Magic: The Gathering Ikoria Lurrus

Over the weekend, we got a good look at how Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths will affect the Magic: The Gathering landscape. As a surprise to no one, companions took a dominating role in just about all the major formats. So now, we’ve taken a look at the top decks from this past weekend and how companion creatures are changing the game. For each deck, we’ve also highlighted which companion played in it and broken down what makes them so good.

Standard

Standard saw five of the top eight decks built around a companion creature. Two were based on Yorion, Sky Nomad, and three focused on Keruga, the Macrosage.

  1. Jund Sacrifice
  2. Mono-Blue Devotion
  3. Bant Control (Yorion)
  4. Jeskai Fires (Keruga)
  5. Bant Control (Yorion)
  6. Jeskai Winota
  7. Jeskai Fires (Keruga)
  8. Jeskai Fires (Keruga)

Overall, it’s a pretty diverse meta for Standard. Ikoria has been available for a little less than two weeks, so there is bound to be a lot of meta shakeups. Last seasons’ big players in Jund Sacrifice and Mono-Blue Devotion continue to stay on top. Jeskai Fires lists haven’t changed much either, with Keruga easily fitting into the deck.

The biggest changes come in the Bant Control lists, as Yorion requires decks to have an additional 20 cards. Cards like Growth Spiral and Omen of the Sea are great for smoothing out draws. Shatter the Sky and Elspeth Conquers Death keeps the board clear until players can stabilize.

Pioneer

Pioneer saw less of an impact from companion creatures, with only three of the top eight decks built around the Ikoria mechanic. The two companion creatures in Pioneer’s top eight were Yorion, Sky Nomad, and Lurrus of the Dream Den.

  1. Lotus Breach
  2. Boros Burn (Lurrus)
  3. Bant Control (Yorion)
  4. Lotus Breach
  5. Dimir Inverter of Truth
  6. Dimir Inverter of Truth
  7. Boros Burn (Lurrus)
  8. Dimir Inverter of Truth

For Burn decks, Lurrus makes a lot of sense. If players can’t kill their opponent before they run out of cards in hand, Burn decks can stall out. With a Lurrus in the sideboard, Burn players can recast creatures that have already died. Bringing back an Eidolon of the Great Revel or Viashino Pyromancer for some late-game damage is too good to pass up.

The lone Bant Control list looks pretty similar to the Standard version, with some better card choices. Pioneer gives players access to Supreme Verdict as the premier board wipe. Players also get Thraben Inspector for a cheap blocker and card draw.

Modern

The biggest impact of companion creatures is in Modern. With seven of the eight top decks from the recent Modern Challenge playing a creature with a companion, it is the biggest impact so far. Lurrus of the Dream Den saw the most play, being in six decks. Jegantha, the Wellspring had a fun appearance in Niv Bring to Light and is the only other creature with a companion in the top 8.

  1. Grixis Death’s Shadow (Lurrus)
  2. Affinity (Lurrus)
  3. Boros Burn (Lurrus)
  4. Grixis Delver (Lurrus)
  5. Niv Bring to Light (Jegantha)
  6. Boros Burn (Lurrus)
  7. Devoted Devastation (Lurrus)
  8. Titan Field

Lurrus makes sense in Modern, where games are quick and creatures rarely go above five mana. Grixis Death’s Shadow has an amazing interaction between Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger, and Lurrus. Being able to rip cards from your opponent’s hand every turn shuts down any late-game strategies. Granted, Lurrus does have a bit of a non-bo with Snapcaster Mage since you can only cast cards on your turn with Lurrus’ ability. But that doesn’t stop you from casting Snapcaster Mage on your turn, so it doesn’t matter too much.

Modern Boros Burn is very similar to the Pioneer lists, but with access to better spells. Being able to cast Seal of Fire is a cute combo, with an easy two damage every turn. And Lurrus isn’t the only Ikoria card in Grixis Delver which played Sprite Dragon. With 30 noncreature spells in the list, the little 1/1 dragon won’t stay little for long.

Legacy

Legacy didn’t see as many companion decks Modern did, but Lurrus was a heavy player once again.

Zirda, the Dawnwaker also saw some play in an Urza list, and it is brilliant. Being able to accelerate out Urza’s activated ability with a free card is great. We separated the two different types of Delver lists based on their color wedges, since calling them both “Lurrus Delver” would be a bit confusing.

  1. Sultai Delver (Lurrus)
  2. Sultai Delver (Lurrus)
  3. Grixis Delver (Lurrus)
  4. Death and Taxes (Lurrus)
  5. Urza Combo (Zirda)
  6. 4 Color Control
  7. Grixis Delver
  8. U/R Delver

Delver has been a mainstay in Legacy for years, and being able to recast it from the graveyard repeatedly with Lurrus just makes sense. The Death and Taxes list that includes Lurrus is also a natural inclusion. Death and Taxes has traditionally played a lot of low-to-the-ground taxing creatures. With cards like Giver of Runes and Mother of Runes, players can keep Lurrus alive against most removal.

As powerful as the companion creatures are, it could take some time before the format settles. Mark Rosewater recently stated on Twitter that Wizards is carefully watching the power level of each new set, compared to the overall power level of each format. “Take the strongest card in each format. We aren’t making things stronger than that.”

As the competitive formats adjust to the influx of powerful Ikoria cards, we may see more, or less, of the companion creatures in decks. A free creature out of the sideboard is hard to pass up, so it’s likely companions are here to stay. For more Magic: The Gathering news, reviews, and more, make sure to follow Daily Esports.

Ryan Hay
Ryan Hay is a writer and content creator currently living in New York. Video games, anime, and Magic: The Gathering have all been strong passions in his life and being able to share those passions with others is his motivation for writing. You can find him @TheRyanHay on Twitter where he complains about losing on MTG Arena a lot.