Ugin's Nexus | Khans of Tarkir | Art by Sam Burley
10, May, 24

Overlooked Big Score Artifact Enables Insane Combos!

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So far, Outlaws of Thunder Junction’s The Big Score sub-set is more than living up to its name. The increased rarity of the cards within, and their high power level, has led to some wild price spikes over the last few weeks. One card that isn’t getting its due adoration, however, is Esoteric Duplicator. This is despite it perhaps being one of the best combo enablers MTG has seen in years.

This is the kind of card that sets the gears in your head whirring after reading it through. The kind of card that seems easier to break than play fairly with yet, despite all this, it’s still very affordable. Let’s dive into the world of Esoteric Duplicator, and the many wonderful things it can enable. Just be sure to keep two mana open while you read; you’ll need it later.

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What Is Esoteric Duplicator In MTG?

Esoteric-Duplicator-MTG

Before we get into the good stuff, let’s quickly recap Esoteric Duplicator itself. This is a three mana Artifact and a Clue. It lets you pay two mana whenever you sacrifice an Artifact (told you you’d need it) to create a copy of that Artifact at the end of the turn. This ability also applies to the Duplicator itself which, being a Clue, can be sacrificed for two mana to draw a card.

At the absolute minimum, this is a reliable, if inefficient, card draw engine. For four mana each turn, you can sacrifice the Duplicator and pay two to make another at the end of the turn. Slow, but alright in grindy games. Where it gets really interesting, though, is when you get other Artifacts involved.

There are some very powerful Artifacts in Magic with hugely impactful effects, balanced out by high initial mana costs. With Duplicator, however, you only need to pay those costs once to enjoy the effects over and over again. For a mere two mana each turn! The fact that the copies come in at the end of the turn rather than immediately is a nice safety valve on the card, preventing some particularly egregious combos. In some cases, however, that clause doesn’t matter at all.

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Ugin’s Nexus Combos

Case in point: Duplicator’s infinite combo with Ugin’s Nexus. You’d be forgiven for forgetting this card existed. It’s a weird, clunky Artifact from back in Khans of Tarkir, with two interesting effects. Firstly, while it’s in play, players skip all extra turns. Secondly, when it goes to the graveyard, it’s exiled instead and you get to take an extra turn.

On their own, Ugin’s Nexus is not a very exciting card, but throw in our friend Esoteric Duplicator, and any kind of Artifact sacrifice outlet, and you have a recipe for infinite turn soup. Here’s what you do. First, get Duplicator, Nexus, and an Artifact sacrifice outlet in play. From here, there are different options depending on the format. If you’re playing Standard, you can use Oni-Cult Anvil, but if you’re playing Modern Arcbound Ravager is preferred. Lastly, you sacrifice Nexus during the end step of your turn and pay the two to bring a fresh copy in during the extra turn you’re about to take.

This part is important since sacrificing Nexus before then will cause it to come back on the end step of the current turn, at which point its passive effect will stop you from taking the extra turn at all. Get the timing right, though, and Nexus will come in during the end step of your next turn, and can then be sacrificed again to repeat the loop.

With infinite turns at your disposal, you can kill your opponent in all manner of ways. Oni-Cult Anvil, in addition to being a sacrifice outlet, can also be your win condition thanks to its drain effect. Even without it, though, most decks should have no trouble ending the game once this loop is up and running.

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Other Devious Combos

If taking infinite turns doesn’t do it for you, though, how about taking infinite turns for your opponent? Mindslaver is another great combo card with Duplicator. Ordinarily, it lets you take control of your opponent’s next turn in exchange for a total of ten mana. With Duplicator, though, it can do so infinitely, for just six mana a time. Functionally, this works the same as the Ugin’s Nexus combo, since you can just make your opponent pass every one of their turns but it feels a bit more devious. Hilariously, you can also pull this off in Thunder Junction Limited, since both Mindslaver and Duplicator are available in Play Boosters.

In terms of Legacy and Vintage, Duplicator gets Krark-Clan Ironworks to play with. The synergy between these two cards couldn’t be more perfect. It’s a sacrifice outlet that also pays for Duplicator’s copy ability at the same time. Incredible. This one lets you go wider than usual, winning through lots of little triggers rather than one big one.

To bring it back around to big triggers, though, Duplicator can also work well with Boom Box, for a super-grindy Standard win condition. Boom Box can blow up a Creature, an Artifact, and a Land for six mana. Pay the two for Duplicator, and it can do it every turn. Repeatable removal and Land destruction are hard to fight against, and while it’s slow, this combo may well end up being good enough for Standard.

Whichever way you slice it, Esoteric Duplicator is one hell of an MTG card and a brewer’s absolute dream. The combos we’ve covered here today could well be just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this big hitter from The Big Score.

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