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 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, and Mwonvuli Acid-Moss prevent opponents from executing their game plan. Lightning Bolt, Chandra's -3 and Inferno Titan's triggered ability provide some targeted removal.

WIN-CON: Smash face with fatties, like Inferno Titan or Stormbreath Dragon

ALTERNATE WIN-CON: Chandra's Emblem plus a couple low-CMC spells works nicely. Or smash face with Tireless Tracker and a bunch of +1/+1 counters. And Lightning Bolt is great for that last few points of damage.

GENERAL VALUE: Obstinate Baloth offers a decent body, lifegain, and generally messes with Liliana of the Veil and 8-Rack. 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 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

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: 1/1/2018


OVERALL WIN PERCENTAGE AND MATCH-UPS (with a ton of different Ponza builds): 57%

  • Note: MTGgoldfish "front page" decks are in Green.
  • 90-100%: Amulet Titan (7-0), BG Tron (9-1), UB Control (9-1)
  • 80<90%: RW Prison (6-1), Esper Control (16-3), Mardu Tokens (8-2)
  • 70<80%: RG Ponza (15-5), Grixis Shadow (20-8), Lantern Control (15-4-2), 4c Walkers (5-2), BW Aristocrats (5-2), UW Control (30-11-1), BR Aggro (7-3)
  • 60<70%: BW Eldrazi and Taxes (12-5-1), Jeskai Saheeli (6-3), Jeskai Control (13-7), UB Faeries (7-3-1), Mono-R Burn (7-4), Abzan (22-13), UR Control (12-7)
  • 50<60%: Eldrazi Tron (18-13), Jund (14-10), BW Tokens (11-7-1), Mono-U Tron (12-9), Ad Nauseum (4-3), Naya Burn (18-14), 8-Rack (12-10), Grishoalbrand (6-5), Bogles (7-6), Titan Shift (13-11-1), Naya Zoo (7-7), GW Hatebears (4-4), RG Tron (4-4)
  • 40<50%: UB Mill (10-11), UR Storm (17-19), Dredge (6-7), Mono-G Devotion (5-6), Grixis Control (7-9), RW Burn (18-23-1), Bant Eldrazi (3-4), Blue Steel (3-4), Slivers (3-4), Affinity (13-18), Vengevine (6-9), 5c Humans (4-6), Mono-U Merfolk (4-6)
  • 30<40%: Mono-W Death and Taxes (6-10), Grixis Delver (4-8)
  • 20<30%: BG Elves (2-5), Living End (3-9), 8-Whack (3-11), Abzan Vizier (2-8)
  • 10<20%: Through the Breach (2-11), UR Kiki-Jiki (1-7)


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!


Updates Add

This list now reflects my current paper deck. I also updated the 'Good and bad match-ups' section.

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

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Date added 10 months
Last updated 3 weeks

This deck is Modern legal.

Cards 60
Avg. CMC 2.90
Tokens Clue, Chandra
Folders >> Active Decks <<, Modern, modern ideas, Modern Decks, PONZA, Modern Decks, Yas bich, modern, Decks, Insperation, See all 28
Top rank #1 on 2017-07-14
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Revision 46 See all

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