Quasiduplicate is one of the wilder clone effects we’ve seen in recent years. While not quite at the level of Phantasmal Image, it still offers a good level of bang for a relatively small amount of buck. 3 mana is a decent rate for a (restrictive) Clone effect, and being able to turn a useless land into your best creature in the late game is very powerful indeed.
Of course, it comes with some real deck-building restrictions, as you can only clone your own creatures. Happily, there is an abundance of excellent creatures to copy in blue and black, offering both value, power, and disruption, so Dimir is the natural choice for a Quasiduplicate deck.
This deck is the essence of midrange, playing efficient creatures, a small suite of interaction, and excellent ways to eke out value. Most of the cards are independently powerful, and Quasiduplicate offers the opportunity to contest games on a unique angle, powering up late-game draws and providing a cheap way to flood the board with powerful creatures.
Given we’re playing Quasiduplicate, the rest of the deck needs to contain creatures—a lot of them, and at every point on the curve. For that reason, this deck is essentially a collection of the “best” creatures at each cost. Seekers’ Squire mirrors Merfolk Branchwalker in Golgari, providing card selection or advantage, as well as a warm body. Kitesail Freebooter is a great piece of interaction against slower decks, while Dusk Legion Zealot replaces itself.
Thief of Sanity offers a ridiculously powerful effect, although is fragile as a 2/2 and generally won’t survive to attack. The solution? Put as many of them into play as possible. This is one of your best targets for Quasiduplicate, as if even a single one goes unanswered, it will run away with the game.
Ravenous Chupacabra is obviously excellent, but Hostage Taker is the real star. It hasn’t had a chance to really shine in Standard recently, but offers enormous value and only gets better in multiples, as it makes it harder for an opponent to recontest the board when their every play gets eaten up. Doom Whisperer and Dream Eater constitute a powerful top-end, and both dig to extra copies of Quasiduplicate so as to copy themselves.
The noncreature suite is composed of critically important interaction. The Eldest Reborn is an answer to Carnage Tyrant, as well as being excellent against control, while Cast Down is an early pressure valve against aggressive starts. The real superstar here, however, is Dive Down—it allows you to protect critical cars like Hostage Taker, and is generally a 1-mana counterspell for opposing removal. This card is excellent.
Obviously, it’s fundamentally important to establish and maintain a board presence, so as to maximize the potential value of Quasiduplicates. With eight clone effects available, it’s important to ensure you always have a target for them. While I was soundly ridiculed by Toffel and Jamin for fruitlessly attempting a “tempo” game plan with this deck, it’s nonetheless a great way to go when you can chain Chupacabras or Hostage Takers to keep their board clear.
If at all possible, consider waiting a turn to cast huge threats like Thief of Sanity so as to protect it with Dive Down. Sailor of Means is your best friend here, giving you a Treasure token to squirrel away for the Dive Down while you “tap out” for other plays each turn. Removal in Standard can be so expensive and clunky—Vraska’s Contempt, Conclave Tribunal—that a judicious Dive Down can really turn the tables.
Don’t be afraid to snap off early Quasiduplicates on your 2-drops. It may feel like you’re getting a bad deal, but an extra Seekers’ Squire still provides value and is a better turn 3 than doing stone-cold nothing, even if you’re “losing” mana by using Quasiduplicate. Chances are you won’t burn through all eight copies of Quasiduplicate, so you can afford to be aggressive with deploying them.
Doom Whisperer has outperformed Dream Eater so far, and moving forward I would move to a 3/1 split. Obviously the downside of Doom Whisperer just eating a removal spell and doing “nothing” isn’t great, but you can often surveil at least once to find more action. Dream Eater is very slow, and bouncing a permanent doesn’t really feel all that strong.
There are definitely ways to tune this deck post-board to suit a given matchup, trimming the less impactful creatures in favor of ones that will serve a more effective purpose. For example, Chupacabra does very little against control strategies, and should be replaced by the more relevant Kitesail Freebooter.
A suite of interaction also helps to reposition the deck against both ends of the spectrum, from aggro to control, although it’s important not to cut too many creatures in favor of this disruption, lest your Quasiduplicates run short of available targets.
Against aggro decks, Kitesail Freebooter doesn’t do enough and The Eldest Reborn is clunky. Moment of Craving is a better early-game option, while cloning Vampire Sovereigns is a great way to stabilize both the board and your life total. Against particularly removal-heavy lists, the third Dive Down is also a good option.
Midrange decks will do their best to out-grind you, so it’s important to be able to keep up in the value game. Midnight Reaper is a great way to do this, as is The Eldest Reborn. Low-impact cards like Dusk Legion Zealot and Sailor of Means aren’t always at their best in these matchups, but depending on their list, I like cutting Doom Whisperer. It dies to more or less everything from Golgari—Vivien, Reid, Cast Down, Ravenous Chupacabra, Vraska’s Contempt—while a Midnight Reaper should at least replace itself.
Control decks will be hard-pressed to answer every Quasiduplicate in the deck, so long as you play carefully. Don’t overextend into sweepers. Try to sandbag a creature or two to rebuild after a Deafening Clarion or Ritual of Soot. One of the best ways to put them to the question is with Thief of Sanity—untapping with this card (especially with a Dive Down) is a nightmare for opposing control decks. Bring in Negate and Duress to answer their answers, and enjoy the lack of brakes on the Quasiduplicate value train!
Next week, it’s time for some nonsense with Zacama, Primal Calamity. I’ll be back with a deck guide for it, of course!