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!

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: Bonfire of the Damned off the top for its Miracle cost, or Chandra's Emblem plus a couple low-CMC spells work nicely. And in the worst case, a 3/3 Beast Token from Beast Within or even a Firebreathing, Trampling Arbor Elf or Birds of Paradise (with the help of Kessig Wolf Run) can do the trick.

PREVENT OPPONENT WIN-CON: Beast Within for all-purpose removal. Bonfire of the Damned, and Chandra's -3 for anything that needs killin'.

MOVE TOWARDS THE WIN: Arbor Elf, Utopia Sprawl, and Birds of Paradise for Ramp. Stone Rain and Mwonvuli Acid-Moss for Land destruction; Blood Moon for Land disruption. Chandra's +1s for Impulse Draw, a few extra points of damage, and Ramp. Obstinate Baloth, as a beatstick and some extra life (and periodically amazing vs. 8-Rack and Liliana of the Veil).

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

SIDEBOARD: My reasoning (for now) is over at Sideboarding Ponza for competitive(ish) meta?


Overall match win percentage: 66% (107-51-1).

  • Environment: Casual tournaments (e.g., Friendly Standard 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)
  • Time period: 5/24/2017 (when I settled into this list) - 8/13/2017 (most recent update)
  • Your mileage, of course, may vary :-)

The summary below only lists match-ups where I've played against the archetype more than once.

Good match-ups (so far):

  • 100%: UB Mill (4-0), 4c Walkers (2-0), Bant Knightfall (2-0), BR Aggro (2-0), BR Vampires (2-0), Esper Control (2-0), GW Tokens (2-0), Mono-R Artifact Goblins (2-0), RG Stompy (2-0), Sultai Control (2-0), Tron (2-0)
  • 83%: UW Control (5-1)
  • 80%: BW Eldrazi (4-1), Jund (4-1), RG Ponza (4-1)
  • 75%: Grixis Shadow (4-2), Jeskai Control (3-1), Mono-G Devotion (3-1)
  • 67%: Grixis Delver (2-1), Mono-R Burn (2-1)

Meh match-ups (so far):

  • 57%: Affinity (4-3)
  • 50%: Eldrazi Tron (2-2), Abzan (1-1), BG Elves (1-1), Jund Shadow (1-1), Mono-W Devotion (1-1), Mono-W Hatebears (1-1), Titan Shift (1-1)

Bad match-ups (so far):

  • 33%: Naya Burn (3-6), Living End (1-2)
  • 0% (but includes a tie): Restore Balance (0-1-1)
  • 0%: UR Gifts Storm (0-2)
I'll expand this section over time, but for now all the good stuff is in the 'Primers and other resources' section or in some of my favorite Ponza decks (so far), here on T/O.

Here are a few tidbits and edge cases though:

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 Trin' is in play, your opponent has to pay at least to cast a spell.
  • Cost Reducers: Ruling #1 on Gatherer explains that Trin's 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: Trin' 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 Trin' 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 Trin' tax. E.g., Casting Become Immense for five Exiled cards and is the same as paying , so Trin' will not apply an additional charge. Here's some more info from
3-Mana T2: 59.5% (all percentages are on the play, ignoring mulligans)

4-Mana T2: 16.0%

6-Mana T3: 8.2%

7-Mana T3: 2.1%

8-Mana T3: 0.4%

Magical Christmasland: 0.3% (1 day/365)

10-Mana T3: 0.2%



Recent Competitive Decklists (please let me know if I missed any!)

  • Andrew Black: #15 at SCG Open Richmond (454 players, 8/13/2017)
  • Adsav: 5-0 in MTGO Competitive Modern Constructed League (8/1/2017)
  • Jon Elgan: #6 at SCG Modern Classic Atlanta (151 players, 7/23/2017)
  • Abombdiggity: #32 in MTGO Modern Challenge (7/22/2017)
  • Bernard Liberati: #1 in Modern format and #26 overall at SCG Invitational Roanake (547 players, 6/30/2017)
  • Spijker: 5-0 in MTGO Competitive Modern Constructed League (6/6/2017)
  • Dlt006: 5-0 in MTGO Competitive Modern Constructed League (5/28/2017)
  • Spijker: 5-0 in MTGO Competitive Modern Constructed League (5/22/2017)
  • BERNASTORRES: 5-0 in MTGO Competitive Modern Constructed League (5/1/2017)
  • Blockhouse: 5-0 on MTGO Competitive Modern Constructed League (4/12/2017)
  • Gordon Clinard: #9 at SCG Open Dallas-Ft Worth (857 players, 3/12/2017)
  • Ryan Shaner: #15 at SCG Open Indianapolis (904 players, 2/25/2017)

Shout-outs to ...

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


I added Obstinate Baloth back into the main (replacing Lightning Bolt) and changed my sideboard pretty significantly, focusing the slots on my tougher match-ups and an evolving meta. My thought process is over on this thread: Sideboarding Ponza for competitive(ish) meta?

I've also been doing a bunch of testing with Tireless Tracker in the main. It's VERY good, but Chameleon Colossus remains just a little better IMO. You can see the deck and results (so far) over at Tireless Ponza.

I added two new Competitive decks to the 'Primers and other resources' section!

  • Andrew Black: #15 at SCG Modern Open Richmond (454 players, 8/13/2017)
  • Adsav: 5-0 in MTGO Competitive Modern Constructed League (8/1/2017)

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

rothgar13 says... #1

Most Ponza players have given up on Beast Within of late in favor of cards like Acidic Slime. Might want to look into that.

August 14, 2017 5:53 p.m.

Moonbar says... #2

ALSO, there is a new Ponza Subreddit started by none other than me!

Find it Here!
August 14, 2017 7:13 p.m.

clayperce says... #3

Acidic Slime is a great card (Deathtouch in particular is just SO good) and I'll give it a hard look. But while I can see it competing vs. the 4- and 5-drops in the deck, I just don't see it competing with Beast Within (because Beast is faster on the mana curve, can also kill Planeswalkers, and is an Instant).

By the way, if by 'most' you mean adsav and Jon Elgan then sure. But in the other 10 competitive decklists I'm aware of (up in the 'Primers and other resources' section), there are 20x Beast Within and 0x Acidic Slime ... ;-)

Thanks though, tons!

August 14, 2017 7:17 p.m.

clayperce says... #4

AWESOME!!! Thanks so much for getting that going! I'll see you there soon ...

August 14, 2017 7:19 p.m.

rothgar13 says... #5

By most, I mean lists that make it over to MTGGoldfish. I see 4 separate entries there, and only 1 of them has Beast Within. That's felt like the worst card in the 75 for a while now.

August 14, 2017 9:17 p.m.

Moonbar says... #6

rothgar13, I would argue that it feels pretty damn good to have a spell that so cleanly deals with all the problem cards this deck has so quickly. I would think that Acidic Slime is the worse card in 90% of situations.

August 14, 2017 11:39 p.m.

rothgar13 says... #7

What problem cards for Ponza does Beast Within beat? Liliana of the Veil? I can't think of very many others. I think the card is flexible, but a 3/3 is not irrelevant on the board for a deck with such poor spot removal options, and I don't really think that there are that many "must answer" noncreature permanents for Ponza to begin with. The Slime is a 2-for-1 - the body will almost always be relevant thanks to deathtouch, and the destruction effect comes with no downside. The only issue is coming up with the mana for it, but I'd argue that Ponza's typically pretty clogged at the 3-spot, and doesn't have enough awesome payoff spells later on.

August 15, 2017 12:08 a.m.

Moonbar says... #8

Beast Within being an instant and a piece of spot removal for important creatures is very relevant, and I think that it being so low costed is a benefit, not a bad thing. This deck also runs enough super value creatures and spells that it doesn't matter about the Beast token being a 2 for 1.

August 15, 2017 12:14 a.m.

GeminiSpartanX says... #9

As of late I've been pretty low on Beast Within. I rarely want to see it in my opening hand as a LD spell, and there have been games where the token helped my opponent more than me. Against aggro I often use it as a 3 mana 3/3 to destroy one of my own lands in order to live another turn or 2, but that line never seems to work out. I think I'll be crazy and try siding them out completely for another threat or two just to see if it makes a difference in the optimal lines of play this deck normally takes. I mean, ideally you're not casting beast within until turn 4+ anyway.

August 15, 2017 6:40 a.m.

clayperce says... #10

Maybe I'm missing something, but the two decks I see on MTGgoldfish with Acidic Slime are the two I already mentioned (by adsav and Jon Elgan). The other two (by Andrew Black and abombdiggity) each had 2x Beast Within in the main.

But either way, I personally can't imagine playing Ponza without The Beast. I don't like it as a four-of at all (since it's pretty gross in an opening hand except vs. Liliana of the Veil). But somewhere between 2-3x has been almost perfect for my playstyle and meta (so far).

As far as what it hits? In just the last week or so, I've won matches after killing a Tarmogoyf, a Gurmag Angler, a Cranial Plating, a 4/4 Angel from a Geist of Saint Traft, and most notably a Spreading Seas (on my own Stomping Ground, which allowed me to cast Chandra, Torch of Defiance and then +1 her for mana and an Inferno Titan on the next turn). Sure, I might have won those matches anyways, and I might have won other matches if I'd had a different card in the slot. But it's earned at least 2 slots in my deck for sure.

Seriously, thanks tons though! I always appreciate the chance to relook a card with fresh eyes, especially as the meta evolves!

August 15, 2017 1:33 p.m.

clayperce says... #11

After thinking a LOT about Titan Shift and CoCo Counters, I'm actually moving to 4x Beast Within in the 75. Beast can kill Mountains with Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle triggers on the stack, and it can of course kill Devoted Druid or Vizier of Remedies in response to a cast (of the other one or a CoCo). I think that's going to be worth the ugh of having one in my opening hand.

August 15, 2017 6:24 p.m.

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Compare to inventory
Date added 3 months
Last updated 4 hours

This deck is Modern legal.

Cards 60
Avg. CMC 2.97
Tokens 3/3 Beast, Chandra
Folders >> Active Decks <<, Modern, modern ideas, Modern Decks, PONZA, Modern Decks, Yas bich, modern, Decks, Insperation, See all 16
Top rank #1 on 2017-07-14
Views 8447

Revision 30 (4 hours ago)

-3 Bonfire of the Damned main
+4 Stone Rain main
-3 Chameleon Colossus main
-4 Wooded Foothills main
+3 Stomping Ground main
+4 Wooded Foothills main
-8 Forest main
+3 Chameleon Colossus main
+2 Beast Within main
-3 Stomping Ground main
-4 Stone Rain main
+3 Bonfire of the Damned main
-2 Beast Within main
-1 Mountain main
+1 Mountain main
-4 Windswept Heath main
+8 Forest main
+4 Windswept Heath main
+3 Trinisphere side
-3 Trinisphere side
and 24 other change(s)

See all