Modern Ponza: 2 Gruul 4 School

Who loves Blood Moon? Jess loves Blood Moon.

Last week, WotC’s Banned and Restricted announcement shook up the Modern format. With the banning of Arcum’s Astrolabe, a lot is going to change. In my article detailing my reaction to the announcement, I talked about what this shakeup meant for the Gruul Midrange (aka Ponza).

Blood Moon

Double Masters | Rare

Blood Moon - Double Masters - magic

Market Price: $10.27

If a Blood Moon deck can thrive in a format where greedy mana bases are equipped to fight through the Blood Moon effects, the deck can only get better when Arcum’s Astrolabe is banned.

What’s It Do?  

Controlling your opponent’s lands is the first step to winning games with Gruul Midrange. The goal of the average list is to play a turn-one accelerant—Arbor Elf or Utopia Sprawl—and ramp to three mana on turn two. With the three mana you untap with, you’re looking to deploy a Blood Moon or a Magus of the Moon to punish your opponent’s mana base and try to lock them out of the game. Most lists will play a few copies of Pillage, which can destroy any land (including basics). Typically, your Pillage will target a basic land if you have a Blood Moon or a Magus of the Moon in play.

Beyond this, you are looking to leverage card advantage, removal and aggression to close out games before your opponent can catch back up.

You win matches by forcing your opponent to answer your multiple angles of attack, including one that impairs their ability to cast spells. 

Odd or Even?

I’m not talking about rolling dice to determine who gets to be on the play, because obviously it would be high roll (joking!) I’m talking about whether our Gruul list plays Obosh, the Preypiercer.

Obosh, the Preypiercer

Ikoria: Lair Of Behemoths | Rare

Obosh, the Preypiercer - Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths - magic

The majority of the key cards in this deck have an odd converted mana cost. However, there are some even-costed cards that would fit in well. The way I answer this question is to make a list of these cards and evaluate whether their inclusion is worth sacrificing our companion for:

Bloodbraid Elf: Aggressive, free spell, versatile, did I mention free spells? 

Wrenn and Six: There isn’t much synergy with the lands we typically play, so overall I view Wrenn and Six as a card I would play if I’d already made the decision to exclude Obosh. 

Wrenn and Six

Double Masters 2022 | Mythic

Wrenn and Six - Double Masters 2022 - magic

Market Price: $49.85

Chandra, Torch of Defiance: Earlier I mentioned that the deck was looking to “leverage card advantage, removal and aggression,” and Chandra does all three. 

Scavenging Ooze: This has been replaced by Klothys, God of Destiny in the odd, Obosh builds. I could easily see myself playing some copies in the sideboard, however, it would not sway my companion decision. 


  • Weather the Storm
  • Boil
  • Collector Ouphe
  • Cindervines
  • Obstinate Baloth

These sideboard cards address typical problems in matchups: opposing artifacts, enchantments, noncreature spells and aggressive decks that typically aren’t impacted by Blood Moon and pressure our life total. 

So to answer the question, I’m going to have to say “even.” 

Losing access to Obosh, the Preypiercer is unfortunate, but what we gain by having access to Chandra, Torch of Defiance, Bloodbraid Elf and the sideboard cards is greater. 

The List

Here’s the list I’m currently playing in Modern:


Gruul Midrange

Market Price:$555.79

Maindeck, 60 cards

Creature (23)

Planeswalker (3)

Sorcery (3)

  • 3Pillage

Instant (4)

  • 4Lightning Bolt

Enchantment (7)

Land (20)

Sideboard (15)

  • 2Anger of the Gods
  • 3Choke
  • 3Cindervines
  • 1Collector Ouphe
  • 1Grafdigger’s Cage
  • 2Kitchen Finks
  • 2Veil of Summer
  • 1Weather the Storm

20 or 21 lands? If you were playing an Obosh, the Preypiercer list I would recommend 21 lands, otherwise 20 lands is a good amount. If you’re looking to play the 21st land anyway, I recommend giving Forgotten Cave a shot. It cycles, and therefore offers Wrenn and Six synergies. 

Fetch Lands: Four copies of Wooded Foothills are necessary, however, the other five just need to be green fetch lands. Whatever you own or whatever is more accessible is fine, but ideally, I like to mix them up. 

Blood MoonMagus of the Moon, Pillage: These cards diversify the way in which we attack our opponent’s lands. Having access to all three makes it hard for our opponents to prevent us from doing so. 

Bonecrusher Giant, Glorybringer: In addition to Lightning Bolt, these two cards are the removal spells for the deck, which also act as threats. Getting the most out of each card is important since we don’t have a direct way to draw cards. Bloodbraid Elf and Seasoned Pyromancer also fall into this section of the deck.

Klothys, God of Destiny: The mainboard way to deal with your opponent’s graveyard while being a hard-to-remove threat that can eventually attack. 

Chandra, Torch of Defiance, Wrenn and Six: I like these planeswalkers for the deck due to their versatility and ability to play the long game.


The sideboard is filled with cards aimed at shoring up our not-so-good matchups. I’ve built the sideboard based on the week-old metagame, so I’ve focused less on artifact hate that doesn’t also affect enchantments. 

Anger of the Gods: Good against most creature decks, including Humans and Prowess. Be mindful of how it will impact your board, Seasoned Pyromancer will be exiled. 

Choke: Islands go bye-bye!! 

Veil of Summer: Comes in against Jund, Death’s Shadow decks and countermagic decks. 

Kitchen Finks: Effective against aggressive decks, burn decks and decks with plenty of removal. 

Weather the Storm: For Prowess, Storm and Burn decks.

Cindervines: For Ad Nauseum, control decks, Eldrazi Tron and Temur Reclamation.

If Amulet and Tron decks go up in numbers, I would consider playing a couple Fulminator Mage in the sideboard. 

Alternate Builds

  • To run Obosh, the Preypiercer, cut the even-costed cards, add a land, and enjoy having double damage.
  • For even more land destruction, play four Pillage, four Blood Moon and four Magus of the Moon, as well as Fulminator Mage and Boil in the sideboard.
  • For a change of pace, play Gruul Prowess with Blood Moon in the sideboard instead.


I will mulligan my seven-card hands reasonably aggressively. If my hand can’t cast spells before turn three, I usually consider a mulligan. Hands that have acceleration and some payoff are ideal, but a mix of threats and removal is good too. 

I will also typically keep seven-card hands with a Blood Moon in them, as long as it’s not six lands or six spells. 

These decks are built to thrive off of land destruction but function in the capacity of a fair deck without them. Fair hands are not ideal and thanks to the London mulligan, I will usually send them back. I am far less picky with my six-card hands, and just want a combination of lands and spells. 

All of this advice is contingent on you not knowing what your opponent is on. If you know what the matchup is, you can usually keep slower hands that contain hate cards relevant to the matchup. 

Tips and Tricks

  • Arbor Elf untaps a Forest—this includes Stomping Ground, and can be used to make multiple red mana if you don’t have access to enough sources.
  • Enchant Utopia Sprawl onto a basic Forest where possible. If you enchant a Stomping Ground and then play Magus of the Moon or Blood Moon, it will fall off.
  • When fetching, I try to fetch basic lands. However, remember that you only have two basic Mountains in your deck and you can only fetch these with Wooded Foothills. If you know you’re fetching a Forest or a Stomping Ground, play a non-Wooded Foothills fetch first.
  • Seasoned Pyromancer has a lot of text, so be sure to read it. If you play it, you must discard two cards. However, even if you discard one card, you will still draw two. You only get tokens if you discarded nonland cards, so play your lands first if you only have two cards.
  • Glorybringer cannot exert targeting Niv-Mizzet Reborn. I definitely don’t know this from experience. 

If you’re looking to do something different in Modern, this deck is incredibly good at punishing your opponent for even deigning to exist. Even if they’re able to adapt around the Blood Moon strategy, your aggressive creatures and versatile threats amount to enough power to clear off any opponent.

You can potentially beat any deck in the format. What’s not to love?

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