to make room for some additional 4- and 5-drop threats). I frankly went 0-2 twice with that list and deleted it :-)

Thanks much, and I look forward to our next match!

December 6, 2017 9:31 a.m.

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Compare to inventory
Date added 7 months
Last updated 3 weeks

This deck is Modern legal.

Cards 60
Avg. CMC 3.10
Tokens Clue, Chandra
Folders >> Active Decks <<, Modern, modern ideas, Modern Decks, PONZA, Modern Decks, Yas bich, modern, Decks, Insperation, See all 24
Top rank #1 on 2017-07-14
Views 15078

Revision 43 See all

4 weeks ago)

-1 Shatterstorm side
+1 Ancient Grudge side
+1 Shatterstorm maybe