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Playing Pauper: Ponza

Playing Pauper is back! This week, we are looking to do one of my favorite things in all of Magic: blow up some lands! A while ago, we did a deck tech featuring Pauper Ponza, which looks suspiciously like a Modern Ponza player tried to port their deck over into the Pauper format. The idea is simple: we use Arbor Elf and Utopia Sprawl to ramp into land destruction (just like Modern Ponza) and then close out the game with a handful of huge creatures like Ulamog's Crusher (which is basically the Emrakul, the Aeons Torn of the Pauper format) and Greater Sandwurm. Can Ponza work in Pauper? Let's get to the video and find out!

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Playing Pauper: Ponza


In all honesty, Pauper Ponza was a lot better than I imagined it would be when heading into our league. We ended up with a 4-1 finish, with a lot of early scoops and near-flawless victories along the way! The combination of good ramp, tons of land destruction, and good finishers seems powerful against the Pauper meta in general, although we did run into one big problem: Delver of Secrets. Our one loss came to Mono-Blue Delver, and the deck felt pretty close to unbeatable, even with more than half of our sideboard dedicated to the matchup. The problem is that if the opponent can play Delver of Secrets on Turn 1, outside of having an absurd ramp hand into a very fast Ulamog's Crusher, we just can't win the game. No matter how many lands we happen to blow up, our opponent can simply beat us down with the flipped Delver before we can kill them. The combination of Scattershot Archer and Gut Shot in the sideboard is designed to help in the matchup, but the answers are pretty limited. Gut Shot is a good answer if we can catch Delver before it flips; otherwise, we need two of our sideboard cards to kill a single flipped Delver, which doesn't feel like a winning plan. As strange as it sounds, something as simple as Giant Spider (okay, probably not literal Giant Spider, because I'm sure there's a better version available) could go a long way to helping shore up the matchup. 

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The bottom line is this: Pauper Ponza seems great against the field, with the exception of Delver decks. The issue is that Delver decks are the most played (and very likely the best) in the Pauper format, so we'll run into them pretty often. If we can figure out a sideboard plan to take the Delver matchup from auto-lose into the 50/50 range, Pauper Ponza could develop into a very real deck in the format! So, if you have some ideas on how to improve against Delver or other additions to make the deck better, make sure to let me know in the comments!


Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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