Strixhaven Set Review - Quandrix and Green

(Tanazir Quandrix | Art by Kekai Kotaki)

Quandrix Conundrum

Hello, everyone! It’s your friendly neighborhood Jesguy here, and welcome to the Strixhaven Quandrix and green set review!

Today I'll be going over all the blue-green and mono-green goodies that this school-based set has in store for us. Strixhaven has given us a lot of powerful cards for a smattering of decks and archetypes, and it promises to be one of the more impactful Standard sets in recent memory. With this, WotC has lovingly decided to recreate the experience of going to school, with near essay-length text boxes on the majority of the cards in this set. Talk about immersion!

This is a lengthy review, so let's cut the chat and get right into it!

Quandrix Mythics and Rares

Jadzi, Oracle of Arcavios / Journey to the Oracle

Whew... we're starting this review off strong. Like, really strong.

Jadzi and her back half, Journey to the Oracle, show off how powerful MDFCs can be when they they are made to work together. Journey is a more expensive Fastbond that can bounce back to your hand once it resolves if you discard a card and have eight or more lands which, conveniently, is the amount of mana needed to cast Jadzi. Then, once Jadzi is ready to go, you can start casting through your deck, or you can bounce her back to your hand if she becomes the target of removal. After that, if you've just drawn too many cards from all the spells that Jadzi's allowed you to cast, you can play Journey, put them all into play, it bounces back to your hand, and play Jadzi once again.

This kind of sequencing gets out of control very quickly, and also basically avoids any form of commander tax since she should theoretically never hit the command zone. This is a nice touch, especially since she's eight mana, but it's also a bit exhausting to have another U/G legend like this that solely relies on accruing incredible amounts of resources and vomiting their deck onto the board.

There are plenty of absurd things you can do with Jadzi, from Topdeck Manipulation with Mystical Tutor, to cheating out Big Mana spells like Expropriate, to facilitating a Lands Matters deck off of her back half alone and going over the top with cards like Scute Swarm. Her inherent power means she can lead a lot of different styles of decks as well as be effective in the 99 of them as well.

Despite that praise, though, more often than not, Jadzi will end up having a very similar style of play between games: ramp, draw cards, cast Journey to the Oracle, cast Jadzi, proceed to go off. This isn't an inherent negative, but I foresee games playing very similarly to one another, which can take away a lot of the initial luster of the deck. She is splashy, strong, and easy to build around, but just be aware that her powerful reputation may end up preceding her.

Tanazir Quandrix

Tanazir Quandrix is our U/G Elder Dragon of the set, and while he is a bit linear, he does not disappoint.

Taking a break from the wordy, value-driven, and frankly busted U/G commanders of late *cough*JadziKomaAesiKinnan*cough*, Tanazir Quandrix enters the format with the promise of facilitating powerful beatdown strategies.

Tanazir has two lines of text that can push him into two different archetypes. The first is at the head or in the 99 of +1/+1 Counter strategies. This is the most obvious place for him, as he will provide immediate value when he enters the battlefield and will then pump your team's base power and toughness when he attacks next combat. He can also target himself with his first ability, meaning he can double his own counters if you have cards like Master Biomancer or Cathars' Crusade lying around.

While +1/+1 counter builds are the most obvious, and will probably be the most common, Tanazir Quandrix also has the option to helm a more beatdown-oriented version of an Edric, Spymaster of Trest deck. Utilizing flying creatures and other hard-to-block threats, like Invisible Stalker, Scryb Sprites, and Jhessian Infiltrator, Tanazir can pump your entire team's power, acting like an Overrun in the command zone and closing out games much quicker than your average U/G deck.

Tanazir Quandrix straddles the line between powerful U/G card and interesting buildaround, allowing for a more aggressive take on what is normally a slower, durdly, value-oriented color combination. He's fun, straightforward, and knows exactly what he wants to do, which is exactly what I want out of my legends. Thumbs up from me.

Body of Research

Up next, we have one of coolest new designs--

Wait a second... haven't I seen this somewhere before..?

Yup, this wacky six-mana sorcery does have some precedent, and was originally seen in Unstable on Animate Library.

I'm not here to yuck anyone's yums, especially when it comes to a card with such a wonderful play on words. In reality, though, what you end up getting from this card is a massive, glorified vanilla creature. If you have a way to give it flying, trample, or have the ability to Fling it at an opponent, great, that's awesome! Simic Ascendancy sends its regards! If not, this ends up being a big beater that can easily be chumped every combat, blown out by even the tiniest Pernicious Deeds, and is a lightning rod for removal.

I love the flavor of Body of Research; the pun, the effect, everything! However, I still don't think that it can be slotted into a deck without some forethought. Play it to your heart's content, but just make sure you have ways to utilize the colossal creature you create!

Kasmina, Enigma Sage

Kasmina is here on Arcavios with her second ever planeswalker card! Where her first card, Kasmina, Enigmatic Mentor, was easy and simple to understand, Kasmina, Enigma Sage is exactly as her title says: an enigma.

I don't know about anyone else, but the reason why she is so hard to grok for me is because she doesn't have a whole lot of inherent power. Instead, she can bolster and augment other planeswalkers with her own abilities. Her abilities are a bit disjointed, but the varied spread allows for a lot of mixing and matching with your superfriends. There are way too many interactions to count, but I'll go over a few that stand out to me:

  • Kasmina gives 'walkers that rightfully shouldn't have a + ability a +2. This includes 'walkers like Jeska, Thrice Reborn and uncommon planeswalkers from War of the Spark, such as Narset, Parter of Veils, substantially increasing their longevity
  • Teferi, Master of Time now has the ability to get 8 total loyalty over a single turn cycle, getting you to your two extra turns even quicker
  • In Superfriends decks, like Atraxa, Praetor's Voice, she allows you to create a large amount of Fractal tokens with your army of 'walkers which will all grow over time thanks to all the Proliferation

A lot of Kasmina's power comes from giving her +2 ability to 'walkers that rightfully shouldn't have a +2 ability, like the aforementioned WAR 'walkers, or from 'walkers who can quickly -8 thanks to their high loyalty, like Kiora, Behemoth Beckoner or Vraska, Relic Seeker.

There are an incredible amount of interactions and ways to take advantage of Kasmina, Enigma Sage, and I have merely scratched the surface. She is at her best in any planeswalker-centric deck, and will be a fantastic addition to that arsenal.

If you have any thoughts, ideas, or suggestions for Kasmina that I didn't cover, please be sure to write them in the comments below, I'd love to see everyone's ideas with her!

Kianne, Dean of Substance / Imbraham, Dean of Theory

Out of all the Deans, I believe that Kianne Dean of Substance, and her academic equivalent, Imbraham, Dean of Theory, are on the weaker side, but considering U/G power the past few sets, I also think that's actually a good thing.

When I say that these two are weaker than the other Deans, that doesn't mean I think these two are bad; I actually think they're really unique. My knock against them is that they are just sloooooow. If your play group is not particularly fast or optimized, these two will fit right into your meta. They're fun, interesting, and can work on two separate axes, which gives them a lot of depth. On top of that, they are both wonderful mana sinks, providing either a slew of sizable tokens, or a wonderous amount of card selection.

Yes, both of them can do gross things with infinite mana, like making an arbitrarily large board of tokens with Kianne, or exiling your deck and putting Thassa's Oracle into your hand to immediately cast with Imbraham, but what deck couldn't do busted things with unlimited, or nigh-unlimited, mana? These two like to accrue value slowly over time, and that is how I would suggest playing them if that is the right fit for your meta.

Either of these Deans is a solid legend that you can focus the deck around, but in most instances, I think your path to victory will often be through Kianne, Dean of Substance's ability to generate multiple large tokens. Token-doublers, like Adrix and Nev, Twincasters, are perfect here to help you amass your army. Thousand-Year Elixir will help both sides of your commander come in and use their tap abilities immediately and often. Ghostly Flicker and other Blink abilities will allow you to change Imbraham into Kianne later in the game when you've decided it's time to switch to your green Dean.

There are a lot of fun and interesting moving parts to a Kianne, Dean of Substance and Imbraham, Dean of Theory deck, and I think they look incredibly fun. The amount of different moving pieces in a deck of theirs incorporates a bit of variance while also having a core theme of card selection and token production. These Deans are slow and a bit clunky, but I think it gives them a lot of personality and ways to build a deck around them.

Augmenter Pugilist / Echoing Equation

The last MDFC in these colors is a split between an absolute beater, and a spicy replication spell.

Augmenter Pugilist is pretty straightforward. Are you playing a Lands deck and want a beater? BAM. For three mana, you've got one. Echoing Equation, on the other hand, is quite a bit more interesting.

For five mana, you get an entire board full of a creature you control of your choice, legendary or not. Want a board full of Aesi, Tyrant of Gyre Strait? No problem. How about an army of Nyxbloom Ancients? Easy. Did you want your brain to melt? Simple: just copy your Scute Swarm!

The applications of Echoing Equation are near-limitless, and that's the main reason why you will want to include this MDFC in your deck. Augmenter Pugilist is good, but at the end of the day, it end up being just a large beatstick. If you're going to dream, dream big, and try and pull off something flashy with Echoing Equation.

Double Major

Double Major is another in a long line of spells that let you have multiple legendary creatures on the field at the same time, which makes me ask the question, "What's the point of being legendary nowadays, anyway?"

Regardless of my own gripes with this style of card, Double Major is a neat one. Double Major is a Fork for creature spells you control for an easy payment of additional two mana. There are plenty of great creatures you would want an additional copy of: Craterhoof Behemoth, Consecrated Sphinx, Koma, Cosmos Serpent... the list is staggering.

One rules-oriented snafu I should mention is with Adrix and Nev, Twincasters or Parallel Lives effects. Due to the way that spells and effects like this are worded, you will not get a second token from Double Major when token-doubling effects are out.

Here are rules taken from Gatherer:

9/25/2020 The token that a resolving copy of a spell becomes isn’t said to have been “created.”

This is an incredibly unintuitive interaction that I dislike, but is how the rules work, so don't get 'got' by this.

I like Double Major quite a bit, and think that is a strong card that allows for quite a number of splashy plays. If you have a U/G/X deck that wants an extra copy or two of a key creature, slide this card in a take it for a spin! If the worst case scenario is that you get a second copy of your commander, how bad can it be?

Manifestation Sage

Manifestation Sage a bit underwhelming on its own, but I think that it is a solid card within the right deck.

I've seen a bit of confusion on Twitter and Reddit about how Fractals interact with cards like Adrix and Nev, Twincasters and Parallel Lives. The confusion revolves around the question, "Do the copied Fractals will come in with +1/+1 counters?". The answer is yes, doubled Fractal tokens will enter the battlefield with counters.

Here again are the rules from the Gatherer to save the day:

4/17/2020 If an effect, such as that of Parallel Lives, causes Zaxara, the Exemplary's ability to create multiple Hydra tokens, they each receive X +1/+1 counters.

This dovetails into my main point about Manifestation Sage: if you are unable to take advantage of the token that this produces, it's not worth including in your deck.

On its own, Manifestation Sage ends up being an incredibly over-costed body that brings a second, very unreliably-sized body along for the ride. There are plenty of other things you can do in U/G for four mana, so if you can't use Sage's token somehow, I say pass.

Quandrix Command

I am an absolute sucker for versatile modal spells, and Quandrix Command is no exception.

I believe that all the Commands have their place in Commander, and I will happily try and find an excuse to slot Quandrix Command into my U/G/X decks. There are very few instances where any of the modes on this Command are ever dead. Bouncing an opponent's creature and putting +1/+1 counters on your own can really mess up combat. Countering an artifact or enchantment is always relevant. Shuffling cards back into player's libraries can either help put key cards back into your library, or muck up an opponent's graveyard shenanigans. These examples are really just scratching the surface of this card's applicability.

I could talk at length about the multitude of different combinations you can choose for Quandrix Command, but this article is already going long. This Command is impressive and has an incredible number of uses, and will never be a dead card. Add it into your decks when you can.

Quandrix Uncommons and Commons

Zimone, Quandrix Prodigy

Ah! Finally, a commander that I can kindly ask my opponents to swap their commander for when they break out their Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy decks!

Joking aside, Zimone, Quandrix Prodigy is a pretty underwhelming commander, and it doesn't push any boundaries for U/G. She doesn't do anything particularly unique, and the kind of deck she wants to command is more powerful with a legend like Tatyova, Benthic Druid or Aesi, Tyrant of Gyre Strait at the helm.

That said, Zimone slots into one of the aforementioned decks or into other Lands and Landfall strategies. She is a bit slow, but she gets the job done. Having extra ways to trigger Landfall effects and draw cards is something all of these decks want. Zimone is easy to play and fits into the 99 perfectly.

The Rest

  • Decisive Denial is a slick little card. It's the equivalent of Temur Charm-lite, doubling as a conditional Negate or removal. It isn't the most powerful by any means, but I have a soft spot of versatile cards and wanted to give it a shout.
  • Eureka Moment reminds me of Urban Evolution, except it trades an extra card to be one mana cheaper, and instant speed. This card seems like a natural fit in Lands decks that want to stock their hand and make land drops on opponent's turns.
  • Golden Ratio is a cute draw spell that you have to work a bit for, but can be quite efficient with a little effort. I don't think it's difficult to set up boards where it will draw three cards on average. It may be a bit too "win more" for some folks, but it's not hard to try it out for a few games for a measly three mana.
  • Quandrix Apprentice is a really solid way to make sure you keep hitting land drops in U/G/X decks that plan on casting a decent amount of spells. Cantrips, ramp spells, draw spells, they will all trigger the Apprentice and give you chances of stocking your hands full of lands. No, it isn't ramp, but hitting land drops every turn is something that can't be overlooked either.
  • Quandrix Cultivator is one of the biggest rampy creatures we've seen in a while, and I like it a lot. No, it can't grab Shocklands or Triomes, but it doesn't have to in order to be fantastic. Cultivator will help you fix your green or blue mana, add to the board, and have the land come in untapped. It can rumble in combat well, and it's prime for Blink shenanigans as well. Play it if you can, this fella is great.

Green Mythics and Rares

Ecological Appreciation

Ecological Appreciation is the child of Fact or Fiction and Finale of Devastation. I appreciate that this card has some interesting political play, but otherwise, I don't think it's terribly strong.

If we want creature tutors in green, we're already spoiled with them: Green Sun's Zenith, the aforementioned Finale of Devastation, and even Uncage the Menagerie come to mind. Yes, Menagerie puts the cards into your hand as opposed to the battlefield, but it still gets around my biggest problem with Ecological Appreciation: the fact that your opponent gets to choose which creatures you get. If you aren't using Appreciation in a political way, you are often going to end up with your two worst creatures.

That said, if you can guarantee comparable effects on each creature, Appreciation's stock rises considerably. For example, in an Enchantress deck, my targets could be Argothian Enchantress, Satyr Enchanter, Eidolon of Blossoms, and Setessan Champion. No matter what my opponent chooses, I know that I am getting two Enchantresses, which would really allow my deck to go off.

Outside of niche scenarios like that, I just don't think that Ecological Appreciation is a better card drop-for-drop than the other tutors green has available. If you can break that parity, or use politics to your advantage though, then I think it has a lot more applicability.

Accomplished Alchemist

Hmmmm... a Karametra's Acolyte for lifegain instead of Devotion? Interesting.

I often look down on mana dorks, preferring spells like Rampant Growth and Cultivate instead, as lands are much harder to remove than creatures. That said, I can't overlook the fact that Accomplished Alchemist can generate a lot of mana in the correct deck. Dina, Soul Steeper Trostani, Selesnya's Voice, or Lathiel, the Bounteous Dawn can take advantage of the Alchemist and produce an absurd amount of mana.

Being a creature makes Accomplished Alchemist much more frail when compared to other forms of ramp despite its high toughness. That said, I think that the payoff is high enough to warrant inclusion if you believe you deck can take advantage of it to the fullest. The ceiling is too high not to try.

Basic Conjuration

Basic Conjuration, like all Lessons in our format, will be seeing use inside of decks rather than outside of them, as our format does not utilize sideboards. So how does it stack up as a card in the 99?

Honestly? A bit underwhelming.

Without the ability to snag it out of the sideboard as a 101st card, Conjuration is basically just an expensive cantrip that can net you a couple life. If card selection and lifegain is relevant, then there could be an argument for putting it into a deck, but on its own, I just it doesn't pull enough weight. There are simply better cantrips and card advantage spells in green already.

If your deck can utilize all aspects of this card, I think it could be worth consideration. Otherwise I say pass and just play Once Upon a Time or Harmonize if you want card selection or card advantage.

Dragonsguard Elite

Dragonsguard Elite is a self-contained engine once an instant or sorcery is cast, but is that enough to make the cut? I'm not sure.

Like a lot of cards in this review, Elite ends up being a glorified vanilla creature if it doesn't have any support. If you are in a dedicated +1/+1 Counters deck, I'm sure you have enough ways to make it evasive or into a sizable threat.

Taking a quick scroll through the +1/+1 Counters Theme on the site, I did notice a distinct lack of early-game creatures that synergize with counters. If you need a cheap creature to fit into your curve that can produce its own counters, Dragonsguard Elite fulfils that role. Outside of that, though, I'm not sure if Elite has a home.

Exponential Growth

Some cards just stir something within my inner Timmy, and Exponential Growth does exactly that.

Growth is exciting, splashy, but also a tad "win more". The dream is to double a creature's power something absurd, like eight or more times, and just absolutely demolish an opponent with an incredible amount of damage, but more often than not, Exponential Growth will be used as a pseudo-combo piece with something like Chandra's Ignition or Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord to kill the board.

If you decide to add Exponential Growth to you deck, make sure you have ways to protect your creatures like Negate or Snakeskin Veil, that way all of your set up and mana investment won't be for naught.

Gnarled Professor

A 5/4 for four mana that rummages and has trample? That seems a bit under-rate for green these days. 🙃

In other formats, Gnarled Professor's main attraction is its sizable body + the ability to fetch a Lesson from the sideboard. However, we don't have sideboards. This greatly impacts Professor's utility, and ultimately makes it nothing more than a chonky, French-vanilla beater.

There are some decks like Colfenor, the Last Yew who could want a four-toughness creature that discards a card, but unless Commander's ruling on Learn ever changes, Gnarled Professor will simply be a niche pick for very fringe decks. Don't try and slot it into your lists unless you have a very very good reason to do so.

Verdant Mastery

While I really enjoy the Mastery Cycle for our format, I feel like on its face, Verdant Mastery falls a bit short.

Normally, if I'm spending six mana, I'd rather play Nissa's Renewal. Similarly, for four mana, I'd rather just put two lands into play with Ranger's Path or Vastwood Surge instead of casting a slightly larger Cultivate that also ramps an opponent.

While my inner Spike scoffs at this card's applicability when compared to other ramp spells, I do think Verdant Mastery has a lot of subtle power that can't always be quantified on paper. Politics and Group Hug are rife within our format, and being able to curry favor with an opponent by helping them out in a pinch may be worth the inclusion. There are also plenty of mana-hungry decks like The Ur-Dragon or Imoti, Celebrant of Bounty that appreciate larger ramp spells that net multiple lands, so it could be a potential include in these decks as well.

Verdant Mastery can fluctuate between a decent ramp spell, or a powerful political tool, which is something I think the EDH scene needs more of. It doesn't have a lot of raw power, but not everything needs to. While it may require a bit more thought before slotting it into a deck than other ramp spells, Verdant Mastery is a welcome addition to our format.

Green Uncommons and Commons

  • Bookwurm is one of the many cards in the set with a wonderful pun, though nothing will top Hall Monitor. Bookwurm was worth the mention since it's a huge, recursive, trampling threat, that also gains life and draws a card. Think of it like a more annoying version of Pelakka Wurm!
  • Emergent Sequence is a pass in most decks, despite being a two-mana ramp spell. The land becoming a creature will often be more of a hindrance than a boon, particularly early game when everyone's hands are chock full of removal. In most decks, just stick to Rampant Growth. That said, I could see the occasional lands-matters deck (Titania, Protector of Argoth, perhaps) or maybe even a +1/+1 counters deck that would potentially be interested in Sequence, since they could weigh the risk of losing the land early against the ability to take advantage of the body that this spell provides.
  • Honor Troll is another great pun, and also another allegory to a preexisting card. Being green's version of Angel of Vitality, I expect this Troll to show up in most Lifegain decks that include green. It's simple and efficient, and I hope we will see a black version of this creature soon enough.

I've Always Hated Math

That was... a lot.

There are so many cards in these colors, and the majority of them are either spectacular, have niche applications, or some kind of convoluted rules text and... man, I just want to take a nap. All I've done is type some words, but I'm winded!

Strixhaven is a powerful yet dense set, with an incredible number of cards that promise to shake up the format no matter the rarity. What did you think though? What are you favorite Quandrix and green cards from this set? Have I over- or under-valued any of the cards? Which legend are you most excited to build? Make sure you let me know down below!

Until next time, keep studying!

You can reach me on Twitter (@thejesguy), where you can always hit me up for Magic- or Jeskai-related shenanigans 24/7. Do you have any comments, questions, or concerns? Please don’t hesitate to leave them below or get in touch! Stay safe, wear your mask, and keep fighting the good fight. I support you. No justice, no peace.

Angelo is a Connecticut resident who started playing Magic during Return to Ravnica, and has made it his mission to play Jeskai in every format possible. Along with Commander, he loves Limited, Cube, and Modern, and will always put his trust in counterspells over creatures. He is still hurt by Sphinx's Revelation's rotation out of Standard.

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