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

The deck changes often, but this reflects what I'm currently playing in paper ... White sideboard and all.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and suggestions!



WIN-CON: Smash face with Inferno Titan or a huge Tireless Tracker.


  • Chandra's Emblem plus a couple low-CMC spells works nicely.
  • Sometimes it all comes down to a Lightning Bolt to the face, a Token:1/1 Thopter swinging in the air, or Pia and Kiran Nalaar's activated ability.




  • Ancient Grudge: My absolute favorite Artifact hate.
  • Beast Within: Insane versatility, at Instant speed ... kills lands, huge Creatures, and Planeswalker; a superb combat trick (Beast Within'ing our own land, or a mana dork, or whatever); kills opps' most important Enchantments and Artifacts (Rancor vs. Bogles, Ensnaring Bridge vs. Lantern, Plating vs. Affinity, etc); nerfs Valakut (sure it's a good match-up already, but it's even better when we can disrupt 5 of the 6 Valakut triggers by destroying a Mountain with the triggers on the stack). Sure, I've certainly lost a ton of games to the Beast Token I gave my opp. But I almost certainly would have lost those games anyways ... it's like, "Do I want to die for sure next turn to whatever my opp is doing, or maybe in X turns to a Beast Token?" It's usually a pretty easy call :-)
  • Chameleon Colossus: Insane against Black decks and good against anything ... especially if pumped to 8/8 or even 16/16.
  • Choke: Hilarious vs. any deck with Islands.
  • Kitchen Finks: Solid lifegain effect, a great chump-blocker, and a Cascade hit. Watch out though, as it's a non-bo with Graffdiggers Cage (DKA) and Rest in Peace. since it's a non-bo with Rest in Peace.
  • Obstinate Baloth: A decent body, lifegain, and generally messes with discard effects.
  • Scavenging Ooze: Superb Graveyard hate.

Turn 2 Mana Disruption:


Turn 2 4-drop:

Turn 3 Titan:

For the good stuff, please check out the Crowdsourced Sideboard Guide and various Tips and Tricks over on r/PonzaMTG.

But here are a few tidbits and edge cases:

Arbor Elf: His 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 means we can use Arbor Elf's ability before activating Chandra's +1 (Exile the top card of your library. You may cast that card ...), but not during it.

Beast Within: If the target is legal but is not destroyed (e.g., if it gains Regeneration or Indestructible), its controller still gets the Beast token.

Bloodbraid Elf:

  • If possible, cast her before playing our Land-for-turn, in case we Cascade into a Tireless Tracker.
  • We can use Fetchs to reshuffle our library after we Cascade needed high-CMC spells to the bottom.
  • Keeping a Fetch uncracked when Courser of Kruphix is in play is great too, so we can shuffle away an unwanted Cascade card, if desired.
  • She's VERY good vs. Control. Forcing them to chose whether to counter the Cascade spell or BBE (because they generally don't have the mana or spells to counter both) is just a GREAT feeling.
  • Our Cascade spell resolves first, then Bloodbraid. This is especially relevant if we Cascade into Anger of the Gods ... Bloodbraid resolves second, so she takes no damage from the Anger.
  • Because we "Put the exiled cards on the bottom of your library in a random order" after Cascade, we have to offer our opponent a chance to shuffle them too.

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.

Primal Command: Because we have to resolve the modes in order, we can also bury things deeply with Mode-2-then-3 (bounce a thing to library, then make opponent shuffle), and pull critical one-ofs out of our graveyard with Mode-3-then-4 (shuffle our 'yard, then tutor a creature).


  • 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

Shout-outs to ...

  • Brian Kowal and Adrian Sullivan, who invented the original Ponza deck. Here's some early history, if you're interested.
  • Itou Manabu, Michael Nielsen, and Matt Mendoza, who pioneered Ponza in Modern, with decks like this, this, and this.
  • Andrew Wolbers, who won SCG DFW with this deck.
  • Everyone at r/PonzaMTG and also 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

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

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Revision 59 See all

2 weeks ago)

+2 Inferno Titan main
+4 Arbor Elf main
-1 Mountain main
-1 Plains main
-2 Misty Rainforest main
-7 Forest main
-1 Kessig Wolf Run main
-4 Utopia Sprawl main
+2 Plains main
+2 Courser of Kruphix main
-2 Molten Rain main
+1 Birds of ParadiseJA main
-1 Temple Garden main
-2 Birds of Paradise main
+4 Blood Moon main
+4 Bloodbraid Elf main
-1 Verdant Catacombs main
-4 Tireless Tracker main
+7 Forest main
-3 Lightning Bolt main
and 80 other change(s)