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Against the Odds: Quintorius Combo (Explorer)


Hello, everyone, and welcome to another edition of Against the Odds! Quintorius Kand is one of the spiciest cards from Lost Caverns of Ixalan, and it should have a chance to see Standard play as a fair five-mana planeswalker, but Quintorius has the potential to be a devastating combo piece in older formats. In fact, with some careful deck-building, it's possible to construct a deck where a single Quintorius Kand wins the game immediately, and that's what we're doing today! How can a single Quintorius Kand win the game? Can a deck with zero cards with mana value three or less actually function? Let's find out on today's Against the Odds!

Against the Odds: Quintorius Combo

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Discussion

  • Record-wise, we went 6-5 with Quintorius Combo, good for a 56% win percentage, which is pretty solid, especially considering we were playing best-of-three and the deck is likely even better in best-of one, where opponents can't sideboard to fight our unique plan. It turns out that even though our deck looks pretty janky on paper, it might actually be pretty strong, to the point where Quntorious Combo might be a real deck!

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  • The deck's goal is simple: play a single Quintorius Kand and win the game on the spot. To actually make this a reality, though, requires some careful deck-building influenced by various cascade combo decks in formats like Modern and Legacy. The way we win the game is with a combination of Quintorius's static ability, which drains for two whenever we cast something from exile, and the –3 discover four ability, which allows us to cast a card from exile.

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  • The trick of the deck is to build in such a way that we know exactly what we are going to find when we activate Quintorius Kand's –3 ability—a way to copy Quintorius so we can repeat the process. This means that we are playing zero cards in our deck with a mana value of four or less, except for three cards that can copy Quintorius in Spark Double, Clever Impersonator, and Mythos of Illuna. With this set up, all we need to do is resolve a single Quintorius Kand, and we win the game. We use Quintorius's –3 to discover four, which will hit a way to copy Quintorius and also drain our opponent for two with the Elephant's static ability. We copy Quintorius, legend rule away the old one (unless we hit Spark Double, but more on this in a minute), and use the new copy to repeat the process. With 12 total ways to copy Quintorius Kand in our deck, we are guaranteed to deal at least 20 damage, and it's way more in reality because of Spark Double. Spark Double makes a non-legendary copy of Quintorius Kand, which lets us keep multiples on the battlefield. So, every time we discover four, we'll trigger Quintorius's static ability multiple times, which greatly speeds up the process of winning the game. Plus, once we have a non-legendary Quintorius Kand on the battlefield, Clever Impersonator and Mythos of Illuna can copy it rather than copying the legendary version. Really, though, it doesn't matter what order we hit our copying cards in—once Quintorius hits the battlefield, we win the game if our opponent can't interact with our combo at instant speed.
  • While the combo is very game ending, the deck does have two big challenges. First, for the combo work, we can't play anything outside of our clones with a mana value of four or less, which requires some deck-building trickery to end up with a functional deck. Second, we need a way to help find Quintorius Kand because our deck is so overloaded with combo pieces that we're unlikely to win without it. Thankfully, there are easy solutions for both issues.

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  • As far as finding Quintorius, our primary plan is Trumpeting Carnosaur. The dino has an enters-the-battlefield ability that discovers five, and the only cards in our deck it can discover are Quintorius Kand and our clones. It's fine if we hit a clone—we simply copy the Trumpeting Carnosaur and discover again until we eventually hit Quintorius Kand and start the game-ending combo. Carnosaur also exemplifies how we can build our deck in a way that is all super-high-mana-value cards but can still function normally and interact with the opponent in the early game with its ability to be discarded to deal three damage. This gives us a cheap removal spell but one that technically has a mana value of six, so it doesn't disrupt our chain of discovery once we find Quintorius.

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  • The rest of our deck is full of high-mana-value cards that actually cost just one or two mana. For example, we have Magma Opus, which has a mana value of eight, but we can discard it to make a Treasure for two mana in order to ramp into our combo. The same is true of our removal. Leyline Binding has a mana value of six but in reality typically costs one. Colossal Skyturtle costs seven but can be channeled for two or three mana, while Response // Resurgence gives us a two-mana removal spell that technically has a mana value of seven since split cards—according to the rules of Magic—have a mana value equal to the combined cost of both sides of the card. As a result, even though the average mana value of our deck is absurdly high, we actually have a ton of cheap removal and ramp to help us stay alive while we set up the combo!
  • While the combo itself is shockingly consistent and hilariously effective at closing our the game, there is one big problem with the deck that needs to be solved for it to reach its full potential: it's really, really soft to counterspells. There are two ways for our opponents to stop the combo. One is to kill Quintorius Kand with the first clone on the stack, which isn't that big of an issue because few decks play instant-speed planeswalker removal. The second is much more common: just counter the Quintorius before it hits the battlefield. The counter problem means that hardcore control is a tough matchup. But more importantly, many decks have a few random Negate-style cards in their sideboard, which can be tough to beat. In these matchups, our best bet is to be patient and try to pressure our opponent's mana during their turn with Magma Opus. But in practice, if our opponent just always leaves up a counter, it becomes very difficult for us to combo off and win. I'm not sure what the best solution to the problem is—we can't play counters ourselves because they will fizzle the discover chain, and the same is true of things like Thoughtseize. The best bet might be to add an uncounterable finisher to the sideboard like Chandra, Awakened Inferno to help steal wins against control. Torrential Gearhulk is another interesting possibility as a way to flashback Magma Opus from the graveyard while also adding a big body to the battlefield. But right now, the only thing keeping Quintorius Combo from being truly great is its softness to counters—once that problem is solved, it might be a legit tier deck Pioneer and Explorer!
  • So, should you play Quintorius Combo? I think the answer is yes! The deck is unique, hilarious, and surprisingly effective, and as it evolves and finds a way to beat control, it could end up being a legit tier option. Plus, who doesn't like winning with Elephants?

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.



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