Undying Pongify Tempo

I’m out on vacation this week, so with the exception of my banlist article yesterday (I couldn’t even have left the house without writing that!), I’ll be doing some shorter tech-oriented articles for this week. You can expect more discussion and processing of the banlist next week, as well as some metagame discussion as we move into July. For today and tomorrow, I’ll be focusing on some interesting technology and brews that have cropped up over the weekend. Although it’s unclear how competitive the decks and cards are, they illustrate some interesting brewing and Modern principles and are great starting points for aspiring brewers. Also, we get to play Pongify.

Pongify Art

NogiNamecon piloted this deck to a 3-1 finish during a 7/11 Daily. The deck combines the undercosted spot-removal transform spells of Pongify and Rapid Hybridization with undying creatures like Young Wolf and Strangleroot Geist. And that’s just the beginning of the different synergies in this interesting list.


Undying Pongify, by NogiNamecon

Instants (20)
Rapid Hybridization
Mana Leak
Vapor Snag
Become Immense

Creatures (18)
Boon Satyr
Cloudfin Raptor
Experiment One
Strangleroot Geist
Young Wolf

Sorcery (4)
Gitaxian Probe

Lands (18)
Breeding Pool
Flooded Strand
Polluted Delta
Windswept Heath
Yavimaya Coast
Sideboard (15)
Boon Satyr
Essence Scatter
Vines of Vastwood
Buy deck on Cardhoarder (MTGO)Buy deck on TCGPlayer (Paper)

I’m not going to oversell this deck too much because a lot of your initial criticisms are probably accurate: it’s a bad Delver deck, it’s budget-minded more than competitive, and there are lots of strange card choices. But despite these very real issues with Undying Pongify, the deck illustrates some interesting principles that will be useful for both brewers looking to get their deck to the next level, and tuners looking to improve an existing top-tier deck.

  • Young WolfRely on redundant micro-synergy
    Synergy can be risky in a format where Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek decks are the most-played in the format. But synergy gets much better when you aren’t looking at capital S Synergies like Warren Instigator and Siege-Gang Commander. Instead, look to the micro-synergies that we see in decks like this (or just play Twin). Cards like Pongify are good as removal spells or blowing up your own undying creatures to increase your army. Going turn one Young Wolf into turn two Experiment One and Pongify on the Wolf leaves you with a 3/3 Experiment, a 2/2 Wolf, and a 3/3 Monkey. And if your opponent disrupts that, you still have creatures and a removal spell. If not, you have a big army ready to attack. These kind of micro-synergies, especially when involving redundant pieces, such as Pongify/Hybridization and Experiment/Raptor, can be very strong in Modern.
  • Vapor SnagUse catchall answers
    Modern is a diverse format, and if you can combine your gameplan and micro-synergies with catchall answers, you will be well-prepared to handle a diverse field. Remand and Mana Leak hit almost any spell that lands on turns 2-5. Vapor Snag, Pongify, and Rapid Hybridization are catchall “removal” spells that screw with basically every creature-combo in the format, not to mention aggressive decks like Affinity and Infect. The key here is not to be purely interactive and reactive, which isn’t what you want to do in Modern anyway. The key is to combine your aggressive gameplan with the answers. Or to just be faster. This deck took the former approach, which is the classic tempo gameplan that we have seen in Delver decks throughout the format’s history.
  • Experiment OneBe aggressive
    When in doubt, go aggressive in Modern. This format doesn’t generally reward durdling, and if your deck can put on early pressure and sustain that pressure through turn 4-5, it will probably enjoy some success. Undying Pongify does this with cheap creatures and the potential for explosive starts. It can play an interactive game with its catchall answers, which is a nice option to keep open in unfair mathcups. Or it can just beat faces in with Experiment One and Monkey/Frog tokens.

I suspect this deck could be improved with a lot of Jordan Boisvert’s Temur Delver tech: Simic Charm, Disrupting Shoal, etc. But as a case study for some brewing principles, this deck is still interesting. If you follow the above concepts, you won’t always take down a PPTQ or a SCG IQ. But you should be able to consistently create semi-competitive brews at the FNM, Daily, or local level. Until next time, keep up the brewing, keep the banlist talk sane and reasonable, and keep enjoying this summer of Modern!


4 thoughts on “Undying Pongify Tempo

  1. I ran a deck like this last year….but included White for Geist and Kitchen finks….along with Aether Vial….with Trickbind and Vines in the Main…it was super fun to play and took down several local events.

    1. well, you didn’t need white for kitchen finks.. ;p

      I think this shell is trying to be very fast – the creatures and spells mostly cost 1 mana, a few 2s. If you go down the path of vials, geists, and finks, I can’t imagine it plays out that similarly.

  2. I love the idea – although the gitaxian probes stick out as not really doing much. Is it really that important to peak at the opponents hand? We have 1 delve spell in this list, no snapcasters and no prowess. Speaking of which – does this deck want some snaps? lots of 1 mana things to flash back, and I do love me a rancor’d tiago!

    Is there any way this turns into a days undoing deck? I keep looking at some kind of 1-drop tempo deck to mesh with undoing. The pongifies are kind of like 1 mana flash bodies – and we’re already not running goyfs.

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