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!

Cards I'm currently testing are marked in the maybeboard as Foils. The other cards in the maybeboard float in and out of my sideboard, as the meta changes.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and suggestions!

WIN-CON: Smash face with fatties, like Inferno Titan, Stormbreath Dragon (7/7 if Monstrous), Thragtusk, 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. Thragtusk is a win-con of course, but it makes the cut over other 5-drops because of its lifegain effect.



I'm currently testing these cards in the mainboard:

Depending on the meta, I often bring in some of these cards for the sideboard:

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.

That said, here are some thoughts on sideboarding vs. some Tiered decks (in order of my best to worst match-up):

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: 10/1/2017


Good match-ups (so far):

  • 90%: Esper Control (9-1)
  • 83%: RG Ponza (10-2), 4c Walkers (5-1), Mono-R Burn (5-1), UB Control (5-1), UR Control (5-1)
  • 80%: Mono-B Zombies (4-1)
  • 77%: Jund (10-3)
  • 67%: Grixis Shadow (10-5), BR Aggro (4-2)
  • 64%: Jeskai Control (7-4)
  • 63%: Bogles (5-3), BW Eldrazi and Taxes (5-3), Jeskai Saheeli (5-3)

Meh match-ups (so far):

  • 60%: UB Mill (6-4), BW Aristocrats (3-2)
  • 59%: Naya Burn (16-11), Abzan (13-9)
  • 57%: UW Control (12-8), UB Faeries (4-2-1), Dredge (4-3)
  • 54%: Grishoalbrand (4-3), BW Tokens (6-4)
  • 50%: UR Storm (10-10), Eldrazi Tron (9-9), Affinity (8-8), 8-Rack (6-6), Mono-G Devotion (4-4)
  • 44%: Titan Shift (8-9), Mono-U Tron (4-5), GW Hatebears (3-4)
  • 42%: RW Burn (8-11)
  • 40%: Bant Eldrazi (2-3), Grixis Control (2-3), Through the Breach (2-3)

Bad match-ups (so far):

  • 38%: Vengevine (5-8), Grixis Delver (3-5)
  • 33%: Naya Zoo (3-6), Merfolk (2-4)
  • 29%: 8-Whack (2-5)
  • 22%: Living End (2-6)
  • 20%: Mono-W Death and Taxes (2-8), Restore Balance (1-3-1)




  • 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
  • All the recent competitive Ponza decks (please let me know if I missed any)
  • Everyone at r/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!


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

SirSh4ggy says... #1

Might consider Ramunap Excavator and Ghost Quarter or other sac land destruction.

October 13, 2017 1:44 p.m.

clayperce says... #2

If I went all-in on Tireless Tracker, I think Ramunap Excavator would probably be a must-add. As it is though, there's just not quite enough value in Tracker to do that (mostly because she loses half her value when Blood Moon is out). I had never thought about Excavator though (even though I played it for a while in Standard), so thanks!

Ghost Quarter is a great card for sure, but it doesn't really work in Ponza. For one thing, the deck generally doesn't need more Land Destruction ... it's not really a dedicated LD deck, it's more that it just uses LD as an early game Tempo play, giving us the time we need to ramp into big beaters. Plus, we need the Ramp ourselves, so if we actually wanted more LD (some do), we're better off with Molten Rain, Crumble to Dust, or Acidic Slime than something that sets us back on Mana too. Finally, it's a non-bo with Blood Moon ... and sure, Kessig Wolf Run is too, but Wolf Run has way more value for this deck.

Thanks again!

October 13, 2017 2:51 p.m.

Moonbar says... #3

Ok, I see Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker in your testing spot and that makes me really interested. I've been thinking about him since I watched a Gaby Spartz/LSV stream in which they cubed with him and he overperformed like crazy. How has he been?

October 14, 2017 6:56 p.m.

clayperce says... #4

Sarkhan has been very impressive (so far). My favorite play pattern by far is to +1 him twice and then Ultimate ... the card advantage from his -6 makes it almost impossible to lose afterwards. The challenge is all the other cards in our 5-drop slot are crazy-good as well. In my meta (where Pro-White is super-useful), Stormbreath is definitely better. But every time I'm up against a non-white deck, I kinda wish I had Sarkhan instead. And I'm not sure yet if Thragtusk is better ... it's really close. As you know, I kinda struggle vs. Burn, so I've been doing a lot of testing with Finks and now Courser of Kruphix in the main ... that's been working very well (so far), and would likely free up the Thragtusk slot. Of course, I could also downshift the slot and add another Chandra, Torch of Defiance ... she plays better with Courser than Sarkhan does and is just so good in so many ways. So I dunno ...

TL;DR: If your meta is full of Lingering Souls and your Inferno Titans essentially read "Lightning Bolt + draw a basic Land" (due to waaay to many Path to Exiles), then I'd avoid Sarkhan like the plague. Otherwise, I'd recommend trying him out, for sure.

By the way, I haven't updated my decklist here, but Chandra, Flamecaller has found a home in my maindeck for sure. Thanks tons for all the times you recommended her to me! :-D

October 14, 2017 7:45 p.m.

Moonbar says... #5

Hey man, I'm glad that Chandra made it. She really is such a good finisher. One thing that I've been trying is more of a planeswalker-centric type of build. I've been running 1x Chandra, Flamecaller, Chandra, Torch of Defiance, Nissa, Vital Force, and Garruk Wildspeaker. Along with this, I've gone with a full playset of Trinisphere and down to 3x Blood Moon. It's been working so far; all the tournaments save one since I made the change has resulted in me prizing out in one way or another. Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker would be really sweet for the deck, I think, and it gives us another way to interact with opposing creatures while also winning us the game.

Honestly with this deck, I feel like winning can be so unsatisfying with so many good bombs. Having an opponent scoop to an Inferno Titan while you have two 'walkers in hand is somewhat of a letdown :)

October 14, 2017 8:20 p.m.

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Date added 6 months
Last updated 1 day

This deck is Modern legal.

Cards 60
Avg. CMC 3.00
Tokens 3/3 Beast, Chandra
Folders >> Active Decks <<, Modern, modern ideas, Modern Decks, PONZA, Modern Decks, Yas bich, modern, Decks, Insperation, See all 18
Top rank #1 on 2017-07-14
Views 12745

Revision 39 (1 day ago)

+1 Abrade maybe

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