Foxglovelass here, your friendly local Quandrix Zoomancer. We’ll be talking about the Quandrix commander theme deck Quantum Quandrix today. We’ll discuss what the deck tries to do, some of the card choices and themes, the different types of cards in the deck, and then break off into a discussion on which budget upgrades (R352) I recommend for Quantum Quandrix using only cards available from our amazing sponsor Top Deck. I’ll also include a few extra suggestions for upgrading the deck further with more expensive cards that may already be in your collection, or which you may be able to buy or trade for.
Quantum Quandrix Precon
Quantum Quandrix is the Green/Blue commander deck representing Quandrix College – where biology and mathematics meet. As a biologist myself, I was quite excited to get my paws on this deck – even more so when I saw the default commander, Adrix and Nev, Twincasters. The twins give us the extremely popular commander ability from Parallel Lives on a legendary body that can be our commander, with built-in Ward to protect them.
The deck comes with the alternate commander of Esix, Fractal Bloom which gives us the ability of Mystic Reflection – a card that was much-anticipated in Kaldheim – once during each of our turns. This is arguably a much more interesting ability to build around, albeit with perhaps a bit less raw power than Adrix and Nev’s doubling ability.
There are two other Green/Blue legends in the deck – Zimone, Quandrix Prodigy, a low mana value legend from Strixhaven that puts extra lands into play early and draws you more cards, and Kaseto, Orochi Archmage which is a snake tribal reprint that can make creatures unblockable.
So, what are the themes of the deck?
There are three main themes – one major and two minor. The major theme is ‘tokens matter’ with a collection of token-generating effects that are doubled up when Adrix and Nev are out, and a number of cards that care about or synergise with tokens. There are a total of 28 cards that can produce tokens in some way, though some of these will more often be making tokens for your opponents (i.e. Rapid Hybridization and Beast Within).
There are some great commander classics included in this theme such as Ezuri’s Predation, Rampaging Baloths, and Rite of Replication together with some amazing new cards including Deekah, Fractal Theorist, Paradox Zone and Theoretical Duplication. A further four cards like Curiosity Crafter and Perplexing Test care about having creature tokens.
Overall, that means the deck is pretty dedicated to the token theme, but I’d still like to make this number go up a little bit further, particularly when we take into consideration that some of the token generation is scenario-specific, or will usually result in opponent’s getting tokens as part of a removal spell. Whenever I’m building a deck with a particular theme or focus in commander, I generally aim for ~30 cards on that theme if it’s the major theme of the deck.
+1/+1 Counters Matter
The next theme in the deck is ‘+1/+1 counters matter’. This is an interesting one – not only are we going wide with tokens being doubled by Adrix and Nev, we’re also going high with larger creatures than normal by manipulating +1/+1 counters. The feature that bridges the gap between these two themes are fractals – the mascots of Quandrix college, Green/Blue 0/0 tokens that enter the battlefield with a number of +1/+1 counters on them dependent on whichever effect you used to create the token. There are 17 cards in the precon that have some kind of a focus on +1/+1 counters, including all the fractal cards. We get some great reprints like Master Biomancer and Managorger Hydra together with some great new cards like Fractal Harness and Sequence Engine. The +1/+1 counters greatly boost some of the finishers in the deck such as Biomass Mutation. Unfortunately, this theme is a bit of a tricky one to include as the overall count of cards that care about the counters is relatively low, but it can definitely have some great synergy with the rest of the deck, and I really love how fractals effortlessly overlap between the themes.
The last theme the precon includes is… unblockable. This seems like a bit of a strange choice, though it synergises well with some of the new cards available in this deck, like Spawning Kraken and means that we have some ability to end games using our big creatures which otherwise lack evasion. There are only four cards in the deck that can make a creature functionally unblockable (one of them cheats): Deekah, Fractal Theorist, Kaseto, Orochi Archmage, Rogue’s Passage, and Ruxa, Patient Professor. I do enjoy this ability being in the deck and love the flavour of Ruxa in particular, but I wonder if the deck might not be better served by cards that favour the other two themes – such as Deekah who wonderfully fits into all three themes.
Analyzing the Precon
But what about the number of cards in the deck dedicated to specific roles? One often hears that decks should aim for 10-12 ramp spells, ~10 draw effects, 3-4 sweepers, 10-12 removal spells of all kinds, 35-38 lands, and ~30 cards around a common theme. We’ve dealt with themes above, so how do we shape up with these other categories?
Well, Quantum Quandrix comes with:
The numbers overall look very good, though we’re a bit low on removal and a bit high on lands given the amount of ramp in the deck. There are some additional desirable categories we can assess too, such as graveyard hate (recommended 1 with 1 present in Sequence Engine), recursion (recommended 2 with none present in this precon), finishers (1-2 recommended with 3 present in the deck – Biomass Mutation, Ruxa, Patient Professor and Return of the Wildspeaker) and tutors (2 recommended with none present in the precon, though I also dislike tutors in general as a personal preference).
Overall, this looks like quite the solid deck. The attention to detail for the different roles in the deck means this is probably going to be highly consistent in executing its game plan while still being able to interact with the board state – something that can sometimes be challenging for this colour combination. We have multiple themes to hopefully play into one another, creating multiple large tokens (generally with no abilities and lots of +1/+1 counters) to later make unblockable and crush our opponents. Also, as a side note – this precon comes primed and ready with a whopping 42 rares and 5 mythics!
But where do we go from here? A budget upgrade would be a really great way to personalise the deck and make it slightly more competitive for the average table. There’s just one problem: deciding which direction to take the deck in. As I’ve alluded to above, this deck is trying to do a lot. And that’s perfectly fine! But when I’m upgrading a deck, I generally like to focus a bit more on a primary strategy before dipping into secondary themes. This is complicated somewhat by the presence of a fantastic alternative commander in the form of Esix, Fractal Bloom. Esix presents an interesting challenge in that it rewards one for making a lot of tokens in a single trigger (because of the “first time” clause of Esix’s ability) – no matter what the tokens actually are – and making these tokens into copies of the most powerful (nonlegendary) creature on the field. There’s a lot to explore there, but I decided it might be best to focus on the primary commander of the deck, Adrix and Nev, Twincasters as they are the reason, I was so excited for the deck initially, and I didn’t want to change the identity of the deck too much. Adrix and Nev can double any tokens at any time, not worrying about the same restrictions as Esix. This means we can build them in a lot of different ways.
For my budget upgrade, I thought it might be best to focus on making tokens with useful abilities. As such, I’ve included a number of cards that can copy one of my other creatures, or one of my opponents’ creatures. These are perfectly functional without our commander in play, but have a massive payoff if they are out, giving us twice as many copies. Clones and other cards that just enter the battlefield as a copy of another card obviously are not good enough – we want token copies so we can double them. Where this strategy gets a bit ridiculous is when we start making token copies of Adrix and Nev – but unfortunately the cards that make nonlegendary tokens of legendary permanents are a bit pricey and couldn’t fit into this budget upgrade. Still, this represents something I hope the deck can aspire to using cards like Double Major, Helm of the Host, Sakashima of a Thousand Faces and Mirror Gallery.
Other upgrades I wanted to look out for were small, more consistent upgrades to ramp, card draw, and removal. I’ve also now added cards representing the recursion and tutor themes mentioned above. Unfortunately, we can’t add cards for free, so I’ve generally replaced the slightly weaker versions of cards with their upgrades, cut two lands, and lost some of the two subthemes to add on to our major theme of producing tokens. Let’s have a look at my proposed changes along with a cost breakdown of what I paid from Top Deck (bearing in mind a price ceiling of ~R350 and stock availability):
Also ramps two lands, costs less mana but loses convoke. The upside here is in the potential to kicker and pump your team, possibly turning a ramp spell into a finisher. Other suggestions for this slot could be Ranger’s Path, an oft-overlooked common that can fetch non-basics like Farseek fetching Rimewood Falls, and Skyshroud Claim which can also fetch Forests that enter play untapped.
One of my all-time favourite defensive spells, almost guaranteed to blow out one of the other players. Even if you can’t get them back for attacking you (and often you will) the other players at the table will often capitalize on their sudden loss of creatures. Curse of the Swine can present problems later down the line by providing additional tokens, but is fine targeted removal too if you do prefer it.
Talrand represents a repeatable token generator with pretty good tokens (2/2 fliers). Fractal Harnass is really fun but requires either the original fractal to survive or a high density of creatures with +1/+1 counters in the deck – something we don’t have any more after these cuts.
Generates a token of any creature on the board immediately, then ciphers onto one of our creatures to keep generating more tokens. Generally, you’ll want to play this when you’re likely to land a swing already. If your commander is down, that means a minimum of four copies of the strongest creature in play, with the threat to keep doing it again and again. Biomathematician is a once-off token generation that grows fractals – which unfortunately we don’t actually have very many of.
An instant for 3 mana that makes a copy of any creature I control? Very cool! Being UUU is a bit of a constraint, and we’ll pretty much never get the scry off this, but it’s a powerful effect for low mana value – whereas Geometrix Nexus can only make rather large fractals with no abilities for huge amounts of mana and is generally quite conditional.
Artistry gives us a token copy of the best creature AND the best artifact – that’s four ‘cards’ with our commander in play. In contrast the Cutpurse is highly situational and requires one to keep mana up just for it in many situations. I’d be more interested if we had more ways to trick opponents into making lots of tokens.
Ah, Soul Foundry is a golden oldie for me. This card threatens to be an absolute terror for the board but easily represents a 2-for-1 in your opponent’s favour if you can’t activate it at least once before an opponent blows it up. Be careful on when to drop this! Repeating token copy generation is great.
Ruxa is a very fun card but unfortunately becomes less useful as we move our tokens away from vanilla fractals with no abilities.
Speaking of ways to force opponents to make more tokens, Zndrsplt’s Judgment is a cool political tool that furthers our strategy of creating token copies of our cards and can either make foes bounce creatures or friends copy their own. Be wary that bouncing can sometimes benefit our foes.
Forgotten Ancient is a very powerful card but unfortunately, we’re losing a lot of our +1/+1 counter theme here.
Vizier of Many Faces is, at face value (hah) a clone. And that’s fine in commander. But its real power comes in from the embalm mechanic where we can create a token clone (and hence double it) after it dies. Copying the best thing on the board and then later on making two copies of the best thing seems pretty great and takes over Desolation Twin’s slot as the Twin is extremely expensive (albeit producing a fine, big token with no abilities that is suitable for copying). I prefer to only really use Desolation Twin in decks that cheat it out, as 10 is a LOT of mana.
Earlier I mentioned that there was no graveyard recursion in the deck. God-Pharaoh’s Gift addresses this issue by creating a stream of zombie tokens from the things in our graveyard! To afford to add this in I’ve trimmed Kaseto, which is a powerful card in its own right but not really fitting with the rest of the deck now, especially after we’ve trimmed heavy hitters like Desolation Twin above.
One of the cards I’m most excited to play here, Deep Forest Hermit, is going to come into play with a lot of friends, thanks to our commander. It also represents an excellent target to produce token copies of. The squirrel army shall rise~ The precon comes with a lot of lands, so we can afford to cut around two. Temple of the False God is a land I don’t really like as it gives no mana at all until its requirement is achieved.
Again, building on the lack of graveyard recursion and the growth in powerful instants and sorceries that create token copies of creatures, I felt Archaeomancer was an interesting include. Copying it when Adrix and Nev are out means we can recur two instants or sorceries, which sounds like great value to me (particularly when we can start picking up clone effects each time). Study Hall is incredibly underwhelming as it gives colourless mana usually and any payoff requires a bit of extra mana in our commander cast, which often we just won’t be able to pay in addition to commander tax.
This is a bit of a meme inclusion, but I couldn’t resist. What better target to make token copies of than Biovisionary, the card that wins the game when you have 4? I would love to live the dream and put this on a Soul Foundry, but admit the card is more cute than good. The Frogling is a little lacking now that we don’t have as many +1/+1 counters in the deck (if absolutely adorable!).
A final piece of graveyard recursion, Mystic Sanctuary can give us back an instant or sorcery in the late-game if we have three or more other Islands. Not too difficult to achieve, and otherwise it’s just a tapped blue land similar to Lonely Sandbar. Unfortunately, we lose the cycling, but I have a tendency to value my lands in play more than cycling them in most situations anyway.
A token copy effect on a land? With a +1/+1 counter thrown in? Sign me up! Littjara Mirrorlake is a great addition to this deck that builds on both themes. Entering tapped and being sacrificed to be used is a bit of a pain, though. I’ve dropped Llanowar Reborn as another enter tapped land which also gives us a +1/+1 counter to work with, as it feels inferior to the Mirrorlake.
Khalni Ambush is the only DMFC I’ve elected to include here, and really this could have been a different card like Bala Ged Recovery or Glasspool Mimic. However, we were a bit low on removal and Khalni Ambush doubles up as a land or removal spell, so I think it appropriate here. We’re replacing another tapped green cycling land, as again I generally prefer to be playing my lands out in mana-intensive decks like this.
This is a really interesting pickup for budget commander decks. At first glance this looks a bit too weak and akin to Woodland Stream. But the real draw here is the land typing – because Rimewood Falls is both a Forest and an Island we can fetch it with cards like Farseek or Ranger’s Path. It also counts towards our Island count for Mystic Sanctuary. I love these pauper options for this flexibility and would definitely try to include one here. I’m not very happy at cutting another untapped land, but the remaining tap lands are all fairly useful.
Our final addition is another Strixhaven card that has similar abilities to Opal Palace, the card it is replacing. Both enter untapped and add colourless mana but can also filter mana. And both can give +1/+1 counters. Opal Palace can only give this to our commander on cast, and although the benefit can be cumulative, I’m not convinced we’ll always have the mana to do this and pay for commander tax. Hall of Oracles, on the other hand, can boost any creature any time (at sorcery speed) after we cast an instant or sorcery. This makes the Hall a lot more flexible.
Our budget upgrade deck is looking pretty great! We’ve taken the deck in a slightly different direction while trying to focus on the primary strategy already offered by the precon. Of course, this is just one direction in which one could build the deck and I do think there are a lot of different areas one can focus on or splash into. But what would the deck look like if we could also include some more expensive, non-budget cards? What cards might one already have in one’s collection that could find a home here? This is a bit of a tough question to answer, particularly as there are so many different ways one can build this deck, but here are some non-budget options I would keep an eye out for if I wanted to keep optimising this deck:
- Parallel Lives, Doubling Season, and Primal Vigor as very powerful cards that double token generating effects, to be used in tandem with our commander.
- Cards with effects that continuously generate tokens for little cost such as Scute Swarm, Koma, Cosmos Serpent, Progenitor Mimic, Awakening Zone, Fable of Wolf and Owl, and Tendershoot Dryad.
- Cards that can bypass the legendary rule and let us copy our commander (preferably with tokens) like Helm of the Host, Double Major, and Mirror Gallery.
- Other token copy effects like Repudiate // Replicate, Cackling Counterpart, Quasiduplicate, Mimic Vat, Tempt with Reflections, Clone Legion and Sublime Epiphany.
- Upgrades to lands in the form of Breeding Pool, Vineglimmer Snarl, Hinterland Harbor and Rejuvenating Springs.
- And a smattering of other powerful cards that fit into various aspects of the deck’s identity, like Mystic Reflection, Eternal Witness, Tireless Tracker, Chasm Skulker, Amphin Mutineer, Curious Herd, Arachnogenesis, and Body of Research.
Even without any of these other cards, I am most impressed with the quality of Quantum Quandrix and am greatly looking forward to very many games with this deck, in its precon and more optimised forms. The cards are interesting and powerful, and there are so many different ways one can build on the precon we’ve been given. I hope that I’ve been able to demonstrate some fun ways to go about using and tweaking your own Quantum Quandrix. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be in the lab copying some Biovisionaries.
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