Ikoria Spotlight: Lurrus of the Dream-Den

Andifeated

With companion, Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths introduces a very dangerous keyword. Let's take a look at Lurrus of the Dream-Den and list some ideas this powerful card has provoked. Will it change the face of nonrotating Constructed formats like Legacy and even Modern? Let's find out!

The Purrfect Companion

"Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet."
– Colette

Even the French novelist Colette knew that pets make the best companions for humans in general and the same may soon be true for Magic players specifically. Between all revealed creatures featuring the brand-new companion keyword, one stands out to me in terms of power level for nonrotating Constructed formats: Lurrus of the Dream-Den, which offers potential for abuse in all imaginable archetypes.
Lurrus of the Dream-Den Lurrus of the Dream-Den

Meeting the Restriction

Each companion first asks the deck builder to meet a restriction that limits the cards they can put into their deck. Then the player can cast their companion from the sideboard once per game. Since having access to an additional card in every game is a huge benefit — especially when it's a powerful, legendary creature — it's necessary to impose a crippling limitation to balance companions. In Lurrus's case, however, some archetypes and strategies fulfill the condition basically by default.

Companion — Each permanent card in your starting deck has converted mana cost 2 or less. (If this card is your chosen companion, you may cast it once from outside the game.)

Modern and Legacy decks are pushed toward efficiency and always try to achieve their goal with the cheapest spells available, taken from a tremendously big card pool. As such, many already run almost no permanent cards above 2 mana or avoid them at all. These decks can sacrifice their fifteenth sideboard slot and start every game with a 3/2 lifelinker that generates card advantage turn after turn! Of course, not every deck can make use of Lurrus in the same way, but some are set up perfectly to abuse the effect. Even if not — it's still a free eighth card in your opener! Sure, some decks need to find replacements or cut some powerful permanents they would include otherwise. Nevertheless, I believe many decks will be able to compensate and will be rewarded with much more in exchange.

Modern


Eidolon of the Great Revel

The first thing that crossed my mind, when I thought about existing decks that could meet the requirement and cast Lurrus, was Modern Boros Burn. The deck aims for a low mana curve and therefore naturally includes no permanents that cost more than 2 mana. With its splash for white, it can reliably cast Lurrus on the third turn. And since all twelve creatures in the deck are prone to die quickly, as opponents try to avoid taking more damage than necessary, Lurrus's ability should be able get some creatures back from the graveyard in drawn-out games.

Many games between Burn and interactive decks come down to a topdeck war. Lurrus will improve the strategy's ability to buy time for drawing the lethal burn spell and its ability to present another flurry of deadly threats after running out of initial resources.


While this existing deck doesn't exploit Lurrus to its fullest, it still looks very impressive to me how much this card adds to the archetype for the low cost of the fifteenth sideboard slot. There may very well be Modern shells that make even better use of the Cat Nightmare; this was only my first thought.

Other ideas that come to mind are Blue-Red Gifts Storm which meets the criteria and can cast Lurrus with Manamorphose to get back the important mana cheaters Goblin Electromancer and Baral, Chief of Compliance, Jund cutting Liliana of the Veil and Bloodbraid Elf to incorporate an even better grind ability, or Idiot Life strategies revolving around Martyr of Sands or Serra Ascendant. The possibilities are endless.

While Lurrus seems to be the perfect fit for Death's Shadow strategies, don't be quick on cutting Street Wraith. Buying back Mishra's Bauble and the Shadow sounds appealing, but Street Wraith I deem way too important for the deck to function to remove. I could see Lurrus making an appearance in Mardu Shadow main decks though. Don't forget, you can simply ignore the companion ability and its condition and play those cards like regular Magic cards!


Mishra's Bauble

Legacy

Average converted mana costs per card are even lower in Legacy and a popular evergreen strategy does already meet Lurrus's deck-building restriction. Storm can make good use of a card advantage machine recurring Lion's Eye Diamond and Wishclaw Talisman; can use some help keeing pesky Narset, Parter of Veils or Karn, the Great Creator off the battlefield; can benefit from buying another crucial turn against opposing attacks; and can increase the storm count by two in classic tutor chains by casting the Cat and making up for the mana cost by rebuying a Lion's Eye Diamond.


2 × dark ritual lion's eye diamond infernal tutor

For example, two copies of Dark Ritual, one Lion's Eye Diamond, and an Infernal Tutor previously were enough mana to win on the first turn via Past in Flames and Tendrils of Agony, but it was one spell short of a lethal storm count. With Lurrus in the sideboard, those four cards alone alongside a single land are a successful turn one kill, which makes the strategy quite a bit better. Another cute interaction Lurrus enables for Storm decks is that it creates a kind of soft lock with Hope of Ghirapur.


Also, Storm decks need to go all-in at times and risk losing their whole hand against a counterspell. Traditionally, it is very hard to get back into those games after the first attempt because rebuilding a functional combo hand from scratch is almost impossible in most scenarios. But with Lurrus, Storm can recover the just lost Lion's Eye Diamond and Wishclaw Talisman to try again two turns after the misery — without the need to topdeck anything in the meantime!

There are other decks that might be able to incorporate Lurrus: Grixis Delver needs to cut True-Name Nemesis, Brazen Borrower // Petty Theft, Bedlam Reveler and/or Gurmag Angler but receives a very potent threat that can get back Delver of Secrets, Dreadhorde Arcanist, and Young Pyromancer. Golgari Depths will be happy to get free recursion for Vampire Hexmage and Elvish Reclaimer, further enhancing its ability to play longer games and win without the combo of Dark Depths and Thespian's Stage while meeting the deck-building requirements without effort.

It's not been long since I learned of Lurrus's existence and I can't stop thinking about the endless possibilities the card offers. While I'm excited for all these experiments and opportunities, I'm also concerned about the number of games that will begin with players revealing Lurrus. The card might be too powerful and could warp metagames in many different formats. What do you think about Lurrus? Do you have some interesting deck ideas you want to share in the comments? Let me know!


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



24 Comments

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LTomma3317(21.04.2020 10:54)

Hi, thanks for the article!
As someone who plays black in both Modern and Legacy I am very excited to try Lurrus in both formats.
I personally think it could be worth moving Liliana out of Jund to try and use it with the Companion ability, as well as I may be tempted to try in Elves. I also want to try it main deck in things such as Rock or Maverick because I think it could be just as broken to play it an re-cast things such as Tarmogoyf, Dark Confidant , Stoneforge Mystic and so on. Generally I am just happy I can replay cards from the graveyard against decks such as blue counters or burn...
However, I fear it may get banned or restricted pretty soon in most of the formats , what do you think about that?

Andifeated
Bajuwarenzorn(21.04.2020 11:20)

Hi, LTomma3317!

Thanks for your comment. I think moving out BBE and LotV of Jund in favor of Mishra’s Bauble, Nihil Spellbomb and Seal of Fire will be the way to go in Modern. With multiple K-Commands in the main deck you can get back your companion and Tarmogoyf, Confi, Ooze, Kroxa and Wrenn and Six synergize so well with Lurrus!

Legacy Elves get a very good midrange plan with Lurrus but missing out on big Natural Order targets surely hurts. Maybe one can replace NO with another combo engine that meets the companion restriction?

Turning Maverick into a junk value pile without cc3+ permanents sounds possible but I‘d try to look for 4C Loam shells first as a plethora of powerful two drops goes well alongside Mox Diamond. Also I‘m not sure which additional equipments one should use alongside Jitte to replace Batterskull and swords.

Anyway, there are endless possibilities with Lurrus and I think it won’t get banned even if it warps all Formats as WOTC wants to make companion big. Commander is Magic‘s most popular format and WOTC wants to capitalize on that.

Groningen1966(18.04.2020 14:44)

Ok, just to be curious and i havent played MtG in a very long time. If you have this card in your sideboard, you can cast it ? If so, then its ridiculous powerful right ? And yes, it will be restricted very soon is my thought.

Andifeated
Bajuwarenzorn(18.04.2020 23:17)

Hi, Groningen1966!

If Lurrus is in your sideboard and your maindeck meets the companion restriction, you may reveal the card before the game starts from your sideboard and cast it once that game from there.

I agree, the card is terribly overpowered.

Samerald(13.04.2020 17:37)

Just because I'm curious, are you planning writing an article for Zirda too? I guess she could even be more broken comboing off with grim-/ basalt monolith and for example Walking ballista. Either in a jeskai, Mardu or boros shell

Andifeated
Bajuwarenzorn(14.04.2020 08:05)

Hi, Samerald!

Unfortunately, I’m not planning to write anything on Zirda at the moment. I agree that the card looks busted and has the potential to be even more format changing than Lurrus. I have yet to see a decklist that convinces me though. The synergy between the cards you‘ve mentioned is awesome but the companion restriction Zirda demands is very tough for decks to build around. I‘m excited to learn more about the card!

Cossinelle(13.04.2020 10:12)

Hi,

This one could be good main deck in Maverick as well...

Andifeated
Bajuwarenzorn(13.04.2020 14:43)

Hi, Cossinelle!

That’s right, Maverick might be the perfect place to put in some maindeck copies of Lurrus. While you can’t search Lurrus with GSZ there are many cheap permanents you can cast from the graveyard.

The companion ability makes us search for places that meet the restriction or build around it to make it work but simply putting the card in maindecks will be overlooked a lot.
I bet there are a lot more shells that could be improved with some maindeck Lurrus!

Samerald(11.04.2020 18:24)

I Look Forward to Play it in Death&Taxes. Maybe Not in the Sideboard but in the main. Recurring Thalia, sfm, mother, revoker, remorseful cleric, selfless Spirit, etc
It can be tutored Up with Recruiter, can be brought in with vial and ist protected with karakas....

Andifeated
Bajuwarenzorn(12.04.2020 08:58)

Hi, Samerald!

That’s a very good point, DnT is probably one of the decks that could run Lurrus simply in the maindeck. Off course, one could also build a experimental DnT list that meets the companion clause. Do you think that’s possible?

Samerald(12.04.2020 12:53)

Bajuwarenzorn

I was thinking of that before but i dont See any chance. You simply dont Want to Cut flickerwhisp or batterskull and the other flex Spots with cmc>2 are Just too good (Recruiter, palace jailor, prelate, Sofia,...).

Plus the already incorporated ability to search for it with Recruiter ist Just so good.

Andifeated
Bajuwarenzorn(12.04.2020 22:00)

Samerald, you‘re right! DnT would need to change drastically to meet the restriction. Maybe some kind of Humans/Hatebear brew can fit Lurrus in as the companion but that one needs to be built by scratch.

Samerald(13.04.2020 12:20)

Bajuwarenzorn

Its a far stretch but I would like to see it in a blue shell with the ability to replay snapcaster. Maybe Grixis? Pyromancer, arcanist, snapcaster, delver, maybe even kroxa would all be good targets. Of course you would have to cut Angler, tnn and borrower but then it would easily fit as a companion

Andifeated
Bajuwarenzorn(13.04.2020 14:48)

Samerald, that’s so true!
Personally, I look forward to try Lurrus as a companion in Grixis Delver. Painful Truths alongside Mystical Sanctuary was a tech used to increase the deck‘s lategame power. With Lurrus, i think we can save those sideboard slots and make the deck better in the lategame in general.

Kroxa is really awesome alongside Lurrus, I look forward to building a Modern Jund version featuring the two.

Vizzerdix(11.04.2020 12:34)

Thanks for the article!
I've been testing a lot with Lurrus these past days in a traditional ANT list and I for one think the card is totally bonkers. Aside the fact that you virtually play with 8 cards in your starting hand, there are many lines (mostly Past in Flames lines) where having acsess to Lurrus simply turns a losing line into a winning line.

I'm really interested in how companion turns out to shake up the meta - or not, that is.

Andifeated
Bajuwarenzorn(11.04.2020 14:27)

Hi, Vizzerdix!

Great to hear you’re already into playtesting with ANT. Lurrus improves the PIF lines quite a bite, but his sole presence also makes Ad Nauseam a much more reliable engine. I can’t count the games I‘ve lost after resolving AdN because I wasn’t able to get hellbent. Lurrus helps in those scenarios as you simple need a LED in your bin to keep going.

Vizzerdix(11.04.2020 15:46)

Bajuwarenzorn so true! I feel the deck has become much more explosive without losing any kind of consistency. I'd trade a 8th card in my starting hand for 1 sb slot any day. Regarding Ad Nauseam I'm 100% with you. Casting it into the blue does not feel nearly as bad as it used to without Lurrus.

Andifeated
Bajuwarenzorn(11.04.2020 17:37)

Vizzerdix, while ANT traditionally is a deck where every Sideboard Slot counts and is worth a lot, starting with an powerful eight card like Lurrus is such an big benefit I think the deck will get much more powerful.

time-to-rise-up(10.04.2020 17:03)

I think Maybe a naya zoo deck can easy run a copy lurrus in the side

Andifeated
Bajuwarenzorn(10.04.2020 21:05)

Hi, time-to-rise-up!

That’s a very good idea as aggressive Zoo Decks naturally meet the restriction and can make good use of the free lategame recursion! As those decks had a hard time in the recent past I‘d be happy to see them making a reappearance.

Oats(10.04.2020 16:08)

Cool article, I am also super exited about companions in legacy :)

Andifeated
Bajuwarenzorn(10.04.2020 21:06)

Hi, Oats!

Me too. Which companions do you think will make it big in Legacy as well?

Oats(11.04.2020 11:22)

I think 4 companiens are viable in legacy: UW (Miracles), BW (Storm and Dark Depths), RW (Grim Monolith Combo) and RG (Loam strategies)

Andifeated
Bajuwarenzorn(11.04.2020 12:10)

I think Gyruda will be viable for Bomberman as well. And I‘d be very interested to see first Snow Midrange/Control brews with Yorion, the Sky Nomad. Playing 80 cards sounds terrible but I think with enough cantripping permanents, this one could be fun and competitive!

Otherwise, I very much agree with your predictions! Legacy should be very fun in the upcoming months.

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