Even before the release of Magic: The Gathering Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, Wizards of the Coast has banned one of the new companion cards. Lutri, the Spellchaser, the cutest little otter in Magic: The Gathering, is banned in the Brawl format. Lutri has already been banned from the Commander format, so this announcement should come as no surprise.
Because Lutri, the Spellchaser has the Companion ability, it can sit outside of your deck, just waiting to be cast to copy any spell you want. The “downside” of Lutri was to add a singleton restriction to a player’s Standard or draft deck. Deck variance goes through the roof when players cannot have play sets of the best cards in their deck. Never knowing when Lutri was going to be most efficient was what made it balanced in Magic. In formats like Brawl and Commander where deck restrictions are built into the format and every spell is a bomb, Lutri can be too good.
Lutri, the Spellchaser banned because Wizards knew its power
Wizards of the Coast was aware of Lutri’s power while designing the card for Magic: The Gathering. Even during playtesting, the card’s power was evident in Commander variants. Wizards of the Coast eventually decided that the “fun deck-building challenge and opportunity for self-expression it presents in other Magic formats clearly made the design worth printing, even if it didn’t make sense in Brawl.” Thus, it was banned there.
Lutri’s ability to copy any instant or sorcery you control made it an auto inclusion into any blue/red list. Because the card sits in the sideboard, it doesn’t affect deck construction either. Players can also cast it whenever they like thanks to the Companion ability. All this combined made Lutri’s restriction a little less effective in singleton formats.
Lutri is still playable in every other format, and no other creature with Companion has been banned. So it looks like the rest of the cards are safe.
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