Arctic_Ghost's picture
By: Arctic_Ghost, Arctic_Ghost
Jun 15 2023 12:01pm

Ponza is a hybrid between ramp and land destruction. In the early game, you spend your turns ramping and destroy your opponents lands to slow them down. Then you land a couple of big threats and go to town on your opponents life total. Normally, we see Gruul because you get to play Boarding Party because its just such a powerful win condition, but today, we see what having Mulldrifter can do instead.

The list we will be looking at today got 8th place in the Pauper Challenge that took place on 5/21/2023 and was piloted by the player Leobertucci. Alright Boarding Party, this time we are stepping off to do some site seeing, Let’s Rock!

Arbor Elf and Llanowar Visionary – If you are familiar with the Gruul version, these creatures should be no surprise to you. Your main ramp spells are still the 1 mana enchantments we will discuss a little bit later, which makes Arbor Elf the perfect choice.

Annoyed Altisaur – The main mascot of Ponza in Pauper.

Avenging Hunter – Hunter has become a staple of Ponza and for good reason. The creature itself hits hard and Initiative is still a broken ability.

Mulldrifter and Azure Fleet Admiral – Here are your replacements for Boarding Party. While Party helps you be aggressive and win the game a bit more quickly, Mulldrifter can be a bit safer because it actually draws you cards rather than give you a lottery wheel. You can also Evoke it early in the game if you are desperate. With Admiral giving you the Monarch allows you to play a bit of a safer game by helping you draw cards.

Entourage of Trest – Where we would usually see an aggressive card like Jewel Thief, we see a more long game plan with Entourage. If you expect more midrange or control decks to show up in your tournament, being the Monarch can go a long way.

Thermokarst and Mwonvuli Acid-Moss – Here are your main land destruction spells.

Temporal Spring – Where we would usually see Skred or Lightning Bolt for removal, instead we see Temporal Spring. Spring allows you to Time Walk (this refers to you making your opponent waste their turn by drawing the same card or making them do nothing while you move forward with your game plan) your opponent and set them back even farther. You cannot stop your opponent from top decking what they need when on the land destruction plan, so Temporal Spring can be better in certain spots. It also hits a permanent which can come up quite a bit.

Utopia Sprawl and Wild Growth – Here are your main ramp spells for Ponza. Does not matter what version you are on, these are usually the best option.

The Manabase

Ash Barrens and Crystal Grotto – Here is some mana fixing for you. I am not a huge fan of Crystal Grotto in this archetype however because it doesn’t actually find you a Forest for your ramp enchantments, I would just play another Forest or another Ash Barrens personally.

Rimewood Falls – At first it might seem weird to play this over something like Thornwood Falls, but if you look closer at Falls, it is an actual dual land, meaning it is also a Forest for Arbor Elf and your mana enchantments.

Simic Growth Chamber – This could help you mulligan a little bit less. However, do remember this can be a mana hungry deck so make sure you mulligan and keep a hand wisely.

The rest of the Manabase consists of 15 basic lands. Overall I would say this is a pretty stock Manabase and I don’t think I would change it much. The only gripe I have is Crystal Grotto but that is just personal preference I think.

The Sideboard

Deglamer and Natural Obsolescence – Great against Affinity and helps against Bogles.

Nylea's Disciple and Weather the Storm – We are coming for you red decks!

Scattershot Archer – This creature can be quite good against the Faerie decks. Normally in this spot you would see something like Breath Weapon if you were playing red.

Slow Motion – I did not even remember this card existed, but in a deck like this, it can be quite good.

As of writing this article, Leobertucci also 5-0d a league with the same archetype, but made some changes.

Verdict and Conclusion

I think this archetype is pretty cool and may have a better matchup against Affinity because you have cards like Deglamer and Natural Obsolescence, as well as Temporal Spring. Although when looking at the results, Gruul Ponza still wins a lot, so the traditional Gruul Ponza archetype is a good choice as well.

I think the main reason to play this over Gruul is because in my opinion, it has a slightly better matchup against Affinity. Having access to Temporal Spring can also be quite good in spots where Skred or Lightning Bolt aren’t, but the same can be true when the situation is flipped. I think the only decks this list might have a lower percentage against are the Faerie decks, but even that matchup might be fine.

For Mulldrifter over Boarding Party, I think Mulldrifters ability to be a Divination is quite helpful, but I also think having a creature with flying will help you when trying to reclaim the Monarch or venturing through the Dungeon. With Boarding Party, you are more aggressive, but you can easily miss off the Cascade and party dies to a lot of removal. The 2 cards you get from Drifter can often be more helpful as you can draw anything.

I also really like the inclusion of Entourage of Trest and in the league that Leobertucci 5-d, he went up to 3 which I agree with. Don’t get me wrong, I love Jewel Thief, but I think going harder on the midrange plan with Entourage of Trest is a bit better these days.

Should you play this deck? I think this archetype is good, but the real big question is, should you play it over Gruul Ponza? At this current time, I don’t think either version is necessarily better than the other outright, but I personally like the blue version more than the red at the current moment the way that Leobertucci built it.

However, I will say that if you were to replace Temporal Spring with Skred and add Entourage of Trest to the Gruul version, its possible that the Gruul version would still be the deck to use. At the end of the day, we need to see how the meta develops and see what the Gruul lists do, but I do hope and expect more results from Leobertucci as time goes on as they are a good player.

However, with all this being said, as always, do remember my words are not gospel. I will always encourage you to try a deck that I bring you despite my personal feelings. Remember that results will vary and always remember to practice!

Would you like to compete in a free Pauper tournament with some great prizes? Head on over to on Tuesday nights at 8pm EDT and play in our weekly Pauper Classic Tuesday's event! Join the chat #PCT to chat with us and feel free to find most of the competitors on Discord!

Thank you so much for reading. Best of luck to you in your next tournament and I’ll catch you all next time!