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They Call Him Quint


The Road to the Pyramids by Edward Lear (1873). Ratchet Bomb by Dan Scott.

There are times when you fall in love with a card because of the amazing things it does. It might play well with a strategy that you enjoy, or it might be explosive, controlling, chaotic or even more generous than your usual card. It might win games out of nowhere. It might help you develop an overwhelming boardstate that makes it easy to eventually, inevitably, crush your opponents with the sheer value you're able to squeeze out of it.

I'm not sure yet if today's card has any chance at being one of those cards, but I sure do love its artwork. I love Loxodon, and Quintorius, Field Historian, sure looks like a Loxodon to me. That tribe of humanoid Elephant people stand alongside Rhox (Rhinoceros people) and Leonin (Lion people) as some of my favorite character designs. If there were more Rakshasa (Tiger people) a race that always seems to be Cat Demons, I would be super happy, but all of these characters speak to me. They feel like they just dropped out of the most amazing children's storybook or maybe harken back to some lost classic Disney animated film.

Quintorius, Field Historian

Quintorius, Field Historian would have been the lead in a story set in Alara where he had to recover some long-lost artifact to help Ajani defeat a threat to the plane, but none of that has anything to do with today's column. The question that faces me today is how I would build a fun and playable Commander deck with Quintorius at the helm.

I could easily build a deck that went deep on an archaeology theme, with cards that shared the same "Indiana Quint" feeling I'm getting from the artwork. My only problem with that approach is that I don't have any confidence I'd end up with a playable deck and that matters to me. By playable, I mean a deck that has some sort of plan and some attempt to create synergy with the commander's abilities. Quint's got tricks up his sleeve so we should really explore them and see how much value we can squeeze out of this legendary Elephant Cleric.

Lorehold Spirits

Lorehold is the Strixhaven College of Archaeomancy and any deck built around Quintorius is going to focused on pulling cards out of my graveyard. I'll want to have cards and permanents that do this one by one if possible so that I can maximize the number of 3/2 Red and White spirits Quint can create for me. Pulling 30 cards out of my graveyard at once will give me one Spirit, but doing them one at a time will put 90 power worth of creatures onto my battlefield. Quint gives them +1/+0, so that would be 120 power if he's around. They might not fly, but at 3 power these are much bigger than the spirits you'd get from a Forbidden Orchard or Court of Grace and dozens of other cards.

The real question is whether I can reliably set up a way to remove cards from my graveyard in sufficient quantities to actually threaten to win the game. I don't have to rely on combat to win, though with enough 4/2 creatures I ought to be able to pressure my opponents' life totals well enough. I should also be able to run Impact Tremors, Purphoros, God of the Forge, and a few other ways to turn creature enter-the-battlefield triggers into damage to my opponents.

Basic Recursion

There are plenty of staples, mostly in White, that will let me bring creatures back from the graveyard. I don't actually have to bring back just creatures to make spirits with Quintorius - any card leaving the graveyard will work.

Sun Titan will give me a recursion trigger when it enters the battlefield or attacks. Emeria Shepherd will let me turn landfall triggers into recursion and Quint should reward me with spirits for that. Bishop of Rebirth is also in today's list and will bring back a creature when it attacks.

Goblin Engineer
Argivian Archaeologist
Daring Archaeologist

In Red and White I won't have access to the kinds of powerful ramp spells available in Green, so I will probably lean on artifacts to try to keep the mana flowing and keep my lands hitting the battlefield every turn. Wayfarer's Bauble, Traveler's Amulet, Expedition Map and Wanderer's Twig will help me get my lands and if I'm able to get Goblin Engineer, Argivian Archaeologist or Daring Archaeologist onto the field, I might get some extra uses out of those little trinkets. Pulling any of them out of the graveyard will let Quint make another spirit.

If you're thinking I've missed a few obvious staples, you're not wrong. They're just in their own section because they make up a pretty sweet combo.

The Obligatory Combo

It's hard for me to really argue that every deck should have a combo, because I firmly believe there's a place in this world for low-powered decks that have no other way to win than to bash creatures against each other. I also think that combos can be a lot of fun, and Quintorius, Field Historian is a combo payoff right in your command zone.

Karmic Guide
Wall of Omens

Reveillark will trigger when it leaves the battlefield and can bring back Karmic Guide and Wall of Omens, forming the classic combo. Wall of Omens will enter the battlefield and will draw me a card. Karmic Guide will return target creature card from the graveyard to the battlefield. All I need is a sacrifice outlet and I can loop these creatures as follows.

I start by sacrificing Karmic Guide and Wall of Omens. Then I sacrifice Reveillark, bringing back Karmic Guide and Wall of Omens. Karmic Guide's trigger will let me bring back Reveillark so I can do it again. With just Quint on the field, I'll make an arbitrarily large army of spirits. With other creatures or permanents, I'll get additional benefits like drawing my deck.

Ashnod's Altar
Phyrexian Altar
Altar of Dementia

If my sacrifice outlet gives me mana, I'll be able to make infinite mana, If I'm using Altar of Dementia, I can try to mill out my opponents.

With Impact Tremors, Purphoros or Terror of the Peaks on the field, I'll just kill the table with that creature enter-the-battlefield damage.

A high-powered version of this deck would focus on this combo with a ton of interaction and stax pieces to try to stop my opponents from winning before I can combo off. This isn't that deck mostly because I want to explore a few other ways to build around Quint.

A Haunting We Will Go

When I stumble across a keyword on a card and find out that it was considered a failure by none other than Mark Rosewater, I have to take a closer look.

The haunt keyword appeared in Guildpact and can be a bit confusing. When a card with haunt goes into the graveyard, it gets exiled "haunting" target creature. When that creature dies, the card will do something again. If it was a creature and had an enter-the-battlefield ability, you generally get that ability again. If the card was an instant or sorcery, you essentially get the effects of the original spell a second time, but without casting it. You can think of haunt as being like an aura, except that when the haunted creature dies, the cards haunting it stay in exile.

The key synergy with Quint here is that when it hits the graveyard and then gets exiled "haunting" a creature, that will create one of those 3/2 Spirit creature tokens. The only major issue is that haunt is only found on four white cards.

Absolver Thrull
Belfry Spirit
Desecrated Tomb

Absolver Thrull will let you destroy target enchantment when it enters the battlefield or when the haunted creature dies. Belfry Spirit will give me two 1/1 black Bat creature tokens with flying. Belfry Spirit is an apt reminder that Desecrated Tomb will help me out if I'm building around ways to pull creatures out of my graveyard, giving more 1/1 Black Bat creature tokens.

Benediction of Moons might not seem like much. For 1 mana I'll gain a life for each player in the game. Assuming I'm able to cast it and get its haunt trigger, that's eight life for one little mana, but I'll also get that creature token from Quint. Graven Dominator feels a little overcosted at first. It makes each other creature on the battlefield a base 1/1 power and toughness until end of turn, but it doesn't have flash so its initial casting can't be as a combat trick. If I've got a sacrifice outlet on the field and I've haunted one of my own creatures, I'll be able to use it at instant speed by sacrificing the haunted creature.

I rarely suggest that anyone run the original Praetors, but Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite will turn her already oppressive ability into a one-sided boardwipe. Elesh Norn is something of a meta call - if your playgroup leans away from oppressive cards and powerful decks you might not want to run it, but if it's hard to argue that it's not an incredibly powerful card and this is a pretty good example of synergy.

Those tokens will turn into a 6/4 threat with Quint and Elesh Norn on the field and if you're able to sweep your opponents' creatures into the graveyard with Graven Dominator, you should be able to make a strong push to win that game.

A Synergy Supplement

I've got combos and synergy, but what I really love is taking a commander like Quint and finding odd cards that will give me additional triggers. I think my favorite of these are the many enchantments that will return to my hand when they go into the graveyard.

Brilliant Halo
Spirit Loop

Fiery Mantle
Undying Rage

These auras don't give me any combos, but they should give me a creature token when they hit the graveyard and then go to my hand. Throwing one on another Spirit token can get another one to replace it.

Akoum Firebird
Ashcloud Phoenix
Flamewake Phoenix

Phoenix of Ash
Rekindling Phoenix
Warcry Phoenix

One of the things I like the most about this list is that it gives me a good excuse to run a bunch of Phoenix cards. I like having flyers and all my Phoenix can come back out of the graveyard in some way. They're not the core of my deck's game plan but having a flying blocker can be the difference between life and death sometimes so I really like having at least a handful of flyers in a deck and these guys fit in perfectly with Quintorius.

They Call Him Quint

I don't know what I'd really call the epic animated adventure movie about Quintorius, Field Historian, but it would probably be way cooler than "They Call Him Quint." For some reason that was the best I could come up. This deck feels like it's poised in that weird place between wanting to be a high-powered combo deck and wanting to be a fairer deck that tries to win by combat with a bunch of silly tricks to get Spirit tokens onto the field.

I didn't load this list up with high end mana producers like Mana Crypt and any rebuild aiming to make this a higher-powered list would include those expensive rocks along with a bunch of stax pieces. High powered Quintorius would likely be aiming for more of a cEDH feel, with the game plan really focused on your Reveillark / Karmic Guide combo. I don't like to build those types of lists too often for my columns. I think it's just a lot more interesting to see the variety of cards that might synergize with a commander when building at lower power levels.

Final Thoughts

This deck might have a hidden all-star in Hofri, Ghostforge. Not only will that new legendary Strixhaven Dwarf Cleric give me Quint triggers when my creatures die, it will also pump my Spirits +1/+1 and give them both trample and haste. This isn't the kind of deck that's going to load up on instants and sorceries so I wasn't sure how many Strixhaven cards would really fit with Quintorius, but Hofri is just about perfect for what Quint is trying to do.

If you're playing in a more competitive meta, I should mention that this deck might do well to swap in cards like Silence, Grand Abolisher and Conqueror's Flail to keep your opponents from messing with you on the turn you try to go off. Throwing in Deflecting Swat, Red Elemental Blast, Pyroblast and possibly even Burnout so that you can deal with counterspells a bit better. High powered games are often won and lost on the stack, so any tune-up would have to include more interaction, including stack interaction. You would do well to throw in a Treasonous Ogre along with a bunch of wheels so you can dig for your combo pieces.

A tune-down would involve dropping out your infinite combo pieces, adding a few lands and then whatever you feel like. You could add a few Loxodon if you felt like it, or maybe some cards that care about and play well with spirits. In low-powered EDH, the world is your oyster. You can do all manner of silly and ill-advised things with a deck and still have a great time if you're not worried about stopping your opponents from winning really early in the game.

I'm happy to be moving on to writing about Strixhaven now. If Quintorius caught your eye and you've been thinking about building him, I'd love to hear what you've got planned. Would you go for a high-powered build, or a janky archaeology-themed low powered deck? Most importantly, would you attend the premiere of my imaginary animated epic, They Call Him Quint? Got a better name? Tell me in the comments!

That's all I've got for today. Thanks for reading and I'll see you back here soon!

Commander HQ: Decklists and Strategy for Strixhaven's Legendary Creatures!

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