Gyruda, Doom of Standard and Legacy


Ikoria's infamous companion mechanic has changed Magic as we knew it. The set has only been available on Magic Online and MTG Arena for a few days, but Gyruda is already terrorizing both Standard and Legacy. Learn about the decks that have been successful on the first weekend and how to use them.

gyruda, doom of depths

Ikoria Is Here!

Usually, whenever a new Magic expansion drops, I can't wait to open Twitter every morning. I love to read what the community is thinking about the cards and what exciting brews shake up the various formats. This time around, Twitter has been a dark place for me ever since Wizards unveiled the companion mechanic.

It was obvious from the beginning that starting each game up a card — more so a powerful one you've built your deck around — is a very big advantage. Not as clear was whether or not the restrictions the companions impose would be enough to keep metagames diverse. If it's too easy, everyone enlists a companion, as nobody wants to miss out on the extra card. Since companion demands very specific deck building, the number of available archetypes decreases if they turn out to be a must-have in competitive settings. Before Ikoria became available on Magic Online and MTG Arena, there was skepticism as to which condition one could meet without crippling existing strategies. Many people were excited about the upcoming challenge to brew with the companions. But after the set hit the online platforms and players started competing, it became crystal clear:

Companions are terrifying.

Today, I want to show you two successful lists from the past weekend that both include what I consider to be the most dangerous companion: Gyruda, Doom of Depths.

gyruda, doom of depths gyruda, doom of depths


When I first saw Gyruda, I thought it would be hard to fulfill the requirement, as skipping on all cards that have odd converted mana costs shrinks the Standard card pool significantly. Decks that can't cast anything on the first turn and struggle to use up all of their mana on the third and fifth turn will have a hard time competing. Luckily, Theros Beyond Death brought back the beloved Temples and with an abundance of ramp spells at 2 and 4 mana, the following deck is perfectly set up to ignore Gyruda's drawback while maximizing on its potential:

The deck is optimized to cast Gyruda from the sideboard on the fourth turn and from there on, the fun can begin. If Gyruda hits Spark Double or Thassa, Deep-Dwelling, we get another spin to look immediately after more big creatures and flood the board with massive threats. Often, this turn four play will prompt a lethal attack on the following turn, which is too much to deal with for most Standard decks. Dream Eater and Kogla, the Titan Ape serve as interaction for problematic game states and Luminous Broodmoth protects our most often superior battlefield from Wrath of God-like effects. It's as simple as that. Not very deep or intricate regarding lines of play, but it's brutally efficient and does what it's intended to do very consistently.

Since Gyruda has an even converted mana cost itself, you can have one in your sideboard as your companion and put the other three copies into the main deck for redundancy. That way, you have a backup plan when your companion gets countered or dealt with in another way, which makes the whole pretty resilient while featuring all the upsides a broken glass-cannon combo deck has to offer.

I played the deck myself for a few matches and have to say that it feels very broken and overpowered. Sure, it's a strategy a metagame can adapt to. You can choose and build a deck specifically to prey on ramp's vulnerabilities, but it doesn't look like this is healthy for the metagame at all. It kind of reminds me of the Nexus of Fate situation where your best bet was to go under their defenses with an ultra-fast strategy and the complete metagame needed to revolve around a single card which shrank deck diversity in a decidedly unfun way. To make matters even worse, Gyruda offers very boring and repetitive gameplay patterns and doesn't reward tuning, sideboarding, or thoroughly planned and executed turns as I'd enjoy. Yet, if you want to earn easy wins in Standard and enjoy completely crushing disheartened opposition with big, juicy monsters, this is the deck and time for you to shine!


gyruda, doom of depths

Traditionally, Legacy isn't a format that changes much with each new printing. That being said, we had to get used to adapting our favorite archetypes to every set in 2019. While I like change, Ikoria will likely leave its mark on Legacy forever. I was already expecting companions to have a big impact on the format, as you can read in my article on Lurrus of the Dream Den, but I didn't expect Gyruda to break it in half.

While it was clear that Gyruda had to slot into some a combo deck, nobody saw the following monstrosity coming before the Magic Online Legacy Challenge this past weekend:

The deck is essentially built with the same intention as the Standard version: cast Gyruda as fast as possible from your sideboard. The main differences are that fast mana is a lot more powerful in Legacy and the ability to be way more broken with a bigger selection of creatures to cheat into play. Heck, this deck can even cast Gyruda on the first turn of the game with a mulligan down to two cards! All you need is two copies of Lion's Eye Diamond and the fun can begin, which usually means lethal haste damage immediately.

Rodrigo Togores about to go off with a two-card opening hand

When Gyruda's trigger resolves, you can choose from a plethora of different creatures to ensure the Gyruda train keeps running. Spark Double, Sakashima the Impostor, and Restoration Angel all evade the legend rule, leaving extra bodies on the battlefield until you hit the mighty Dragonlord Kolaghan that should usually win on the spot. Cavern of Souls and Leyline of Lifeforce make life easier against decks featuring Force of Will and Leyline of Anticipation makes it even possible to go off in the opponent's first upkeep when you're on the draw and would lose to a turn one hate piece from their sideboard!

Twitter user RealPokemoki losing on the first turn of the game

While this deck surely is a classic glass cannon and not built to play interactive and fair games of Magic, take a moment and compare it to Goblin Charbelcher. This very risky strategy sees success in Legacy from time to time and remains a force to be reckoned with — even if it loses on the spot when an opponent successfully interacts with it. Imagine how powerful Belcher would be if you could start every game with a Charbelcher available and then draw your starting seven. Building the deck would be so much easier; you could use the remaining space for the best fast mana and easiest ways to beat sideboard cards while maximizing the deck's consistency. Yeah, exactly, the Gyruda deck is Belcher on steroids.

Note: Because there is an issue with replacement effects like Leyline of the Void and Rest in Peace, Magic Online has temporarily banned Gyruda, Doom of Depths. The rules dictate that Gyruda still puts a creature from the milled cards onto the battlefield even if such an effect exiles those cards. But on Magic Online, a software issue makes Leyline of the Void and its like effective hate against Gyruda. The card will be allowed again when the problem is fixed.

Going Forward

I think the companion mechanic is a very big change to Magic and will impact all formats a lot. I have heard comparisons to when planeswalkers were introduced. It's that big of a deal, since the rules of the game change quite a bit when everyone is suddenly starting with eight instead of seven cards and many decks are built with those cards in mind. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing. However, if we're forever stuck with the first few badly balanced companions, it will turn boring and problematic very soon. I'm excited to see what ideas the upcoming weeks will spark, but I'm also concerned that something needs to be done about Ikoria's companions to save competitive Magic as we know it.

What do you think about the new companion mechanic and the impact it will have on your favorite format? Are you afraid or excited? Let me know in the comments!

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.


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ZachariasFoegen(2020-04-22 23:16)

Force of Despair kills garuda and friends all the time

Bajuwarenzorn(2020-04-23 09:07)

Hi, ZachariasFoegen!

Great idea, that's a really good sideboard card against Gyruda if your deck has enough black cards in it.

Landro(2020-04-22 22:13)

This is really sad. Companions are quite broken on Arena to the point where I auto-concede when playing against Gyruda; while I might win, it probably just isn't worth my time.
I hope some of the most broken companions get banned soon but if not, I'll have to reconsider playing Arena as I'm already doing with paper Magic.
After Nexus of Fate, Field of the Dead and of course Oko, we have once again cards that break the Standard format. It's very disappointing.

Another troublesome thing I noticed is the need for large amounts of rares and mythics to build competative decks. A year ago you could build a very competative mono blue deck with just 4 cheap rares or a mono red deck with just 8-12 affordable rares, but now all the competative decks require many expensive rares and mythics. In my LGS it's become very difficult for the younger players (with less cash) to keep up and as a result our Standard showdowns are often cancelled due to a lack of participants. I really doubt if the owner will continue to organise Standard events once the whole Corona thing is over.

Also, does anybody understand why a talking cat is not ok for Eldraine (https://magic. Wizards. Com/en/articles/archive/making-magic/odds-ends-throne-eldraine-2019-10-14) but Space Godzilla is fine for Ikoria?

Sorry about the spaces in the link. It's this site that does that and it won't allow me to edit the spaces away.

Bajuwarenzorn(2020-04-23 09:58)

Hi, Landro!

Thank you for your big comment.
Sorry to hear that you're not enjoying Standard because of all that power creep. I have to admit, I quit Standard for the same reasons half a year ago. After I realized qualifying for Mythic Championships isn't what I wanna spend my resources on I immediately stopped playing Standard as I always enjoyed it the least and only played it because it was the premier competitive Format.

Shocklands are the reason this Standard format is so expensive. Essentially, whenever a Standard card pool has Shocklands and another rare land cycle, three-colored decks have to play like 20 rare lands to make their manabase work and if no cheap alternatives like RDW or Mono-Blue Tempo are competitive, this is exhausting for player's purses. Mix in some highly sought after mythic rares like Oko and Uro, that are not only needed for Standard but are important for all constructed formats and you have a pretty bad Standard season.

I guess not making Puss in Boots for Eldraine had more to do with how they wanted the world of Eldraine to be - anthropomorphized animals didn't fit their vision. I think the Godzilla flavor fits very well with Ikoria lore-wise. But too much of other franchises is not a thing I want to see in MTG.

Judge-Penance(2020-04-22 04:28)

Companion is one of the most parasitic mechanics ever released for the game, and I was saying this since day 1 I saw the previews. It offers insane value but only to some builds. This "some" part is the one that makes it broken... It is the equivalent of saying we are all starting play with 20 life, except for anyone named Johnny... Johnnies get 30 life...

Not only companion offers a 2 for 1 value as a mechanic alone (as you get an extra card for free and your opponent needs to make sure there is an extra answer for it), most companions have 2 for 1 abilites printed on them as well, so the total upside is insane.

The mechanic is a bad reminder of Yugioh's Extra Deck concept, and in no way shape or form I believe it is suited for Magic tournament play. I DO agree with it existing as a way for casual events in stores, especially events that offer "achievement based" prizes and are more oriented towards "unorthodox" deck-building, but I disagree with it being part of any kind of tournament play, let alone for Eternal formats.

Even for flavour reasons, Planeswalkers at least represent a very powerful part of Magic lore, companions are, in game terms, MORE powerful.

At any rate, my personal expectation is that we will see the same amount of bans that we saw with the last sets, across many formats, of at least Gyruda and Lurrus... And I would absolutely HATE to see Lion's Eye Diamond get banned in Legacy to preserve companions in it (because incidentally, both Lurrus and Gyruda break with it)...

So, I really hope they simply ban the companions, or better, come to their senses and disallow them from tournament use altogether. If I wanted to play Commander, I would have. There is no need for "Commander-like" mechanics creeping in our normal way of playing Magic.

oeliberti(2020-04-22 08:02)

Judge-Penance true!

mätschik(2020-04-22 08:26)

All is said here!

Bajuwarenzorn(2020-04-22 08:37)

Hi, Judge-Penance!

You're so right, companion invigorating some strategies a lot while others are left out is the most problematic part and it will be very hard to balance the mechanic if it should become an important part of every magic format.

I also don't get why companions need to be that good. I mean, wouldn't a simple free card be enough? That's already a big advantage to have access to some random vanilla creature but the abilities make some of them broken engines that take over games on their own. (Lurrus with a plethora of sacrifice value permanents for example)

Your comparison to Yu-Gi-Oh!'s extra deck is very fitting, I think making every game the same by cheating the same creature into play despite Magic's very good resources system revolving around Mana and drawing random cards is a big risk factor.

For flavor reasons, I think it's cool that I can represent a Planeswalker who takes on temporarily bonds with other Planeswalkers to win a fight but can have their very close companion that's always with them. Wizards are often displayed with such a creature that's very close to them in many fantasy franchises and I think it's fitting for Magic as well. But I agree that this mechanic was designed with casual player needs in mind and therefore doesn't go well with traditional tournament play.

Maybe you're right about the banning predictions which would make me really sad as I can't stand the constant bannings anymore. Everchanging formats are fine by me but spending money on cardboard that eventually gets banned really exhausts me. (Looking at my 200 € playset of Okos that will probably get banned in Legacy as well eventually). If Companions end up making my playset of LEDs get banned in Legacy I don't know if I can justify growing my Eternal collection more at this point.

While I hope your wish comes true, I fear that WOTC have big plans with the companion mechanic and that they won't hear us traditional tournament players and Eternal format aficionados out. In the end, what matters to them is sales. And since Commander players are the biggest part of their customers they want to take any measures to transfer them to other ways of playing the game as well.

Judge-Penance(2020-04-23 01:23)

Bajuwarenzorn I will offer one more issue not many people have thought regarding the parasitic nature of the mechanic. One format: Vintage. Vintage has NO bans, other than ante cards an dexterity cards. The philosophy is that any card broken enough becomes Restricted and that's it.

So, by that extend, consider: most companions function as 1-ofs... They are ALREADY "restricted"... What happens if Luttri, Zidra or Gyruda "break" the format? How exactly you solve this? What more can you restrict, and even if you do, what, you are willing to sacrifice the whole format for those cards?

Or are you forced to forever "live" with them, no matter what? This mechanic sets a precedent like no other in the history of Magic, in that in order to get rid of the problematic card you CANNOT just restrict it. ;)

HeLLoMoTo(2020-04-22 02:48)

The legacy decklist need heavy improval. 14 lands is the maximum amount in an 1/2 turn otk combo deck I would play 2 copies of crystal vein instead of islands. 4 mox opals are missing and you don't need gyruda main griselbrand is much better. Cut all the restoration angels they make you lose to removal add 4 defense grid I'm missing Dack's Dublicant in there. What are the force of vigor for? The only threats are stifle/Containment priest so play chalice/Slaughter pact playset each. Bannings incoming

Bajuwarenzorn(2020-04-22 08:40)

Hi, HeLLoMoTo!

Thanks for your input on the Legacy decklist.
This list is, of course, the first brew from scratch. I guess there is much to improve going forward. I like your ideas and think the Force of Vigor was included to fight Leyline of the Void as that card worked against Gyruda when the Legacy challenge took place.

If they ban something from Legacy I hope it's not my precious and beloved LEDs but rather Gyruda or the companion mechanic as a whole. :D

AnotherNamelessUser(2020-04-22 19:28)

HeLLoMoTo Gyruda main deck is still marginally better than some random clone effect. You don't need griselbrand, and you can't afford to cut too many clones (at 25, you still have roughly a 10% chance to miss every time, assuming you're not playing the mirror. The Restoration Angels might be a concession to this fact--fewer iterations until you present lethal)

Bajuwarenzorn(2020-04-23 20:41)

Hi, AnotherNamelessUser!

I agree to your arguments, Griselbrand sounds unnecessary and clones are very important. What would we do with Griselbrand anyway? Find clones to cast?

realalien1(2020-04-22 02:33)

I fully agree with your conclusion. However, eventually this will probably mean a few bannings soon again and it really goes on my nerves that they have been designing only sets with overpowered cards recently. Not sure when they will learn that these bannings are keeping players away from the game.

Bajuwarenzorn(2020-04-22 08:42)

Hi, realalien1!

I'm with you, the recent and continuing power-creep really is freaking me out! I have the feeling most old cards are getting outclassed by new printings which hurts my collection and forces me to always by the newest, overprized cards that have a big risk of getting banned. Not a good place to be for players if you're asking me! It kind of reminds me of Yu-Gi-Oh!, where players have adopted to always buy expensive power-creep cards that get banned soon after but are necessery for the highest competition events.