The release of Strixhaven comes packaged with the debut of Commander 2021, featuring five Strixhaven-themed Commander preconstructed decks! These decks are solid ways to get started in the format or add new decks to your collection, but they’re unlikely to hold up against decks built from the ground up by experienced players. With that in mind, I’m doing my usual $50 budget upgrades on each of the five decks, and we’re kicking things off with my budget Quantum Quandrix upgrade!
Here’s how this process works: I take a preconstructed deck and make an improvement to it on a $50 budget. As always, I’d like to remind you of a couple of things regarding my budget articles:
- $50 has a different impact on different people, but given that it’s less than the price of a triple-A console game release, I think it’s a price many will be willing to pay for hours of entertainment, which a Commander deck should provide.
- I’ll be using prices from right here on ChannelFireball.com to track our costs. All prices were accurate when I wrote this – apologies if prices have changed or cards have gone out of stock since, but that’s just part and parcel of a budget article.
Today, in honor of their win in this past weekend’s Prerelease Party, I’m starting with the Quantum Quandrix deck! Here’s the Commander:
This pair of parallel prestidigitators is pretty easy to understand. The plan is to make tokens – lots of tokens. You can go wide with lost of tokens, or you can go tall and double your output of large tokens. Either way, Adrix and Nev will really improve your overall outlook, and that means they’ll be a pretty serious target. The ward ability makes it a little bit costlier to use pinpoint removal on them, meaning they’re likely to stick around a little longer.
Here’s the deck list right out of the box:
Quantum Quandrix Preconstructed Commander Deck
Overall, this deck has a few themes, with tokens being the obvious one. The two big subthemes are token-generating copy effects and +1/+1 counters. I love that these decks have options built in to allow players to improve the decks and take them in interesting directions, but that means they can appear a little scattered on paper. I’m going to drop the counters theme and focus on tokens and token-generating copy effects.
With that in mind, I’m changing a total of 25 cards out – that’s a full quarter of the deck! Let’s take a look at the creatures I’m cutting.
Arashi’s decent but pretty slow, and while I like utility cards like this that are flexible, I’d rather just focus on the game plan.
This is the kind of too-specific card that will just sit in your hand more often than not and get cast for less-than-inspiring results.
The average mana value of the nonland cards in this deck is a whopping 3.86, so while this is a fun card with a solid interaction with our commander, it’s got to go.
We’re cutting this theme.
With more fight effects or ways to compel people to attack into it, this could be a great piece of the puzzle, but as this deck list stands, I’m not seeing it.
It’s nice to increase the supply of commanders that don’t have a lot of printings, and I understand this card in combination with the +1/+1 counter theme, but it’s not a fit with the current game plan.
It’s off our current plan.
While this is an okay card even without +1/+1 counter boosts, it’s more appropriate for that theme and I’d rather have the spot freed up for something that fits more consistently into the plan.
Again, we’re not doing the counter thing.
I love this card, but it’s hard to get it going and there’s just so much that can go wrong. I’d rather save it for a sea creature deck.
Speaking of sea creature decks, Spawning Kraken is a great new piece of the archetype – it’s just not for this deck.
This used to be a staple of Simic decks, but I think time has passed it by a little bit.
With 12 creatures on the chopping block, what comes in to replace them? Well, I’m actually only bringing in nine new creatures, as I’d like to add quite a few new spells. Let’s take a look at the creatures that come in:
It might seem strange to cut the counter theme and then add Biogenic Ooze, especially at this cost, but with the clone-counter theme, this Ooze is really strong. This becomes even clearer when you add Biowaste Blob to the mix. With Adrix and Nev in play, you’re going to get a lot of really big Oozes. Deep Forest Hermit helps you go wide and copies of the Hermit, while time-delimited, help boost the tokens, while Manifestation Sage is another multiple-body all-start with Adrix and Nev around.
Myr Battlesphere with four Myr tokens is pretty strong, but what about eight Myr? What about multiple Battlespheres? We can answer these questions and more with this deck – and Progenitor Mimic is the perfect way to fill the board with Battlespheres and relive your Katamari Damacy dreams.
I’m trying to lower the curve in this deck (spoiler: I do not succeed), but the cards we want are fairly expensive, so I’m adding some clone-friendly ramp effects in to help us reach new heights in terms of lands in play. I’ve also thrown in a clone-friendly graveyard hate option in Loaming Shaman.
So far, we’ve spent just $12.80, leaving nearly three-fourths of our budget still available for use on spells and lands even after spending nearly $6 on a single card. Nice!
I’m cutting nine spells – here they are.
We have other, more efficient ways to generate card advantage and draws. It’s going to be hard to get a solid amount of value out of this card in our list, especially since it’ll take us quite a while to cast our commander multiple times.
I love Growth Spiral effects, but I’m focusing on more efficient ramp.
We’re off the +1/+1 counters theme, but make sure to put this card in those decks.
I don’t really like this card – it takes so long to get going at such expense, as I mentioned in my set review.
Incubation is an okay effect, but not something I really want to spend a card slot on, while Incongruity is beaten by other cards already in the list. The flexibility is obviously this card’s selling point, but it’s not enough here.
I’ll be honest: I forgot this was a card, and I’m content to keep forgetting.
We’re no longer deep enough in the +1/+1 counter theme for this card to be a consistent winner, nor am I convinced it was a winner in the precon in general.
Given that we’re not in the +1/+1 counter theme, this one’s an easy exclusion, as I’m not convinced of its general strength (as mentioned in my set review).
We’ve got 12 spots for spells if we want to keep the land count at a solid 40, and with the curve we’ve got, I’m going to leave us at that balance. Here are the spells that come in:
The token clone theme gets solidly pushed by these spells. Cackling Counterpart and Quasiduplicate are really high-value options since they recur themselves, while Mimic Vat allows you to hang on to the best creature for the job – likely a Wood Elves or similar early on and a Myr Battlesphere-style card later.
More clone effects! Saheeli’s Artistry is a huge value play, especially if you have Adrix and Nev in play to create a total of four tokens. Sublime Epiphany is worth every penny for the insane amount of power and flexibility packed into the card, while Second Harvest triples your token portfolio with your commander on the battlefield. Just don’t rely on it to make more Fractals – those are 0/0 copies, unfortunately.
Full Flowering is at its best when it copies token versions of already existing powerful creatures, while Sandwurm Convergence is here to give us more options for population and cover the hole left by the loss of Arashi. Overwhelming Stampede also shows up to end games in the place of Biomass Mutation – Ruxa is a great way to push damage from tokens through as well, but one card can’t carry that weight alone.
More ramp – specifically, two-cost ramp. Farseek and Three Visits are solid additions alongside Rampant Growth, while Talisman of Curiosity is a great artifact option. If you’re not already playing Talismans in your decks, try them out!
We’ve spent $38.80 so far, leaving just over $11 left for changes to the mana base. Let’s swap out four lands, as follows:
When we’re not in the +1/+1 counter world, this is hard to justify, and honestly, it’s already not amazing.
It saddens me to continue to see this card in preconstructed decks, as it’s best at poisoning opening hands and not good at much else.
Given that this is restricted to green creatures and enters tapped, this leaves our list while Novijen, Heart of Progress sticks around to give us some extra value on big turns.
We’re not in the market for a big commander, so this is an easy cut.
Here’s what we’re bringing in:
Command Beacon can help us if we get in a commander tax deficit situation, although we do have a lot of ramp to help with that as well. Ghost Quarter and Tectonic Edge deal with opposing nonbasics that might thwart us, while Scavenger Grounds is another nod to graveyard decks.
Overall, we’ve spent a total of $47.40, leaving a little bit of pocket money left to go toward some sleeves. Sadly, I didn’t succeed at lowering the average mana value of this deck much, but I did add some more ramp, hopefully justifying the high-cost spells in this list.
If I were to keep spending on this deck, I’d add more dual lands and cheap, efficient spells to increase consistency, possibly smoothing the list out with some of blue’s premium cantrips and pushing the spellslinger theme seen on Deekah a little further. It’s also possible that transitioning to Esix in the commander slot and playing more creatures that enter the battlefield with multiple tokens attached could be a solid transition point.
Here’s the full deck list – see you next time for some Silverquill excitement!