Most colleges in Strixhaven Draft have at least two very distinct builds. Often one is more assertive, the other more controlling. Furthermore, by this definition, one of those builds often really wants Environmental Sciences, and the other appreciates the option, but doesn’t prioritize it. When you adjust for the fact that I believe, for most colleges, the controlling variant is better, Environmental Sciences becomes the best common altogether.
So, what’s the difference between the two ways to build Quandrix? Below are two Quandrix decks that I trophied with on Arena. Let’s start with the more assertive version:
When I call this assertive, it probably sounds weird. It’s playing card draw and six-mana creatures — how is that assertive?
This deck was incredibly impressive. The curve of two-drop, three-drop into Eureka Moment and Mage Duel on Turn 4 was just incredible. Because the curve was good, you don’t get run over by aggressive decks and can choose to play a more late-game-oriented role. And against more controlling decks, you can just curve out with well-sized creatures and interaction. The only thing the deck was really missing was a copy of Bury in Books (which is the best blue common, if you weren’t aware yet).
Overall, this variant of Quandrix doesn’t actually care about getting to eight lands like Scurrid Colony may suggest. It is just about playing good on-rate cards that scale well into the later parts of the game. Specifically, Eureka Moment and a good curve facilitate double-spelling every single turn of the game, which is good enough to win most matches. The way I like to describe this deck is, “It’s everything the Orzhov double-spell deck in Kaldheim wanted to be.”
While this deck certainly would have appreciated a copy of Environmental Sciences, it wasn’t a necessity. The following deck, however, simply wouldn’t have worked without the Lesson.
The more controlling variant looks wildly different. This version still would have liked Scurrid Colony to facilitate a better curve, but will basically never be the beatdown (this variant can because Dragonsguard Elite is insane, but that’s a rare). Overall, the biggest difference at common between these variants is as follows:
- Serpentine Curve is one of the absolute best threats to help this deck turn the corner, and the more assertive variant often plays too many creatures to use it well.
- Elemental Masterpiece both stabilizes and turns the corner well. It’s one of the best cards at common to splash and I want a copy in all my controlling Quandrix decks.
- Environmental Sciences is better than most cards in the set to help enable this.
- Cram Session becomes better than Arcane Subtraction because the only thing you care about is bridging the early-game into the late-game. Subtraction is conditionally used to save life, and rarely to win combat in this deck, but it can win combat in the more assertive version. I would rather have a card that can guarantee getting my Environmental Sciences early.
There’s a lot of overlap, but one deck can be the beatdown, and the other cannot. This motivates a different prioritization of commons, which is important to understand. The following draft is certainly the controlling variant, as it’s looking to splash. The next pack has an incredible amount of options, and after playing with the deck, I’m confident I took the wrong card.
What would you take? Before you make your decision, take some time to review the current pool. There’s quite a lot going on.
Pack 2, Pick 4
The Picks So Far:
Prismari Campus and Campus Guide are great options for fixing, as this deck is almost certainly going to be Quandrix and splash red and white. I have to be honest — when I originally looked at this pack, I didn’t consider these as options. Given where I ended up, I think Campus Guide would have gone a long way as both a fixer and an early blocker. Since it can play both of those roles, I think it’s a better two-drop to take than Scurrid Colony.
Aether Helix is a cool card, and it hysterically loops with Pillardrop Warden if you have infinite mana. It’s a bit too clunky to take here, but as a little hint, in the deck I ended up drafting, Aether Helix was pretty awesome and I did loop Pillardrop Warden to win a game where I flooded. And, funnily, it ended up better in my deck than Zimone was.
I took Zimone, Quandrix Prodigy here but it was a mistake. The card is a powerful late-game engine, and it’s good in most Quandrix decks. However, given the context of my pool, that’s just not what I needed. Codie, Vociferous Codex and Plargg, Dean of Chaos both fill the “mana sink for card advantage” role, and I just don’t need another card like that. I’ll win any game that goes long, so it’s much more important to have cards that help facilitate interaction, mana, winning the game, or protection from my opponent curving out. Zimone just doesn’t do that.
Realistically, this pick is between Elemental Summoning as a solid Lesson (especially if I get Field Trip), Elemental Masterpiece as a great win condition to splash, and Campus Guide to help fix my mana and trade with early creatures. Without the fixing locked up yet, I think taking Masterpiece is a little greedy. Furthermore, given my manabase, I think it’s more likely that the first Lesson I grab will be Environmental Sciences (if I get it). With that in mind, It will likely be later in the game when I get my creature Lesson, and I already have Fractal Summoning to play that role. Because of this, I believe the correct pick is Campus Guide, which also has the benefit of really helping me out in the world where I don’t see Environmental Sciences.
Pack 2, Pick 5
The Picks So Far:
This pick is actually quite tricky. I think a lot of players would take Divide by Zero here, as it’s the best card in the pack and I’m a bit shy on cards with the learn mechanic. However, I took Eureka Moment. Let’s get into why.
If I could pick two cards from this pack to take, they would be Divide by Zero and Serpentine Curve. If that wasn’t an option, I’m pretty sure the next-best set of options is Eureka Moment and Serpentine Curve. Basically, Eureka Moment is a hedge that I believe maximizes the probability I get that second option. If there’s another blue drafter that may want a Serpentine Curve, they will probably rather take Divide by Zero or Fractal Summoning anyway.
Maybe I can get away with taking Divide by Zero, and wheeling either Serpentine Curve or Eureka Moment. The Prismari Pledgemage in this pack helps in that department, because a Prismari deck may need to take the cheap creature over Serpentine Curve for their curve. But my logic is that I think taking Eureka Moment maximizes the probability that I end up with two great cards for my deck rather than only one great card. And it’s not like Eureka Moment is that much worse than Divide by Zero (it’s quite close once you’re Quandrix).
Lastly, I want to address if you’re surprised that I’m putting so much stock on Serpentine Curve. I currently have it as the second-best blue common and a card many of my blue decks want in multiples. It’s especially important with Codie — that way I have high-impact creatures that I can cascade into or just cast while I have Codie on the battlefield.
As I intended, the Serpentine Curve wheeled. This eventually ended up yielding one of the sweetest decks I will ever draft, thanks to a Pack 3, Pick 1 Time Warp. The deck was hard to build, but this is what I ended up on and I took a lot of extra turns. While I’m sad it didn’t get the trophy, I’m also confident that it could have, especially if I had just taken that Campus Guide.
If you think you’ve drafted a sweeter Quandrix deck, Tweet it at me!